Indonesia Tour: Java, Sulawesi & Bali
Tour Indonesia and traverse three islands– Java, Sulawesi, and Bali with an extension to Komodo and along the way experience the many and varied ethnic cultures and religious sanctuaries.
With Professor Malcolm David Eckel
May 17-June 2, 2019
Why travel on Far Horizons’ Indonesia Tour ?
- Indonesia tour led by Professor Malcolm David Eckel, a Great Courses professor
- Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, and the Subak Water System of Bali
- The huge hilltop remains of megalithic Gunung Padang
- Penataran Temple’s intricate wall reliefs that tell the Javanese version of the epic Ramayana
- The elaborate funeral rituals and burial practices of the Toraja, on the UNESCO Tentative List
- Komodo Dragon extension
- Maximum 14 participants
(click to enlarge)
Travel & Tour Indonesia – Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart USA
Day 2: Arrive Jakarta and overnight for three nights.
Day 3: Tour Jakarta
Day 4: Gunung Padang
Day 5: Fly to Yogyakarta and overnight two nights. Sewu Temple. Prambanan
Day 6: Borobudur, Kraton.
Day 7: Train from Yogyakarta to Blitar and overnight. Penataran Temple.
Day 8: Trowulan. Overnight Makassar
Day 9: Fly to Palopo. Overnight Toraja two night.
Day 10: Tour Toraja.
Day 11: Drive to Sengkan and overnight. Canoe ride to Lake Tempe.
Day 12: Silk village. Rammang-Ramman. Lean-Leang Caves. Fly to Bali and overnight for six nights.
Day 13: Pura Taman Ayun. Batukaru. Pura Ulun Danu Batur. Jatiluwih
Day 14: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Besakih Temple. Gowa Gajah. Pakerisan River Subaks
Day 15: Barong and Gamelan Dances. Padang Galak Sea Temple.
Day 16: Klungkung Palace. Hall of Justice, Tirta Gangga, Taman Ujung.
Day 17: Morning free. Fly to USA (or fly to Komodo)
Day 18: Arrive USA
Indonesia straddles the equator between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and with thousands of volcanic islands, Indonesia is the 7th largest country in the world in terms of combined sea and land area. The archipelago is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages, and the country has been an important region for trade for more than one thousand years when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with Chinese dynasties and Indian kingdoms.
Join Far Horizons and Professor Malcolm David Eckel on a very special 17-day itinerary that covers three of Indonesia’s islands with an optional extension to a fourth. On Java visit Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the huge megalithic site of Gunung Padang, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Prambanan and Borobudur, the sanctuary of Penataran where intricate wall reliefs tell the Javanese version of the epic Ramayana, and Trowulan, the former capital city of the Majapahit Kingdom in the eastern part of the island. We’ll go to Sulawesi where we will climb into the mountainous area of the indigenous Toraja known for their elaborate funeral rituals and burial practices of tombs carved into cliff faces protected by life-size effigies of the dead. Then it’s on to Bali to experience their truly unique culture where the local people devote most of their waking hours to an endless series of offerings, purifications, processions, dances, and a plethora of other spiritual rites celebrated in elaborate temples and in the cultural landscape.
Along the way, we will dine on the various exquisite Indonesian cuisines, stay in unique hotels, see spectacular religious sanctuaries, enjoy gorgeous scenery, learn about the diverse cultures, and see the acclaimed giant lizard on an optional extension to Komodo Island.
Indonesia Tour Leader
Malcolm David Eckel received his MA from Oxford University and his PhD from Harvard University in comparative religion with special emphasis on the religious traditions of India, Tibet and Southeast Asia. He is Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities and Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Religion at Boston University, where he has taught courses on Buddhism, comparative religion, and the religions of Asia. Professor Eckel has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence, Boston University’s highest award for teaching. He also served as Boston University’s Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities. In addition to many articles and books, he is the editor of two volumes of essays: India and The West: The Problem of Understanding and Deliver Us from Evil. Professor Eckel is a popular lecturer on The Great Courses’ lecture series. His experience as a traveler in Southeast Asia along with his knowledge of the religions of the area, makes Professor Eckel particularly suitable to lead this trip.
