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jimena1 Feb 25th, 2005 09:20 AM

Bali and Yogyakarta
We are planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Yogyakarta for July. Last visit to area was about 15 years ago. Will be flying on Malaysia Airlines First Class (Flyer award). Any recommendations or suggestions as to new places? How about safety issues/concerns?

marmot Feb 25th, 2005 05:45 PM

jimena, there have been many threads about Bali, so I'll concentrate on Yogya. Depending on your budget I'd recommend either the Hyatt which is big, family oriented and moderately priced or the Amanjiwo which is intimate, luxurious and very expensive. They are both outside of Yogya city limits. Amanjiwo overlooks Borobudur temple and they will arrange a pre-sunrise visit which is a spectacular experience.

Many travelers prefer to stay in Yogya itself so as to be able to walk to shopping area. For me the heat and congestion are overwhelming (and I live in Indonesia) so I like to get out of town. Let me know your price range and what you're looking for and I'll give you more suggestions.

Security issues in Indonesia are also much debated. Several embassies have warning advises their nationals not to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, and it is certainly true that this country has been afflicted by terrorism in recent years. No one can gauge your own comfort level except you, but I can say as an American who has lived in Jakarta for 10 years, that the day to day risk of being affected by terrorism is very, very low.

jimena1 Feb 25th, 2005 05:59 PM

Thank you for your reply marmot. It is funny because the two hotels we were thinking of in Yogya were the Hyatt and Amanjiwo. Amanjiwo although a bit pricey is more attractive, but since we would like to see as much of the area perhaps the Hyatt might be a better choice. My concern with Bali is the safety issue. Although there has been no recent negative activity, there is a travel warning (US) for Indonesia.

rapunzll Feb 25th, 2005 07:41 PM

I'm jealous! I haven't been to Bali or Yogya since 1984! Is Tom's silver still operating in Yogya? When we lived in Bogor, I had wanted to go take a batik class there, and never got around to it. :-(

marmot Feb 26th, 2005 02:05 AM

jimena, the Hyatt in Yogya is a perfectly serviceable hotel. It's clean, the service is relatively good (at least friendly)and it's situated in a large garden with a meandering pool. For reasons that I've never understood the pool is salt water. The food is not great but again it's acceptable. (I don't think there IS a good restaurant in Yogya. Stick with simple Indonesian.) The location is about 40 minutes to Borobudur or to Prambanan and about 20 minutes to the central Yogya sights like the Kraton or Malioboro. It is not within walking distance of anything that you would most likely want to see.

Yogya is a big, hot, crowded Asian city. Fascinating, but wearing. The Sunday morning dance performance at the Kraton is particularly lovely.

The Amanjiwo on the other hand is in a class to itself. If you can possibly swing it, do try to spend at least one night there as it is a magical, mystical experience. The property itself is in the middle of rice paddy and tobacco fields, surrounded by volcanos and within spitting distance of Borobudur. The architecture is modeled on Borobudur and each room has its own private garden pavillon. The service is impeccable. The food is very good. As the sun set the call to prayer reverberates throughout the valley. And the experience of getting up before dawn to watch sunrise over the mountains from Borobudur's terrace is well, one of life's great events. One night could well cost you $US700, but it will be memorable.

As I said every person has his/her own comfort level with Indonesia. The country has over 220 million people. Most of them are peaceful, but there is no denying that there are a few thousand extremists who can cause a lot of heartache. All of the hotels and restaurants in Bali and Java have good security. Although the embassy warnings will probably never be lifted, many, many people from all over the world visit and live in Indonesia. The risk of a negative experience related to terrorism or anti-Western feeling is very, very low.

jimena1 Feb 26th, 2005 02:50 AM

Thanks maarmot. We will look into your suggestions. I have stayed at some Aman resorts before and know they are excellent hotels, I imagine Amanjiwo must be incredible. Do you have any suggestions for Bali at all. Interested in touring the island, we were planning to avoid the regular shopping/entertainment areas. We were looking into the Ritz-Carlton.

