Prambanan Temple – Hindu temple

The Prambanan Temple was built in the 9th century and is the biggest and most complete remains of Java’s period of Hindu culture. Nowadays it comprises the remains of some 244 temples.

temples Prambanan

Prambanan is Indonesia’s largest Hindu site and a World Heritage site part of the UNESCO.

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan’s temple highlight is the central compound, where eight main and eight minor temples are assembled on a raised platform. Each of them has beautiful carvings and a religious statue inside.

The three biggest temples, called Trimurti (“three forms”), are dedicated to the three Hindu Gods: Shiva the Destroyer, Vishnu the Keeper and Brahma the Creator.

Even though Prambanan is a big tourist sight, it wasn’t too crowded when we visited. I was there at the end of the day, which is a good time (just like early morning) to avoid larger groups of tourists. The complex is open from 6.00 to 18.00 daily.

Prambanan Temple

Visiting the temple without a tour

Personally, I like to sightsee on my own and I always avoid tours unless completely impossible. I don’t really mind if it’s harder or it takes longer because I love the flexibility for doing what I want for as long as I like.

Visiting the Prambanan Temple on your own, its simple and easy to do.

The entry fee for Prambanan is Rp.325,000 ($23.85), but you can get a combined ticket to the Prambanan and Borobudur for Rp.520,000 ($38.15).

Prambanan sunset

How to get there

Prambanan Temple is a one-hour drive from Yogyakarta, using the local public bus. From downtown, simply take a Route 1A or 1B bus to the final stop, Terminal Prambanan, because is the end of the line, you don’t have to worry about missing your stop.

Local bus tickets cost Rp.3,600 ($0.25), they run fairly frequently, are comfortable and have air-conditioned.

The other options you have is to hire a driver for the day, take a Grab Taxi or rent a scooter to have the flexibility to explore other sites.

Thoughts about Prambanan

Although I enjoyed the Borobudur temple more the Prambanan was also a highlight, It was absolutely lovely to spend the afternoon strolling around the temples and the lush green garden surrounding them.

If you are planning to go to Yogyakarta and Borobudur temple, you should definitely head over to Prambanan too. Just be prepared to have locals approaching you to take photos with you!

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Bondowoso City, East Java

Bondowoso is located in East Java, Indonesia, between the highlands of Tengger and Ijen. For most travellers is the gateway to Bromo and Ijen.

I stayed in Bondowoso a couple of days, just relaxing away from all the other places that are packed with tourists. The nearest largest city is Surabaya, approximately five hours away. Bondowoso is a nice, peaceful and clean town with considerably less traffic than other cities in Java.

I’ve found here super interesting markets, great food and nice people. The common dialects are Madurese and Javanese, although Madurese is the majority.

The food in Bondowoso is delicious and cheap, and they have food stalls everywhere in town at all times. They also have delicious coffee.

Bondowoso is known for its dessert, tape, that is made from slightly fermented cassava. Tape from Bondowoso has a special sweet taste that locals say can’t be imitated by other towns.

The traditional markets are a must, you can wander for hours just exploring. Locals were quite curious when they saw us, they were commenting, saying hi, and smiling a lot.

Bondowoso is a small provincial town easily walkable, but you can also get into a becak (bicycle rickshaw) if you want a break from the heat.

Bondowoso 5

Bondowoso has a park in the city centre, called Alun-Alun, with a magnificent view of the mountains.

The biggest adventure we had here was to try to rent a motorbike. Apparently, people here find it hard to say they don’t know or there is no such thing here in Bondowoso. Instead, we had people giving us all sorts of tips and directions that led to nowhere. We got rides in motorbikes from strangers without helmets that said: “we can deliver” 😅

That day we “talked” with dozens and dozens of people, that didn’t speak any English neither we could speak their language, so google translator was our saviour.

By the end of the day, we were no close to finding a place to rent a motorbike, but we were well known around town.

We also went to a hotel to swim at their pool and refresh from the heat of the day.

To get to and from Bondowoso they have frequent buses.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Long-Haul Flight essentials for vegan travellers

The worst thing about travelling is spending long hours at airports and even worst are the hours sitting in a small chair inside an aeroplane. If I could just teletransport me, that would be just ideal. But while there is no such thing as teleportation (yet) we need to suck it up and use what is available, a small price to pay for what you get in return. The excitement of discovering new places.

I think no one really enjoys a long-haul flight, what’s there to like, right? but we can try to make them more bearable and comfortable.

So the big question here is what should we do and what should we take with us to survive a long haul flight and to be more environmentally friendly

Where to seat

Personally, I like to seat in the mid row in an aisle seat so I can have as many pee breaks and walks I need without disturbing other people.

Meal options
Reusable Food And Drink Utensils

I always take reusable cutlery, a cup and a water bottle (with or without a filter depending to where I’m travelling to) with me that I use in the aeroplane avoiding single-use plastic but also during my travels. I always refuse, plastic cutlery, cups and straws, and I refill my water bottle when possible instead of buying bottled water.

All of this is just fundamental for me not only for the flight but for all the time I’m travelling.

For cutlery I like the ones made of bamboo, for a bottle I use the ones you can roll up, they are light and can easily fit into the pocket on my backpack when empty. You also have great ones with a water filter on.

I also have a pocket-sized reusable cup, that is resizeable for three drinking sizes, and even better than that is eco-friendly built to last and readily recyclable.

The Pokito cup is easy to clean and is made from recyclable materials and are BPA free.

Even if they offer paper cups, keep in mind that most of them can’t be recycled, because they contain plastic, so 99% of cups go into a landfill. If that is not enough to scare you out, 7,000,000 single-use cups are thrown away in the UK alone every single day. Stacked up, they would be more than 7 x taller than Mount Everest

Pokito is a great brand for different reasons and its why I don’t mind making some free publicity. As consumers, we need to boycott brands that are environmental disasters and support the good projects out there.  The Pokito cups are environmentally sustainable after just 15 uses.

To get comfortable  

I travel very light so despite never been able to sleep in an aeroplane I never really though on buying one of those U-shaped pillows, they are really big, and I would have the space to pack them in my small bag. So they always seemed such a waste of space.

My mind changed when I came across the Trtl Travel Pillow, they really looked great but still, I wasn’t convinced that they would be a must have for my travels. So the idea stayed on the back of my mind for a while.

On my last trip to Indonesia, a faced uncountable flying hours, plus long journeys hooping between islands in a country that spreads across a chain of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia. It was so so tiring.. I was really jealous of all those people that can sleep anywhere because I’m so bad at it… when my eyes close, my mouth opens instantly and my head drops down, and I wake up. Every journey is a real struggle for me to find a comfortable position.

So when I returned I thought well maybe I should give the Trtl Pillow a go and see if works for me. So I had it ready for my next trip to Marrocos.

During my trip I felt that the pillow added virtually no weight to my luggage, it was surprisingly supportive and can be worn in different ways, even to the front leaving your head straight up.

True to be told my Trtl Pillow is my new travel essential, because is lightweight (200 grams), super comfortable, folds up tiny and allows me to take naps in transports for the first time.

This pillow looks like a scarf and because most planes are Arctic cold, it comes really handy, it is cosy, soft, and keeps you warm. Plus the hypoallergenic fleece can be washed.

Clothes

I like to pack a few extra pieces of clothing so I can be comfortable and survive to the aeroplane air-conditioning.

I always have a pair of comfy socks and a blanket if the company doesn’t provide one. Although I’ve read articles about the benefits of compression socks I’vent tried to use them.

Ear plugs, and headphones

Earplugs can really help you sleep, and headphones are a must to keep you entertained when you are awake.

Vegan snacks 

Regardless of the food on the plane, and always pack lots of snacks to keep me busy. I always do my own like a mix of different protein bars and energy bites, I also take fruit, nuts, on some occasions I also took roasted chickpeas, sliced Cucumbers and Carrots and Hummus, yummy 🙂

To keep me busy

I have a book to read, a notebook to write some thoughts, a travel guide, and my phone. I also pack some moisturising to avoid the sensation of getting to dry.

Well and if you are really serious about getting a flight somewhere, passport, plane ticket, and money are a must of course 😂

These are just some ideas but whatever you do, try to be as green as possible…

Do you travel with the same things? What do you take with you that makes your time on the aeroplane more bearable? Any other objects/tricks you could recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

*although I’m talking about a specific product I’m not being paid to write this article neither will get any compensation if you make a purchase*

Borobudur temple, Java

The World’s Largest Buddist Temple

Borobudur is located high on a mountain in Central Java. Although it is the largest Buddist temple in the world, Borobudur Temple was lost for centuries until it was found again in 1814. Today is a World Heritage Site, part of the UNESCO.

I found Borobudur one of the most impressive temples I’ve ever seen. Comparable in a way to the temples of Angkor in Cambodia.

Borobudur temple detail

The Borobudur Temple

The Borobudur temple is made up of five large square terraces, with three circular platforms on top of them, ringed by 72 stupas, representing the spiritual journey from the life of desire, through meditation to Nirvana. All platforms are covered with intricate carvings.

When you reach the very top there is a magnificent stupa.

The views from the top are absolutely stunning, surrounded by green and volcanic peaks.

Visiting Borobudur Temple

Because it’s a popular attraction the site gets absolutely packed during the day. The Borobudur Temple is the single most visited site in Indonesia. So make sure you arrive as early as you can.

If you plan visiting the Borobudur temple and the Prambanan temple is worth it to buy the combo ticket for $40, instead of buying the tickets separately.

At the entrance, after buying the tickets they have an area with complimentary drinks where you can have a cup of coffee, tea or water, and where they give you a sarong to use inside.

They also have wifi, so you can download the free app ‘cultural places‘ and use it as an audio-guide.

Is possible to before the official opening hours to get see the sunrise, although you pay a higher admission fee, and there is no public bus that can get you there on time. The first bus leaves at 06:00 making it impossible to arrive before the sunrise.

How to get to Borobudur

Borobudur is in Magelang, 40 km northwest of Yogyakarta and is not difficult to get there using public transports.

So to get the public bus go to the Jombor terminal in the north of Yogyakarta (takes roughly 1hour and a half to 2 hours) and cost Rp30,000 ($2.10). The journey is quite straight forward and the buses leave regularly to Borobudur between 06:00 and 16:00.

The Borobudur terminal is a 10-minute walk from the temple complex. The last bus back from Borobudur leaves at 16:00.

Alternatively, you can rent a scooter, find a travel agency offering tours, or hire a driver/guide to take you.

Most of the visitors are Indonesian and there aren’t many tourists on the bus either, so be prepared to pose and take some pictures with the Indonesian tourists.

The next most significant is another Unesco World Heritage Site, the 9th and 10th century Hindu complex of Prambanan, that can also be visited, located on the island of Java.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Ijen’s Blue Flames, it is worthy?

The Ijen volcano is famous for its Blue Flames that light up in the darkness of the volcano crater. Located in the Banyuwangi Regency on the East Java, Indonesia.

For many, hiking the Ijen is the highlight of their Indonesia trip and an extraordinary experience.  Find here how to hike to the heart of the Ijen Crater and chase the blue flames, without a tour.

After doing my trip to Ijen I really have mixed feelings about this place. I can’t really understand why people love it so much, for me it is a very controversial tourist attraction with serious problems.

Why I don’t recommend the blue flames

Trekking down the crater during the night can be extremely dangerous, there’s no paths or railings, the terrain is boulders and rubbles and there are so much more people than you can imagine doing the same as you at the same time.

When you get to the centre of the crater, and you look up, it’s just horrifying, to see thousands of tiny dots from the torches coming down, in a flow that never stops.

The rocky path down to the crater is breaking up because of the number of people walking on it daily.

Wind, as you know, is unpredictable so that means that sometimes is nearly impossible to breathe or see, and you’re trapped in a sulphur mine. During my visit I had to sit on the floor, several times close my eyes and try to breathe as slowly and calmly as I could, till the wind was blowing the fumes in a different direction.

Despite having a gas mask you can barely breathe and the gas stings your eyes.

