Immerse in culture and tradition during an amazing 31-day journey of discovery. Be transported by a patchwork of languages, stunning beauty and delicious cuisine in kaleidoscopic Indonesia. Then, embrace your inner explorer as you prepare for an intoxicating voyage of myth and magic in as da Gama and Magellan before you. A route less travelled by all but the curious, be prepared to be amazed.
31 Day Asia Cruise | 25 Ports 4 Countries
Yangon to Darwin March 05 2019 on board the Silver Discoverer
DAY 1 | YANGON, MYANMAR
The capital until 2006, Yangon (Rangoon) is Myanmar’s largest city and its commercial center. It is truly developing, and full of juxtapositions: new high-rises abut traditional Southeast Asian shophouses while down the street from a frozen yogurt bar, a sidewalk dentist goes to work. Yangon’s rich collection of colonial architecture is one of its biggest draws; The Strand and its surrounding side streets look today much as they did at the turn of the century, when Yangon—then Rangoon—was under British rule. Yangon’s most iconic sight is unquestionably the enormous gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, but what makes it worth visiting beyond that is the rich, vibrant life that spills out of people’s homes and onto the streets. Colorful and chaotic, Yangon is a feast for the senses. Grinning uniformed schoolchildren and preadolescent monks vie for sidewalk space as vendors hawk fried goods and longyi-wearing businessmen go off to work. On a street of Indian-run paint shops sits the country’s only synagogue, a 19th-century relic; blocks away rise the steeples of St. Mary’s Cathedral, another reminder of the city’s colonial past.
DAY 2 | DAY AT SEA
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
DAY 3 | PORT BLAIR, INDIA
The Andamans lie on the ancient trade routes between India and the Far East. They were known to mariners from as early as the 7th century. Among the first western visitors in the 13th century was Marco Polo, who wrote of the inhabitants as being “hostile people who would kill and eat any outsider that ventured onto the islands”. However, it was later established that cannibalism was not a practice in the islands. The islands were first settled by the British in the late 18th century when Captain Archibald Blair, on behalf of the British East India Company, founded a naval station on Chatham Island, now known as Port Blair. In 1858 a penal colony was established in Port Blair, used mainly to hold Indian freedom fighters. The clearing of jungle areas and reclaiming of swamps by these first convicts gradually helped to establish a settlement.
The growing population consisted mostly of convicts who, after they served their time, decided to stay and settle in the Andamans. During World War II, the islands were occupied by the Japanese, who incarcerated many Indians on the suspicion of being British spies. As a result the local tribes took up guerrilla activities against the Japanese. When India gained independence from Britain in 1947, the islands became part of the Indian Union.
DAY 4 | SOUTH CINQUE ISLAND (ANDAMAN ISLANDS), INDIA
South Cinque is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the Andaman Islands. A 1 km (0.6 mile) wide sand bar connects South Cinque to North Cinque Island and the two islands are sometimes referred to as being a single Cinque Island. The Cinque Island Wildlife Sanctuary is a specially designated National Park Area with many coral bommies fringing the island. South Cinque Island also belongs to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine Park where more than forty coral species have been recorded in an impressive example of the biodiversity of this region.
DAY 5 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 6 | SABANG PULAU WE, INDONESIA
Sabang is the largest city on the island of Weh or Pulau Weh. Weh is a small, active volcanic island, just northwest of Sumatra. It’s at the northern end of the Indonesian Archipelago and at one time, was a coal loading station for ships passing between Europe and Asia. Today, the island is known for its ecosystem and much of its surrounding sea and inland areas have been declared as wildlife protection areas by the Indonesian government. Pulau Weh attracts visitors seeking underwater diving, hiking through the volcanic mountains and relaxation by the beach. Those venturing into the city will see some of the remaining colonial buildings and the large trees that offer them shade. The island and city are virtually untouched by tourism and a sense of adventure when exploring ashore is needed.
DAY 7 | SIMEULUE ISLANDS (SUMATRA), INDONESIA
With some of the highest biodiversity of anywhere in the entire Asia-Pacific region, the small island group of Simeulue is as yet unspoiled and undeveloped. Located at the northern tip of Sumatra off the west coast, the islands are part of Aceh province. Several earthquakes have rocked this region in recent years; one in particular is reported to have raised part of the islands about 2 meters, or 6 feet, up out of the water. However, the door of discovery is still open for travelers keen to find pristine beaches, solitary local fishing boats colorfully floating on the blue sea, and stunning peninsulas with long peeling waves. The islands are also enriched with Islamic culture and friendly local people.
