other-places

Puncak Jaya Wijaya

Heinrich Harrer, famed author of the book Seven Years in Tibet, had always been fascinated by the Jayawijaya Peak in Papua. And so, some 12 years after returning from Tibet in 1950, Heinrich Harrer together with three friends, Temple, Kippax and Huizinga, decided to conquer the Peak,. In 1962 they became the first climbers to ever reach the top of the Carstensz (Jayawijaya) Peak, one of the 7 highest mountains in the world.

 

The Jayawijaya Peak, better known to mountaineers by its former name as the Carstensz Pyramid, is 4,844 meters above sea level, and has for centuries enticed many, especially adventurers and mountaineers to reach these eternal equatorial glaciers. In 1623, a Dutch explorer, Jan Carstensz, sighted the snow-capped mountain and named it after him. .This natural phenomenon is very rare since natural ice does not normally develop along the warm equator.  Sadly, significant retreats of the glaciers have been found at several locations such as at the Trikora Peak and the Meren Glacier between 1939 and 1962 and between 1994 to the year 2000. The large eternal ice cap however, remains very awesome and most striking.

 

The climb to the peak requires special techniques, and climbing the terrain is therefore recommended only for advanced and intermediate climbers. A climbing company has rated the difficulty at 3 out of 5 difficulty points. The ascent takes fifth class rock climbing ability on an extraordinary limestone summit ridge with Tyrolean Traverse, repelling, and general rope skills. Being one of the most difficult peaks to climb in the world, and the highest peak between the Andes and the Himalayas, conquering the Carstensz Peak will fill you with triumph and pure exhilaration.

Raja Ampat: Ultimate Underwater Expedition

The roaring engines fixed to a large wooden boat are finally quiet. Nothing can be heard but the rifting little waves, lapping against the vibrant paint on the sides of the vessel that gracefully slows down. Native birds hop on the tip of a small tree in one of the deserted islands in the distance.

 

Raja Ampat or ‘Four Kings’, is the name given to these islands and comes from a local myth. The four major islands found here are Waigeo, Misool (which is home to ancient rock paintings), Salawati, and Batanta.

 

Underwater enthusiasts flock to this region because it offers the world’s best marine sights. Two days earlier, some of these travelers had been at a deafening corner of a tourist trap in Bali. Once they took their flight to the bird head of the island of Papua everything changed as they embarked on a diving tour of a lifetime. In the Raja Ampat islands, divers can explore vertical underwater walls. The thrill of drift diving is another great challenge. These are the awesome experiences you will find in Raja Ampat.

 

Meanwhile, on this tour several divers were well equipped and looked advanced. The territory within the islands of the Four Kings is enormous, covering 9.8 million acres of land and sea, home to 540 types of corals, more than 1,000 types of coral fish and 700 types of mollusks. This makes it the most diverse living library for world's coral reef and underwater biota. According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75% of the world's species live here. When divers first arrive here their excitement is palpable. It's common to hear people praise God as they take in the remarkable scenery. Others prefer to remain in silence taking in the overwhelming sight of so many islands with crystal clear water that softly brushes over the white sandy beaches.

 

"Disini bagus!", says the friendly local guide who had been appointed by the tour operator who runs an eco-lodge in Raja Ampat, indicating that they have arrived at one of the most fantastic diving sites. On other days, this guide is just a simple fisherman. The local fishermen here are accustomed to foreigners and are friendly, especially when offered pinang (betel nuts) or some sweet candies. These are very popular and offering these sweets is considered polite and a good way to win an instant smile. The fishermen usually eat this snack during Para-para Pinang, or social chatting and exchanging funny stories while chewing Pinang. In many respects, like nature, culture, and history, these fishermen are closer to the Moluccas.

 

"No doubt about it, Raja Ampat is definitely the richest place for fish that I have ever been." –
-Dr G.R. Allen

 

"I was like a five-year-old, seeing a reef for the very first time. I was awestruck, held by the incredible power of this richest reef. We must, with all available resources, preserve the beauty of Raja Ampat. This may be the last frontier." –Michael Aw

"I love the people, I love the diving, it's super! I've never been for a second time to the same dive destination but now I'm thinking about going back for the third time! Should I say more?" –Peter van Dalen

 

While the landscape may look like a dream, this is not an illusion. As you embark on your dive, the phrase "Attention to detail" takes on new meaning as pigmy seahorses swim around your fingers. Manta Rays and wobbegongs will glide right by you. Tuna fish, giant trevallies, snappers, and even barracudas are there to complete your underwater "meeting list". Not to mention the friendly assistant of the dugong, and a busy colleague, the turtle.  Natural and untouched beauty is the main attraction here. With no unnecessary adages, the sky, the lush islands, the sea, and everything above and under it is genuinely saying "Welcome to Raja Ampat Islands; your personal Disneyland of diving sites".

 

More facts about the Raja Ampat Conservation Area:

This area is home to 1,511 species of reef fish in the Bird’s Head Seascape;
1,320 species of reef fish in Raja Ampat;
75% of all known coral species in the world;
10 times the number of hard coral species found in the entire Caribbean;
In the Birds Head Seascape there 600 species of hard coral recorded;
5 species of endangered sea turtles;
57 species of Mantis Shrimp;
13 species of Marine Mammals;
And 27 species of endemic reef fish found only in that area

PRAMBANAN : THE EXOTIC HINDU TEMPLE

As the largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia, the beautiful and graceful temple of Prambanan is a magnificent spectacle and an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage.

 

Located not far from the Buddhist Borobudur temple, the proximity of the two temples tells us that on Java, Buddhism and Hinduism lived peacefully next to one another.

 

Prambanan is known locally as Roro Jonggrang, coming from the legend of the ‘slender virgin’. According to the legend once upon a time, there was a young and powerful man named Bandung Bondowoso.  He wanted to marry a beautiful princess named Roro Jonggrang. Her father, the king, agreed and forced her to marry Bandung Bondowoso. Butm Sita did not love him yet could not refuse him.

 
After careful consideration, she thought of a way to refuse Bondowoso, whose magical power was well-known.  She decided she would agree but only if Bondowoso built 1,000 temples in one night before the break of dawn.
 

She insisted that the work must be completed before the rooster crowed, something she believed was impossible. But with the help of genies and his own magical powers, Bondowoso managed to complete 999 temples. Panicked, Jonggrang told the women of her village to start pounding rice so that the rooster would wake up and begin to crow.  When Bondowoso heard this he was deeply disappointed and wildly enraged. When he found out that Roro Jonggrang had made the roosters crow, he turned her into stone, The statue of a slender virgin graces the main Prambanan temple, while a group of temples nearby is called the Candi Sewu or the Thousand Temples.

 

The  temples at Prambanan were built in the 9th century. The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva – the destroyer, and the two smaller ones which sit on its right and left are dedicated to Brahma -¬ the creator and Wisnhu – the sustainer.  The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 meters high. Its peak visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples.

 

After hundreds of years of neglect, the Prambanan temple was rediscovered by CA Lons, a Dutchman, in 1733. Since then, this temple has been revitalized and today is widely regarded as the most beautiful and graceful Hindu temple in Indonesia.

 

The grandeur, complexity, and integrated architectural concept of Prambanan makes this a truly amazing structure. As a unique cultural and architectural marvel, Prambanan was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO.