I left Barcelona on August 6th, 2018, a little bit worried. On the previous day, an important earthquake hited Lombok and the news were pretty sad. It would be really hard to visit Lombok and Gili, one of the main destinations in Indonesia.
To arrive at Jogyakarta and start my visit, I had to take 4 planes. The first three to arrive at Jakarta, and then a domestic flight to Jogyakarta: my first stop would be Borobudur. So, I arrived very late in the evening, and only sleep for 3 hours before the departure to the temple. At 3:00 am a driver came for me at the hotel and took me to see the sunrise.
This is a really big temple. If you come at night to see the sunrise, you will not have a real idea of how big this temple is. But when you leave, and you can see it with full light… It’s amazing!
Don’t think you will be alone. There are hundreds of people there, and if you want a good spot try to be the first to arrive (that means, 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning).
If you forget about the people, the temple is awesome. Not only it’s architecture impressed me, the walls are full of histories tailored in the rocks.
Borobudur is a must visit if you come to Indonesia.
Here are some images (click on them for fullscreen).
After the visit, I went to Semarang to take another flight, this time to Borneo. But on the way, visited other places and Gedong Songo, another interesting place if you’re in Java.
Click on the thumbnails to see them fullscreen.
If you want to see the biggest Asian simians, the jungle of Tanjung Putin is an excellent place to have a close look at them.
The “classic” way to do this, is to rent a “Klotok”, a boat that will take you into the river that surrounds the jungle.
I made a “3 days 2 nights” trip, that means you sleep on the klotok in the middle of the jungle. It’s a good experience.
You can get really close to them, and they’re pretty big, especially the “Alpha” male.
There are more different monkey species at this location. And if you travel in the Klotok, the river ride and the night full of stars it’s pretty awesome.
One of the best landscapes you will see in your life. Period.
That’s the Bromo. You have to wake up early in the morning (around 2:00) to see the sunrise at this spectacular location. There are hundreds of jeeps that offer the transport service to see the volcano, and after sunrise, they will pick you up again and after a short ride you can see the volcano crater.
Be careful! Don’t let the summer fools you, at the top of the volcano sightseeing point, the temperature is very low.
From Denpasar Airport I went directly to Ubud, at the center of the island. I arrived around 11:00 pm so nothing to do at that time. In Bali, at 6:00 pm you can have dinner and it’s almost night. At 11:00 pm… nobody was on the streets!
So I decided to sleep and the next day I would take a short walk and visit the downtown area. It’s a very touristic place, and you will find lots of souvenirs. The main street it’s just a kilometer long. Let’s say that starts around Monkey Forest and finishes around the Real Palace. In between, lots of stores to buy souvenirs, restaurants of different types, and many currency exchange places.
The first thing you will notice is that you may find some monkeys on the streets. The Monkey Forest is really close!
1 day trip around Ubud
There are many things to see close to Ubud. There are many drivers that will gladly give you a full day trip (for around 60€) and guide you to some temple, rice fields, a volcano, a coffee fabric (with a “special” method to make coffee)… You leave your hotel at 8:30 am and you come back for the dinner, at 6:00 pm.
If you can find a guide it’s perfect, because he or she will explain a lot of things about the different places you visit. I went to Pura Tirta, Gunung Waki, Tegalalang and many other places, and it was perfect for really great photos.
At the end of the day, I went to a “Gedong” Dance, a show close to the Real Palace where you can see a traditional show of dance and music.
It’s very impressive the way they’re dressed, and the makeup it’s just awesome. It was a perfect show for my camera!
I think this is the most classic visit you can do at Ubud. The Monkey Forest is a big space where the monkeys do whatever they want to do.
But be careful, because they’re very good thieves! They can open your backpack and pick up anything that calls their attention. Try not to come with a plastic bag, because they know that in this kind of bags usually there is food or water, two things they love to steal…
They’re very used to see people every day and they don’t have any problem if you decide to get close to them. There’s a lot of personnel at the park that will be watching how they behave, and if there is any problem they can help resolve it easily.
When I visited Tegalalang I was a little bit disappointed. There were a lot of attractions for the tourists… in the rice fields? For me, it was too artificial. So I decided to visit a less touristic rice field, and I went to Jatilowih.
It’s a small town were visitors usually spend one day. You can rent a bike or do some trekking. The views are awesome, and if you can stay at least one day you will see a spectacular sunrise.
Jatilowih Rice Fields at Sunrise. Timelapse, iPhone 8plus
As Gili and Lombok were closed because of an earthquake, I decided to visit some Bali beaches.
Nusa Dua is perfect if you want to be in calm waters.
Djimbaran is for surfers, waves are important in this area, but at sunset, this fishermen beach gets crowded because all the restaurants puts tables on the beach and many tourists come to have dinner in the sand in front of the sea. Fresh fish and shellfish.
