East Java’s Waterfalls

I have been to about twenty countries and most of Southeast Asia but Indonesia is one country that has completely blown me away. Indonesia is made up of 13,000-18,000 islands (no agreement apparently) and stretches over an area that is nearly as big as the continental US. Indonesia’s numerous volcanoes (many over 2000 meters), heavy rainfall and tropical temperatures result in a lush landscape with 1000’s of incredible waterfalls. I have just started exploring this amazing country.

Check out my trip to Bali’s Waterfalls in June 2015

Indonesia has impressed me so much that I have visited three times in less than two years and I am already planning my next trip (Lombok). My trip to East Java was a spur of the moment decision and planned less than two days. In September a big typhoon was headed to Taiwan on a Wednesday and in addition both Thursday and Friday were holidays that would have been ruined by bad weather so I took advantage of the time off and left Taiwan just before the typhoon hit. Luckily I had done a fair amount of research on Indonesia and had a good idea where I wanted to go. I still missed many great waterfalls that I have learned about through Instagram through many of the Indonesians that I follow. Follow me on Instagram

I started my trip by staying in a hostel in Malang and renting a motorcycle to explore the first 4 waterfalls in 2 days. After that I hired a private car to take me to Madakaripura Waterfall and then to meet my sister in Surabaya. I had completely underestimated how long it would take to travel between places and I should have limited my trip to the Malang and Probolinggo regions but I really wanted to see Grojogan Sewu Waterfall (#8 below) so my sister and I ended up riding long distances in hired cars. After meeting my sister we hired a second driver and stayed in Madiun and Yogyakarta before flying to our respective Asian homes (Taiwan for me and Jakarta for her).

Check out my trip to North Sumatra’s Waterfall (February 2016)

Indonesia is always hot so you can’t time your trip for cooler weather but there are distinct wet and dry seasons. Java and eastward tends to be rainy from December to March and then dryer the rest of the year. The best time to see waterfalls would be March to May but many of these big waterfalls should flow year round.

What waterfall recommendations do you have for me in East Java and the rest of Indonesia? I want to visit everywhere in this beautiful country.

  1. I started my trip with Pelangi Waterfall on the slopes of Mt Bromo. Pelangi Waterfall is one of the waterfalls that can be combined a Mt. Bromo sunrise tour (from Malang). It is a short hike into a deep lush valley. I was very impressed by the effort given by the locals to keep it clean (mostly clean).


Click for directions to Pelangi Waterfall

2. Rondo Waterfall is one of the best known waterfalls in the Batu area. There isn’t much of a hike but the waterfall is quite impressive. There were other waterfalls in this region that are more remote that I will explore on my next trip.

Click for directions to Rondo Waterfall

3. Talun Waterfall isn’t located too far away from Rondo Waterfall but it only gets a fraction of the visitors. The short hike goes through a varied landscape before a steep downhill to the waterfall. It isn’t as tall as most of the waterfalls on this list but it is one of my favorites.

Click for directions to Talun Waterfall

4. Watu Ondo Waterfall was one of my favorites on the trip. It was a little off of the beaten path so it wasn’t too crowded (on a weekday) and the trail down to the waterfall provided perfect viewpoints the entire way down. As an added bonus there was a second smaller waterfall across from Watu Ondo Waterfall.

Click for directions to Watu Ondo Waterfall

5. Madakaripura Waterfall instantly became my favorite and the most impressive waterfall that I have ever visited. The stream isn’t particularly large but it is one of Indonesia’s tallest at 200 meters. But the most impressive part was walking into the 200 meter tall cylindrical tube with the green cliff walls towering above you. As an added bonus there is a smaller curtain waterfall that visitors will have to walk through before entering the green tube.

Click for directions to Madakaripura Waterfall

6. Sedudo Waterfall is one of East Java’s most famous and tallest waterfalls. It is fairly spectacular at 105 meters tall but the downfall of this popularity is a lack of nature. There were signs for two other waterfalls on the road to Sedudo Waterfall and these could have been the nice hike that I was looking for.

Click for directions to Sedudo Waterfall

7. Seweru Waterfall isn’t very big but it is located in an amazing gorge in a rarely traveled place. It takes the most effort to get there out of any on this list but it still isn’t very hard. Climbing over rocks and walking through the stream might be exciting for some. I loved the remoteness and the beauty of this waterfall.

Click for directions to Seweru Waterfall

8. I had such high expectations for Grojogan Sewu Waterfall and went way out of my way to get there. Because of these expectations, it was also the only disappointment of the trip. The waterfall itself is incredible but the area is overdeveloped, crowded and they use a significant two tiered pricing policy for foreigners. On weekends tickets cost 160,000 IDR (12 USD) compared to about 15,000 IDR for a local. Every other waterfall that I have visited so far in Indonesia was less than 25,000 IDR. I don’t mind paying 50% more or even double but 10x seemed ridiculous.

Click for directions to Grojogan Sewu Waterfall

Other waterfalls to check out next time. The links go to various blogs written in Indonesia Bahasa.

  1. Kapas Biru Waterfall
  2. Tumpak Sewu Waterfall
  3. Kakek Bodo Waterfall
  4. Jahe Waterfall
  5. Dolo Waterfall
  6. Canggu Waterfall
  7. Rais Waterfall
  8. Singkoromo Waterfall (near Sedudo Waterfall)
  9. Telaga Warna Waterfall

North Sumatra’s Waterfalls

During Chinese New Year I traveled to North Sumatra for my second trip to Indonesia. Last June I traveled to Bali but avoided the popular beaches along the southern coast and instead spent my time exploring small roads. In Bali I found 14 waterfalls, visited 10 temples and climbed a volcano and loved it. This time I picked something a little more off of the beaten path although rural Bali is not at all like the touristy parts.  In Sumatra I only visited 6 waterfalls but they were some of the best ones in all of Indonesia.

See my previous post on Bali’s Waterfalls

Sipisopiso Waterfall was of course the first thing that I knew about North Sumatra but as I researched the area I found a lot of other great waterfalls. I found travel logistics difficult and a lot of the roads are in terrible shape but North Sumatra is full of cool places (if you can get to them). The food was good, the people were really nice, I felt safe (didn’t stay in Medan) and the natural beauty was incredible. My biggest complaint is a complete and total lack of garbage/recycling programs. There were a few collection areas in Berastagi but throughout the countryside people either pitched their garbage in road ditches or burned it on the side of the road. A few of the top sights were well developed for tourism but many sights required a lot of effort from tourists to get to. I have many places on my to do list that either would have taken too long to get to or the roads were in questionable shape. This area has a lot of potential though and I look forward to returning in a few years.

Here are a few basic travel observations for North Sumatra. Buses travel all over North Sumatra but are slow. Private cars and drivers are available for hire and can be arranged through your guesthouse. The driest season to travel to Sumatra is Dec to April but they still average 100+ mm’s of rain every month. It rained almost every day during my trip in February. Most guesthouses are private rooms with shared or private bathrooms. I saw a few large palm oil plantations in North Sumatra but I saw mostly vegetable and fruit farms. According to a local the big palm oil plantations are in the southern part of Sumatra. The National Parks have been a success but there are still problems with poaching and illegal logging but things seem to be improving.

I am hoping to travel to Lombok (hike Mt Rinjani and some waterfalls) in May but I am not sure which Indonesian region to travel after that (in 2017). Yogyakarta and Borobudur? Mt Bromo and Madakaripura Waterfall? Flores and Kelimutu? Something strange like Sulawesi? I have a year to think about another destination but does anyone have any advice for a waterfall focused trip?

1. Sipisopiso Waterfall was at least 90% of the reason that I chose to travel to North Sumatra this year. Not only is it over 100 meters high but it flows out of a cave near the top of the cliff. From the main viewpoint visitors are able to turn around and also see Lake Toba. Those wanting to get closer to the waterfall can descend over 600 stairs to the base of the waterfall. Of course they will have to walk back up all of those stairs.

Click for directions to Sipisopiso Waterfall

2. Pelaruga Waterfall was a nice waterfall but at some point a tree was washed downstream and ended up directly in the middle of the waterfall. It has been there so long that it is more commonly referred to as Tongkat (Bahasa for stick) Waterfall by everyone. It is an adventure to reach but it is definitely worth it.

Click for directions to Pelaruga Waterfall

3. We found Sidompak Waterfall completely by accident. We knew virtually nothing about Tongging Village other than it was right next to Sipisopiso Waterfall and Lake Toba. We found Tongging to be a stunningly beautiful village surrounded by fjord like valleys that taper off into Lake Toba. We called Tongging ‘A place that isn’t a place yet’ and expect this sleepy village to transform into a tourist town in the future. But we visited Tongging before that happened.

Just by chance we stayed at the Wisma Sibayak Guesthouse and they had photos of a nearby waterfall on their wall and it wasn’t Sipisopiso Waterfall. We asked about it and not surprisingly they offered to find us a guide to the waterfall. We discussed whether or not we actually needed a local guide and we were extremely glad that we chose to hire one. There isn’t a trail and it is really challenging to make it to the waterfall even though you know where the waterfall is. I love finding places like this where there is nearly no information available on the internet in any language.

Click for directions to Sidompak Waterfall

4. Sikulikap Waterfall is a thunderous waterfall near Berastagi. The best part is that it is really easy to reach using public transportation. The downside is that most of the hike follows the valley directly below the Penatapen Restaurants and it is difficult to escape the noise and trash from the restaurants.

Click for directions to Sikulikap Waterfall

5. Ponot Waterfall is Indonesia’s tallest waterfall at 250 meters and it impressively plunges over a cliff wall. I am not completely convinced it is a natural waterfall though. I think Ponot Waterfall is actually a diversion tunnel for the upstream Siguragura Dam. Siguragura Waterfall is officially considered as Indonesia’s tallest waterfall but I believe that it is permanently dry just downstream of the dam.

Click for directions to Ponot Waterfall

6. Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall is perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have seen. It is only about 30-40 meters tall but it falls into a brilliant opaque blue pool that I haven’t seen before. Not only that but it is an outstanding hike through a beautiful forest and there is a second waterfall falling into the valley 30 meters away.

Click for directions to Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall

Other waterfalls that showed up in my research and are on my list for my next trip to North Sumatra. This page (in Bahasa) is a great resource for all of the sights in North Sumatra.

Lae Mbilulu Waterfall

Lae Une Waterfall

Tonduhan Waterfall

Pelangi Waterfall

Sampuren (Teroh Teroh) Waterfall

Bah Biak Waterfall

Lau Berte Waterfall 

Batu Lobang Waterfall

Nionggang Waterfall

Situmurun Waterfall

Tinggi Raja – not a waterfall but similar to Pammukale in Turkey

My Top 10 Hikes and Places from 2015

My 2015 wasn’t just filled with waterfalls.  I visited Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo) in February and Bali in June in addition to dozens of trips around Taiwan.  Some of these places are well-known but some are well off of the beaten path.  They also show just how varied Taiwan and east Asia can be.  I have already mentioned my plans for next year in my waterfall recap but I expect to have an even better year next year.

