Segara Anakan Lagoon

Lagoon, a body of shallow sea water separated from the sea by certain form of barriers, is one of the unique landscapes that can always make people gasp. Among its thousands islands, Indonesia is lucky to have amazing lagoons, including this Segara Anakan lagoon that located in Sempu Island. This 900 hectares island can be reached by 20 minutes boat ride from Sendang Biru beach, 70 km away South of Malang, East Java. Sempu is uninhabited and claimed as nature reserve due to its unspoiled tropical rainforest and biodiversities. There are two trekking paths on this island and the most favorite destination is the one heading to Segara Anakan lagoon through Semut Bay entrance. The path is also recommended because the path is less challenging and the view is more rewarding.

The difficulty of this trekking path depends much on the weather. It can get extremely muddy after rainy seasons. Visitors are advised to get accurate weather information before the trip. In good weather condition, it will take around 2 hours to get into the Segara Anakan, which can double for after-rain trekking. At certain spots, the mud might be knee-deep thus it is necessary to befriend all of the branches and twigs along the path to balance oneself in the walk. All of these efforts will be worthy after viewing the beautiful lagoon. Indeed, this will be a perfect journey for adventurous group travellers.

Segara Anakan is a place similar to lake where people can indulge their lust of snorkeling due to its extremely clear visibility for viewing the underwater scenery of small fishes and coral reefs. Swimmers should not worry of being dragged by the sea current since the wave is very serene thanks to the gigantic coral stones that guarding the lake from big waves off the sea. The water of this ‘lake’ come and go from a large hole on one spot of the stones, giving another memorable scene of splashing waves into the corals before it gets into the lake.

The turquoise calm water lay in contrast with beautiful white-sand beach. The beach also functions as a camping ground for visitors who want to spend the night. There is no fresh water and food sources in this area, thus make sure to bring them for the journey. After swimming or just floating in the lagoon, people usually like to relax in the beach, play with plastic balls, or go around the lagoon. There is one spot in the highest cliff where the border between the ocean and the lake can be best viewed. It is a short track, yet it is not easy. It is advised to bring a friend along for help. If it is possible, bring along a tumbler of coffee for it will taste better to be sipped while enjoying the picturesque scenery.

Pangumbahan Turtle Park, Ujung Genteng

Surprising sunset and sea turtles conservation are two highlights at Pangumbahan Beach, one of tourism spots in Ujung Genteng, southern coastal in West Java, 220 km away from Jakarta. In this site, the coastal area is clean and still shady with big coconut trees, making it ideal for sea turtles to lay their eggs because they tend to avoid barren and dirty areas. Most of the sea turtles often spotted here are Chelonia mydas, which can grow up to 1.5 meter length and weigh up to 300 kg.

These sea turtles are highly sensitive to any means of disturbance while laying their eggs during night time. At once, the sea turtles can lay 100-200 eggs although this can be halted if they sense threats or disturbances. Therefore, Pangumbahan Beach has to be isolated from residential area. The track heading to this place is quite extreme thus an off-road vehicle is preferred. It is best to use car with high ground clearance.

The ideal time to come to this area is in the afternoon, when the little turtles are usually released to the sea. During those time, visitors will have the chance to talk to the officers in charge regarding anything related to the breeding of sea turtles in the park. Visitors can also donate some money for this conservation efforts. By doing so, visitors will get the privilege to have a personal experience of releasing those ‘donated little turtles’ into the sea, along with the rest of the colonies.

The iconic scene of these baby turtles crawl into the big vast ocean is indeed a remarkable episode. Although sometime the waves sway them back to the beach, these tiny creatures will not stop trying to face the waves until they swim freely in the ocean. In addition, amazing sunset in the background will complement the beautiful scene. The combination of shades of clouds tinged with yellowish sun will be a pleasure surprise that is so worth to wait.

3 Things about Tana Toraja

Toraja is strongly attached with tradition related with funeral and its ceremonies. Located in the northern part of South Sulawesi, Tana Toraja highland is the home for Toraja indigenous group that still preserve and apply their ancestors’ heritages. Wander around Tana Toraja, visitors’ eyes will definitely be fascinated by at least three things: the houses, the tombs and the ceremonies.