Indonesia Tour Itinerary
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart USA
Day 2: Arrive Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, located on the northwest coast of Java. Overnight for three nights in the chic, boutique Alila Jakarta Hotel in Jakarta. (D)
Day 3: Our day begins in Indonesia’s National Museum, popularly known as the Elephant Building after the imposing statue at the entrance. Exhibits include gold artifacts found in excavations, ceramics, ethnographic articles that are used in ceremonies and rituals, and what is considered the richest and the largest collection of Hindu-Buddhist art of ancient Indonesia. A highlight is the 12-foot tall statue of Adityavarman, a 14th century king of Sumatra, depicted as the Indian deity of Bhairava. Jakarta dates back to at least the 4th century when it was a Hindu settlement and port. The old section of the city, known as Kota Tua, was an integral part of the maritime trade route, and its earliest history centers on the port of Sunda Kelapa. When the Portuguese arrived in 1522, Sunda Kelapa was the harbor of the Pajajaran dynasty, the last Hindu kingdom of West Java. When the Dutch gained control, the name became Batavia. Within the harbor we will see the pinisi ships, traditional sailing vessels with two masts that once carried trade goods from Indonesia to Europe and Africa. At one end of the harbor is the fish market, and nearby can be seen some of the traditional houses, supported by stilts, of the local people. We will enter the Museum Bahari, or Maritime Museum, housed in Dutch East India Company warehouses, and the Wayang Museum dedicated to puppetry. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Today will be a long day as it is a four hour drive to and from Gunung Padang, a massive and controversial megalithic site covering a hilltop and the largest site of its kind in Indonesia. Radiocarbon testing has revealed that it was built and first occupied about 4,800 years ago. The team who has been excavating here claims that ground penetrating radar indicates that the mound covers a massive underground pyramid. Whatever the reality, this enigmatic complex is impressive. Accessed by 400 successive andesite steps, a series of five terraces is supported by retaining walls made of huge basaltic, columnar pillars stacked horizontally. Each platform contains rectangular stone enclosures with inner partitions, walkways and gate entrances. In the afternoon return to Jakarta. Dinner is on our own to enjoy one of Jakarta’s fine restaurants. (B/L)
Day 5: Transfer to the airport for our flight to Yogyakarta. In the afternoon, visit Sewu Temple, the second largest Buddhist Temple complex on Java and the largest in the Prambanan Plain region. It predates Prambanan temple by over 70 years and Borobudur by about 37 years. Built on a north-south and east-west central axis, entrances were placed on all four cardinal points. The splendid central temple of Mahadeva, dedicated to Shiva, is enclosed by four rings of 250 smaller sanctuaries. This mandala represents a schematic visual representation of the universe in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Nearby Prambanan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in the 10th century and is the largest sanctuary compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Designed as three concentric squares, there are 224 temples in the huge complex, and three are dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and are decorated with carved reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana. Nearby are three smaller temples dedicated to the animals who serve them. Overnight for two nights in The Sofitel Phoenix, an iconic Dutch colonial-era hotel located in the heart of the city of Yogyakarta. (B/L/D)
Day 6: We will get up very early this morning to watch the sun rise over Borobudur, the largest single Buddhist temple in the world. Dating from the 8th and 9th centuries and another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this exquisite, massive sanctuary is built in a series of layers. The top three tiers contain open hallways covered with carved bas-reliefs illustrating the different phases of the soul’s progression towards redemption and episodes from the life of Buddha. If stretched end-to-end, these carved panels would be almost three miles long! And the circular terraces are further decorated with no fewer than 72 openwork stupas each containing a statue of Buddha. When we return to Yogyakarta we will enter the Sultan’s Palace, or Kraton, built in the middle of the 18th century. This immense walled complex serves as the home for the monarch of the royal sultanate of Yogyakarta. (B/L)
Day 7: Early this morning, we will climb aboard an air-conditioned train to ride through beautiful countryside from Yogyakarta to Blitar in eastern Java. In the afternoon, visit Penataran, dedicated to the god Shiva and the largest Hindu temple in East Java. The well preserved sanctuary is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. Intricate stone carvings decorate the temple walls and terrace foundations with scenes of daily life and stories of the god Vishnu in different avatars. The lovely reliefs also tell the Rama story in the Javanese version of the epic Ramayana. Overnight for one night in the Hotel Tugu, housed in a colonial mansion that was built in the 1850s. (B/L/D)