You see impressive photographs from the blue flames on the internet but if you’re lucky to see them at all is just a small defuse light far in the distance.

The Sulfur Miners in Ijen

Miners do an arduous and inhumane work in conditions that can only be described as hell. In the middle of toxic fumes and heat, without equipment.

They trek up Ijen’s 9,000-foot slopes during the night and descending another 3,000 feet into the crater, where they extract the sulfur, they then carry 150 to 200-pound of the so-called “devil’s gold” back up the crater twice a day, earning an average of five dollars per trip.

While miners are working thousands of tourist invade the space, making their work even harder, asking them to pose for photographs, and blocking the path ways.

Can’t really get my head around it, it seems to me that this is the commodification of human suffering and the objectification of people living in terrible conditions.

For me, visiting the ijen during the nighh was an intoxicating, scary and not memorable experience, that I wouldn’t repeat.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Travel Vegan in Indonesia

Indonesia is an incredibly vast country, with over 18,000 islands to explore. On one hand, that means that you have plenty to choose from, on the other hand, it makes it harder to make decisions 🙂

I started my trip on the island of Bali, and from there I explored other islands, I travelled through Lombok, Sumbawa and Java. It was a long trip full of adventures some good and others not so much, like experiencing uncountable earthquakes and tsunami alerts.

Indonesia is a beautiful country, that is incredibly diverse and breathtaking in many ways… and a pot of many cultures, customs and religions, that is shown in their rich food scene.

Vegan Food in Indonesia

In Indonesia, a lot of common dishes are actually vegan by default. I was relieved to find that I could go pretty much anywhere and find something delicious to eat. I didn’t feel limited at all during my trip. Don’t be afraid to try everything including the street food, and going to night markets.

Bali receives more tourists than anywhere else in Indonesia and many of them are health-focused, especially in Ubud. So that means that here the vegan food scene is quite strong.

You can’t talk about vegan food in Indonesia without mention Tempeh and Tofu!!

Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans a delicious high-protein food. Like Tempeh, Tofu can be found pretty much everywhere. Both are quite versatile and tasty, so even if you eat them all the time, like I did, its unlikely that you get fed up.

Indonesian Vegan Dishes

Gado Gado: Boiled vegetables and rice with peanut sauce.

Vegetable curry: The name is quite explanatory is a dish made with veggies and curry.

Meaty gudeg: Made from unripe jackfruit and coconut milk.

Urap-Urap: Salad dish of steamed vegetables mixed with spicy grated coconut served with rice.

Capcay: A stir-fry vegetable dish.

Sayur lodeh: Is a vegetable soup/stew with coconut milk served with rice or rice cakes.

Keripik tempeh pedas: Fried thin tempeh slices.

Jogja gudeg: Made with boiled young jackfruit, and marinated with coconut milk and sugar.

Lontong Cap Gomeh: a vegetable stew cooked in coconut milk served with or over rice cakes.

Vegan Indonesian snacks and sweets

Indonesia has plenty of fresh tropical fruit like mangoes, mangosteen, dukuh, papaya, snake fruit, pineapple, sirsak, dragonfruit, between others.

They also have plenty delicious desserts like sweets, cakes and puddings that can easily be found at the local markets. They are usually made with rice flour, coconut milk, palm sugar, shredded coconut, cassava, yam and banana, they are really tasty and cheap.

Es Teler is made with young shredded coconut, avocado and jackfruit.

Klepon are sweet coconut rice balls, that can be made with rice flour or black sticky rice.

Be wary of…

*Dairy isn’t really a big thing in Southeast Asia but is always better to double check.

*Fish sauce and shrimp paste (terasi), are very common and used as a base for a lot of foods. It’s easily hidden in soups, stews, and other vegetable dishes.

*Eggs can be found in many dishes and is not always obvious, so just ask.

*Many dishes also come with a side of prawn crackers.

If you’re like me and you like to go off the beaten path, it’s sensible to learn some of the local lingo.

I’m sure you will be impressed by how easy (and tasty) it is to be vegan in Indonesia.