The traditional house of Toraja is called Tongkonan, which means a place to gather. It functions as the center of Torajan life and embodies the connection between them and their ancestors. Its huge roof is shaped like buffalo’s horns and dominated by red, black and shades of brown. The house is made of bamboo and woods and it has solid construction although still uses traditional woodworking joints. All Tongkonan are facing north because, for the Torajan, north represents life.

Aside from the challenging work of building Tongkonan, the Torajan also build marvelous tombs for the deceased. For adults, they carve graves on unthinkable places such as on a side of rocky cliffs or gigantic stones where they will lay or hang the deceased bodies. On each grave, they put Tau-Tau, a puppet representing the deceased. Meanwhile, there are also hanging graves for babies. They were hung using ropes on a cliff or tree and kept for years until the ropes rot and these graves fall to the ground.

Last, but not least, Rambu Solok, the burial ceremony that is impressive especially in terms of scale and festivities. According to the Torajan, death is not an occasion for sorrow. It is a notable milestone in life that is as joyful as birth. Therefore, funeral is regarded as celebration that involved everyone related to the deceased because it reinforces the eternal bond between the dead and the living. In this society, instead of wedding, funeral marks a family’s status. This funeral ritual can be attended by many people and lasted for days, depending on the social status of the deceased, and it certainly requires major fund. Water buffaloes really play an important role of the tradition in Toraja as they represent wealth. A certain type of water buffalo can even be bought with a price of an SUV. The number of water buffaloes slaughtered during this ceremony indicates the social level of the deceased. The animals are sacrificed to accompany the spirit of the deceased during their journey to the land of the dead.

These preserved heritage of tradition and local wisdom, regardless of the hustle and bustle of external pressures, indeed make the life of people in Tana Toraja admirable. Their efforts to sustain such cultural wealth are reflected in the infrastructure development where roads, tourism spots, public facilities and electricity are provided to strengthen the traditions instead of to eliminate them. Various means of transportation to Tana Toraja are available from Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi equipped with an international airport, making it easy for everyone to visit and experience this wonderful highland.

The Marvelous Landscape of Molo

Not many people know Molo, a rich area managed by indigenous people in the southern part of Mutis Mountain Sanctuary, Timor Tengah Selatan, Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). The area possesses abundant valuable mineral resources including marble, manganese, gold, oil, gas and many more. One indigenous tribe, Molo, lives in the upstream, while the other indigenous tribes; Amanuban and Amanatun, live in the downstream area.

Unlike the stereotype of NTT that is often perceived to have dry lands, this area is highly fertile and thick with primary forests. Many native biodiversity reside in this eastern part of Indonesia including various birds, butterflies, forest honey, sandalwood and the unique homogeneous forest of Ampupu (Eucalyptus urophylla) that can only be found in Mutis Mountain. It also holds a prominent role as water catchment area since at least three watersheds and 13 rivers are flowing from the mountain to water many areas in Timor Tengah Selatan.

Having a beautiful pretty landscape and super friendly people, this area holds high potentials of tourism that are is still left untouched. High marble mountains and thick-dark-green forests laying under the blue sky reinforce the remarkable scenery in Nausus, one of the peaks in Mutis Mountain where people can capture all of these heavenly view. Green grasses over the pretty lines of Eucalyptus forests seem to invite everyone to gather, camp, play guitar, set bonfires and to sip some ginger tea.

People with excessive adrenaline who love to go on challenging journeys would certainly love Molo. It is one of the most exotic and untouched places in Indonesia. The area can be reached in 2-3 hours by using public land transportation from Kupang to Soe, and another 2-3 hours trip uphill usually by using ojek (motorcycle taxi). One note need to be taken; don’t forget to bring along a sleeping bag, or even take some friends and loved ones to cuddle with, as they will help preserve body heat. It’s cold outside and it’s getting extra colder during the night. However, stargazing on a clear night will be rewarding since people can literally see all the stars in the sky from the marvelous Molo.

Photo Tips #1 – Left Eye FTW

Claiming to be photo-enthusiast, I realize that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to photography. And today, I learn something rather interesting.

Answer me this; when you peek your view-finder to frame a photo, do you use your right eye or your left eye?

