5 Things to Know Before You Hike Gunung Lawu via Cemoro Kandang

5 Things to Know Before You Hike Gunung Lawu via Cemoro Kandang at Night Without a Guide

Gunung Lawu is a dormant volcano that borders central and east Java. The peak sits at 10,712 feet (3,265 meters). It is a very popular mountain to climb among college students.

5 Things to Know Before You Hike Gunung Lawu via Cemoro Kandang

1. Price: The price is the same for locals and foreign tourists (RP 15,000). Parking a car cost RP 20,000.

2. Location: Basecamp for Cemoro Kandang. Here you can park your car or motorcycle, register (don’t forget your ID, you need it to register) and use the bathroom (the only one available on the whole trail).

3. Duration: Cemoro Kandang is around 7.5 mi/12 km from basecamp to peak. Mostly hard dirt/clay and some rocks. The trail zig-zags with some short cuts that are very steep.

4. What to bring:

  1. Water. We carried two 1500 ml bottles each.
  2. A small camp stove and pot to heat water and instant food.
  3. A cup and spoon to mix your drinks.
  4. Food. We packed some instant noodles, Snickers, Soy Joys, and homemade scones.
  5. Something to sit on. I cut open a small trash bag and used it to sit on. It was light to pack and waterproof. The Posts along the trail are really dirty. Having something clean and dry to sit on while I rested was a relief.
  6. An extra bag to carry your trash. PLEASE pack it out!
  7. Warm clothing. Don’t underestimate how cold it will get. The temperature can get as cold as 0 degrees Celsius/32 degrees Fahrenheit. When you are hiking you will be very warm, you will even get sweaty, but as soon as you stop moving you will get cold. You can see from our video that we didn’t wear heavy clothing at the beginning of the hike. Seth hiked in his shorts most of the way up, but when we stopped to rest and reached the summit we put extra clothing on. I recommend bringing an extra pair of socks to change into before heading back down the trail.
  8. Flashlight with extra batteries. This is essential if climbing at night.
  9. Good comfortable shoes with good tread. Your feet will thank you!
  10. GPS. While most of the trail is easy to follow it is important that you bring some sort of GPS device with you. You can download our GPS track and waypoints here. You don’t want to risk getting lost without a guide.
  11. You might consider bringing sunscreen too!

5. Important Facts: 

  1. The only bathrooms are at the base camp. Be prepared to find a bush!
  2. There is no water or food stalls along the trail. Bring plenty of both. You might get lucky and someone will be selling something, but don’t count on it!
  3. Weather. The trail gets very slippery when wet. I wouldn’t recommend hiking in the rain unless you are an experienced hiker.

Watch our video here to get a better picture of what to expect when you hike Gunung Lawu via Cemoro Kandang. We had a great experience and felt prepared. We hope these 5 Things to Know Before You Hike Gunung Lawu via Cemoro Kandang will help you get prepared for a great adventure!  Keepsm:)ing!

4 Things to do in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is a bustling city located in the middle of the island of Java. We have lived here for several years and want to recommend 4 things to do in Yogyakarta.


#1. Go to Kaliurang: Enjoy the Monkeys and Take a Merapi Jeep Tour

About 40 minutes north of Yogyakarta is an area referred to as “Kaliurang”. It’s much cooler up there than it is in the city. You can enjoy some of the local food, watch the monkeys, buy some souvenirs, and book a jeep tour from there. The Jeep tour will take you to a bunker and also a museum. It’s a pretty fun trip. Don’t have your expectations too high, but sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery. If the day is clear you will have a good view of Mt. Merapi from the bunker.

Watch our video here to see a bit of what you can expect from a Jeep Merapi Tour.

You might also consider booking a SUNRISE Jeep Tour. Watch our video here to see more!

#2. Hike Gunung Api Purba: An Ancient Volcano

This is one of our favorite places to take guests when they visit Yogyakarta. It’s about 60 minutes from the city and about a 45-60 minute hike to the top. There are quite a few places to rest and take pictures on your way up and the views are beautiful on a clear day. I highly recommend that you go up in the morning before it gets too hot. One of the great things about this hike is that the entrance fee for a foreigner is the same as for a local. That’s rare in Indonesia!

Check out our video here for a brief overview of the hike!

#3. Go to Pantai Parangtritis “Parangtritis Beach”

Pantai Parangtritis is one of the most popular beaches for tourists to visit when they come to Yogyakarta. It will take you about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours by car from the city. If possible don’t go on the weekends as that is when it is the most crowded. You can rent ATVs, ride a horse, rent a beach umbrella and eat some simple Indonesian food. While we almost always swim at the beach you will see warning signs all over. The undercurrent is pretty strong, so be safe and stay close to the shoreline.

Click this link to see the drive to Parangtritis, the food available when you get there and see Parangtritis Beach up close!

#4. Shop on Jalan Malioboro “Malioboro Street”

This is by far the most popular tourist shopping area in Yogyakarta. If you want souvenirs, this is the place to buy them. At night it really livens up. You will find vendors selling food and trinkets along the street. Towards the south side of Malioboro is a store called Hamzah Batik, which has two stories full of souvenirs. The prices are fixed and reasonable.

Watch our video here which shows you a lot of the streets here in Yogyakarta, Malioboro Street, Hamzah Batik and also includes some footage from #1 on our list, Kaliurang. This video was shot on Indonesia’s Independence Day so there are some extra festivities going on that aren’t usual. If you want to fast forward to see Hamzah Batik souvenir shop, it begins at minute 05:00 of the video. The trip up to Kaliurang begins at minute 06:30.

BONUS: Here is a playlist of 5 Restaurants in Yogyakarta that we recommend you eat at while you are in town!

We hope you enjoy your visit to Yogyakarta! Check out these 6 other YouTube videos about things to do while you are in Yogyakarta! You don’t want to miss Jogja Bay Waterpark, eating at a Padang Restaurant, eating spicy food at Warung Special Sambal “SS” and MORE! Keep Smiling! :)

Grojogan Sewu Waterfall – Tips Before You Go

Grojogan Sewu Waterfall – Tips Before You Go This is a beautiful little waterfall situated on the slope of Mount Lawu. It’s posted that there are 1,250 stairs. I did not count them, but that seems reasonable. There are handrails going up and down so anyone in fairly good shape shouldn’t have a problem. It is not handicap accessible though.

5 Tips Before You Go – Grojogan Sewu Waterfall

#1. Arrive Early

Beat the heat and the crowds. We arrived around 9AM and it was perfect. By the time we were heading back up the stairs it was starting to get hot and lots more people were showing up.

#2. Don’t Carry A Lot Of Stuff

For one, you don’t need to carry much because it is such a short hike and two, there are a lot of monkeys! You don’t want to have the misfortune of having your stuff taken from you.

#3. Bring Money

I guess this doesn’t need to be stated, but you should know the cost of entering the park for a tourist is much higher than the cost for a local. RP 160,000 for foreigner and RP 17,500 for local.

#4. Bring a Change of Clothes

If you plan to get wet you will want to bring extra clothes. There is also a swimming pool and a kid sized swimming pool if you choose to use it. Both pools require an additional fee. 

#5. Shop and Eat

There are many small souvenir shops right before you enter the ticket area. You can buy your souvenirs there or at the larger shop closer to the main road. There are many small eating stalls as well for you to choose from. They sell food like nasi goreng (fried rice) and nasi pecel (white rice with vegetables and peanut sauce).

Watch our video to get a better picture of what to expect when you visit Grojogan Sewu Waterfall.

5 Things to Do in Karimunjawa

Wondering what to do on this small island located in the Java Sea? In this blog post we are going to share 5 Things to do in KarimunjawaIt is still pretty underdeveloped and the vibes are pretty calm throughout the whole island. Just recently they have began developing their tourist attractions, so get there before it starts booming and buzzing with tourists. There are a couple of resorts and many hostel type places to stay. A handful of Western type restaurants await you as well.

Here are 5 things we recommend you don’t miss if you travel to Karimunjawa Island!