Animal Attractions

Sadly, like many places around the world, animals in Indonesia are exploited in the tourism industry. So make sure you do your research beforehand so you don’t end supporting terrible practices.  Do responsible tourism and keep your self away from cruel attractions such as Luwak coffee farms or shows and performances with elephants.

What else is special about Indonesia:
    • Beaches
    • Volcanoes
    • Wild animals in their natural habitat
    • Rich marine life
    • Translucent ocean
    • Majestic mountains
    • World’s largest volcanic lake
    • Valleys
    • Cliffs
    • Waterfalls
    • Rice paddies
    • Lotus ponds
    • Culture
    • Rituals
    • Temples

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Sunrise at Bromo, for Free and Without a Tour

Visiting the Mount Bromo, contemplate the sunrise or sunset, can be done easily for free and without a tour.

First, you need to reach the small town of Cemoro Lawang, find a room and overnight there. If you arrive during the day, I recommend visiting the Bromo crater that day, after the tours left.

I woke up at 3.20am and left to the hike to the top of Mount Penanjakan, by myself, and could be easier. The trek uphill is about 5km long so you need some good 2 hours.
It’s important to have a good torch, proper shoes and warm clothes, its frizzing cold during the night, remember that you are at 2,217 meters above sea level.

Hiking to the top of Mount Penanjakan during the night

First, you walk on the concrete road for half of the journey and then you go into a rocky mountain trail, The hike is not difficult but you need to have a reasonable level of fitness. Its deep dark but using the offline map app maps-me makes the tasks pretty easy, as long as you have a light source with you.

It’s amazing to stop occasionally to look at the starts here, the visibility is just superb.

On the day I did my hike, I only pass through a couple of small moving light points from other travellers. This is not the same route taken by the jeeps (tours) and there are not many people climbing up this way.

After a while, I reached a viewing point that I liked (you will find many) and waited there for the sunrise. Slowly started to get brighter and brighter… It was magical, such a stunning and magnificent view over the caldera with Semeru volcano in the background.

I contemplated the sunrise wrapped in a blanket and stayed a bit longer having breakfast (that I carried in my backpack) looking at the views.

The weather was getting warmer and I went down to town, sat for a coffee, rest and finish an amazing morning.

The journey was tiring but completely worth it.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Batik in Yogyakarta, what to do and where to go on a budget

One of the best things about travelling is learning new things, and it would be impossible to visit or live in Indonesia and not to notice one of the country’s most highly developed art forms, the batik.

The Indonesian Batik is part of the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Batik is a method originally used in Java of producing coloured designs on textiles by applying wax and them dyeing them.

 

Felling the Batik smell, admire its patterns and learn about its processes needs to be part of any visit to Yogyakarta because is such an important part of the Indonesian culture and heritage.

Where to learn about the  batik process

If you want to see and learn about the batik process the Batik Winotosatro in Yogyakarta, shows it for free.

The manual process uses fabric, hot wax, tjanting and colours. Tjanting is a bell metal tool used in outlining the design of the batik art.

 

The Batik can also be made by stamp.

 

Where to try the batik process

Mirota Batik is a fixed-priced store, located in the Malioboro, that sell batik fabric and clothing, but also has a small space where you can try this technique (Rp.30,000~$2)

 

Batik scams

Batik is very popular in Yogyakarta among tourists, making it a great opportunity for scammers.

Everywhere you go,  someone will be trying to sell you batik, or they have a friend that does it, or they know the most authentic place to buy it, or they are a teacher in the University of Batik… well… the stories are many and I assure you; you will hear them all. The important thing is to decline all offers politely and choose wisely where you want to go.

If you want to buy some batik my advice is for you to go to a shop with fixed prices.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Yogyakarta a special place

The special region of Yogyakarta often known as Yogya, Yoja or even Jogja, is located in the island of Java, Indonesia. Unlike Bali, Jogya is more traditionally Muslimwith a minority identifying as Christian and Hindu. 

Yogyakarta is a busy sprawling city with lots of narrow picturesque side streets in a maze-like formation, that makes navigation confusing at times but also exciting.

Many people will say that Yogya is not a city to fall in love with, but I did… I truly fell in love with this city to the point I have returned again. If you have been reading my posts about Indonesia I was quite disappointed with most of the places.