DAY 8 | NIAS ISLANDS, INDONESIA
The island of Nias is heavily green with thick tropical forests edging into the settlements along the narrow roads that skirt the island. The terrain is hilly, green, lush, with frequent steep river valleys draining water from the interior’s highlands, crossed by numerous bridges. From the air and from the ground, the sea around the island can appear murky from the runoff of all the rivers and the fertile soils they run through. Roughly 75% of the population is farmers and there are open-air markets selling fresh produce all along the roads. When school lets out at mid-day the narrow roads become clogged with kids in school uniforms heading home on foot and moped. Sections of the coastline are rough, jagged limestone reef rock. Areas of Nias were dramatically altered by the tsunami of 2004.
DAY 9 | PADANG SUMATRA FOR CUPEK, INDONESIA
Padang is part old port town, and part modern capital of West Sumatra. Dutch colonialists traded coffee and spices from the harbor starting in the 17th century. Driving out from Padang one can reach Cupek, a Minangkabau village in Sumatra’s interior. The ancestral homelands of the Minangkabau, devout Muslims, are centered in West Sumatra’s lush highlands and stretch as far as the seashore. They claim the world’s largest matrilineal society and ownership of a family’s property—their homes, rice paddies and the like—passes from mother to daughter. Crops like rice, cabbage, beans and the all-important chilies grow in abundance, and the Minangnese are known for their spicy, sumptuous cuisine.
DAY 10 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 11 | UJUNG KULON NATIONAL PARK, INDONESIA
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Ujung Kulon National Park rests at the southwestern tip of Java. The National Park includes the Ujung Kulon Peninsula that contains the largest remaining lowland rain forest on the Java plain, as well as the Natural Reserve of Krakatoa. Birds that flourish in these habitats include Asian Pied Hornbill, Caspian and Bridled Terns, as well as White-bellied Sea Eagles, Tiger Shrikes, Sunda Minivets, and Javan Kingfisher. Hundreds of barking deer can also be found in the dense tropical forest, along with macaques, monitor lizards and wild boars.
DAY 11 | ANAK KRAKATOA, INDONESIA
In the Sunda Strait of Indonesia lies an area that was witness to one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in historical times. Anak Krakatoa is a volcano that first emerged from the sea in 1930 and has grown continuously since the 1950s. The active nature of the volcano is the ultimate decider of whether or not a landing can be made on the black sand beaches of the island. Krakatoa’s active fumaroles, lava flows, beautifully colored rocks and the volcano itself are all stunning.
DAY 12 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 13 | KARIMUNJAWA (JAVA SEA), INDONESIA
This idyllic location, established in 1999 under Swedish management and ownership, is located on one of the 27 tropical islands in the Karimunjawa archipelago. Covered by coconut trees and surrounded by white sandy beaches, Menyawakan Island lies some 64 nautical miles off Java’s coast. This tranquil and secluded setting attracts discerning guests who appreciate the tropical and laid back ambiance.
DAY 14 | SUMENEP, INDONESIA
Sumenep is sleepy town located on the eastern side of the island of Madura. Sumenep and the surrounding areas are home to a number of traditional arts and crafts – among them the production of Keris (daggers), batik, woodcarving of the Karduluk style, and the Muang Sangkal dances. Sumenep is also known for timeworn villas and historic buildings including the Sumenep Great Mosque and the Palace (Keraton) of Sumenep. The island of Madura may be most famous for its bull races, which are opened with the performance of Saronen, a traditional Madurese music. These races started as a gesture of gratitude for abundant harvest and are now an important part of Madurese traditions.
DAY 15 | PROBOLINGGO (JAVA), INDONESIA
Probolinggo is a beautiful and enchanting city on the north coast of East Java, Indonesia. It is located on one of the major highways across Java, has a harbour filled with fishing vessels and is surrounded on the landward side by the Probolinggo Regency, but is not part of the regency. Probolinggo is home to the Javanese, Maduranese, Pendalungan (descents of Java and Maduranese) and Tenggerese, who still practice their centuries-old customs and traditions. Probolinggo is bordered by the imposing Mount Semeru, Bromo and Argopuro mountain group, and lined with lovely beaches to the north. Probolinggo’s volcanic, mineral-rich soil is highly fertile. The mountains surrounding Probolinggo City abound with lush, tropical foliage, spectacular panoramic vistas, and points of natural interests, history and culture. The motto of the city is ‘Bestari’, which is an acronym of bersih (cleanliness), sehat (healthy), tertib (orderly), aman (safe), rapi (neat), and indah (beautiful).
DAY 16 | BALI, INDONESIA
Bali really is as alluring as everyone says. This island, slightly bigger than Delaware, has it all: beaches, volcanoes, terraced rice fields, forests, renowned resorts, surfing, golf, and world-class dive sites. But what sets Bali apart from other nearby tropical destinations is Balinese tradition, and villagers dedicated to celebrating it. The hundreds of temples, dances, rituals, and crafts linked to their ancient Hindu faith aren’t a show for tourists, but a living, breathing culture in which visitors are warmly received by the Balinese, who cherish their own identities.
