Final thoughts on Indonesia (2019)

We’ve moved from Indonesia to Thailand, so that means it is time for final thoughts on Indonesia.  Although, once again, our final thoughts on Indonesia are limited by the fact that we only stayed in Bali (Nusa Dua and Legian) and Java (Yogyakarta).


At Ijo temple.

Kuta Beach on Bali is where many of the tourists go.  We think there is pretty much only one reason to go to Kuta Beach, and that is to visit the local branch of Paradise Dynasty.  Yum….soup dumplings.  The rest of the area is pretty much just one big Australian drunk fest. Continue reading

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Watching our dollars disappear at Timang Beach

While visiting Yogyakarta, we decided it would be nice to get out in the countryside for a day and visit a beach.  Enjoy nature and all that, right?  Well, we read about a beach called Timang Beach.  Right off of Timang Beach is a small island.  Apparently, locals fished for lobsters on the island and built a hand-powered gondola to carry them over the water.  The gondola is now open for tourists (as is a recently built suspension bridge).  Winner, winner, chicken dinner — we had our beach.  What we didn’t know is that Timang Beach is (1) super touristy, like on par with the Wisconsin Dells; (2) not even really a beach — you are on cliffs the entire time; and (3) a huge money pit.  Let me explain.


On the island — remarkable that the photographer got a photo that makes it seem like we are actually in nature and not in a spot of mass tourism.

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The food of Yogyakarta

One of the things we were most excited about when visiting Yogyakarta was the food.  We had read that the food in Yogyakarta was absolutely amazing.  Unfortunately, we weren’t that impressed.

The best known local delicacy around in Yogyakarta is something called gudeg Jogja.  Gudeg is young jackfruit slow cooked in a charcoal pot along with palm sugar and coconut milk.  It ends up kind of the consistency of chunky sludge.  Appetizing, right?  It is often served with spicy cow skin, tempe, and a duck egg.  We also tried a version of gudeg made with coconut flower.  Neither of us were huge fans of gudeg — it is really, really sweet and the consistency is certainly not something I want for dinner.  Continue reading

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Prambanan and nearby temples

Remember how we said we were templed out when we left Siem Reap?  Fortunately, its been a few months, as we spent another day in Yogyakarta temple hopping.  We booked a private car (and completely overpaid given we only wanted it for half a day) and wandered around to several different temples.

We started our day at Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia.  It was built back during the 9th century.  It is another Unesco World Heritage site and, in some ways, I liked it even better than Borobudur.  While the carvings weren’t as intricate, it was much easier to get a view of the entire temple complex.  Most people visit Prambanan at sunset, but we arrived at 6:30 a.m. and were one of only a handful of people there so we pretty much had the temples to ourselves for awhile.  Continue reading

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Taman Sari — A swing and a miss in Yogyakarta

Some days, sightseeing isn’t all it is cracked up to be.  And, I think it is important to be honest about what sights are worth seeing and which sights simply aren’t worth seeing.  So, here goes….

One of the alleged highlights of Yogyakarta is Taman Sari, otherwise known as the water temple.  It was constructed back in the 1700’s and was used for, among other things, bathing and relaxing and, according to at least some websites, wife hunting.  Back in the day, it spread over 12,000 acres (I know that seems like a really high number, but I got it from the World Monument’s Fund website which I think is pretty reputable but perhaps not because 12,000 acres seems huge).  Continue reading

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Borobudur, the chicken church, and Mount Merapi

Whooo hooo!  We are in a brand new to us city (Yogyakarta, which is actually pronounced like jogjakarta by some people, apparently because the Dutch colonizers couldn’t pronounce Y or so one of our guides told us) and you know what that means?  Sightseeing!  It is about time.  We were both getting pretty tired of sitting by the pool all day.  (OK, fine, we will probably never get tired of that, but we are both eager to get out and do some sightseeing before our next two months of sitting by pools in Thailand).


Borobudur from a distance.

Borobudur is THE “must see” in Yogyakarta.  Continue reading

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Brunching in Bali

Robert and I love brunch.  It doesn’t matter whether it is an all-you-can eat and all-you-can drink brunch or just an order off the menu type of thing.  It doesn’t matter if it is some big and fancy buffet in Las Vegas or just a casual restaurant in Chicago.  It doesn’t matter if it is just the two of us or if we are with a group of people.  Brunch, my friends, is one of life’s little (or not so little) pleasures.  There is quite simply nothing better than pigging out on Sunday morning/afternoon with a glass of bubbles (and, yes, brunch does require bubbles — I stand firm on the idea that brunch without bubbles isn’t really brunch). Continue reading

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Final Thoughts on Vietnam (2019)

After our second three month visit, Robert and I left Vietnam last week feeling very, very conflicted.  Don’t get me wrong, we still adore Vietnam.  But it is changing so quickly.  It is getting harder and harder to feel like we have any opportunity at all to see the “real” Vietnam — instead tourists are shuttled off to tourist towns (Mui Ne, I’m talking about you) and tourist districts (Hue, I’m talking about you) and tourist restaurants.  So, if you have any desire to go, we say go now before it changes any further. Continue reading

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A Week in Saigon

We just spent a week in Saigon.  Quite a few people, when they heard we were visiting Saigon for an entire week, said “oh, I’m sorry.”  And, in all honesty, I really wouldn’t recommend any tourist spend an entire week in Saigon.  It is a big, bustling, loud city without much to do in the way of sightseeing.  But we managed to really enjoy ourselves.  Guess how?  We made it all  about the food and the beverages, of course. Continue reading

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Saigon Photo Tour

As we continue our travels, one of our primary goals is to learn to take better photographs.  So, while in Saigon, we booked the Scoot N’ Shoot tour with Vietnam Photo Adventures.  Arnaud met us at our hotel, chatted with us a bit about photography, and then we hopped on scooters and drove to an area of town filled with apartment buildings and small shops.  (As an aside here, I would like to note that, after riding on the back of a scooter, Robert now has much more respect for my scooter riding skills….). Continue reading

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