Ooooooh Indonesia. You were not on my radar, Bali was such a turn off to me that I didn’t even take the time to do more research about the country.
Luckily an ex-co-worker asked me to go snap some photos of him surfing and I discovered an amazing country.
Arrived on August 28th, 2019 and stayed for a full two months.
Here’s the full gallery : Click Click.
As stated before, a friend asked me to go down to Indonesia for photography, I was in Krabi, Thailand and it was quite a journey to meet up with my friend for various reasons but after, a ferry, 5 flights, and a few taxi rides, I finally arrived in Watukarung, in East Java.
Watukarung is a very quiet surf town, mostly body surfers hang out there, it’s a good wave for that. The beach is nice at high tide but at low tide, you can’t swim. Here’s a photo at high tide:
That rock in he background use to look even more like a persons profile but it lost some profile parts a few years back:
The beach and water are super clean, it’s not a very touristic area and people who do visit, respect nature. Here you can see surfers in the water:
I love this photo of that “face” rock that I just talked about:
Beaches for days…
Oh and the milky way is looking good from around there:
After a few days, I decided to go back to Jogjakarta, this is the main city near Watukarung, it’s a 3 hours drive, they also have some nice temples to visit:
The sunrise tour for Borobudur temple is a little pricey for Indonesia and very crowded, not ideal for photography but a cool sight for sure:
It is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, that’s what the marketing department says, the temple is surrounded by mountains/volcanoes, that’s something you’ll see a lot on this post, there seems to always be a volcano in the background, that morning I was there you could barely see it though:
It’s a very nice temple to visit:
At sunset I visited Prambanan Temple, also a very nice temple, with many crowds:
After a few days I went back to the beach, this one is about 35 minutes from the city. It’s called Pantai Parangendog. It’s not very swimmable but nice for photography or just looking and chilling:
After Jogjakarta, I decided to go to Malang. From there I would visit Bromo, I’ve seen photos of Bromo before, but I didn’t know it was on Java, and other spots nearby such as the Tumpak Sewu waterfall and so on. I took a train from Jogja to Malang, which was pretty nice and cheap.
Malang is not a very popular starting point to visit Bromo but I wanted to get a dirt bike and hangout in the Bromo National Park for a few days and Malang seemed like the city with more possibilities to rent a dirt bike.
Before heading out to Bromo I wanted to have a look at this colorful neighborhood of Malang, called Kampung Tridi, another great surprise from my visit to Indonesia, I’ve seen nice photos of this place but I had no idea it was here:
Very cool to see all those colors in the middle of a big, grey city.
I contacted a few dirt bikes rental places and I found Moto East Java, if you are ever in the area and need a bike, those guys are great.
So I thought it would be a good idea to get a dirt bike to go to Bromo, I mean it is a good idea, it just might not be the best idea when you never rode a dirt bike before, nothing happened at the end other than low speed falls in the sand but I would recommend having experience before going there on a dirt bike! But if you are confident on a bike, you need to do this!!
The guys from the shop came down with me the first day to snap some photos and videos, here’s some photos and video I made:
Anyway the next few days I hung around Bromo, going in and out the sea of sand and getting up for sunrise at 3am, what a great adventure, here’s some photos:
A little fart from Volcano Semeru nearby, after sunset:
After these amazing 3 days in Bromo, it was time to go chasing waterfalls, there’s an area with many, big, beautiful, impressive waterfalls, nearby Pronojiwo, this was also something I had no idea was in Java, Indonesia.
I visited many waterfalls while I was there, must of them are 45 minutes, mild, hike to get to and then another 45 minutes to get back. They are not easy to access, drive in waterfalls, they are mostly wild waterfalls that’s what makes the beauty of it.
The first one I visited was Tumpak Sewu, this one you can see easily from the panorama viewpoint, about 15 minutes walk, but if you really want to experience it you have to go down a sketchy path. I did that a few days later.
