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Beyond Jakarta

  Ask most expatriates residing in Jakarta and you'll generally get the same answer: it's a great place to live but also a great place to get away from whenever vacation time rolls around! Fortunately, the capital is just an hour away from some of the country's greenest and most quietly spectacular scenery in the cool hills of West Java.

Night Safari The Jagowari tollroad provides a quick route from Jakarta's south western suburbs down to Bogor, Less than 60 kilometers away. Bogor, a city of around 300,000, offers quite a contrast to Jakarta. For one thing, it's located in the highlands at the foot of Mt. Saluki and is bound to be several degrees cooler that coastal areas on any given day. The dutch aways loved to BOGOR. In Fact, as long ago as 1745, the then-governor built a rambling private retreat there. He named it Buitenzorg ---Free of Cares.

Bogor Bogor regularly wins awards as Indonesia's cleanest city. There are huge trees everywhere and the evening air is often sweet with their perfume. Bogor's probably best known for it's world-famous Kebon Raya botanical gardens, situated close to the lovely nineteenth-century Presidential Palace , In which Raffles lived from 1811 to 1816. In fact, Dutch governors of the East Indies made their headquarters here right up until Indonesia won its independence.

They've been collecting and researching tropical plants at Kebon Raya since 1817, so there are now something like 15,000 carefully cataloged species on hand. More than 5000 kinds of orchids are represented, as are at least 400 types od palm. Most people who visit the gardens, of course, have little interest in serious research. They've come to stroll through the grounds, stretch out on the lawns and dip their toes into decorative pools scattered here & there. One bit od advise for visitors, though: go any day except sundays, when everyone else does.

What Else is there to see in Bogor? Well, the city boast a fine Zoological Museum housing 300,000 specimens, a library that draws scholars from around the world, the skeleton of a blue whale and the stuffed remains of the last rhino found in Bandung area! Other Bogor attractions include a War for Independence Museum, a Soil Museum (actually a far more interesting place than the name would lead you to expect) abd a Gong Factory that's fabulous spot for photos and videos.

For at least a century, bogor has also been the place were travellers traditionally pause for a cold drink or to enroute to Bandung, Yogyakarta and point further east. Over the last couple of decades, the hilly area called Puncak has been a favorite weekend getaway spot for Jakartans. There's an Impressive safari Park "Taman Safari Indonesia", dozens of small hotels & Bungalow colonies, restaurants of every description and some of the best stocked roadside fruit and vegetable stands anywhere in Asia. Bogor and environs make a great getaway destination for daytrippers from Jakarta. You can easily get there by rented car or as part of a guided tour offered by Jakarta travel agents.

 

FURTHER AFIELD

Bandung is among Indonesia's five largest cities and probably its most beutifully laid-out. The air is clean & Cool. There's a postal museum in the west wing of the spectacular Gedung Sate building, which is a genuine architectural marvel.

South of Bandung, along the border between West and Central Java, is the beach resort called Pangandaran along the Indian Ocean coast. Offshore are numerous coral reefs. In addition to fun along the shore, visitors will also enjoy day trips to a nearby wildlife refuge area to see species like wild bufalo.

Another West Java beach resort well worth a visit is Pelabuhan Ratu, about 150 miles from Jakarta. There, you'll find many hotels and restaurants catering to weekend visitors. Daytrips to local attractions like hot springs and sacred shrines can easily be arranged.

And don't forget Banten, an ancient city that has played a significant role in West Java's Islamic History. You could visit the grand mosque built in 1559 or a nearby sultan's palace. Or you could take in a performance of the traditional magical art called debus --an experience you wont soon forget!

Not far from Banten is Carita Beach, where many new hotels and resorts have been developed lately. When the skies are clear, you can enjoy dramatic view of the place where the Krakatau volcano erupted in 1883. Carita is a good place to stay if you're planning to visit the Ujung Kulon wildlife park on the western tip of West Java.

Yogyakarta, Located on a fertile plain at the foot of still-active Mt. Merapi. Yogya's power and influence reached new heights in the sixteenth centuries, when the empire of matraman was in full bloom. Today's the town's leading citizen is the sultan of Yogyakarta. His royal principality, the kraton, occupies one square kilometer right in the heart of the city. Even if you have just a day or two in Yogyakarta, you'll certainly want to tour the Kraton and the nearby water place, browse through the displays of craft items & batik garments that line both sides of Jl. Malioboro and shop for filigree silver pieces made at workshops in the Kota Gede neighborhood.

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