My Top 10 Hikes and Places from 2015

  1. I usually shrug my shoulders when someone mentions going to see a cave but I was traveling in a group in Sarawak, Malaysia that wanted to go to Niah Caves.  It looked pretty interesting and they also wanted to go to Lambir Hills National Park (with waterfalls) so we teamed up and rented a car.  Niah Caves was incredible.  To say that it is big is an understatement.  You can fit football fields in the cave.  There are 1000’s of bat and swiftlets that live in the caves and they provide two very valuable products for the local population.  Bat guano is used as fertilizer and bird nests are harvested for a popular Chinese soup.  Over-harvesting has led to a big decline in the swiftlet population but they are now setting quotas and times to restore the population (I don’t know the effectiveness though).

View the full blog post

2. In January Mark Roche (Blue Skies Adventures) led a trip to a mostly abandoned aboriginal village in Pingtung County, Taiwan.  In 1979 the village moved out of the mountains to a new village lower in the river valley and was able to connect to roads.  In 2009 Xinhaocha (the new village) was completely buried by rising river silt and rocks during Typhoon Morakot.  Luckily the village had been evacuated prior to the storm and the villagers have moved to Rinari near Sandimen.

Jiuhaocha (the old village) is a beautiful village with slate houses in various condition.  Some haven’t been lived in for decades while others are maintained by villagers that live in both the new and old villages.  It requires a little effort to visit and for most it is best as an overnight hike (stay in a slate house).  It is one of the coolest places that I have visited in Taiwan.  It feels like an authentic aboriginal experience instead of the festivals in the villages.  I have attended and I enjoy the festivals but I really liked seeing what life was like in an original aboriginal village.

View the full blog post

3.Beidawushan is the southernmost 3000 meter peak in Taiwan and a very popular weekend trek.  The hike is challenging right from the start and climbs almost 2000 meters to the summit.  Many hikers do Beidawushan as a 2 day trip but that requires getting up at 2am to summit and return to the car by dark.  If you have an extra day and can do a 3 day trip then I highly recommend it.

View the full blog post

4.  I am possibly the only person to ever plan my entire Bali trip around visiting its waterfalls but you would have to try very hard to avoid visiting Bali’s temples.  There are 1000’s of them on the small island.  Instead of being grand complexes (a few are) each unique temple possesses a lot of character and detail.  I blogged about my 10 favorites from my trip and Tanah Lot (pictured below) is one of the most famous and visited.

View the full blog post

5. One of the best and most unusual festivals in Taiwan is Donggang’s Wang Ye Boat Burning Festival.  Every 3 years they hold the 10 day festival.  All week they shoot off firecrackers and make noise to lure the evil spirits out from hiding with everyone following in the parade.  On the festival’s conclusion the local temples march a giant boat to the ocean.  All night long they prepare the boat for its voyage by piling up a mountain of (fake) paper money.  Finally they light the boat on fire taking the evil spirits with it so the town is prosperous for another 3 years.

View the full blog post

6.  Laomei Reef is one of those rare places that is hard to believe exists until you visit it.  The green algae only blooms for 2-3 months (March and April most likely) every year and you will need to track the ocean tidal charts and visit during low tide.  Unfortunately it will be crowded on the weekend but English teachers that start in evening could do a weekday trip from Taipei and be back in time for class.

View the full guide

7. Brunei is a tiny country on the island of Borneo whose economy is heavily tied to oil.  One side effect of their wealth is that their rainforests are virtually untouched compared to their Malaysian and Indonesian neighbors on the island.  Although small compared to its neighbors the size of their virgin forests is significant.  Brunei’s crown jewel is Ulu Temburong National Park.  99% of the park is set aside for conservation and only researchers are allowed access to those parts.  Tours are available starting with a traditional longboat ride up the Temburong River from Sumbiling Eco Village or even Bandar Seri Begawan from several tour agencies.  Once inside the park the hike leads to a canopy skywalk but unfortunately a hard thunderstorm rolled in and we were unable to go up there.

Our guide with a researcher discovering a new ant species.

View the full blog post

8.  Taiwan only has two short stretches of roadless coastline.  Both of them are located in Pingtung County north of Kenting.  There were serious proposals to build a road along this part of the coast but thankfully that appears to be permanently shelved.  The Qufengbi Coastal Trail leaves from the Jialeshui Scenic Area and is full of interesting sights.  The Jialeshui Scenic Area is the sight of fascinating ocean carved rocks.  There are also shipwrecks (the big one is dismantled), an old army fort and green cliffs that seemingly fall into the ocean.  The Alanyi Trail is a little farther north in the same area.  It is a little shorter and includes great views of the ocean.

The Jialeshui Scenic Area at the beginning of the Qufengbi Trail

View the full blog post

The Alanyi Trail

View the full blog post

9. Gunung Batur is Bali’s most hiked volcano since it can be done in a day (1/2 a day actually).  Gunung Batur is the center cone in one of Bali’s largest craters with an impressive lake in the southern portion.  I was unaware of this when I decided to hike Batur but it has erupted at least a dozen times in the last 150 years.

View the full guide entry

10.  Hehuanshan is Taiwan’s most accessible high mountain area due to the Central Cross Island Highway (new version) passing nearby.  It used to be the site of Taiwan’s only ski hill but the area no longer gets significant snow and the infrastructure is in ruins.  Now Taiwanese flock to Hehuanshan on snowy weekends so they can experience snow likely for the first time.

Overall there are 5 of Taiwan’s Baiyue (top 100 peaks) in the area and several others (Cilai North) that can be accessed via longer trails.  Hehuanshan Main Peak, Hehuanshan East Peak and Shimenshan are short hikes that hikers of most abilities can handle.  Hikers that want a little more challenge can tackle Hehuanshan North Peak or go all the way to Hehuanshan West Peak (a very long dayhike).

View the full blog post

My Top Ten Waterfalls of 2015 (link)

My top 10 waterfalls of 2015

2015 was a great year for myself and for my waterfall guide.  I fell a little short of my goal to visit my 100th waterfall in Taiwan but I should reach that goal in February this year.  I have now visited 13 out of Richard’s 20 favorite waterfalls in Taiwan but I still have a personal list of 30-40 more waterfalls to visit.  More importantly I traveled outside of Taiwan twice this year on waterfall/hiking trips.  In February I went to Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo and in June I went to Bali.  Of course I ventured far from the typical path in Bali and visited 13 waterfalls in 10 days.   Bali’s waterfalls were amazing and it was really difficult to choose only 3 for the list below.

Riding back to Ali Waterfall, Pingtung, Taiwan

The list below only includes new waterfalls that I visited this year.  One focus this year (and next) has been on revisiting some of my favorites (like Lover’s Gorge) because they are my favorites but they aren’t included.  Another focus has been doing more hikes and the other best places that Taiwan has to offer.  I am hoping to do at least 3-4 of Taiwan’s high mountain hikes this year.  A 3 day hike of Beidawushan is a certainty.  Other hikes could include Jiaming Lake (Taitung), Shuiyang (Nantou), Wuling Sixiu (Taichung) or Qilai North Peak (Nantou).

Fenghuang Waterfall was my last new waterfall of the year.  We visited on New Year’s Eve.

I am hoping to go on four international trips this year so next year’s competition for this waterfall list will be even tougher.  In addition to that I have some great waterfall trips in Taiwan planned (like Golden Grotto and Manyueyuan).  In February I will travel to North Sumatra and visit Sipisopiso Waterfall and Sibolangit Waterfall.  I am very close to booking a ticket to Lombok in March/April to climb Mt Rinjani (at least to the crater – seasonal weather issues) and Tiu Kelep Waterfall.  In June I will hopefully be making a trip home to Minnesota and there are some great waterfalls (Gooseberry Falls) in Minnesota.  My October/November trip is a little undecided but the most likely destination choices are the Philippines (including TBEX Asia), Japan (anywhere and everywhere is on my list) or northern Vietnam (Sapa and Ban Gioc/Detian Waterfall).  If I can actually pull off this busy schedule (I also work full time and run a business) then I might have to expand next year’s list to a top 20.  I also might have to find a sponsor, sell plasma and/or cash in all of the worthless baseball cards that I have in my mother’s closet.

2015’s best waterfalls

  1. I had known about a possible waterfall near Majia for several years but I never took a trip until January this year.  Part of the reason for this was that no information existed about this waterfall on the internet until my friend Asher visited it (many times).  I finally visited and it instantly became my favorite in southern Taiwan in addition to being the #3 most viewed waterfall page at my Taiwan’s Waterfall Guide.  As an added bonus there is an old slate house village (Jiupaiwan) located near the falls that you can walk around in.

Click for directions to Shalawan Waterfall, Pingtung, Taiwan

2.   Langanan Waterfall is one of Sabah’s most impressive waterfalls (#2 on My Sabah’s top ten list) and one of the highlights from my February trip to Malaysian Borneo.  The waterfall is located on the eastern flank of Mount Kinabalu and is a slightly challenging half day hike.  The trail is a lush example of what Borneo’s rainforests would look like if they were untouched by the plantations and logging.  Lupa Masa (link) is a great eco-camp near Poring Hot Springs that allows you to fully experience the rainforest.

Click for directions to Langanan Waterfall, Sabah, Malaysia

3. Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia was one of my favorite hikes of the year.  The park is located outside of Miri and is a waterfall lovers paradise.  There are 6 different waterfalls and one peak to hike to but hiking to all of the waterfalls (and the peak) in one day can only be done by the strongest hikers (25+ km in heat with a 5pm park exit) though.  Sometime in the next 5 years I plan on returning to Sarawak to visit the Mulu Pinnacles and I will definitely take an extra day or two visiting Lambir Hills National Park again.

Tengkorong Waterfall

Click for directions to Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

4. One of my favorite forgotten areas in Taiwan is Zengwen Reservoir.  Many people visit the Zengwen Reservoir Recreation Area and drive the road to Dapu (one of the best motorcycle rides in Taiwan) but other than that very little of the rest is explored.  Asher and I tried to find one of Richard Saunders’ 20 favorite waterfalls 2 years ago but we got lost (terrible directions from a local) and ironically found the correct valley but didn’t explore far enough.  I went back this year with better maps (and ignored the terrible directions from a different local) and found an incredible and almost never visited waterfall.

Click for directions to Feiyun Waterfall, Taiwan

5.  Later that weekend I joined up with Richard Saunders and a group of Taipei Hikers on one of the most interesting trips of the year.  We hiked down to the river on a barely used fisherman trail and swam across the river to the other side of a flood control dam.  We walked up a fish ladder and then had to crawl through a 1 meter tall hole in the dam.  Continuing upstream we found many fossils (shells) in broken up river rock before arriving at an amazing swimming hole with multiple small waterfalls.  Lianyun Waterfall and several others are located up a side stream.  It isn’t the biggest but there is something special about the perfect pool in the perfect forest.

Click for directions to Lianyun Waterfall, Chaiyi, Taiwan

 6.  Melanting Waterfall was the highlight of my favorite part of Bali.  Munduk and Melanting are a pair of beautiful villages located just east of Bali’s 3 lakes region at a slightly cooler elevation of 700 meters.  There are at least 3 nice waterfalls in the area, a nice hiking trail between them and many nice guesthouses and restaurants with picturesque views of Gunung Batukaru.