#1. Island Hopping and Snorkeling on a Traditional Boat

This was by far one of our funnest days on the island! We rented a half day tour through the Jiwaquest Breve Azurine Resort. They arranged everything for us. You can also arrange for a whole day tour. We were picked up at the resort and escorted to our boat. The view of the Java Sea was beautiful. Our first stop was to snorkel. I don’t know how long we spent there, but there were tons of fish to admire in the beautiful clear waters! Amazing!!! All the gear was provided. We boarded the boat again and were given water and watermelon to snack on. We then traveled to a small island called Pulau Cemara Kecil “Small pine tree island”. We were given time to explore the island, comb the beach for shells and starfish and take lots of pictures. We boarded the boat again and sailed to another small island where we watched the sunset and of course took lots of pictures.

You can watch our half-day tour here to get a glimpse into what you can expect when you book a tour.

#2. Kayaking

We stayed at the Jiwaquest Breve Azurine Resort, which provided kayaks for its guests to use free of charge. We launched our kayaks right off their own private beach. The water was clear and you can go pretty far before you come to the end of the reef. You can wear life vests that they provide or go without. They have single or double kayaks to choose from. Coasting on the water and soaking up the sun was so relaxing!

Check out our video about the Resort and you will see the kayaks and other swimming gear that they provide.

#3. Rent a Motorcycle (Scooter) for the day

Definitely do this! You will get a better feel for the island as your travel along its small uncrowded roads. The resort arranged for us to rent two motorcycles for the day. Don’t be alarmed, they don’t provide helmets. We were told that there are no police on the island and no one wears them. I don’t know if that is true, but from our observation very few people had helmets on.

Check out our motorcycle ride here which also features the next thing to do on the island!

#4. Visit Bukit Love “Love Hill”

If you love to take pictures, then this is a great place to visit! As they say, it’s very “Instagramable”. At the top there are great views of the sea and the city. It is cheap to enter and you can buy some souvenirs as well.

#5. Go to the Alun-Alun At Night and Buy Souvenirs

If you didn’t find the souvenir you wanted at Bukit Love, then head to the alun-alun in the evening, after 6:00 PM. This is like the city square where the community hangs out in the evenings. The city will come to life now that the temperature is cooler and there will be lots of people selling food and souvenirs. If you buy in bulk you will be offered a cheaper price.

We stayed around and bought some souvenirs at the end of a Barikan Festival. You can see some of those souvenirs plus what the alun-alun looks like by watching to the end of this video.

We hope you enjoy your vacation to Karimunjawa Island as much as we did! Keep Smiling! :)


1.  Watch here to see what it’s like to take the fast boat (Bahari Expres) to Karimunjawa Island.

2. Finding Western food can be tricky on Karimunjawa Island. If you’re looking for Burgers and Pizza, we recommend eating at Eat & Meet.

3. Great smoothies, cheap accommodation and cheap tours on Karimunjawa available at the Happinezz Restaurant. 

4 Types of Homeschooling in Indonesia

Sarah and Seth at PrambananLocals constantly ask me how we educate our children here in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. My answer is that we choose to homeschool. From what I have learned so far, homeschooling can be taken to mean one of four different things here. One, it may mean that you pay a teacher(s) to come to your house and educate your children in your home. Two, it may mean that you take your children to a building where other homeschool kids gather to be taught by teachers chosen by the parents. Three, it may mean that your children are still young and instead of putting them in playgroup you find other parents of pre-school aged children to get together for occasional play-dates. Or Four, the parents are the sole educator of their children.

Taman PintarThe fourth option is where we are placed. Because the idea of homeschooling is a relatively new idea here, I think it is hard for the general public to believe that a parent has the capability to handle that task. Even after explaining that I am the sole educator for Sarah and Seth I am usually met with looks of confusion. I explain that I teach all the subjects from Math, Grammar, Literature, History, Science, and so on, though the aid of books I have selected. Most people usually just nod their heads but there is still a look of amusement in their eyes.


Some of the moms I have talked with whose children are still very young express their concern over where to send their kids when they are of age. They are not happy with the idea of the government school system for one reason or another.

Norma, Sarah and SethI believe there is potential for home education to be a great success here in Indonesia. I have met several families in Jakarta who are doing just that. With some dedication and creative thinking, kids can have a great home education. There are already a lot of resources available in the local bookstores for teaching the major subjects. There are also a lot of resources available on-line to supplement studies.