DAY 17 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 18 | KOMODO ISLAND, INDONESIA
Komodo, the volcanic island of giant lizards, lies 320 miles (515 kilometres) east of Bali. Komodo is 25 miles (40 kilometres) long and 12 miles (19 kilometres) wide; its parched hills ascend to a height of 2,410 feet (734 metres). Komodo is home to a small community of some 500 people who make their living primarily from fishing. The island’s centrepiece is Komodo National Park, where you will find the most tangible legacy left behind from the Jurassic Era. Komodo Island was little-known and the Komodo dragons were only a myth until pearl fishermen discovered the giant lizards in the early-1900s. Extinct almost everywhere else, the island attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to see the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. Komodo National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.
The Komodo dragon’s great bulk and weight are its most unique characteristics; even hatchlings average 20 inches (51 centimetres) in length. The adult male can reach 10 feet (3 metres) and weigh up to 330 pounds (150 kilos). Females attain only two-thirds of this size, and lay up to 30 eggs at a time. With their saw-like teeth, these fierce creatures are able to rip apart a deer, goat or wild pig. The animals have an uncanny sense of smell, and are considered among the world’s most intelligent reptiles. They are quite agile over short distances, and can move swiftly to capture their prey. The Indonesian Directorate of Nature Conservation (PPA) administers Komodo National Park. A park ranger must escort all visitors; independent exploration of the park is not permitted.
KOMODO ISLAND PINK BEACH
Pink Beach earned its name for the way the beach can appear to have a rosy hue in certain lights. The color comes from small flecks of red coral mixed in with the fine white reef sand. With a few trees along the beach for shade, this stretch of coast makes a fine place to relax or enjoy a snorkel or dive in the crystal clear waters. It is possible to spot a striped clown fish nestled among the protective tentacles of its sea anemone host, or to see a grouper lazily swimming by a flamboyant soft coral. The reef here is now protected by law and the maturing corals are a joy to behold.
DAY 19 | ENDE FLORES, INDONESIA
The town of Ende is found on the south coast of Flores, part of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Ende is also the capital city of Indonesia’s Ende Regency. Unlike many other places in Indonesia, the town and the island are predominantly Roman Catholic as they were under Portuguese rule for some 300 years. Ende is the gateway to the Kelimutu National Park to see the three coloured lakes of Kelimutu. To get there one will have to drive through the Indonesian rainforest and eventually climb up to see the “Lake of Young Men and Maidens”, the “Bewitched Lake” and the “Lake of Old People” –all of which not only have different colours controlled by the changes in chemical conditions, but also a distinctive physical structure, and a unique geochemical and hydrothermal regime.
DAY 20 | LAMARARAP, INDONESIA
Lamararap is the region of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia. Although slowly dying out, the ancient tradition of whaling is still the principal economic activity here – as proven by the many types of whalebone on display in the village. Whaling boats are made entirely of wood with wooden pegs and there is not a nail to be found. The boats’ sails are made of woven palm leaves. In an impressive feat of strength and skill, traditional whalers with harpoons leap off a long bowsprit and spear the whale while still holding the harpoon. Sometimes a demonstration of this process can be offered to Lamalera’s visitors. Whaling permeates life here with whale and boat patterns being prevalent in the village’s hand-woven ikat textiles.
DAY 21 | TAKPALA (KALABAHI), INDONESIA
Kalabahi is the capital and main seaport of Alor Island, the largest landmass in the Alor archipelago. Roughly 60,000 inhabitants call Kalabahi home and enjoy a wide variety of goods and services available here. Kalabahi has grown as a town in part because it is situated on some of the only level ground on the volcanic and rugged island of Alor. Inland from Kalabahi is the small traditional village of Takpala. The attractive rustic homes of the village are open and airy, and the Abui people living here harvest, dry, roast and grind their coffee by hand. The traditional dances and welcome ceremonies express a close-knit society cultivated in this tranquil setting.
DAY 22 | PULAU TELLANG, INDONESIA
Pulau Tellang is a tiny island of Indonesia, located just next to Pulau Maopara and part of the Moluccas province. Pulau Tellang is part of the small Barat Daya archipelago and stretches less than a mile across. The hilly terrain of the island was created by ancient volcanic activity; it reaches to a modest 600 feet in some places, which makes it a lovely spot to visit and hike to view its unique fauna and lush vegetation. The island lies on the southern edge of the Banda Sea, where visitors can take in beautiful sunsets as they rest on the pristine, rarely visited beach.
