Flowers in San Fransisco

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Batur Geopark Museum

One of the most famous tourist destination in Bali is Mount and Lake Batur located in Kintamani, Bali. Most tourists were taken by their tour guide to Panelokan, Kintamani, where they can enjoy the view of the mountain and lake with all its grandeur. I have passed this place many many times, but I am still at awe.

I have noticed several times that in Penelokan there is a building called Batur Geopark Museum. But, we never really got a time to visit it because we were always in a hurry. After all, the building looked lonely and deserted.

But last time, we passed the place on our way home (Songan)…and we are not in a hurry as we usually did. So, we stopped by to visit the Museum.

At that time, there were several cars and a tourist bus in the car park, which means that there are actually visitors inside! We were greeted by a front office staff when we entered the museum. She politely asked one of us to fill in the Guest Book. Once I finished, I expected that she would me the entrance fee. But to my great surprise, she said that there is no entrance fee. Yup, its totally free!!

We started our tour. There were a machine where you can take a picture of your groups. We took some time to snap ours.

The first exhibit is about the formation of the Universe and Earth. The explanation were in both Bahasa Indonesia and English. Its a bit high up, so my two girls just asked me to read them out for me while they went over the illustrations. Next to the exhibit there were an audio visual where you can watch a video and hear more about the galaxy.

Next to it, there were a big globe…the girls tried to locate some of the countries that they have heard. Indonesia (of course), then Thailand, then England 🙂

Moving on, we came to an exhibit about volcanoes. At this point, I am finding myself pleasantly surprised to how genuinely interested I am reading all these stuffs. My mind went all the way back during my school years where Geography was really the most intimidating subject to me. If only there were this kind of display to help me through those years. I might not turned up to be a Geologist or geographer, but it would really help me to get interested with the subject!

The exhibit showed the most phenomenal Indonesian volcanoes. First is Mount Merapi as the most active volcano in Indonesia. Then, there is a description of Mount Tambora that erupted in 1815 and recorded as the the largest eruption in the history of mankind. In another part of the exhibit we can also read a description of Mount Krakatau eruption that cause enormous Tsunami. Finally, there is a description about Mount Toba which erupted 75000 years ago is the largest eruption in the world has seen during the past 2 million years! In front of the exhibit there are volcanic rocks from Mount Merapi and Krakatau. Seriously, how good it is to have that much information within a single exhibit.

Next up is more description about Volcano in Indonesia. It mainly repeats some of the information from the previous exhibit, but the map shows the chain of 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia that form a big part of the Ring of Fire. It also shows some of the fact such as the tallest, lowest volcano in Indonesia and the world.

The next exhibit is on development of Bali Island. Unfortunately, it is described only in Bahasa Indonesia. There were 19 stages in the development starting over 23 million years a go, which the exhibit called as Oligo-Miosen period. A quick google search did not find Oligo-Miosen. But instead found Miosen and Oligosen…so, please don’t quote me on this one (a real amateur here). It described in detail how the volcano activities and sedimentation over the period of the Miosen, Pliosen, Plistosen, right through 5500 ago  formed what we now know as Bali island. I would love to describe each step in more detail but the technicality really is quite challenging. Perhaps one day T.T

I attached here the exhibits courtesy of Batur Geopark Museum. Sorry for the blurry pics, hope it is still readable.

Having learned about Bali, we moved on to the next segment of the Museum. Here we can learn more about the formation of Ancient Batur Volcano, volcanic rocks of Ancient Batur, formation of Batur Caldera I and the ongoing development of the Batur Volcano.

At this point, I got overwhelmed with all the information. Plus, we did not expect that it would be chilly inside the museum so we were all just wearing our normal clothes. So I just took the pictures and skip through some of the exhibits, as the girls start to complain that they feel a bit cold 😦

*I would recommend you wear warm clothes so you can enjoy all the exhibits inside the museum*

It is quite ashamed really because the rest of the exhibits are really equally interesting. First is a large exhibit describing the distributions and Lava Forms of Batur followed by the grace and disaster of Batur Volcano.