Click for directions to Melanting Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

7. The best thing about Bali was that so many great places were so close together and the road infrastructure made travel very efficient.  In 11 days I visited 13 waterfalls, 10 temples, hiked Gunung Batur, went dolphin watching (as disappointing as the reviews are) and traveled with my sister.  Aling Aling Waterfall is a stunning waterfall in Bali’s waterfall rich north central region.  The main waterfall is the most impressive but there are 3 smaller waterfalls downstream that are perfect for swimming at (local guide required for swimming).

Click for directions Aling Aling Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

8.  Sekumpul isn’t the most famous waterfall in Bali but it is the most spectacular.  It falls close to 100 meters in multiple streams from allegedly multiple sources.  As an added bonus Lemukih Waterfall is located on the same hike (different stream) and you experience a 360 degree waterfall where you can experience multiple different branches that surround you.  Both waterfalls are great places to swim.

Click for directions to Sekumpul Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

9.  Changlong Waterfall was once a popular destination near the Shaonian Stream Recreation Area.  It was most famous for its hot spring but there were also two great waterfalls.  In 2009 Typhoon Morakot destroyed the hot spring, the lower waterfall and the entire hiking trail but the upper waterfall survived.  It is a short but rocky hike up to the rarely visited waterfall.

Click for directions to Changlong Waterfall, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

10.  Maolin Waterfall was another waterfall trail completely wiped out by Typhoon Morakot.  I tried finding this waterfall in 2012 and walked up the river to a small waterfall that was impassable.  In 2013 they built a new 27M NT trail back to the waterfall.  The new trail has two suspension bridges and leads to one of the best waterfalls in southern Taiwan.  This is just one of 4 great waterfalls in Kaohsiung County’s Maolin Valley.

Click for directions to Maolin Waterfall, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Bali’s Temples

I might be most interested in waterfalls but nobody that goes to Bali can ignore the amazing temples.  Some have claimed that there are 5,000-10,000 temples in Bali while others claim that there are over 1,000,000.  The 1,000,000 number almost surely includes all of the small shrines in homes and outdoors but regardless the density of temples is impressive.  Most of the temples are Hindu but there are also Islamic Mosques, Buddhist Temples and a few modern churches.  Generally temples in Bali are open air temples with an inner and outer courtyard with towers and pavilions.  One of the coolest things about Bali’s temples is that there is so much variety between them.

View my blog post on Bali’s Waterfalls

Most of the very popular temples are okay to visit with long pants but many of the lesser visited temples require a sarong over your pants, a sash (a ribbon around your waist) and possibly even a head wrap.  Usually these are available to borrow for free while you visit but at various times you will be pressured to buy from vendors.  Almost all temples charge an entry fee.  For foreigners it is usually 10,000-20,000 IDR/adult (0.75-1.50 USD).  Children are usually half price.  Sometimes they will offer guides that are donation or negotiable.

Additional information and directions are available on my waterfall website

Getting around in Bali is really easy.  There are decent hotels located all over the island and virtually everywhere is accessible as a daytrip from a decent hotel.  I stayed in Ubud, Kintimani, Lovina and Munduk during my trip.  Ubud is great and many will base their trip here but my favorite was Munduk.  It is located at about 800 meters of elevation just outside of the 3 Lakes Crater.  Transport is also really easy in Bali.  Tourists can hire a car and driver for around $50 USD/day (negotiable) or rent a motorcycle for around $5 USD/day.  Don’t worry about finding either of these.  Your hotel will happily set one up or you can do it yourself easily from the (annoying) touts on the streets.

1.  Pura Uluwatu is actually quite small and unimpressive compared to other temples but it is famous for its location.  The temple extends out on a narrow 70 meter cliff above the amazing turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.  Some tourists also enjoy the thieving monkeys (I hate monkeys).  The inner temple is closed off to tourists but the best thing to do is to take a walk along the cliff path (10+ minutes in each direction).  There are some absolutely spectacular views and railings for those concerned about 70 meter cliffs.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

2.  Pura Tanah Lot is another one of Bali’s iconic temples.  It is also located on the southern shore and is unique since the temple is only accessible at low tide.  The temple is closed off to tourists but the best views off to the right of the temple during high tide.  During high tide the temple becomes an island and all of the tourists are forced out of your photo.  The temple was extensively renovated in the 80’s by replacing the rock worn away by centuries of ocean erosion.  They did an excellent job at making the concrete look somewhat natural.  In addition to Pura Tanah Lot there are a few other small ocean side temples like Pura Batu Bolong.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

3. Pura Taman Ayun was built in 1634 as the royal temple of the Mengwi Kingdom.  It is surrounded by a moat with impressive watchtowers.  The outer courtyard has more of a park like feel with immaculate grass lawns and pavilions.  The inner courtyard is closed off the tourists but tourists can see over a half wall as they walk around the inner courtyard.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

4.  Pura Tirta Empul is one of the coolest temples to visit.  Balinese regularly bathe in the holy water of the temple.  Each fountain serves a special purpose and we observed that nobody (that we saw) used the last few fountains.  It turns out that the last two are used for funerary purposes.  It is okay for tourists to participate in the purification process but they should be very respectful.