People will have difference preference. Some might say right, some might say left… it’s all based on natural instinct (reflex) or perhaps other reasons.

I normally use right eye for no particular reason. I guess it’s just reflex.

My wife use her left eye because she has more problem with her right eye.

A friend of mine use both (one at a time, of course) depending on the situation.

Bottom line, there is no right or wrong.

However, I just learn that using your left eye to peek has extra advantage – providing that you are using a ‘right hand camera’ (you push the shutter button with your right hand index finger).

Using your left eye peek at the view-finder tend to make your hands and arms (especially elbows) closed/rested on your body, thus providing extra support to prevent camera shake. It will become handy especially when you need to take photo with low shutter speed without tripod. Using this method, I still can get sharp-focused image at 1/8” shutter speed (handheld); Please note that I normally get shaky photo at 1/15″ shutter speed (handheld).

Starting today, I think I’m going to force myself to get accustom in using my left eye to peek. Hope it will help me in getting  better photos for peepIndonesia.com.

Further reading:

  1. “Da Grip”, by Joe McNally (Article, Video)
  2. “How to hold the camera with your hands for best support”, by Vesna Koselj (Article)

Photo by Amanda M. Hatfield

Belitung Island

Belitung, an island about 380 km north of Jakarta, is an emerging area that quickly established its position as a most-visited destination, especially after the publication of a best-seller fiction novel, Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors). The novel, written by a native Belitung young man Andrea Hirata, tells about an inspiring struggle of underprivileged elementary school students in the island. What actually exists in the island is far beyond what is stated in the novel.

The place is a natural beauty with its rocky and white sand beaches that are exceptionally unique, spread across the main island and in nearly two hundred surrounding small islands. Belitung island has Tanjung Binga classic pier where the fishing boats are docking. Seeing the dramatic sky while fishing in the wooden pier can indeed be a relaxing moment. Still in the main island, Tanjung Tinggi is a must-see spot due to its gigantic granite rocks and clear white-sand beach.

What should be boldly printed in any Belitung itinerary is islands hopping. Rent a small boat then go to some highlighted islands such as Lengkuas Island, Kepayang Island and other unnamed small islands nearby. The main island itself is best explored by renting a car. Altogether, Belitung is very suitable for group trips. Don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses, sunblock and snorkeling gear. Both the upper and underwater views are amazingly pretty and worth every penny.

Belitung is now a heaven for beach-lovers, sunrise and sunset-seekers, photographers and anyone who enjoys beautiful landscapes. Considering its relatively cheap flight (around USD 80 return) and short distance (less than an hour flight) from Jakarta, the place can surely be an appealing option for a long holiday or a quick getaway.

Indonesia’s Heritage for the World

A magazine displayed in a bookshop at Bandung Train Station made me stunned. It was Gatra Magazine, Special Edition for August 17th, 2010, entitled “Indonesia’s Heritage for the World”. In a blink, I bought that magazine.

Indonesia’s Heritage for the World. Yes, this is the title of the special edition to commemorate Indonesia’s Independence Day. The edition exclusively discusses 65 kinds of Indonesian legacy for the World, which consists of various Intangible, Arts, Crafts, Architecture, Tangible and finally Sites and Archaeology Heritage. The number 65 is of course used only to coincide with Indonesia’s independence day, 65 year ago. If we’re talking the actual number of Indonesia’s heritage, I am certain that there are hundreds or perhaps thousands of them spread across the country, from Sabang to Merauke, from Miangas to Rote. As the tagline of this site, Beautiful Diversity, Indonesia has a very rich and diverse cultural beauty.

As a small gift from us to our beloved nation, after three months we had this website in beta version, by today, August 17th, 2010, Peep Indonesia is officially introduced to the public. This website can be accessed at peepIndonesia.com. Happy and proud to launch the website, we do realize there are many things that need refinement and further development.

To complete our happiness, by today we also have a new crew. Dwi Rahardiani, or more affectionately known as Duy, a spirited traveler, joins Peep Indonesia. She will be our Editor and Narrator and will assist Goyo, our Editor-in-Chief. Through her lens, Duy will also share a lot of pictures of Molo, Belitung and other Indonesian landscapes she has visited. Duy’s enthusiasm and experience will certainly strengthen Peep Indonesia to grow in the future in promoting Indonesia’s Heritage to the World.

