Backdated to 8May’09 long weekend.
In the long weekend last May (yes i do a lot of long weekend mini getaways), i reached Pulau Weh, in Aceh province. Contrary to what most people think, Banda Aceh is not the run down, dilapidated place due to the tsunami and unsafe due to the ex-separatists movement. In fact, it is be the total opposite.
More after the jump…
From KL to Banda Aceh: AirAsia flies 3 times weekly. By careful planning, I was able to reach from SG to My timings were 0910 to 1005 (SG to KL), 1155 to 1220 (KL to Banda Aceh). There was just enough time for transit, so SG to KL time should be earlier. From the airport, take transport to Ulee Lheu harbour (around 30 minutes). The fast boat leaves the harbour at 1600hrs and arrives at 1700hrs at Balohan harbour on Pulau Weh. From there, its a 45 min ride to Gapang beach (ibioh is a bit further i think).
Set off very early. Lumba-lumba arranges transport at 7am, and reaches Balohan in time for the 0830 boat. Reach at 0930hrs. You will have some time (i struck a deal with the motorised 3 wheeler driver to explore Banda Aceh and get some souvenirs). The flight is at 1245 to 1510hrs. (BA to KL) and just plan the KL to SG flight accordingly (again with time for transit).
Here’s an update on AirAsia’s flights. It seems the KL to BA flights now go from 1335 to 1400hrs. There should still be enough time to catch the 1600hr boat (factoring the 30min ride to the harbour). Personally I don’t like the change, since it’s a bit tight especially if there are flight delays.
On the way back its 1425 to 1650, later timings again. This would allow for more time to be spent in Banda Aceh itself =) Probably thats the only reason for them to move the timings that i can think of.
I stayed at Lumba Lumba Dive. They do 2 dives a day, plus you can arrange for shore dives in the evenings. The beach is a rustic undeveloped stretch. Nothing to do there but eat and sleep. There is a lovely warung just out on the main road, serving local fare. Diving sites Batee Tokong is great (sea fans) are nice. Currents are strong, more pelagic stuff can be found.
So in 4 days of leave, I spent 1 day going there, 2 days diving, 1 day returning to Sg. All in all a great short break.
Saturday 12Sep’09. To Dieng Plateau.
From Borobudur, take a bus at the terminal to Magelang (10,000 Rp) which stops at Muntilan for a pick-up. At Magelang, take a bus (14,000 Rp) to Wonosobo. This drops you off at the Wonosobo terminal, just outside of town. Join the crowd taking the bemo to town (2,000 Rp) and you’ll get dropped where the minibuses to Dieng are. The Dieng buses pack up the passengers before moving off (8,000 Rp).
The bus drops you off at the T-junction in Dieng, just off Hotel Bu Juno (where we stayed). Food is pretty good, the menu is decent enough at the hotel restaurant. Bring some warm clothing, or buy them at the shop across the road. At 2095m, Dieng is no joke. Here is Sep, the early morning temperature is 14degrees. In July or Aug, it can go as low as a few degrees. If you take the motorbike tour around, wear a windbreaker and cover up. Otherwise be prepared to shiver throughout as you ride into the cold air.
The sights themselves are fantastic. Of note is the summit, at 2300m, dawn to catch the sunrise. Arjuna complex is made up of 5 Hindu temple ruins. Where there used to be over 200, now only 5 remains in the complex. It was surreal, because ducks, geese and sheep came out to graze with their handlers and cut through the temple ruins while we were there. The grounds itself is very well kept. Kawah Sikidang (Deer crater) is a boiling sulphuric pool, so named because the location of the boiling pool changes over three possible spots in the area, like a deer hopping from place to place. Then there is the Telaga Warna (coloured lake), in which we could see clear turquoise water with tiers of farming landscape in the background. The other candi visited was Candi Bima, a standalone temple in which walking around clockwise 7 times supposedly brings good luck.
From the Bu Jono hotel, Pak Didik arranges motorbike tours around the area. A dawn sunrise summit is 50,000Rp, including the nearby sites would be 100,000Rp, and going out further to see everything would be 150,000 Rp. Come back to the hotel by lunch and take the public bus back out. Or take the tour bus at 12.30pm (70,000 Rp) direct to Yogyakarta.
Fri Sep11’09. Current prices are 575,000 Rp for a room with double bed (625,000 Rp for twin beds). Since Manohara’s back gate leads straight into Borobudur, you get unlimited entries into the temple grounds. Otherwise it is 11 USD per entry. Special sunrise entries 230,000 Rp can be booked from the Manohara hotel reception.
Candi Mendut is famous for a Buddha seated not cross-legged but with legs unfolded and feet touching the ground. The murals around the Candi depicts animal stories where the animals show selfishness, greed etc.
Pilgrims to Borobudur back then circle each of the 7 tiers clockwise twice (total around 5km). Borobudur has 4 tiers depicting normal life. The 1st tier tells the story of Buddha, the second I think tells of stories of animal reincarnations of Buddha. After the 4th tier, the 5th opens up into Nirvana, no longer squares and angular, but circular, with three tiers and a total of 72 Buddhas each covered by a dome. The final biggest stupa at the top is empty. Emptiness is perfection, maybe, no one knows the reason. Get a guide to explain the murals, or go and watch the audio visual at the Manohara for 5,000 Rp.
Thurs 10/09/09. Ok. This is as live a post as can be. I am in the Princess Manohara hotel just outside the Borobudur temple grounds.
Started off from Sg and flew into the local airport. 4th time in Indonesia this year. After Bali, Sumba, Flores, Banda Aceh, Bandung, and now Yogyakarta. 2009 is Visit Indonesia Year for me. It’s pretty relaxed so far. From the airport we cabbed (50,000Rp) to the Jimbor bus terminal. Took a 1.5hr bus (15,000 Rp) from there with a stopover at Muntilan before reaching Borobudur.
Next: More on borobudur. I’ve to go and see more now. 😉