Exploring the diverse scenery of East Java, Indonesia

The area of East Java in Indonesia is home to beautiful and diverse landscapes that include beaches, volcanoes, mountains, plantations, lakes, natural reserves, and a lot more. There are also many natural, cultural, and adventure activities to partake in, like scuba diving, hiking volcanoes, surfing, witnessing traditional ceremonies, hearing folklore stories, learning the cultivation process of tea, and photographing wild animals like zebras and cheetahs.

To get to East Java you can fly into its capital, Surabaya, via their international airport, Juanda Airport (SUB).

If you’d like to explore East Java from the comfort of your computer chair, check out the gallery below.


How to visit the birthplace of humanity

When visiting Columbia in South America, there are many interesting national parks to explore. Amacayacu National Park, Cocuy National Park, and Tayrona National Park are all natural points of interest in the country. Iguaque National Park, however, has one very unique feature that makes it a must-see stop on any trip to Columbia, as it is said to be the birthplace of humanity.

Iguaque National Park is located in Boyacá, about 142 miles away from Bogota. Having an elevation that ranges from 7,874 to 12,467 feet above sea level while covering 16,679 acres, you can imagine there is a lot to see. Whatever areas you decide to stop at, however, make sure to visit Iguaque Lake, located in the highest part of the mountain. According to the indigenous Muisca people, the sacred site is said to be the place where “mother Earth” (Bachué) emerged from the water carrying a baby boy in her arms. When the boy became a man, he populated the Earth before disappearing back into the lake as a snake. It is believed that a visit to Iguaque Lake cleanses the soul and purifies the spirit.

Want to make the pilgrimage yourself? To get to Iguaque National Park, you can go from Bogota to Villa de Leyva via Tunja. Once in Villa de Leyva, you can catch a bus to the park, and from there you will walk about a mile to the entrance to pay the fee. Because there is so much flora and fauna to discover, as well as hiking trails, there is an interpretative path in the beginning of the trek to help visitors understand the area. Keep following the path and you will to be taken to spiritual and historical site of Iguaque Lake.

Note: One thing visitors must be aware of is how important it is to leave early, as weather changes frequently in the area, posing the risk of hypothermia if the temperatures drop too low.

Travel the goddess trail with Sacred Places of the Goddesses

For those in search of that little extra umph when they travel–the something more that connects them to self or something bigger than they are, sacred place travel can offer a sense of purpose. Traveling with a contemplative eye can move one deeper into an experience.

Here is a book that offers up sacred places to visit with a twist. In Sacred Places of Goddess, 108 Destinations, author Karen Tate, presents the history of goddess worship, the role of the Divine Feminine around the world, the significance of each particular goddess, and how do you get to the places where you can experience their influence. This is part travel guide, part history lesson, part cultural analysis, –and more. Much more.

Whether it’s a sacred, spiritual boost you’re after, or just an unusual way to look at the places you are wandering though, here’s a book to consider.

Tate’s book caught my eye when I was wandering around the West Hollywood Book Festival last September. With spiritual travel showing up on the radar lately, I wanted to point this one out as a fascinating read that presents sites and information you may not come across otherwise.

Divided into sections by continents and countries, the book delves into the archaeological, sociological and historical significance of particular places and their goddess connection. Sites include: grottoes, churches, temples, ruins, particular statues or artwork of note.

Remember Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Persephone? You’ll hook up with them in Greece. Hera’s Temple, for example, is in the town of Pythagorian. Tate tells you how to get to these goddess oriented spots, as well as, what it’s like to go there.

“As one travels over the blue-green sea from Mykonos toward Delos, the gentle rocking of the boat and the island ahead growing ever closer becomes a trance-like journey taking visitors from the mundane world into the sacred.”

Delos, Tate points out, is referred to in Homer’s, The Odyssey, and is thought to be where Apollo and Artemis were born when Leto, their mother, was hiding from Hera, Zeus’s wife. On Delos, you’ll find a statue of the Greek goddess Isis, in addition to many temples that honor other goddesses.

If Ireland or Italy are in your future, you can also connect with Isis there. In Egypt, visiting Isis sites is a given.

Tate’s book connects the sacred places through their goddess similarities to make clear the relationship these places have with each other. No matter which section of the world you are traveling, there’s a goddess along the path.

Places include the well known to the obscure. For anyone with a hankering to go off the beaten track, here’s an option.

Throughout the book, photos, drawings and maps highlight particular places and artifacts. Tate also offers suggestions on how to maximize sacred place travel experiences and offers her thoughts about how these places fit into the framework of modern times. The current day perceptions towards women are woven throughout. In Tate’s’ view, history has an influence over the present.

For armchair travelers, or anyone interested in delving further into the subject of the goddess–whether from a historical, cultural or spiritual perspective, Sacred Places of Goddess is a read guaranteed to teach you a few things you probably didn’t know.

For travelers, “It’s enough to amplify the spiritual wanderlust of even the most ardent sojourner.” –Yoga Journal.

Check out this write-up in The Goddess Pages for an in depth review.

Look for a “Talking Travel with Karen Tate” post in the near future.

Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day: Celebration Worthy of Note

Here’s a heads up for next year since the day has passed. Still, since this is a month of holidays, I didn’t want this one to go unmentioned. December 12th is one of the most important holy days in Mexico and much of Latin America. The Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day is when people honor Mexico’s patron saint, the Lady of Guadalupe. She appeared in the 16th century to Juan Diego, a poor farmer in Mexico, and is thought to have been the Virgin Mary. His apron with her image on it remains.

Along with many church celebrations, processionals and ceremonies in Mexico and the U.S., December 12th is when hundreds of people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, thought to be on the site when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared. Inside the church, the tilma (apron) that belonged to Juan Diego is on display. Several million come here every year for mass and to see the icon. By the looks of the crowds in this YouTube video, it’s quite the place to visit.

Here is another video from a church in New Jersey that begins to celebrate the feast day the Sunday before the 12th. There is an interview with the priest about the celebration’s significance and footage of the happenings. And, here is an article from today’s Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky that also provides an overview about how this celebration is important to people who have immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and those with Mexican heritage.

The photo was taken by Chantel Foster during the Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day procession in Albuquerque, New Mexico and posted on Flickr.