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Trip Report A graduation celebration: Two weeks in Singapore, Java and Bali

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We have just returned from another excellent adventure—this time to Singapore and Indonesia (Central Java and Bali) to celebrate our 22-year-old daughter’s college graduation. As always, we want to thank those (Kathie, Bob & Karen, tripplanner001, and others) whose recent experiences helped pave the way for our plans. And, of course, we want to pay it forward by sharing our experiences with those whose future plans include these areas.

It was a trip of diverse experiences, with many highlights and great memories. These are a few memorable moments, not necessarily in order—chronologically or otherwise:

1. Arriving at Borobudur on Waisak—the holiest date in the Buddhist calendar, with the largest celebration taking place at Borobudur. This was a complete coincidence in our planning that we recognized a few months after booking flights. We arrived too late to see the procession, unfortunately, but still in time to observe some of the evening activities, including a speech from the president of Indonesia.

2. Receiving a complimentary upgrade to a fantastic villa near Borobudur, with private pool and private dining service at our poolside verandah—a stay that we will all remember for a long time.

3. Feeling like rock stars in Java, fielding numerous requests for photos (okay, this got a little old, but it was fun—or funny—for a bit). How often do you have giggling women saying “wow” because they’ve had the chance to take a photo with you?

4. Visiting the well-known sites of Borobudur and Prambanan—but also a few of the lesser-visited temples. In fact, we had Candi Sewa all to ourselves.

5. Stretching our legs on a few short walks/hikes, including up Menoreh hill near Borobudur, on the Campuhan Ridge near Ubud, and through the rice fields to see Candi Selogriyo.

6. Rafting down the Elo River for a couple of hours and observing daily life from a different perspective (tip: close your mouth when you go over the rapids).

7. Diving into the baggage-claim scrum at Yogyakarta airport—a chance to really get up close and personal with 100+ fellow passengers.

8. Immersing ourselves in the crowds along Yogyakarta’s Malioboro Street and in the Pasar Beringharjo (market)—a chance to get up close and personal with many more hundreds of people.

9. Taking daily dips in three fantastic pools at our accommodations to cool off after our days of sightseeing in the heat and humidity.

10. Relaxing in another stunning private villa at Alam Jiwa in Ubud, with views over the rice field, refreshing breezes, an open-air shower, and even a visiting monkey or two. It was so large that we were regularly losing track of things like our mobile phones and the front door key.

11. Popping into a local restaurant in Yogyakarta recommended by one of our drivers. There was no English spoken and no menu. One of the staff brought us small plates of every item available so that we could choose our dinner. Even though we didn’t know much about what we were choosing, it was all really good!

12. Sipping our obligatory Singapore Slings at Raffles (or gulping as the case may be, because the heat left us very thirsty)—and not even caring about the US$22 price tag.

13. Watching—and watching out for—the monkeys as we walked the path alongside the Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud multiple times per day.

14. Seeing the Ramayana Ballet with the temples of Prambanan lit in the background.

15. Dashing into Seoul during our six-hour layover for lunch and a look around the Namdaemun market.

And Bali. We basically loved everything about Bali. Even a brief glimpse of Kuta and its Vegas-meets-Hawaii vibe was interesting (but we wouldn’t want to stay there).

There were many highlights. We blogged the trip for some friends and family and will post a link shortly to share day-to-day detail, as soon as we get some things cleaned up and fill in some missing detail.

In the meantime, we will add a little background and a few more details about our accommodations, logistics, and such.

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