I didn’t take photos on my first visit to Tumpak Sewu.
My first photography mission was Striti Waterfall, this one was quite an adventure, check out my Instagram Highlights from Indonesia for more details but basically after finding a baby cat, going down to the waterfall with him, with no water or food, because I was expecting to stay there for one hour, I decided to fly my drone and crashed it. Looked for it for 3 hours, crossing the river 4 times, getting deep in an unknown forest without shoes or shirt. Anyway long story short I found my drone.
Here’s some photos of the waterfall:
And the kitty, R.I.P. (I brought him back to my hostel but he didn’t want to eat and died):
Drone shot before crashing:
This one is Pelangi Waterfall.
You can see a fisherman on the right side of the photo for scale:
Visited a random valley with the homestay owner who had some customer rafting there:
I woke up 4 days in a row for sunrise, drove to Tumpak Sewu, and every time it was cloudy and no sunrise, until the last morning, finally I had a sunrise:
This is a drone view, there’s no viewpoint to see this exact view, but I really wanted to capture that image. It was a long process but I did it!
Later that day I met some friends at the homestay and we went down that same waterfall:
Human for scale:
And a last one, for the sunset we visited Kapas Biru Waterfall, this one was probably the most perfect waterfall I’ve ever seen, it looks like the model that everyone tries to replicate but it’s 100% natural, amazing:
All these waterfalls, and more, are within 20 minutes from each other.
Anyway I then took another train from Malang to Bayuwangi, where I met up with a friend, we wanted to extend our VISA but the immigration office doesn’t offer that service there. So we had to go to Jember, a very unknown and random city 2 hours back in the direction of Malang. We stayed in Jember there 4 days, the process was much faster than expected, it was messy at first but then everything went smoothly while waiting we visited Papuma Beach on a cloudy day:
After we got our VISA extension we went back to Bayuwangi where we rented a bike and went down to Meru Betiri National Park, a park where you can see turtles lay eggs at night, on the way there we stopped at this forest, Jawatan Perhutani:
Very cool place. Touristy but beautiful. The next day we decided to go in to Meru Betiri National Park, you can visit the Green Bay:
Beautiful, especially from the drone, we didn’t walk there, we were lazy that day and were late if we wanted to see the turtles, or so we thought.
We drove in a very nasty road for about 1h30, on a motorbike (scooter), I don’t recommend doing this. The endpoint of this ride is to get to Sukamade turtle beach. We got there at around 3-4 PM and to see the turtles you have to wait for a tour at 8 PM. Then you go to the beach, stay there until the turtle shows up. We stayed on the beach until 11 PM and they didn’t come that day, sadly. I had to return on that nasty road at night and didn’t get to see what we came for. You win some, you lose some.
The next morning our homestay host released some baby turtles on the beach nearby to try and make up for it. He tries to help out the turtles around his place:
Anyway, drove back to Bayuwangi, my friend left and I was heading to Ijen, another incredible place I heard of but didn’t know was on Java. I drove to Licin, a village nearby Ijen Volcano.
Rice fields around there:
The next day I went to Ijen for sunrise, woke up at about 1 AM, drove there for about 40 minutes, and then you walk up. It’s a grueling hike up for about one hour and a half, especially when you didn’t sleep much. Then from the rim of the crater, you can stay there and enjoy the sunrise or go down for about 30 minutes to see the blue flames and hope to make it back up on time for sunrise. That’s what I did.
This is the blue fire:
Not very big that day but still a cool sight, they say it gets up to 3 meters high sometimes, sadly when I came back up to the top, the crater was filled up with smoked and the sunrise didn’t happen. So I left, knowing I wanted to come back!
The road to get there from Licin is very nice:
There’s other things to see around Licin like this rubber tree forest:
Anyway, after waiting for 4 nights for some decent weather, I decided to go back to the top of Ijen, I think I decided to go on a good day:
Here you can see where the miners source the sulfur, and that’s also the location of the blue fire:
After photographing the sunrise around the top of the crater I decided to stay a little longer. The beauty of that place makes it difficult to leave.