Welcome to the team, Duy.

And one more thing that makes this day a very special day for me and the team is that today is our Editor-in-Chief’s second anniversary. I would like to wish Goyo and his family a very happy anniversary. Hopefully someday Goyo and his families will also be part of Indonesia’s Heritage for the World. :)

Finally, Happy Birthday, Indonesia!

Jakarta, August 17th, 2010
Beni Suryadi


Photo credits: bittbox and Gatra.

Kirab Boyongan Solo

Solo (formally known as Surakarta) is a city in Central Java which holds important role as one of the centers of Javanese culture. The city’s slogan “Solo, Spirit of Java” reflected on the architecture of the buildings, the citizens’ way of living and numbers of cultural events held throughout the year.

One event that must not be missed is Kirab Boyongan (literally can be translated as the Moving Parade). A lot of social groups were involved, including important government elements of said society. Most of them were walking during the parade, some rode horses and some were on horse carts. In these pictures, they were moving a traditional market called Pasar Windujenar. Lead by the Mayor, the parade departed from the old location of the market to the new one.

The parade was like one stop cultural show because people can see a lot of cultural elements in it. Starting from the wardrobe, almost all of them were wearing traditional clothes. Some of them even wear uniform of the kingdoms’ army, complete with swords and rifles. There were also several children who wear festive wardrobe made from traditional fabric, batik.

Other than the costumes, each social group who joined the parade also brought some attributes to show their identity. Some even performed attractions to entertain the public. People can see, not only various traditional wardrobes, but also various attractive performances – and all for free.

One important note: Kirab Boyongan is not a regular event. But don’t worry, Solo has a lot of other interesting Kirabs which are held regularly throughout the year. Come, and enjoy Solo, the spirit of Java.

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan truly is a heaven on earth, one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Indonesia. Located in northwest of Lombok Island, it is the biggest of three small islands. The other two are Gili Meno and Gili Air.

The common way to go to the three Gilis is by boat from Bangsal Harbor at Lombok Island. The journey from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan takes around 45 minutes. An interesting fact about the island is that motor vehicles are prohibited by the local government. So, to go around the island, tourists are encouraged to use a cidomo (horse cart), renting a bicycle or simply walk. Despite being the largest of three islands, Gili Trawangan is still considered as a small island, therefore walkable.

Must-do activity in Gili Trawangan is snorkeling or diving. It is to be noted that the underwater current between the Gilis (gili means island in local language) are quite strong. Thus, the risk is big, but the reward is worthy. The visibility is great and divers/snorkeler can find various types of underwater creatures, including sea turtles.

Another must-do activity is enjoying sunset at the ‘Sunset Bar’, a nice wooden installation on the beach where people can sit and enjoy the sunset with great Mount Agung as background.

When the night comes, people gather in the restaurants along the main road where the locals offer all kind of foods – traditional and western. The special and recommended menu is, of course, seafood. Satisfaction is guaranteed as the fishes are fresh and the sauces are delicious. Every night at Gili Terawangan is a festive night, where people from all around the world get together to sip the taste of heaven on earth.

D-Day Minus Ten

Ten days to August 17th, 2010;
The day when Indonesia celebrate its 65th anniversary;
And it will be the day to launch peepIndonesia.com to public.

The reason we chose the date is not just euphoria to celebrate our independence day. More than that, we want to do something real for our lovely nation; not just by showing false pride, but with the moral values and natural beauty that this nation’s really have, peepIndonesia try to contribute by introducing Indonesia through our photographers’ works.

There are some articles that still under preparation: on the natural beauty of Pulau Tidung and Gili Trawangan, on tea processing at Ciater tea factory, and also on traditional performances of Longser Sunda and Ramayana Ballet.

Curious, aren’t you? Be patient, okay. When the time comes, you can peep at all of those things through our pictures.

Ten days left and we still have bunch of homework need to be done. On that launching day, whoever you are, wherever you are, you shall enjoy this site. We will work hard to ensure that.

Just wait for it.
August 17th, 2010 it is.

Jakarta, August 7th, 2010.
Beni Suryadi