A Noob Traveling in 2014–Indonesia

51 hours, 5 cities.

Indonesia capped off my international adventures for 2014. Some friends and I flew to Jakarta then to Yogyakarta. We only had the weekend and thus had to maximise our time and chose to prioritize Dieng in Central Java, Indonesia.

I was gastronomically happier in this particular trip compared to the last two countries I’ve visited which I guess is because Indonesian food is closer to home. Either that or I’m more aware and informed of what certain food names mean like Kropuk Putih is basically Kropek and Sate is essentially barbecue. And as this is the third country I’ve been to in the Indianized countries of Southeast Asia, I also now know how to handle the levels of spiciness.

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Our first stop was Jalan Malioboro–the famous shopping street in Indonesia. It has a lot of things that might be of interest to any traveler–from trinkets to batik, shoes to clothes, keychains to antics. It is a wonderful place to even just stroll in.

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After Marlioboro we were off to the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur. Though it didn’t give me the overwhelming feeling of the gradeur of Angkor Wat, Borobodur still is amazing. The intricacies of the walls, the details put in the relief panels, the geometric stupas (which I didn’t know usually  had something inside them) will make you curious and wonder of the history it contains.SAMSUNG CSC

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In Dieng, we stayed at a homestay near the base of Mt. Prau and started our ascent at around 3:30 in the morning. I was out of breath most of the climb as I haven’t trekked for years. Plus, I have been physically dormant months prior to this. I was probably the weakest climber in the group. Nonetheless, I was able to reach the peak and take this photo of the sunrise. Made me think of that moment I raced to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to chase after the sunrise. So far, I’ve chased two.
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In our descent, we took a wrong turn and got somewhat lost. Honestly, I felt panic.Then again my super cool experienced, traveler friends were all calm and were enjoying the view so I did too eventually. It was breathtaking. Walking along these terraces made me forget my anxiety in getting lost. Fortunately, we ended up in a small town on the other side of the mountain, opposite where we began our ascent. From there, SAMSUNG CSCThe last stop we visited was the Dieng Temple Complex where 8 temples are located (locals say there used to be 400 of these small temples). It is nice to walk from one temple to another in this complex. And since the average temeprature in Deinge ranges from 12-15 degrees celsius, the sun won’t feel scorching when you walk. Also, since Dieng is a place visited more often than Indonesians rather than foreigners, the place isn’t quite as saturated with people compared to other places I’ve been to in other countries.
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So there goes three countries for 2014. I never knew travelling would be this life-changing. It taught me so much of life. It exposes to discomfort and making comfortable in it (talk about almost missing the connecting flight from Jakarta to Manila because of a late plane, thanks Lion Air). Traveling also teaches you to talk to people while keeping in mind their culture and practices, your being a foreigner, while standing your ground or compromising when needed (talk about haggling a 800,000- Baht trip to the airport from Dieng). Respect, simply put.

There is so much I have yet to learn about life and traveling has been a great teacher this past year. I can’t wait to go to my next stop–this time solo!

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A Noob Traveling in 2014–Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambdoia.The second of the first three countries I’ve ever been to in this quest of finding my self, healing, and growing. After Singapore, Cambodia was a relief from the modernity SG had. Cambodia was simple and laid-back. I felt it was a sincere place, an uncomplicated, modest one. Then of course its history tells us otherwise. When we discussed the Khmer Rouge in high school it didn’t mean much to me. It wasn’t until I had gone to Cambodia that I realized the magnitude of the mass genocide committed by this communist government. I also realized how history can show us relativity of time–that a genocide done in the 1970s might be decades ago but its effects on the nation 30 years later show us that when we talk of cultures and genrations, 30 years is nothing, that building and rebuilding a nation take centuries. It was this humbilng an experience Cambodia was for me. These looking back in history made me appreciate Cambodia more. In this first photo, we rode a tuk-tuk at 4:45 am to rush and witness the world famous sunrise view in Angkor Wat. It was worth it. Being the largest religious monument in the world, it was majestic and grand. I felt small walking in and around it. I can only imagine the history this place contains. 1476534_10152840852347300_4679877619326546910_n On our last day in Cambodia, I biked about 20 kilometers to visit some temples I wasn’t able to enter the day before. For a US dollar I rented a bike, borrowed hat, and packed some water, to experience part of Cambodia alone. It was a peaceful albeit tiring ride. I even met a Khmer school teacher who brought his students biking to visit the temples.

10409708_10152840852687300_8183931537556558830_nMy friends and I also found this nice, quaint restaurant New Leaf Book Cafe where you choose a book from their shelves to read as you wait or eat their scrumptious food; which I believe is reasonably priced (2- 8 USD) since part of their profit is invested in educational programs in the Siem Reap province, which, according to my friend who lived there, schools badly need. 10394787_10152840896472300_4135996607390409428_n I had a lot of good memories in Siem Reap, and one of those is this picture of the Khmer children I played a game with by the entrance of the temple Ta Prohm (where a scene from the first Tomb Raider movie was shot). The game was somewhat similar to the Philippines’ Piko. They were nice, warm kids. I wish I knew how to talk in Khmer. One thing was clear, I lost that game.10377016_10152840896437300_5414180457358462719_n My Cambodia trip was really meaningful. It was humbling for me because it gave me new lenses from which to perceive the battles our country has. It reminded me that each country has its own ghosts to deal with. These things made me want to learn more, get acquainted with more cultures, appreciate history more (and regret listening half-heartedly to my good social studies teacher in HS, Ms. Lazaro), and love traveling even more. In fact, two weeks after this trip, I booked a ticket for my next travel–Indonesia.