For the first time on my adventure around Indonesia, I didn’t feel like everyone had an agenda, I liked the vibe of the city, its people, and authenticity.

Location

Yogyakarta also has an excellent location whatever direction you go. The Merapi mount at the North, isolated beaches at the South, The Heritage site of Prambanan at the East and the ancient Buddhist temple – Borobudur at the west to where you can go using public buses.

The Arts

Jogya is the centre of many art forms including traditional dances, batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, puppet shows, and cuisine.

Yogyakarta is the beating heart of the Javanese culture. The city pulsates with creative energy, where artists from all over Indonesia come to join the community, making this city a feast for the eyes.

Street Art

Street art is just another way of expression, and finding the best street art is just one of the things you can do in Yogyakarta.  Jogya is a colourful, creative city full of surprises. There always seems to be something going on.

Local Markets

There are few better places to visit than the local markets in order to gain a sense of a country, its customs and culture than amongst the stalls and the people.

Most markets you will encounter are packed with people, are hot and sticky, have colourful foods and gods on offer, some are located in narrow alleyways full of the sounds and smells of a country waiting to be explored.

Whichever you choose, make sure you’re there early as most stalls close after 11 am.

Food

There are food stalls in every corner, and vegan and vegetarian food is abundant in Yogyakarta. Tofu and tempeh are super common and dairy, on the other hand, is rarely used in cooking.

The busiest area is on the north end of JI Malioboro where you will find dozens of street food vendors during the evening.

Look for nasi goreng (fried rice), gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), lotek (similar to gado gado), gudgeon (jackfruit curry), nasi Langgi (coconut rice with temple),  tahu and tempe sate (tofu and tempeh on skewers) and pecel (mixed veg salad with bean sprouts and peanut sauce).

Becaks

Becaks (cycle rickshaws) are used for public transportation in Yogyakarta. Around the Palace Quarter after the sun has set the streets are filled with a selection of illuminated vehicles decorated with everything from Hello Kitty to Pokemons.

Batik

Batik is an ancient waxing and dying process, very popular in Indonesia. In fact, it is here, on the island of Java that the finest batik in the world is produced.

Jogja being the Javanese cultural hub, is a great place to witness the process of batik first-hand.

Some batik workshops give free tours of the batik process. But please do some research and be aware of all the scams directed at tourists.

I’ve visited Yogyakarta twice and spent some considerable time there, and I can’t recommend it enough, I really loved it..

Have you been to Java or Yogyakarta? Let me know your thoughts..

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Self-driving in Africa – Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe

Self-driving in Africa through Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe

We landed in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, prepared for everything knowing that we would have 5000 km in front of us and we would cross 3 countries in Southern Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

We rented a  4X4 with rooftop tents for our journey and despite all the trouble we get into with the car, I don’t regret the option, because gives you enormous independence, it’s very versatile, and allows you to travel independently and discover with time these magnificent countries.

Visit these countries is not cheap but you can save the money for the room by camping. There are many campsites and some lodges also have campsites. The price of a 4×4 with rooftop tents depends on the time of the year you travel, and which borders you are going to cross.

Self-driving throughout the wilderness in Africa was one of the most exciting, adventurous and rewarding things I did so far – you just disconnect entirely and emerge yourself into one of the most beautiful natural sceneries on earth.

ostrich desert africaCheetah safari africazebra safari africaelephants africavegan traveller africaDead Valley Deadvlei. Namibiasafari self driving africagirafe travel africaDead Valley Deadvlei Namibiaelephants wild africa

4×4 self drive adventures

Now you are asking about what kind of troubles I got into.. some are obvious and you are probably guessing it right.. but just to give some excuses first  .. 🙂 we did some challenging routes and drove miles and miles through isolated areas 🙂

So here it comes.. during our journey our 4×4 broke down and got stuck a couple of times (sand, mud, water), we got a window broke and some values stolen…  and there is more.. one of the tents broke… we got fined and towed twice.. so I can say it it was an eventful journey.

To do a trip like this you need to have a sense of adventure, and be prepared to have busy days and to change your plans constantly.

be safe 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

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