Prambanan and the Ramayana ballet

Having seen Borobudur at sunrise, it seemed fitting that we should visit Prambanan, Yogyakarta’s other great temple complex, for sunset. Of course, we didn’t exactly plan it that way, but it was one of those coincidences in life which I find disproportionately satisfying, and satisfaction was definitely needed that afternoon. The site’s entry fee was hefty, according to the signs we only had about 40 minutes until closing, and the whole site was swarming with loud schoolchildren and selfie-snapping tourists, so of course I was determined to hate everything about it.

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Yogyakarta

If I were to attempt to characterize Yogyakarta into a short expression, lively organized chaos would probably be the words I’d choose. It didn’t feature on my (lengthy) list of places I want to visit – in fact I don’t think I’d even heard of it until I was invited to speak at a conference there (about which I’ve written more on my other blog) – but that all just goes to show how much I know, because it really was fantastic.

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Borobudur

Visiting the historic Buddhist temple of Borobudur was our first stop in Indonesia, which turned out to be a good thing for all kinds of reasons. Indonesia is, of course, quite different to Singapore, and it was very nice to be met at the airport by a driver booked through our hotel. Navigating the Yogyakarta traffic was a fairly eye-opening experience (although it’s actually quite tame compared with some other places), and retreating to a fancy resort hotel softened the culture shock still further.

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Singapore

I’m not really sure why I was so keen to visit Singapore. Family history, the allure of Asia, the Raffles Hotel’s famous Singapore Sling, these all had something to do with it, but even I think twice about travelling half way around the world just to try a cocktail.

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DC times three

When our latest visitor asked if I’d be interested in accompanying her on a short trip to Washington DC, I must admit that my heart sank a little. I’ve been to DC twice already, and it isn’t my favourite city – despite all the excellent museums and generous public spaces it somehow feels a bit soulless, even creepy, to me. Anyway, because I am an excellent friend, and a sucker for pretty much any kind of travel opportunity, my token resistance was soon overcome, reservations were made on the Greyhound bus, and a decent-looking room booked through AirBnB.  Continue reading

Caves, country and cooperage

As regular readers of this blog may have guessed, I get terribly anxious if I don’t have at least one trip to look forward to. When we returned from our summer holiday in early July the prospect of five long empty months until Christmas was just too much to bear, but funds were a little stretched.  Thankfully all this long-distance travel is excellent for collecting airmiles and we managed to find some extremely well-timed reward flights to Louisville Kentucky for a long weekend in late October, landing late last Friday evening. Continue reading