FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 16th Port – Semarang, Indonesia – Day 38

March 10, 2016 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 16th Port – Semarang, Indonesia – Day 38 

Thursday, March 3rd – 16th Port – Semarang, Indonesia – Day 38

  • We Got Us a Convoy”…led by flashing blue lights, our tour buses barreled down the road. And why would we need a police escort you ask? Potential terrorist target? Heavens no! This was all so we could get to the temple on time.

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  • We needed them to clear the traffic so we could get to our destination in under three hours. Otherwise we didn’t go and that is “just plain bad for the economy.”
  • That would have meant no Borobudur…a Buddhist stupa and temple complex in Central Java. And the main reason we even took this trip in the first place….to see one of the world’s truly great ancient monuments and the single largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth.

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  • At 1200 years old, the scale of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is incredible. Not to mention the remarkable attention to detail that went into the construction. Rumor has it (but who really knows) that it took over 75years to complete. Over 2 million stone blocks were hauled up the hill and the entire structure was created without using any mortar.

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  • Borobudur lay abandoned and hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and thick jungle growth. Nobody knows for sure why it was abandoned. But one theory is that volcanic eruptions coupled with a powerful earthquake drove terrified locals away.

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  • In 1956 UNESCO began an assessment process for the full scale restoration of the monument. Beginning in 1968, a major plan to restore Borobudur was created. This huge project involved a complete overhaul and took 14 years. The unsteady foundations were stabilized, everything was meticulously cleaned, and a major drainage system installed.

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  • Borobudur measures an amazing 403 square feet and more than 100 feet high. We spent two hours climbing and exploring each of the four tiers. The central dome at the very top is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa. The entire temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.

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  • And just as we were ready to leave, a sonic boom burst of thunder cracked over head. It was the loudest we’d ever heard. Startled we looked up and all you could see were hundreds of dragonflies as they shot out of the trees. Then soft rain drops arrived and all we needed was a breeze to have instant AC.

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FUN-cocktail – French ’75 – Bombay Gin, fresh lemon sour, topped with sparkling wine and a twist of lemon.

  • More Crazy Clock Stuff! We had to turn them back one hour last night and then had to move it forward tonight.

Not so FF – A 7.4 earthquake hit in the ocean off Indonesia today and there was a tsunami warning. First a cyclone and now a tsunami! What the hell is going on? Your worst nightmares if you’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean!

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FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 15th Port – Bali, Indonesia – Day 36

March 7, 2016 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 15th Port – Bali, Indonesia – Day 36 

Tuesday, March 1stBali, Indonesia 2016 112

1st stop – Silver Factory – It must be against the law for a tour guide to “not take you to at least one rip off store!”

  • And today we actually hit 3 of them! Shopping in Bali is not the same as it was when I was here 25 years ago. Success has gone to their heads and the prices they are charging….totally obscene!

4th stop – Ubud – considered to be the cultural centre of Bali, is famous as an arts and crafts hub. Here you can find first class art galleries and stores….and with prices to match. Ouch! I wandered into a fabulous fabric store with hand painted silk scarves that were pure heaven. And unfortunately had to walk out empty handed. Too rich for my blood…and wallet!

  • Puri Saren Agung translates to Water Palace and this little gem of a temple sits back from one of the main streets.

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5th stop – the Ubud Monkey Forest – a sacred rain forest featured in the book Eat, Pray, Love – this huge protected area in the middle of town is home to hundreds of monkeys all either roaming, running or swinging from the trees.

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  • “Whoa Dude! Could I possibly be that cute?”
  • Today the floors are being scrubbed and incense fills the air as the temples are readied for this evening’s festivities.

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FUN-cocktail – Vanilla Sidecar – Courvoisier V.S.O.P Cognac, Galliano, Grand Marnier Rouge, with freshly squeezed lemon sour.

FUN-fact – The Oscars are still running nonstop on channel 73!

FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 15th Port – Bali, Indonesia – Day 35

March 7, 2016 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 15th Port – Bali, Indonesia – Day 35 

Monday, February 29th 

  • Oscar’s Live on the Red Carpet begins at 6 am in the Hollywood Theatre. And the good news – it’s on channel 73 in our stateroom!Bali, Indonesia 2016 37
  • Deal of the Day – $50 got us a car and driver for up to 10 hours with Bali Made Tours. We booked it online and met Diana (a male) at 8:00 am just past the “taxi gauntlet.” Today was all about exploring the major sights in the Northwestern section of the island.
  • Bali is one of the smallest islands in Indonesia covering an area of 2000 square miles with a population of over 3 million. On the beach you‘re lulled by the gentle lapping of the waves on the sand. And in the city you’re alarmed with all the  beep, beeps and putt, putts…brought to you by the hundreds of thousands of scooters attempting to weave in and out of the cars and miniature trucks on the tiny narrow twisting roads!