We then move to the second segment of the Museum that describe the biodiversity of Indonesia. My two girls got really excited because there are some exhibits on animals. I particularly love the picture of the Reindeer 🙂 There is also descriptions of biodiversity in Bali Island and more specifically on the environment of Batur Geopark.

Next exhibits are about Balinese: plant and the Balinese, Balinese Culture, artefacts and history of Bali, interaction of human and nature: the Balinese people, and the concept of Mountain in culture. If you really wanna know about Bali, it is really a good place to start! One of the most intriguing is exhibit about diversity of cultural expressions in Balinese society. The cultural concept of the relationship balance between people, nature and God called Tri Hita Karana.

Finally, our tour end with three exhibits about potential and preservation of geological heritage, wise man and sustainable nature. The last exhibit convey a very important message:

Equilibrium in the use of Nature is the key to Biodiversity

Wow. By the end of the visit, I felt overwhelmed with all the information inside the museum. Then, I felt its such a pity that this museum is not promoted enough…and also we found that the facilities (toilets) are not well maintained. I will wanna comeback again one day to have a more thorough look at all the exhibits. In the meantime, I truly recommend this place for you and your kids to learn while around Kintamani!

 

Gunung Kawi Historic Site

One of the most important historic sites in Bali is Gunung Kawi. I visited it several times when I was a kid. Once with my school friends during a field trip and other times with my family. Recently, during our stay in Sabasanti Villa, I went with my husband and two girls. It was actually the same day as former US President, Barack Obama visit! We were two hours early 😦

I have never been very good at history lesson. I almost forgot all the history of Gunung Kawi. I have to Google it to find this information.

Gunung Kawi is located in Tampak Siring, Gianyar. Its a complex consisting of temples built in 11th Century by King Udayana. King Udayana played an important role in Balinese history. He married Mahendradatta and has three children: Airlanga, Anak Wungsu, and Marakata. Mahendradatta came from Medang kingdom in East Java. Airlangga eventually left to Java and became the King of Kahuripan, an area known now as Sidoarjo Regency. Airlangga has a large territory all the way to Central Java. The capital of the kingdom was eventually moved from Kahuripan to Daha (now Kediri regency).

There are many many steps to get to the complex. Going down is not hard, but climbing back the steps may take a lot of effort so make sure you are in good shape!

Here are some of the pictures from our visit.

Saba – a Unique and Quiet Place in Bali

Bali is such a unique tourist destination that always have something new to offer. As a Balinese myself, I am continuously amazed with the new attractions in Bali.

If you come to Bali to have a taste of Balinese culture, perhaps you have heard about Ubud. The area has gained popularity since the publication of Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray and Love. Or perhaps you are intrigued to go to Gunung Kawi, a historical site visited recently by former US President Obama 🙂  If you are a beach person then you might heard of Kuta and Sanur Beach. In recent years, though many tourists prefer to explore new areas in Bali.

Saba is one of them. Stretched along the Jl. Prof. Dr. Ida Bagus Mantra Saba offers a different experience.

We stayed in Sabasanti Villa. Its a five bedroom villa with swimming pool and modern room. Each  room has a king sized bed that immediately excite my two girls. The first floor is equipped with pantry, dining room and kitchen. The second floor is equally spacious. Perfect for holiday with your family and friends.

From there, you can easily do various things around the area.

Here are some of the things that you can enjoy around Saba.

Saba Beach

Dont expect white sand like Kuta or Nusa Dua. Saba beach is quite similar to Sanur. But the wave is quite strong, so it is not very ideal for swimming.

For now there are not many activities offered in the beach except for horse riding. In our last visit, my daughters try the horse riding from Bali Horse Riding. They charge half to hourly ride through Saba Beach.

The beach is also used for pre-wedding photo location. But I think nobody minds if you use it as post wedding honeymoon photo location 🙂

Taman Nusa

Indonesia is an archipelago with over 13 thousands island. It is rich in natural and cultural diversity. If you want to have a taste of Indonesian culture you can go to Taman Nusa.

It is a park that provides miniature and replica of different provinces in Indonesia. Each province presents its traditional house, furniture and artifacts. In some of the house, you can speak to a local person that is brought all the way from their place of origin. I like this place very much because as Indonesian I have not travelled much outside Java and Bali islands. At least I can get a preview of the diversity that Indonesia has to offer. Here are some interesting houses in Taman Nusa.

 

Bali Zoo

Another attractions around Saba is Bali Zoo. One of the main attraction is Elephant Ride.

There is also Bali Safari and Marine Park. But I will suggest you make a reservation for both place to avoid long queues during peak seasons.

 

Bali Bird Park

Bali Bird park host a variety of different birds. It is not as big as other park, but it is perfectly arranged for your convenience. Your kids gonna love it.

Keramas Aero Park

Fancy eating out with a different environment altogether? Keramas Aero Park offers you just that. It’s a restaurant on a real plane. With certain amount of purchase you can dine inside an aeroplane. I guess when you went on long hauled flight you have experience eating in an aeroplane. But, technically, you would not be able to enjoy the meal together with your companion. So, I took my family there. I love the fact that they have special set for children. Our girls always find it hard to eat spicy food. So, they are very happy to have a tempura and burger sets. For adults, the restaurant offers western food with a touch of local taste.

If you wanna taste local culinary, not to worry. There are plenty of restaurants with great food at affordable price. I am particularly fond of Graha Kariana. It has various local foods and it can deliver to Sabasanti Villa. Another nearby restaurant is Padi Buffet Ala’Carte which offers smaller portion with reasonable price.

 

Phuket via KL at the End of Year

Its been a while since we had a holiday together.
We have been very busy. The girls with the school while my husband and I tied up with work commitments.
Then we had the opportunity to present a paper in a conference that my husband organized. So we thought we just bring the kids along. Afterall they were still on semester break.

The conference is held in Phuket. One of the most touristic destination in Southeast Asia and quite possibly the world.

We deliberately chose the flight to have quite a long break in Kualalumpur.
We took the earliest flight at 5am, which means we have to wake up at 3am! I was worried that the girl will be sleepy and grumpy. But it seems they are too excited for the trip. I was more sleepy and tired than they are. We flew Air Asia, and I immediately regretted that I didnt order any breakfast.
As we arrived in KLIA2, we immediately stopped for breakfast. Then, we must transfer to KLIA 1 since our flight flew from there..so we took the train..it was very modern and clean. Just a short 10 minutes we arrived to KLIA 1. We checked in our luggage for our next flight with Malaysia Airways. The staff in charge of the check in line immediately noticed that we had the girls with us, so she opened a family line. It was really thoughtful of them and really convenience for us 🙂 Something that we didnt witnessed in the rest of the journey T.T

Very clean and comfortable train
Very clean and comfortable train

Having checked our luggage in, we then must decide what to do until our flight. Considering the time we just thought that we go and see the Petronas Tower. Originally we want to take the train. But, considering the time constraint we chose to take a Taxi.

The Petronas Tower was conveniently located in a large mall. Visitor must get a ticket to get to the top of the tower. We missed to ticket box the first time we enter the mall and ended up circling around. The mall was really full and looked really festive with Christmas decorations. We did not make any reservation so we must queue to get the tickets. In the end, we were satisfied just by looking at the tower and all its grandeur from outside 🙂

Petronas Tower
Petronas Tower
Replica of the Tower
Replica of the Tower

By the time we finished looking around Petronas Tower, it was lunch time. So, we went to the Food court of the mall. It was really full, but we managed to get a decent lunch and hurried back to the airport. The Malaysia Airline Flight was on schedule. It also provided entertainment so the girls are quite occupied and get me some time to catch a sleep 🙂 Thankful that all of us got to rest on the flight because once we landed in Phuket things became really hectic. It was around 7pm when we got to the airport and we were really shocked to find such a long queue for immigration control. We were really worried because the girls were tired…after waiting for almost half an hour, finally, more immigration staffs open their locket, so the queue move faster.

Having passed the immigration control, we hired a taxi to drive us to our hotel. I have expected that it will take sometime to get to the hotel. But i did not expect that it will include lots of turns that made feel quite sick 😦 The driver took a stop at his office. Little did I realised that this is his way to also give a chance for his manager to offer us a tour around Phuket. Well, the lady explained different tours available, we listened briefly, asked for her card and said that we will be in touch. She didnt press us further, thankfully. Despite the intrusion that I felt at that time, the information about the tour was quite useful for us later.