Kathie Feb 26th, 2005 08:55 AM

I have a slightly different suggestion. Instead of Bali, since you've been there in the past, why not consider Lombok? I spent almost two weeks on Lombok in November and had a wonderful time. Of course, it's very different from Bali. I stayed at a charming 20-room resort, Qunci Villas that I highly recommend. The beaches were nearly vacant (and nicer than the Bali beaches, I thought). There are a couple of larger places worth considering, an Oberi (which I did not visit) and a Novotel (only worth it if you get one of the individual villas). Look for my report on Lombok (posted in December) for details.

jimena1 Feb 26th, 2005 10:49 AM

Thanks Kathie thats a suggestion that I did not think about. I'll look for your report as well.

travelmug Feb 26th, 2005 01:15 PM

Marmot, the Amanjiwo sounds wonderful but so expensive! Do you know if they offer special rates for Kitas holders? My husband and I want see Borobudur this year, can you please tell us which month is the best time to go? Do we need to stay for 2 nights?

marmot Feb 26th, 2005 02:34 PM

jimena, My favorite places in Bali are the Alila in Ubud and the Legian in Seminyak Beach. I've written so much about them that it sounds like I'm on their payroll. (I'm not.)They are both mid-size, contemporary Bali design, well run, friendly places. There are just so many choices in Bali that it's hard to go wrong, but I've stayed at these two places dozens of times and have never been disappointed.

I've been to the Ritz Carlton but have never stayed there. It's big, on a cliff (you have to get transport to the beach), down a long, long road far away from everything. The pool is enormous with all kinds of bells and whistles. The sunsets are out of this world.

In Lombok I like the Oberoi. Lombok beaches are very nice, but the culture and arts and crafts are not as sophisticated as Bali.

Kathie, did you go to the Gili's? My one experience there was so awful I've never been back.

travelmug, the last time I went to the Amanjiwo, which I think was in August, I paid $US450 for the KITAS rate. One night is okay. I would definitely avoid the rainy season, roughly November to March. The resort is empty. I know the Aman's don't like to discount, but this may be an exception. Call the manager.

jimena1 Feb 27th, 2005 03:30 AM

Marmot, lasat night over dinner some friends mentioned a small hotel that is called The Bale. They say that is very worth considering. Have you heard of this one?

Kathie Feb 27th, 2005 09:37 AM

marmot, we did not go to the Gilis. I just wanted to relax, so we stayed on Lombok the whole time.

jimena, I forgot to mention that Malaysian Air now flies to Lombok (Mataram). I don't think it's everyday, but they do have regular flights. You can get a visa on arrival at Mataram.

marmot Feb 27th, 2005 09:20 PM

jimena, I've never actually been inside The Bale but I've seen it from afar. It's a really lovely property, well designed with intimate individual villas BUT (there is always a but, isn't there?) it's on the cliff overlooking the sea, not on the beach. That area where Nusa Dua abuts on Ulu Watu is very beautiful but also barren and scorchingly hot.

Bali is undergoing a renaissance two years after the bombing and new resorts and villas are sprouting up like mushrooms. From the websites, they all look and sound great and most likely they are. What is difficult to ascertain without actually being there is what's next door. Is it another construction site, a garbage dump, a highrise, a swamp. . .? There are absolutely no building codes in Bali so anything goes. Do you have to take a taxi everytime you want to leave the resort or can you walk? Do you want total isolation or do you like to people watch? Personally, I prefer to be in a slightly livelier environment than individual villas offer (note the operative word is slightly, the Grand Hyatt gave me a headache!), but many people love the seclusion of their own villa.

You can be sure that the local staff will be friendly and eager to please, but you may not be sure that they are well trained or experienced.

That's why first hand recommendations are so critical.

jimena1 Feb 28th, 2005 02:21 AM

Marmot you are absolutely righ, we also prefer a "slightly" livelier environment (giving the word slightlier the same definition as you did). We do not want to feel totally secluded either.The first time I went to Bali I stayed at the Grand Hyatt and it was not a bad experience because it was not crowded at all. In fact they even upgraded us to a beatiful suite within the Grand Club cluster!

travelmug Feb 28th, 2005 04:21 AM

Thanks for the tip Marmot!

Jakarta Mar 1st, 2005 02:03 AM

Hey, Marmot, I also live in Indonesia! (but only for 6 months). We stayed at the Hyatt in Yogyakarta and had a great time. We had Regency Club rooms which cost more, but you get breakfast and then tea (5-7pm) included (so we saved 2 meals per day).

If you have the choice, visit the temples on weekdays, not on the weekend (the place is mobbed.

We stayed at the Bali Hyatt in Sanur and were quite happy, but it's not where the action is.

As for safety, we felt quite comfortable in both Yogya and Bali.

jimena1 Mar 1st, 2005 03:17 AM

Hey Jakarta, thanks for the tip, we were planning to visit the temples during the week also. Thanks for the info.

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