The legend is quite interesting – from bali-indonesia.com

It was here that through his magical powers Mayadenawa created a poisoned spring from which Indra’s exhausted troops drank and succumbed. Indra noticed the fall of his men, and soon thrust his staff into the ground where a holy purifying spring spurted out, to cure the troops and to even bring some of them back to life. This escapade became the legendary background to the holy spring of Tirta Empul, as well as the holy days of Galungan and Kuningan celebrated by the Balinese Hindus.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

The source pool for Pura Tirta Empul

5.  Pura Gunung Kawi is one of few temples with reliefs (called candi) carved into rock.  It is located near Pura Tirta Empul and also has holy water (in a river) flowing through it.  It was built nearly 1000 years ago.  Historians can only guess as to the origins of why they were carved.  Some have said that each relief for a member of the royal family while others have said they were carved for the favorite royal concubines.  I really don’t know the answer but it is a unique temple and well worth the visit.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

6.  Pura Ulun Danu Batur was relocated after the 1917 eruption of Gunung Batur.  During the eruption the lava destroyed much of the town and all of the temple except for the highest shrine.  This was considered a miracle and the villagers chose to rebuild the temple at a much higher point along the crater rim.  The temple is large and physically impressive but I couldn’t find one thing to really make it stand out aside from the great views of Danau (Lake) Batur and Gunung (Mountain) Batur and Agung.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

7.  Pura Puncak Penulisan is Bali’s highest temple at 1745 meters above sea level.  There will be a set of infinity stairs to climb (297 stairs) to reach the top.  It is located at the northern end of the enormous Gunung Batur Crater and offers outstanding views of the crater, the lake and the three large mountains.  The most interesting thing about this temple are the large statues (up to 2 meters tall) that have been preserved.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

8.  Bali might be a predominantly Hindu island but there are also many other religions represented on the island.  Brahmavihara Arama is the largest Buddhist temple on the island and some have called it a mini Borobudur (click for a good Borobudur blog).  It is located near Lovina along the northern coast.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

9.  Pura Ponjok Batu is a lesser visited but physically imposing temple located on Bali’s northern coast.  It is immediately obvious from the road with its towering black volcanic rock walls perched on a small hill.  This temple was a bit more formal than others and I had to wear a head wrap in addition to a sarong and a sash.  I am not sure if it is optional but I had a guide that charged only a donation (I gave 30,000 IDR) that walked me through the temple.  Before entering a priest will sprinkle holy water on your head (a bit excessive in my case) and press rice to your forehead and/or chest.  It is an impressive temple and I was told several times about their big festival in July (on the full moon).

The legend here is also very interesting.  From the Jakarta Post – Bali Daily

The priest helped a fisherman from Lombok island when the fisherman’s boat sank at Ponjok Batu beach. The fisherman found a shining stone, which was then carved into a boat statue and now stands at the southeast side of the temple.

In addition to this legend they found a 5000 year old sarcophagus here during the 1990’s renovations of the temple.  This obviously predates the temple but perhaps this was a spiritual place long before the temple was built 500 years ago.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

The boat just off shore from the temple.

10.  Pura Ulun Danu Bratan contains another of Bali’s iconic images.  The temple sits directly on the lakeshore of Lake Bratan in the center of Bali.  Altogether there are 3 lakes within this huge crater and one of Bali’s largest roads go directly through the crater and right past Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.  The temple itself is a large sprawling complex with many interesting things to see but everybody comes to see the small pagoda on the lake.

Details on how to get there are available at my waterfall guide

Great Bloggers and Places – Waterfalls

If anyone follows my blog they will know that I have a thing for waterfalls.  Previously I chose regions for the recurring great bloggers and places topic (Asia Australia/NZ click for links) but this time I chose some of my favorite waterfalls that on my blogger follow list.  This shouldn’t be viewed as a top ten list or even the best waterfall in a particular country.  Instead I picked slightly lesser known but still amazing waterfalls.

I have followed most of these bloggers for awhile but a few of them I recently found because I wanted more blogs from a particular region.  I currently don’t follow hardly any blogs in Africa and South America.  If anyone knows any small time bloggers that I should follow please leave a comment.  I have also included a few waterfall guide writers (The Waterfall Record, World of Waterfalls and Snail-WORKS) that have awesome sites and are something that I aspire to with my own site (Taiwan’s Waterfalls).  These are definitely great resources to use while traveling.

The first waterfall will be one of my new favorite waterfalls.  This summer I took a great trip to Bali and was able to add nearly all of Bali’s waterfalls to my waterfalls guide.  I posted a summary of all of them on my blog (Bali’s Waterfalls) but Sekumpul Waterfall was the most impressive on the island.  It is becoming more well-known but I only saw 5-6 groups of tourists while I was there.

Sekumpul Waterfall

None of the photos below are mine.  I contacted each blogger prior to blogging for permission to use a photo and link to their blog.  I encourage you to visit their sites to see more of their great work.

1.  The Waterfall Record is one of the best single person guides that I have found on the internet.  He is from and currently lives in Michigan.  I spent 10 years of my life living in Michigan but rather embarrassingly I didn’t visit one waterfall while I was there.  The concentration of his waterfalls are in the US but he has taken many great trips all over the world including one of the places at the top of my travel list.

New Zealand has been one of the top places on my wish list for years and this was one of many awesome waterfalls that he visited.  Bridal Veil Falls on the North Island is only one of the impressive waterfalls in New Zealand.

Click to view his waterfall guide

2.  Iceland is another country that is at the top of my travel list.  I have been continuously stunned by the images and waterfalls from this country and so many bloggers that I follow have recently taken trips there.  I would love to go but I am limited to taking several one week trips each year and it is too far from Taiwan and there is too much to see just to take a one week trip.  Justin (Justin Goes Places) is an elementary math and science teacher in Texas and he has started taking full advantage of his winter and summer breaks to travel all over the world.  Iceland is overflowing with great waterfalls and Seljalandsfoss is just one of many great ones.

Click to view this blog at his site

3. Some of the waterfalls picked are next up on my personal travel list (Asian countries) while others are on a long term wish list.  Japan is one of the countries on top of my travel list with a well publicized top 100 list.  Kegon Falls is considered to be one of Japan’s three most beautiful waterfalls and it is relatively easy to get to from Tokyo.  Celia (Celia in Tokyo) is an Australian expat teaching English in Tokyo.  She blogs about an interesting mixture of city, food, culture and nature in Japan.