During the trip to the hotel, I caught a glimpse of Phuket. It immediately reminded me of Kuta, a very crowded and touristic place. I secretly wished, that there will be more to see in the following days.

After an hour or so, we got to the hotel. My hubby has booked Ikon Hotel. It was a big hotel with many rooms across three main buildings (towers). We got a room in Building C, and we have to take an elevator, walk across to building C and took another elevator to get to our room….I would suggest to check the location of your room before booking the hotel, especially if you have young children… But once we got to the room itself, it is quite comfortable. It’s clean and tidy and have a breathtaking view of the sea. My girls were hoping for a bath tub but only shower is available 🙂 Another downside of the hotel from a family traveller point of view is breakfast. As per common practice, the room price include breakfast for two person. So the girls must pay for the breakfast. But, we found the price of 70 Baht a bit too expensive.I think they consider that the price must cover for the entire buffet of Thai foods (noodle, rice), breads, desserts, drinks etc T.T Since the girls dont each that much (only a bowl of corn flake, a bread, fruit and a cup of tea) then it is not worth the price 😀

View from the Hotel Room
View from the Hotel Room

The first day is the conference day for mom and dad. So the girls must tag along. The conference is held in a very luxurious hotel *Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket*. Thankfully, the girls behaved themselves. They sat in the back of the room while mom presented her paper and moderate the session! Well done girls 🙂

On the second day, mom skipped the conference to take the girls to the beach. The hotel provide a bus ride to Karon beach. We arrived quite early in the morning so there werent many visitors. The white sandy beach is quite clean. The girls really enjoyed playing around the beach.

Karon Beach
Karon Beach
Enjoying the beach
Enjoying the beach

The third day we went for a full day tour to Phi Phi Island. The travel agency picked us up from the hotel at 8AM. One of the main challenge is that the driver does not speak English that well, so we must communicate with sign language 😀 About one hour drive we got to the harbour where we board a big boat. Then we must change to smaller boat to get to our first stop.  It is a tiny island, but there were so many visitors there. So, we dont really have a private place just to relax. We were given only an hour there. The girls got another chance to play in the water. Then back to the boat where they already prepared lunch. It was actually quite good. But, I started to get sea sick 😦 The next stop is another island where people can go snorkelling. Then we were taken to Maya Island which is the setting of Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach. The last stop is Phi Phi Island. Again, this island was so full with visitors. I find it a bit too crowded 😦 All in all, I think a full day trip is a bit too hectic.

At the end of the day, we were so tired. But, we have to find dinner. Luckily one of our friend introduced us to a restaurant by Ikon Hotel. It is called O-oh Farm, which served Thai, Western and Vegetarian food. The restaurant has a really great atmosphere and the food is really good.

Lovely Restaurant Next Door
Lovely Restaurant Next Door

After three days in Phuket we must bid farewell. Our flight is at 10 o’clock in the morning. Learning from our last experience, we decided to get there as early as we can. And it was the right decision. There were queue everywhere. First we must queue for baggage check before entering the airport. Secondly, queue for immigration. it was really inconvenience especially for family with young children. Thankfully, the flight is on schedule and provided in-flight entertainment. But, I am not too happy with the food. Once we arrived in KL, we must rushed to change airport, check our luggage and got to immigration. We wanted to stop for lunch, but the announcer called that all passenger for our flight should go immediately to the gate. So we rushed ourselves only to find that the flight is delayed. We were hoping to have lunch in the flight, but again we were disappointed because they only prepare for people that pre-order the food. They have no stock for other passengers.

Moral of the story is, if you fly AirAsia, consider the flight time carefully and if you think you will need a meal during the flight pre-order your meal! Also if you travel with young kids during peak season such as Christmas, prepare them to have long queues. Bring coloring books or other activities during the wait 🙂 Dont forget to bring some snacks!

Thankfully, we arrived back in Surabaya safe and sound. The girls enjoyed their first trip abroad. Cant wait to take them to another trip soon (finger crossed)