My encouragement to those beginning the process is to keep at it. Our children are worth every minute that we invest in their lives. :-)

Some of my favorite curriculum:

Saxon Math
Shurley English
Veritas Press Phonics
Veritas Press Self-Paced History

Question: If you are a homeschool parent, please share with us some of your favorite resources. Please click here to leave your comment.

How to Kill Mosquitoes in Indonesia

imagesMosquitoes are not only a nuisance, but also carry diseases. I don’t know exactly why, but I end up with large red spots whenever I get bit. They usually itch for days afterwards. There are many options here in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to protect against their bites.

Some of the more common options are: poison spray, poison lotions, poison that is lit to send a poison smoke through the room, a poison plug-in of sorts, or mosquito netting. One of my favorite options is this electric racket! If I am fast enough I can zap ‘em. It is shaped just like a tennis racket. I like using it better than any of the poison options. To charge it simply plug it into the wall. Fast and effective!

Mosquito Racket

 Question: What other ideas do you have for effectively killing mosquitoes? Please leave your comment by clicking here.  

Why I Chose to Ride a Scooter Over a “Real” Motorcycle

Yamaha Mio Automatic

My friends here in Yogyakarta, Indonesia are always amazed when they find out that in Moab, Utah I owned a Yamaha TW200 (pictured above). Here a bike like that is considered a “boys bike”. They call me “Macho” for being able to ride one. (I’m not sure if that is a compliment or not). Here in Yogyakarta I ride a Yamaha Mio Automatic (pictured below). Many people wonder why I chose to ride a scooter over a “real” motorcycle.


My reasons for choosing an automatic are very practical:

  • The first reason is because I wear skirts a lot here and I can easily get on and off without causing a scene.
  • My second reason is because the space in front of me, designed for my feet, makes a great place to carry groceries. Limited, yes, but sufficient for a couple of bags.
  • The third, and maybe most important reason, is that the space on the seat is larger than most “real” motorcycles, like Marty’s, and I can carry both Sarah and Seth at the same time.

These might not seem like exciting features to a real adventurer who likes to off-road, but to me, who happens to be a mom and housewife, these qualities in a motorcycle are very important for daily life! ☺

How to Keep Ants out of Your Kitchen in Indonesia

There are many different kinds of ants that emerge in my kitchen here in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Big ones, medium ones, small ones, black ones and red ones. I don’t like to share my food with them. A few, ok, but not a whole colony. I especially don’t like ants in my food pantry. I think that the ants are just standing by waiting for any drop of food to be left.

After a bit of searching, I found an ant solution. I took cardboard squares and colored them with this poisoned chalk. I put one square under each leg of my food pantry. So far it has kept all ants out of our food and off of our clean dishes. Yeah!

Ant Poison Cardboard Poison

Question: What other suggestions do you have to keep ants out of your food? Please leave your comment by clicking here.

Keeping Dry While Riding A Motorcycle In The Rain

Sarah and Seth in the rain

I love the rain! It gives me a sense of calmness. Maybe because I am a homebody by nature, rain gives me the urge to stop all necessary work, find a good book and a comfy couch! Having said all that, I find myself caught out in the rain frequently here in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Since I drive a motorcycle as my source of transportation, I have to be a bit creative in how I handle keeping dry while riding a motorcycle in the rain. Some days I can wait till the rain is finished before heading out, but other days I feel the need to get on the road. Sometimes I am already on the road and the rain comes quite suddenly. At that point I pull over and whip out our rain gear.

I bought Sarah and Seth rain ponchos because there are no zippers to deal with. The only draw back is that they have to take their helmets off before the poncho will fit over their heads. I have a jacket and some snazzy blue rubber pants that I look pretty hot in! (Just joking, in case you didn’t catch my humor). To add to my attire, I always carry my bag/purse, which has to be protected from the rain as well. This I zip up inside my jacket, which gives me a nice pregnant look. I always carry our rain gear with us. My motorcycle has a cubby under my seat that I store them in. I sure am glad someone designed that cubby into my bike!

Oh, the joys of riding a motorcycle in the rain!

Julie in the rain