DAY 23 | BANDA NEIRA ISLAND, INDONESIA
Banda Neira is situated in a volcanic area and steam can occasionally be seen rising from the peak of neighboring Gunung Api. An eruption caused a lava flow here as recently as the 1980s. The town itself is historic and was wealthy in its heyday thanks to plentiful nutmeg, clove and pepper trees. The colonial buildings of Banda Neira are part of the charm of this administrative center of the Banda Islands; a group of ten small volcanic islands. The remains of two impressive Dutch forts are in various stages of restoration and are on UNESCO’s “Tentative List” to become a World Heritage Site along with the rest of the Banda Islands themselves.
DAY 24 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 25 | TRITON BAY, INDONESIA
In 2008, the Kaimana Regency declared a 6000 square kilometer (over 2,300 square mile) Marine Protected Area around the waters of Triton Bay. Conservation International maintains an office in Kaimana and a field station out in Triton Bay where visiting scientists can do their work studying the staggering marine biodiversity of the reserve. It is truly second to none, and the area offers everything from the tiniest pygmy seahorses, to large and graceful whale sharks. Triton Bay is known for its beautiful soft coral gardens as well as nesting green turtles, and a population of coastal Bryde’s whales.
DAY 25 | AIDUMA ISLAND, INDONESIA
On the southern coast of West Papua, Indonesia lies the small Aiduma Island, an oceanic paradise and a destination for divers and snorklers. Aiduma Island is described by locals as what Indonesia was like several decades ago, still unspoiled by commerce and traffic. The coast off of Aiduma Island is home to diverse and lovely soft coral forest, while locals live modestly in grass bungalows on shore. Below the surface of Aiduma’s aquamarine waters live technicolor coral reefs that are home to a beautiful array of reef fish, including schools of large blue-ring angelfish, clownfish, striped angelfish and lionfish. Above the surface, lucky visitors may see dolphins leaping as they travel the crystal seas.
DAY 26 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 27 & 28 | AGATS (ASMAT), INDONESIA (OVERNIGHT)
The Asmat is a region of nearly inaccessible forested wetland that has long sheltered Asmat tribes from outsiders. The village of Agats is the capital of the Asmat region. The homes, longhouses, shops, schools and religious centers of Agats are all located along elevated wooden boardwalks in the heart of a dense mangrove thicket. The Asmat Museum is a must-see. Here it is possible to dote over exceptional examples of the Asmat’s renowned and vibrant woodcarving traditions. Elaborate displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls, are reminders that headhunting and cannibalism were practiced here until the 1970s.
DAY 29 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 30 | SANGLIAT DOL VILLAGE (YAMDENA ISLAND), INDONESIA
Located in the Maluku Province of Indonesia are the Tanimbar Islands, of which Yamdena is the largest. On the east coast of Yamdena, is the village of Sangliat Dol, which holds some of the best megalithic remains known in the area. A monumental stone staircase extends from the beach to the village and overlooks the sea. This and a large stone ship are some of the megalithic remains to be found here.
DAY 31 | DAY AT SEA
DAY 32 | DARWIN, AUSTRALIA
Darwin is Australia’s most colorful, and exotic, capital city. Surrounded on three sides by the turquoise waters of the Timor Sea, the streets are lined with tropical flowers and trees. Warm and dry in winter, hot and steamy in summer, it’s a relaxed and casual place, as well as a beguiling blend of tropical frontier outpost and Outback hardiness. Thanks to its close proximity to Southeast Asia and its multicultural population it also seems more like Asia than the rest of Australia. Darwin is a city that has always had to fight for its survival. The seductiveness of contemporary Darwin lifestyles belies a history of failed attempts that date from 1824 when Europeans attempted to establish an enclave in this harsh, unyielding climate. The original 1869 settlement, called Palmerston, was built on a parcel of mangrove wetlands and scrub forest that had changed little in 15 million years.
It was not until 1911, after it had already weathered the disastrous cyclones of 1878, 1882, and 1897, that the town was named after the scientist who had visited Australia’s shores aboard the Beagle in 1839. During World War II it was bombed more than 60 times, as the harbor full of warships was a prime target for the Japanese war planes. Then, on the night of Christmas Eve 1974, the city was almost completely destroyed by Cyclone Tracy, Australia’s greatest natural disaster. It’s a tribute to those who stayed and to those who have come to live here after Tracy that the rebuilt city now thrives as an administrative and commercial center for northern Australia. Old Darwin has been replaced by something of an edifice complex—such buildings as Parliament House and the Supreme Court all seem very grand for such a small city, especially one that prides itself on its casual, outdoor-centric lifestyle. Today Darwin is the best place from which to explore Australia’s Top End, with its wonders of Kakadu and the Kimberley region.