Click to view this blog at her site

4. Several years ago before moving to Taiwan I toured the American Southwest hiking and camping through all of the National Parks.  I had very little information at the time beyond a road atlas and only went to the most popular areas.   One afternoon I was driving across Utah and randomly picked a campsite from the road atlas.  It was a little early to camp that day but I didn’t really have a schedule.  At the campground I was surprised to find this hiking trail and this remains one of my favorite waterfalls.

I wish I would have been following a blog like Andrew’s (liveandlethike.com) on these trips because I would have found so many more cool places in the American Southwest.  He has done an outstanding job writing up detailed directions and trip reports for so many places in Utah and the surrounding states.  Recently he moved to the east coast and his blogs changed from hues of orange and red to lush green but they are still outstanding.

Click to view this blog on his site

5. This year for Chinese New Year I am planning to travel to Sumatra (90% sure).  This will be my second trip to Indonesia and one of the highlights of the trip will be visiting Sipisopiso Waterfall.  Happy (that is her name) is an Indonesian blogger from Jakarta that has been able to travel to many places in Indonesia and abroad.  Follow her blog at happyanggraeni.wordpress.com

Click to view this blog on her site

6. Jonny is a professional travel blogger (dontstopliving.net) from Northern Ireland that has been traveling the world for over a decade.  Recently he visited his 100th country and he isn’t slowing down.  Not only does he have all kinds of great travel content but he has some great articles on how to become a better blogger.

This is Kaieteur Falls in Guyana.  It is supposed to be the tallest single drop waterfall in the world at 226 meters.  There are several lookout points and Jonny also has photos of himself standing right at the edge next to the falls.  It is very impressive.

Click to view this blog on his site

7.  Eagle Creek Tunnel Falls is one of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail (2660 miles long) places.  I didn’t complete the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007 when I hiked it so I just missed this but PCT will always be a special place for me.  Sirena (desertsirena.wordpress.com) is an avid hiker and backpacker living in Tucson, Arizona.

Earlier this year she was a presenter at an International Trails Symposium in Portland for her work with Warrior Hike.  Warrior Hike is an program that gives assistance to veterans allowing them to thru hike as a means of therapy after their deployment.  After the symposium Sirena did a multi-day trip back to Eagle Creek Tunnel Falls and several other waterfalls.

Click to view this blog on her site

8.  World of Waterfalls is another great waterfall guide that has a really impressive list of waterfalls visited.  They are a married couple with a child that have visited hundreds (possibly >1000) of waterfalls all over the world including most of the famous ones.  As a matter of fact I think they have visited all but three of waterfalls listed in this blog (Eagle Creek Tunnel Falls (Oregon, USA), Sipisopiso Waterfall (Sumatra, Indonesia) and Gasadalur Waterfall (Faroe Islands)).  Their site is really impressive if you love waterfalls and you should check it out.

Click to view their waterfall guide

9.  The Faroe Islands are a small group of self-governed islands in between Norway, England and Iceland (population 50,000).  Due to the surrounding ocean the islands are never warm (average summer high = 13C (55F)) and never very cold (average winter low = 1C (34F)) despite being so far north (62 deg north).  But the islands are always wet.  This creates the dramatic landscape that is shown in the photo.

Amanda is a Swedish blogger who is taking dramatic photos all over Europe on small trips.  Follow her blog at amandasaybass.wordpress.com

Click to view this blog on her site

10. Snail-WORKS is a great site focused on Malaysia’s waterfalls.  She has visited waterfalls all over Malaysia and a few neighboring countries (nearly 200 overall).  Recently she even traveled to Taiwan and used my site to visit a couple of waterfalls.  Hopefully I will be using her site sometime to visit some great waterfalls in Malaysia sometime.  This is Puteri Mandi Waterfall that requires an overnight camping trip (or a long dayhike).  Sounds perfect.

Click to view her waterfall guide

This is one really cool graphic that Snail-WORKS uses on the site.  This would be one big improvement that I could do on my site but it requires more time to put together the guide and I already don’t have enough for everything that I want to do.

  • A = the trekking difficulty.  This one is a pretty hard hike.
  • B = the trekking time.
  • C = the leech factor.  Ick.
  • D = vehicle accessibility.
  • E = WOW factor.

Does anyone know of any great waterfall or travel bloggers that I should check out?  Do you have any suggestions for improvements to my waterfall guide?


Photo of the week #55 – northern Bali

One of the many rice fields that you pass in Bali.  Bali is at a crossroads in a way as the massive tourist service industry competes with the more traditional Balinese life.  So far things remain in balance with an endless number of small villages living a traditional lifestyle but how long will that last?  Will the younger generation(s) continue to pursue work in the more profitable tourist industry?

I have now completed 6 of the 14 waterfall guide entries.  You can view them at Taiwan’s Waterfalls – Bali.  I will be taking advantage of Taiwan’s rainy weather this week to finish up several more and hopefully start working on an article about all of Bali’s waterfalls since I visited all of the major ones.

Great blogs and places to dream about – Asia edition

Not everybody is able to travel all of the time.  It may seem like I travel all of the time but I am lucky to take 1-2 weekend trips per month and 1-2 weeklong trips/year.  That’s great but I daydream about going everywhere.  The best way to daydream is to read blogs and I read a lot of blogs to see new places even if I’m not able to go there in the next couple of years.  But these blogs help me decide where I want to go next and most importantly they introduce me to off the beaten path places that don’t always show up in guidebook recommended lists.

My latest blog from Yangmingshan National Park in Taiwan.  I have been very busy lately with trips to Dadi Gorge, discovering the Liuyi Trail and hiking on (but not to the top) Beidawushan.  All of these will be blogged in the next couple of weeks but first I am headed out onto another hike this weekend.  I have been busy lately but I think I will take a break in May.