With the crowds out of sight, I went down into the crater to take some portraits of the miners.
They carry 70-90KG of sulfur blocks up and down the crater on their shoulders. They do struggle to do it, even though they do this every day, multiple times in a day (usually two or three times from what they told me). They work unbelievably hard for their money, a small 5$US per trip usually. Not only is it heavy but the smoke is quite toxic and burns the eyes, I removed my gas mask while down there and it feels pretty horrible. Even with the gas mask, you can feel it, being there every day for hours can’t be good.
This is not a tourist scam, they really are working out there. It’s very, very humbling to see that.
After a little over a month in East Java, it was time for Bali, I wasn’t sure about going to Bali, not my type of place, but after 3-4 days in Canggu, a very non-indonesian experience, just feels like a foreigner hipster invaded city, I had enough and rented a scooter and drove to the north of the island.
Before going north I took some photos around the beaches of Canggu:
On the way I stopped at Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, this is a tourist attraction, they have paths to walk around too, I didn’t have much time so I only use the drone a little bit and left. Even if it’s very popular it still is beautiful:
The other very touristic attraction is Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, got there on time for sunset and took a photo:
I stayed overnight in Buleleng, I was planning to go see the dolphins at Lovina Beach but after reading a lot of bad things about it I decided not to go.
After Buleleng, which doesn’t have much to offer, I went to Batur, to check out the sunrise at Mount Batur, but not much came out of that sunrise:
Continue driving south, to Sideman, a nice, quiet location in Bali, many nice rice terraces and another Volcano as a backdrop in the area. I drove around and stopped at this location for some photos, after walking in the fields for 20 minutes I found this composition:
I decided to return for sunrise the next morning, the locals were very friendly even though I was playing in there money makers, they even asked me to take photos of them, people in Bali, outside of the tourist places, are very friendly, as every place I have been in Indonesia actually:
Went to a different location for sunset:
I booked a flight for Lombok so it was time to continue my way down, I stopped in Ubud to visit the monkey forest there, it was pretty cool.
After Bali, I went to Lombok, it’s a more chill, hippie vibes, less touristic but still touristic island right beside Bali. I spent about 10 days in Kuta, the coastline around there is amazing for photography, and surf.
This was my first attempt at going to Pengempos, Areguling, which I saw only from my drone that day:
It’s that bottom left enclave, you have to make sure the tide is not coming up to go there, it’s a difficult 45 minutes hike to reach that spot, but the real danger is the water, you can get stuck and I wasn’t confident because the tide was coming up that day so I went back.
Here’s some photos from the area:
The next day I went to Merese Hill for sunset:
And on my last day in Kuta, I went back to have a crack at Pengempos, Areguling. This time the local “parking manager” told me some photographers went there 30 minutes before I arrived, and they were local photographers, so I decided this was my best chance to go for it. I did and wow, what an amazing location. Totally worth it even if you are not into photography, this place is special.
So happy I made it there, one of my favorite locations ever. I still had a few days before I had to leave the country so I went to the famous “Gili islands”. This is a very very touristic location, it’s 3 small islands in the northwest of Lombok, I went to the most touristic and popular one. Might as well go all in.
Gili Trawangan, it’s not my style of place but if you want to chill it’s cool, it’s also very popular for diving certifications and snorkeling around turtles, didn’t see any myself but didn’t snorkel that much either.
Took only some photos with the drone, beautiful colors:
After this, I drove back to the airport, flew to Bali and the next day I went back to Thailand!
What a great surprise Indonesia was to me.
I want to go back to Indonesia, for sure, I saw only a fraction of the country and there are many more places I know about now, that I want to see plus all the new ones I might discover along the way.
The people are so nice and welcoming. I will try to go during the rainy season to see the green hills of Flores and much more.
See you Indonesia.