1st stop – Pura Taman Ayun Temple – which translates to Garden Temple in the Water. This large complex is surrounded by a man-made moat. The grand stone entrance walkway led us through an expansive grass garden area to various open air buildings near the back and on each side. We were met with a symphony of Cicadas in the trees. So loud they drowned out all the other sounds.

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  • It turns out that we were in for a real royal treat too! Every 210 days is 6 months on a Balinese calendar and encompasses a big celebration filled with food, music and dancing. In one of the largest rooms women and men alike were busy chopping, shredding, skewering, stuffing, and wrapping all of the delicacies for their feast. 4 inch thick slices of tree trunks served as the cutting boards and banana leaves as the wrappers.

2nd stop – Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Bratan – a 16th century complex on the edge of a crater lake at the base of one of two volcanic mountains. The morning mist made this temple all the more magical.

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3rd stop – Jatiluwih – terraced rice fields as far as the eye can see. Recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site it consists of 5 massive rice terraces covering over 48,000 acres.

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4th stop – Tanah Lot Temple – which means temple of the sea and earth. Built in the 16th-century, it is one of 6 temples built at the water’s edge.

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  • After 10 hours of touring today we are totally exhausted! It’s a kick back night of watching the Oscar’s re-run.

FUN-fact – 93% of the population is Hindu.

FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 15th Port – Bali, Indonesia – Day 34

March 4, 2016 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 15th Port – Bali, Indonesia – Day 34 

Sunday, February 28th

  • The Bali bay was abuzz with boats of all sizes zipping back and forth as we sailed in at 2:00 pm.

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  • As we walked down the gang plank we were treated to a traditional Balinese Cultural Show.

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  • Then we hit the tourist information booth inside the terminal and were floored when they said the cost of a taxi was $25 US to go 7 kilometers to town. Hello? Are you people serious? “Let’s Make a Deal” is what you have to be able to do to get a decent price for a taxi. Oh, and yeah, not to mention running another gauntlet. This time its taxi drivers all desperately trying to get your attention. Been here, done that. You just keep walking until you finally hit the end of the line where the price comes down drastically. And even at $10 it was $5 too much! The problem is crazy tourists saying “it’s only $10” and totally screwing up the economy here. 13,000 Bali dollars = $1 US.
  • Got Gas? Not a problem if you have a scootah in Kuta.

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  • After two hours of walking around in balmy Bali without a breeze and dripping sweat from more high heat and humidity we called it a day.

FUN-cocktail – Stepford Sister – Beefeater Gin, St. Germain, Elderflower Liqueur, Averna Italian Bitter, fresh lemon sour.

FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 14th Port – Komodo Island, Indonesia – Day 33

March 4, 2016 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Slow Boat to Singapore – 14th Port – Komodo Island, Indonesia – Day 33 

Saturday, February 27th 

  • Two guides (one with an official park ranger shirt that I desperately wanted) led us on a one mile trek through a thick forest of tropical trees and plants. While basically flat, our winding pebbly path turned out to be broken pieces of dead coral mixed with some sea shells. The tall tree canopy protected us from the rain that was spitting from the sky. Relief from the stifling heat and humidity came ever so briefly when the occasional slight breeze blew through.

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  • Holy shmoly! This is Jurassic Park with pre-historic lizards, and jumbo ones at that! How on earth could they have survived when everything else became extinct? Well it appears they pretty much had the run of the island. And run they can – as fast as a dog! And not only that – they can swim and climb trees! For hundreds of thousands of years they apparently have roamed freely since nobody even knew they existed until 1910.

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Komodo dragon FUN-facts – They average 7 to 10 feet in length and weigh anywhere from 150 to 300 pounds. They eat 80% of their body weight in one feeding and are both carnivores and cannibals. Their strong jaw can bite a goat in half. And they don’t even need to actually kill their prey. Their saliva contains 50 strains of bacteria, guaranteeing a slow death by blood poisoning within 24 hours.

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  • After hearing that the dragons had been sufficiently fed before our arrival we felt assured no one would be under attack. However, that wasn’t the case when we got trapped at the end and had to run the gauntlet of souvenir selling children begging us to buy. Oh well, this is just the prerequisite for India!

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FUN-cocktail – Summer Spirit – Apricot Brandy, Limoncello, Chambord, fresh lemon sour, & hand extracted lime juice.