Here are a few of my favorite blogs that I have been reading recently.  I’m hoping that this becomes a recurring blog topic every month or two but it is a fairly time consuming post (a lot of fun though).  The first theme is Asia (but not Taiwan – yet).  I have selected a pair of blogs from China and Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and South Korea.  Some of the bloggers are new to blogging while some have been doing it for a long time.  Some are living out of a backpack traveling the world while others take several big trips every year.  Some bloggers are very popular while others are relatively unknown.  All of the blogs are at wordpress because I use their reader for following and staying up on blogs.  I should read more blogs but there are 1000’s of great blogs at wordpress and I can’t read all that I want to there.

None of these photos are mine.  I contacted each blogger prior to blogging for permission to use a photo and link to their blog.  I encourage you to visit their sites to see more of their great work.

1. Lee has a lot of great stuff at his blog but I really loved this post on Sri Lankan stilt fisherman.  He is based in Singapore and he is taking advantage of one of the major airline hubs in East Asia.  It was very difficult to pick one post from him but this was really cool and not something that I expected.  It’s a good idea to check his website if you are going anywhere (especially Asia) for trip ideas.  Visit his blog at BackpackerLee.com

View this blog at his site

2. Alison has been busy traveling to many places all over the world including many places that are on my short list.  Last spring she took a cruise from Lombok to Flores in Indonesia.  Lombok is an up and coming tourist destination next to Bali but they are just two of 17,000 islands in Indonesia.  She also stopped at Komodo island and saw the famous Komodo Dragons.  I won’t be doing the cruise in this blog post when I go to Bali in June but I will be using her blog for ideas when I travel there.  And this cruise is being put on my list of future things to do.  You can follow her blog at alisonlouise.com.

View this post on her blog

3. This was one of my favorite Filipino blogs and then she blogged this.  She is ziplining above 7 waterfalls.  That is extraordinarily awesome.  I am not sure when I will have a chance to return to the Philippines but it’s pretty close to the top of my list since it’s so close to Taiwan and the tickets are cheap.  Actually tickets are cheap everywhere right now.  Very hard choices.  Follow her at thebellatravelista.com or on facebook

View this post on her site

4. Pete is based in Hong Kong and he has been able to take many short trips all over Asia and especially China.  He is currently (April 2015) exploring the temples at Bagan in Myanmar but I loved this post about The Great Wall.  The Great Wall is very touristy in areas now but he shows that it is not difficult to find less visited but still stunningly beautiful sections of The Great Wall.  Follow Pete at wanderpi.com.

View this post on his site

5.  Sara has put together a great guide to many of South Korea’s best outdoor spots from her 2 month long trip last fall.  She has also spent a couple of years in Taiwan teaching English which is cool since that is where I currently live.  There are certainly a lot of places that she didn’t visit but this site should give tourist visiting South Korea a lot of great places to visit.  Access the full guide at sknsk.wordpress.com

View this post on her site

6.  Nick and Jackie are blogging their 203 day round the world trip.  In January they began their trip in southeast Asia, spent 2 weeks in India and have just arrived in South Africa.  It’s hard to believe how much they have done in such a little amount of time.  I loved this post from a remote region in India.  The colors of the sandstone buildings are amazing and something so unique for myself after growing up in the US midwest and living in Taiwan for 5 years.  Follow Nick and Jackie at beatyvalentine.wordpress.com.

View this post on their site

7.  Snigdha is an Indian blogger with a full time job that manages to get away for some great trips every year.  In October she went to one of my top destinations on my Asia wishlist.  Yunnan (and also Sichuan) province seems like such an incredible place that one week doesn’t seem long enough.  I don’t now when I am going to find 2-4 weeks free that coincides with the best travel season.  She spent time exploring the 3rd longest river in the world and saw the famous gorges.  Follow her blog at getsetandgo.wordpress.com.

View this post on her site

8. Mandy has lived in Japan for 6 years and does travel consulting to assist overseas travelers (uncoverjapantravel.com).  Not only that but her website provides an amazing wealth of information.  I do not like monkeys at all but these snow monkeys look pretty cool soaking in the hot springs.  There’s a chance I can take a weeklong trip to Japan this fall and I will be using this website a lot if that happens.  Follow her blog at uncoveringjapan.com.

View this post on her site

9.  Bama is an Indonesian blogger that got the travel itch 5 years ago and set a goal to visit 30 countries by 2020.  He is well on his way there and he is an excellent photographer.  Kelimutu (pictured) is a pair of lakes barely separated but one is pitch black while the other is a lovely turquoise.  There is also a third colored lake nearby and all 3 of the lakes change colors but they never seem to be the same color.  This is also on the island of Flores, Indonesia which is where Alison (#2) took her cruise to.  Follow his blog at harindabama.com

View this post on his site

10.  Kollin recently finished teaching in Taiwan and is currently traveling around southeast Asia.  She has been traveling and living abroad for 4 years and scored big points with rappelling down a waterfall.  It was just one of her top ten things to do in Gopeng, Malaysia.  Follow the rest of her adventure on her blog at everygirleverywhere.com and see where she ends up next.

View this post on her site

What are some other great blogs in Asia?  What are some other great places in Asia (mostly East Asia)?  What theme should I pick next?  I have started collecting links for the following themes:  thru-hikers, Australia/NZ, bicycle bloggers and Taiwan.

More importantly what blogging techniques that you see in these excellent blogs and other blogs should I start using in my own blog.  In the last 6 months I have started blogging more and I have done some small improvements.  I am fairly happy with my individual blogs but the layout of the site still needs a lot of work.  Any suggestions?

If you are featured in this blog and wish to make any corrections or have any questions then please contact me at my FB group Taiwan’s Waterfalls