Today’s exciting travel story takes us to Indonesia with film photographers Audra and Thijs of Audra Wrisley Photography. Last summer, the husband-and-wife team visited the wondrous Indonesian islands of Java and Bali, passing through Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Changgu and Ubud. Their breathtaking images and inspiring words help to illustrate exactly why Indonesia remains such a fascinating destination!
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From Audra Wrisley Photography: I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite bit over the past few years, but the three-week trip we took to Indonesia this past summer was more than just a vacation. My husband grew up as the son of an Indonesian father and a Dutch blonde, blue-eyed mother, and the last time they had visited the country was almost two decades ago, just a year before his father unexpectedly passed away. For a long period of time, his family has talked about going back together, but due to a variety of reasons it has never worked out so far. With time passing, we decided to no longer wait and make the trip, just the two of us.
We flew into Jakarta and explored the city while interacting with some of its 9.8 million(!) inhabitants. We rented an apartment with an incredible view, situated on top of one of Jakarta’s many high-rises, and were completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the city.
After a few days we headed for the old city of Yogyakarta, which is a beautiful remnant of days long gone. The sultan governs here from his mid-16th century palace, and rickshaws are still one of the main sources of transportation. Within minutes from exiting the city boundaries you find yourself in a lush green environment of endless rice fields. Our stay in a villa in the countryside was an absolute dream. We visited the incredibly overwhelming Borobudur and Prambanan temples, where we arrived early enough to walk around freely without running into large crowds.
We could have stayed in Yogya for much longer, but we were also excited to travel on to Bali for the last stretch of our trip. We first stayed in the beach town of Changgu, mostly popular with surfers and other free-spirits. It was the ideal place to unwind, and the boutique hotel where we stayed was the perfect splurge we had hoped it would be. After a day or two on the beach, we rented a scooter and drove through Bali’s renowned rice terrases to Pura Tanah Lot; the spectacular temple that is situated on a rock off in the Indian Ocean and is only accessible by low tide.
At the end of the week we travelled to Ubud, in the center of the island, where we were able to stay at Pelangi Estate. This spectacular villa was built by a jewelry designer, who handpicked every single detail inside the three house and around the grounds. It also provided a perfect location for us to explore the area around Ubud, and see the temples in nearby Tampaksiring. Of these temples, Tirta Empul with its holy water springs made by far the biggest impression on us. We happened to be there on one of the biggest religious holidays of the year, and we were quickly enamored by the stunning architecture and vibrant energy of the crowds that had traveled from all parts of Indonesia to partake of the holy water.
Although the images may never do it justice, I hope that they provide a glimpse of the beauty and tranquility that I felt while we were traveling. Prior to our trip, I had a certain idea about Indonesia, formed mainly by news articles and listening to my husband’s stories. It did not take me long after arriving to find that reality was much better than in my imagination. With a history as rich as its exceptionally beautiful landscape, Indonesia breathes a certain timelessness that can only be understood when being there. It is impossible to prepare for the exceptional kindness of the people, and the spiritual presence that is so deeply infused of all facets of life. For me, visiting Indonesia provided an even greater understanding of my husband and his family’s history on a much deeper level than I ever anticipated, and I look back on this trip as one of the most significant times in my life.
Photography: Audra Wrisley Photography | Location: Indonesia | Hotel: Echo Beach Resort | Attractions: The Borobudur and Prambanan Temples in Yogyakarta, Pura Tanah Lot and the Tirta Empul Temple in Bali