Day 8: Today we drive to Surabaya. Along the way, stop to see the remains of Trowulan, the former capital city of the Majapahit Kingdom during the Classical Age, spectacularly sited at the foot of three mountains. With wealth based on control of the spice trade and the bountiful rice-growing plains of Java, Trowulan was once the center of one of the greatest and most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. Study of the city has shown a tolerance of religious practices with a amalgam of Hinduism and Buddhism, and Koranic burial inscriptions found here suggest that Javanese Muslims resided within the royal court. The empire came to a cataclysmic end in 1478 when the city was conquered by the Islamized Demak Sultanate from the northern coast of Java, forcing the Majapahit aristocracy to flee to Bali and opening Java to the Muslim conquest. In the Trowulan Museum are displays of splendid examples of Majapahit sculpture. Continue to Surabaya where we will board our evening flight to Makassar in South Sulawesi. Overnight in the stylish 4-star Melia Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 9: Our morning flight takes us to Palopo. We then drive through spectacular scenery to the area of the Toraja, ethnic groups indigenous to this mountainous region of South Sulawesi. In Toraja society, the funeral ritual is the most elaborate and costly event. The richer and more powerful the individual, the more expensive is the funeral. After the weeks-long ceremonies, the bodies are buried in a stone grave carved out of a rocky bluff or hung by ropes along the precipice. After lunch drive to Lemo where rows of carved wooden life-size effigies of the dead, called Tau Tau, guard tombs cut into the cliff face. Then we move on to Ke’te Ke’su, one of the oldest and most complete traditional Torajan villages in the highlands. Here, we will see two rows of massive peaked-roof ancestral houses, called Tongkonan, as well as traditional rice barns with colorful wood carved gables and outside walls. A local Christian priest will join us to give an insight into how the Christian religion handles the ancient animist beliefs of the Torajans who also consider themselves to be Christians. Overnight in the Toraja Heritage Hotel for two nights. (B/L/D)
Day 10: After driving to Kandora village, we will begin our walk through the Torajan countryside and local villages where we can see the traditional Toraja houses, and witness people going about their everyday life. We will learn about the ancient Torajan customs for babies who die before they grow any teeth at the small site of Kote, and see how commoners were buried alongside the coffins of noblemen at the cave burial site of Tampangallo. We will also visit the cliff graves of the Kings of Sangalla, and in Suaya we will meet a descendent of one of the Royal Toraja families and enjoy a coffee break in their house compound among the traditional rice barns with their colorful woodcarvings. (B/L/D)
Day 11: After early breakfast, begin the drive down the mountains. Upon arrival in Sengkang, enjoy a motor canoe ride on the Walanae River to Lake Tempe. Along the way, watch the daily activities of people living in stilt houses over the river, glide slowly through green fields of water hyacinths with hundreds of various birds flying overhead before reaching the floating houses in the middle of the lake. We will have a chance to catch the sunset over beautiful Lake Tempe. Return to Sengkang and overnight in the simple Hotel BBC Sengkang. NOTE: This will be the most modest hotel of the trip. (B/L/D)
Day 12: We begin with a visit to the home of a silk weaver to observe the traditional way of silk spinning, dying and weaving high quality fabrics with traditional motifs of the Buginese, the culturally dominant ethnic group of Sulawesi. Continue on to Rammang-Rammang, a region of spectacular limestone cliffs, and Leang-Leang Historic Park, a karst landscape filled with caves, some displaying prehistoric art including red and white hand prints that are thousands of years old. In the evening, fly to the island of Bali and overnight for six nights at the Komaneka Rasa Sayang Hotel in the center of Ubud. (B/L/D)
Day 13: Bali’s UNESCO Heritage Property is the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy. Throughout Bali’s countryside, temples are the centerpiece of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, dating back to the 9th century. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. This philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India over the past 2,000 years and has shaped the landscape of Bali. And this has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in Indonesia despite the challenge of supporting a dense population. Throughout our time on Bali, we will be consistently engulfed in the complexity of this water organization, and experience this society’s fundamental belief in the spiritual world and the importance of its balance with the physical world with visits to temples and ceremonies. Begin today with a drive to Mengwi, long associated with the Balinese royal family, and home to the superb Royal Water Temple at Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. Built in 1634 by the founder of the Mengwi kingdom, a powerful kingdom in central Bali until 1891, the temple is famous for its exquisite wooden merus, or pagoda-like shrines. Two stone stairways lead to the outer court, the front of which is decorated with 34 sandstone statues depicting scenes from Ramayana. The centerpiece is a sculpture showing the giant Kumbhakarna engaged in a violent battle with horde of monkeys. The sanctuary’s interior walls are decorated with fascinating carvings reflecting daily life. Then we move on to Batukaru Temple, an 11th century Hindu temple located on the slope of Mount Batukaru, and the Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur on the edge of Lake Batur whose crater lake is regarded as the ultimate origin of every spring and river. As we return to the hotel, we will stop to view the rice terraces at Jatiluwih, part of the UNESCO property. (B/L/D)
