Saturday, April 26, 2014

scenes of yogyakarta

Besides being a great homebase to explore Borobudur, Yogyakarta was a great place to explore food, batik and its beautiful windy streets (that so reminded me of southern spain). 

Via Via Cafe was amazing, our home away from home for a few days. It was our first fresh, delicious veggie food of the trip. 

Rumor has it that Indonesia is the mastermind behind Tempeh--I've definitely loved eating a lot of it on this trip! Interestingly it is often served along side tofu (called tahu here). 

And everytime I have tempe here, I have the added bonus of good memories of Zoe cooking her delicious tempeh at 1695 Dolores. 

scenes from the beautiful streets 

Our alleyway/street in Yogya

the hotel courtyard, we had a little balcony/seating area over it where we could check out the baby birds in the treetops. 

our hotel room -- this artist also had a lot of work up at one of our favorite local restaurnants Bedhot that had amazing fresh juices (I think I'm learning the real meaning of fresh juice on this trip) and some great veggie Indo food. 

there was so much interesting grafitti in yogya...I really missed out in taking photos but grabbed this shot in our alleyway.

sounds of our street were the songs of caged birds, kids playing soccer, and the prayer songs of the small mosque on our street. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bali Road Trippin: Mt Batur and Beyond

Ben braved the streets of Bali in style with a little Suzuki Stilo. As he figured out how to drive a manual with his left hand, and zigged and zagged along the windy-windy very narrow roads, navigating motos and big rice trucks, I tried to figure out how to navigate using a very general map--towns in Bali have signs sometimes, but not alltimes. We didn't know what many of the street signs meant...but we made it. 

the stilo in style at our digs in Toya Bungka

There was a downpour just outside of Ubud. We took refuge from the storm in what we thought was just an empty parking lot, but in less than 30 seconds, three guys were around the car with colorful umbrellas. We had stumbled unknowingly on one of the many agro-tourism spots along the road. Our guide brought us past drying spices like star anise and clove, then to a whole set up of coffee beans at different times of harvest/roasting. Then we went by the Luwak cages...this area of Bali is all about there special Luwat or Civat coffee, the coffee that is best because it has first been through the digestive system of the small Luwat. It really feels impossible that all that coffee comes from the Luwat, but what can you do. We sipped a long line of coffee, cocoa and tea samples as we looked out on the pourig rain. Before we headed to Toya Bungka, the base for exploring the volcano, Mt. Batur. 

Toya is an interesting town. It's main activities being tourism and volcanic soil harvesting. Yes, that would be the constant noise of 18 hours of trucks on the one road to Toya, collecting and delivering volcanic soil and rock. There was a wierd vibe in the town to be sure. Here's where we stayed, I wish I could've photographed the interesting wood tree and mushroom diorama that deocorated the bathroom....

But as we climbed Mt Batur in the dark early morning hours under a quarter moon, through the shadows of farms and forests, with our trusty, tiny local guide Yamin it was all worth it. 

magical cloudscapes

while we had trekked closely to some French tourists (who amazingly smoked cigarettes the entire way up) we didn't expect the party we found at the summit. About 40 or so folks with thier guides, all of us waited for our guides to cook our breakfast of eggs and bananas in the steam of the volcano. 

The fancy guide making delicious banana pancakes while all of us drooled...and other guides making offering at the summit's temple

Once we summited, we walked along the crater's lip which was just about a foot wide with lots of steam along the way, we could feel the heat!

great view of Bali's most revered and holy volcano, Aguung 

View of the last eruption in 2000ish (every Balinese you ask will tell you a different date of the last eruption). Note the small green patch amidst the black lava, it is the Lucky Temple that survived the blast. 

we found a monkey along our route

we hiked out along the most amazing farms, salsa farms as Fred would call them--tomatoes, peppers and shallots. 

these farms had several small shack homes that were beyond decay but they all had satellite dishes. Whole families, three generations, stooped over shallots, skinning them for market, not too amused to see us trekking by. It was an amazing experience to be sure. 

Next up: hope to get photos from the rest of our Balinese road trip up before we begin our Nepal trek. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Borobudur to Merapi

A highlight of our trip to Java. From Yogakarta you journey about an hour to the largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur, followed by a trip to the active volcano Merapi. We had a good tip to go before day break, to beat the rush of tourist buses and see the temple by sunrise. By the looks of the huge tourist infrastructure around the temple that was still sleeping when we arrived, it was well worth the early rise. We rode through the quiet dark streets of Yoga seeing several markets with veggies and fresh chicken ready for the cookin. 
deep green vistas of rice fields and rivers on the way 

a misty sunrise visit

Borobudur is not just one of my favorite restaurants in is a 9th century Buddhist temple that was once left to decay under volcanic ash and jungle, it has since been restored. It is an amazing stone structure with five concentric square levels of stone reliefs and buddhas with an amazing amount of stupas on top. I wish I could remember just an inkling from my buddhist art history class! 

Morning sounds included the many straw brooms against the stone paths, roosters, and cicadas. 

Sarongs were required...really. 

Next on to Mt. Merapi, a very active volcano. We had a private driver--thinking it may make it easier for us to find a trail to walk on for a few miles on our own, but really the drivers from Yogya drop you off right where you need to either hire a jeep or dirt bike to travel any futher. Ben and I decided to just walk it, stumbling upon shrines for the people who died in the 2010 eruption, and past women harvesting huge bushels of grass, I don't know how they could walk, let alone ride a motorbike with the bushels.  The grass is used to make herbal soaps and oils to help with arthritis among other ailments

Still have lots of photos to catch up on, but we're departing Ubud today by car to head to points unknown north. Perhaps to Mt. Batur...we'll see where the road takes us. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Am I in Berkeley?

I've found myself in a place that has more yoga studios, more organic yoga clothing stores than yoga studios, and more aromatherapy clinics than I can count. Stores selling bags made from recycled mosquito nets by women collectives and an incredible, unbelievable amount of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures. There's kombucha and organic vegetarian food. 

Totally Berkeley, right? I'm in Ubud, a town nestled in rice fields high in the mountains of Bali. I find moments of comfort here in the berekleyism and moments of sheer disbelief and frustration...did I really come this far only to find home? I'm even going on an herbal walk tomorrow! And am I really that cliche thirty-something woman who can't get enough of this stuff? 

But it is at the same time nothing like Berkeley. Tonight our warm rainy walk was accompanied by Gamelon music echoing through the streets and Hindu offerings were our obstacles in the streets. Ben is riding a scooter instead of a bicycle. And our burritos for dinner last night weren't the least bit greasy?! Here are some shots of my walk through town to the rice paddies for lunch on an organic farm. 

Shiva? Or just something for tourists??

Sari Organik--farm to table here in Bali! 

Longtong: rice cooked in banana leaf with garden veggies (cauliflower, long beans, potato, zucchini and tomato) sunrise tea: rosella with mint, lemon, and soda water SO good!