Hotels at Bali are very cheap. We have a great time Bali Paragon resort hotel for about 30€ per day. Close to Jimbaran, but you need a taxi to go there. I recommend Blue Birds app. It’s like any other online taxi company, but the Indonesian version. You will find them in the biggest cities.
Flores is a big island. There’s a lot to do there, you can try to find tribes in the jungle or visit a volcano, but as I found Gili and Lombok closed, I decided to stay and rest, enjoy the beaches, and make a dive and an excursion.
Labuan Bajo is a small town, but everything is there: restaurants, travel agencies, supermarkets and dive companies.
I spent a couple of days at Sylvia Resort, a spectacular village with crystal clear waters and a reef at 20 meters of the shore. All photos you will see here are with my snorkel at the beach of this resort. It was the first time I did photos with my GoPro 4, so sorry if they’re not good enough!
Sylvia Resort, Komodo
GoPro photo edition under the sea
It was my first time trying to photograph the coral reef. I don’t have any camera that I can get underwater, but I had my old GoPro 4 and I decided to give it a try.
The original photos were taken with the GoPro and the result was a little bit disappointing but with a little edition, the result was much better. A combination between Capture One (that doesn’t have a GoPro profile, maybe I should use Lightroom) and Photoshop makes some magic.
A couple of examples of the before and after.
Komodo it’s famous not only for the dragons but for awesome immersions for diving adventurers.
I made a diving excursion with NEREN, that I highly recommend. 3 dives in a day for around 100€.
If you’re an advanced diver (not like me), you can get into Raja Ampat, the main destination. But for me, a simple open water diver, a basic dive was just fine.
It was my first time trying to record action underwater with my GoPro 4 and it was (obviously) a complete disaster. I used a red filter, and it was a really bad idea. The main reason: we didn’t get very deep underwater (10-12 meters) and for that, you don’t need a red filter. I took a lot of photos, but the red filter makes the GoPro shoot at very slow speeds (because the filter subtracts a lot of light) so… I have a lot of unusable photos (all moved). For video, it gets a little bit better, but again, the red filter makes it very “rare”.
There are many local agencies at Labuan Bajo that offers a one day trip. It consists on visiting Padar Island (recommended if you like trekking), Rinca to see the dragons, Pink Beach and a couple of snorkel immersions.
In my case, Pink Beach was not an option because any agency took you there, some bad weather conditions.
Agencies are just a humble little room on the main street of Labuan Bajo where locals try to sell you an excursion. They’re almost all the same: a map, a couple of plastic chairs and a local with no shoes trying to sell. If you want something “serious” maybe some company that you find on the internet can give you a better service, but the price is completely different. I went to one of these excursions and it was just fine, except for the food (it was really bad).
You have to be very early in the morning: at 5:30 you leave the agency and head to the dock, where a humble ship will take you to Padar Island on a 3 hours trip. You can sleep a little bit while you travel to your first destination.
Padar is for trekking lovers. At the top, you have a great view of blue waters.
After Padar, I went to Rinca, where you will see the famous Komodo Dragon. It’s a really big reptile! The ticket to see the dragons are not included in the price of the excursion (around 15€). A local guide will give you information about them, but I went at midday, and it was so hot that they were all resting (taking a “siesta”, as we do in Spain).
Finally a couple of snorkel destinations.
First, I didn’t find the mosquitoes where a problem at all. Either at the Borneo Jungle, I was not bitten by any. Stopped using Relec on the second day at the jungle. Maybe it was just luck, but this was my experience.
You have to haggle almost for everything. If you don’t know how to haggle, I strongly recommend watching this video of Monty Python.
Public transport is very poor. So I usually took a taxi. But don’t think you will arrive fast anywhere. Planes usually are delayed and if you hit the road you can find a 37km ride can take an hour and a half.
Wi-Fi is very poor, even at the best destinations. If you can have your own SIM card, it’s the best option to keep connected (if that’s what you want).
Don’t miss the opportunity to dive at Komodo! If you already have a title for diving, perfect, but if you don’t, you can get your certification right there.
I love to rent a moto in Asia (I did it in Vietnam and Thailand) but here you will need the international driver license if you want to drive one. You will get a fine if you don’t have it or if you drive without the helmet.
This is all the photography gear I used for traveling to Indonesia. Finally, I discarded the gimbal.
I shoot with primes for two reasons: better quality and they’re not heavy
So, my bag had:
- Nikon D800
- Fujifilm x100s (I love this camera)
- Sigma 24mm art
- Sigma 35mm art
- Nikon 85mm (not used at all during the trip)
- Sigma 105mm (very old one, not the new one)
- GoPro hero 4
- iPhone 8plus
- 2 b+w filters, a polarizer and a 100 ND.
Just in two different places, I would love to have another lens: at the top of Rinca, a wider angle lens than the 24mm, and at Borneo, a longer lens than my 105 mm (to shoot orangutans, I made it, but some pictures are a crop of the original raw file).
With this combination of cameras and lens, my backpack was not big or heavy at all, very important if I wanted to travel with it all the time.