Day 14: Our all day journey takes us through breathtaking scenery as we climb to the ‘Twin Lakes’ region and Lake Bratan which supplies fresh water to the majority of the rice irrigation system of Bali. Built in 1663, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a temple built on small islands along the rim of the crater, belongs to the supreme water goddess, Dewi Danu. Traditional Hindu Balinese, who call their religion Agama Tirta, or ‘Religion of Water’, believe that she makes the water flow into the rivers and irrigation systems. Further into the lake is a shrine with a three-tier meru, or a symbol of the world mountain. When the shrine was renovated in 1968, three long round stones were discovered at the foundation colored red, white and black. The white stone was believed to be a linga, a phallic symbol of Shiva, and associated with the worship of fertility. Located high on the slopes of Mt. Agung, Pura Besakih, known as the ‘Mother Temple’, is the largest and most important temple complex on Bali. The temple is actually a complex made up of twenty-two temples that sit on parallel ridges. It has stepped terraces and flights of stairs which ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that lead up to the main spire Meru structure, which is called Pura Penataran Agung. All this is aligned along a single axis and designed to lead the spiritual upward and closer to the mountain which is considered sacred. A volcanic flow in 1963 came within feet of destroying the temple and the fact that it remained intact is regarded by the Balinese people as miraculous. On our way back to Ubud, stop at Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, a collection of caves carved by the Buddhist people of Bali around the time that Buddhism and Hinduism were both practiced on the island. According to inscriptions found on the walls, the caves were created in the 11th century, but it lay undetected for centuries before it was rediscovered in 1923 by a team of Dutch archaeologists. Excavations carried out in 1954 unearthed bathing places in front of the cave with six female figures, representing. nymphs or goddesses holding water spouts. While here, it would be unusual not to see some kind of Balinese ceremony as it is a popular spot and people bring offerings every day. Our last stop will be to see the water districts along Pakerisan River. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Day 15: The Balinese celebrate life through ceremony and daily rituals that permeate every aspect of life and is proclaimed in their diverse and sophisticated art forms – painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Today we drive to Batubulan Village to witness the Barong Dance, a ritual performance pitting the evil witch Rangda against the good lion Barong. It ends with the young men of the village going into trance and trying to kill themselves with a kris (wavy-bladed sword). This is the classic example of the Balinese way of acting out mythology, resulting in myth and history being blended into one reality. The masks used in the dance are considered sacred items, and before they are brought out, a priest must bless them by sprinkling them with holy water taken from Mount Agung, or Mount Divine, the abode of the gods and the goddesses. Balinese percussion orchestra music, known as gamelan, is highly developed and varied, but the metal sounds and dynamic style of the so-called gamelan gong ‘kebyar’ is less than one hundred years old. Join in on a gamelan demo at one of Bali’s most decorated artisan village. This traditional musical instrument is commonly played in Javanese and Balinese performance along with other sets of instruments. No ceremony on Bali is considered to be complete without the presence of Holy water. This water can be obtained from several sources – streams, natural springs, lakes or the sea (segara). A Pura Segara, or sea temple, is built on the beach to house the god of the sea, and we will view one at Padang Galak Beach. (B/L)
Day 16: The Klungkung kingdom was considered to be the most important of the nine kingdoms of Bali from the late 17th century to 1908. Begin today in the Klungkung Palace, or Puri Agung Semarapura, a historical complex located in Semarapura, the capital of the Klungkung Regency. Kertagosa Pavilion, one of the best-preserved parts of the palace, gives an excellent example of traditional Balinese architecture. Erected in the 18th century, and surrounded by a moat that makes the building seem to float on water, the pavilion once functioned as the Hall of Justice. The interior ceilings are lavishly painted with exquisite mythological scenes including the story of the sacrifice of the hero Sutasoma. The next stop will be Tirta Gangga, the lavish water gardens owned by the royal Karangasem family. Within the three acre grouns are pools, ponds and fountains adorned with stepping stones, ornate statues and tropical gardens. Drive on to the Taman Ujung Water Palace created in the early 20th century for Balinese royalty. The grounds were destroyed in the explosion of nearby Mt. Agung in 1963 and further ruined by an earthquake in 1979. Now restored, the palace and gardens were a place of recreation for the king and royal family. (B/L/D)
Day 17: Morning free. Afternoon flight to USA (B)
Day 18: Arrive USA.
May 17-June 2, 2019
$9,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) (per person, double occupancy) includes international airfare into Jakarta and out of Bali; four internal flights; train from Yogyakarta to Blitar; all hotels; meals as noted; ground transportation; entry fees; and gratuities to guides and drivers.
$995.00. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged.
Cost does not include: A separate $150.00 (per person) donation check; passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; personal tips; email, telephone and fax charges; or other items of a personal nature.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
Donation Checks: As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. A project will be designated shortly.
A deposit of $750.00 is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $450.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.
International flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If you do not arrive or depart on the scheduled days, you are responsible for all transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Note about Travel in Indonesia
This trip is designed for adventure loving travelers and may involve schedule changes, poor road conditions, and local staff unaccustomed to tourist groups. Several days will have very early departures and some remote sites will entail long drives. All participants are expected to be physically active and able to walk independently throughout our very full touring days. Keeping up with the group is each participant’s responsibility; please do not expect assistance from the other group members or staff. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.
This Archaeological Tour to Indonesia is limited to 14 participants