Wednesday, May 09, 2007

From Erotic to Exotic: Stories from Central Java

What? Trip to Central Java, Indonesia

Where? KL-Solo-Yogyakarta-Borobudur-Solo-KL

When? 28 April – 2 May 2007

Who? Me, Joan, WS, Poh & Alex, the Shakira-lovin Colombian.

Our journey started on a rainy morning on 28 April. It was 3:30am when I took a cab to KL Sentral to catch the Skybus to LCCT. For the price of the ticket, it is worth sacrificing some sleep.

We arrived is Solo at 8:30am (local time). Adisumarmo Airport is a very small airport. I hear it only handles five flights a day. We went into a long queue to get our passport stamp. There were only two immigration officers. After all the passengers were cleared, they actually switched off the lights and chased everybody out. I find this quite amusing!

First destination – Candi Sukuh. We hired two taxis from the airport to go to this temple, which is like 40km from Solo. All of us were hungry, so we told the cabbies to make a quick stop at the Golden Arch restaurant (of all places, heheh!)

They are lovin' it there too.

Candi Sukuh is about 40km from Solo town, up the Gunung Lawu. Joan and I had to put up with the cabbie with really bad B.O. (Insert puke here). It took us about 1 hour plus to reach the foot of Gunung Lawu. Then, one of the taxis broke down due to over heating! Actually, it was kind of a welcome break - we quickly rush out from the smelly cab to enjoy the mountain fresh air.

We continued the journey after the taxi’s temperature was back to normal.

The temple is believed to be constructed in the 15th century, the relief's found beside the first gate are believed to have the meaning: "Buta aban wong" and " Gapura buta anahut buntut" which means " The year of 1359 Caka = 1437 AD. Don't ask me how buta buntut can be translated to a date. Heheh!

Candi Sukuh has a pyramid reminiscent of Mayan structures from Central America. Nobody knows why it was erected (Pun intended. Heheh!) but I think it is a tribute to the fertility God or something, judging from the carvings and statues found in the temple compound.

Kisah Seorang Pelari Marathon Yang Melampau. Heheh! Sampai ke pusat no...

After spending an hour or so at Candi Sukuh, we headed to Solo and had Bakso - Indonesian Beef Stew, washed down with iced jasmine tea for lunch. Yummy!

After a long and tiring drive from Candi Sukuh to Yogyakarta, we checked in at Ministry of Coffee. Tucked in Jalan Prawirotaman 1, this hotel is the best hotel I have ever stayed in this year. It's a café. It's a library. It's a hotel. It's a gem! We loved our stay here. The ambiance is great. They play chic jazz stuff. The food is good. The coffee is great. The service is immaculate. Do visit this place if you happen to go to Jogja.

Relax with a cuppa. The lounge/ cafe area is so cozy.

MoC's very stylish library is stocked with good books. A bookworm wetdream come true.

We ventured into Jogja by foot on the next day. First stop - Tamansari. It dropped by a carnival ground on our way there.

Eye on Jogjakarta....Leg powered Ferris wheel. There are three gondolas. One fits two kids. You have to see it to believe it. All the rides like Carousel, are leg powered. Wah...I'm sure they all make good runners/ cyclsit.

Extra Joss carnival. I was given some Extra Joss sample and interviewed by the DJ. When asked my opinion on Extra Joss, I said

"Enak! Bagus sekali!" And smiled like "a boiled dog head". Heheh!

At Tamansari. Liquid dream for the king. This used to be a place where all the dayang-dayang (concubines) took their bath and do synchorinised swimming for the king. But now, the pool is empty. Gersang-lah!

Cewek-cewek & cowok-cowok of jogja. Cute bangat!!!

Torpedo Papaya...Two papayas defy gravity and grow sideways. Sent this to The Star Thumbnail but rejected. Sob! Sob!

Underground tunnel of the water castle, links Tamansari to water castle.

Views on top of the water castle, which was damaged due to earthquakes. You can see the jogja city from up here. From here, you can walk to the bird market and see some birds and fighting cocks.

From the Bird Market, we took a horse cart to Malioboro Street - Jogja's shopping strip.

WARNING: If possible try not to take the front seat next to the driver. You may get the best views but you also get to see the horse taking a dump into the bag underneath its hump. Yeah! Dump and hump rhymes! Heheh! I was trying very hard not to vomit when occasional "aromatic" wafts got into my nose.

We lunched at Malioboro Mall and then took a cab to Prambanan Temple. Five of us squeezed into a cab for a 30 minutes ride.

The Prambanan temple is the biggest and a most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia. A major earthquake in 2006 had severely damaged the structures. Visitors are forbiddened to enter the temples. According to our guide, there was a minor earthquake 3 days before our arrival and caused some structures like the "ratna" to fall to the ground.

We can only admire the beauty of the ancient Hindu temple from afar. It was spectacular nonetheless.

Stag show: We chanced upon a pair of deer at the Prambanan park compound. I think the deer were a bit pissed off at us for disturbing their mating session. LOL.

We went back to Malioboro Mall for dinner. I did some shopping. As usual, I would check out the local CD store. I didn't left empty-handed. I bought a few CDs from some Indonesian divas - Krisdayanti, Rossa and Anggun! Lovely! The price of CDs in Indonesia is much cheaper than Malaysia. Abour RM20 per CDs.

Time to promote MoC again! What a way to start the day with a perfect cup of coffee.

The breakfast looks as good as it taste. Yummy!

After a Javanese spa massage, we headed back to town. This time, to Kraton or the Palace. Personally, I didn't find the Kraton interesting. It is poorly maintained and no descriptions/ labels on the exhibits.

Feeding time again. We visited the stretch of Gudeg specialty stalls near the Kraton area. Gudeg is made of jackfruit I was told. Served with chicken and rice.

Gudeg looks like meat but it taste like veggie. Anyway, it’s too sweet for my taste.

Now comes the highlight of our trip. The mother of all Buddhist temple in the world - Borobudur.

Viewed from above, Borobudur takes the form of a giant mandala, symbolically depicting the path of the bodhisattva from samsara to nirvana, through the story of Sudhana described in the Gandavyuha Sutra, a part of the Avatamsaka Sutra. In total, this massive monument contains over 2 million stone blocks. i confess...I copied this paragraph from Wikipedia..Heheh!

Again, we squeezed into the same cab that we took to Prambanan on the day before. The driver agreed to take us to Borobudur with a reasonable fare. The trip was about an hour from MoC.

This picture is taken using night scenery setting from the gate of our hotel in Borobudur. Borobudur is off limits at night for security reasons. On January 21, 1985 the temple suffered minor damage due to a bomb attack.

We joined the sunrise tour provided by our hotel, Manohara. We were given each a pass, a torchlight and a coupon for snack redemption. We waited for out transfer at the hotel lobby at 4:30am.

Imagine this: Roosters crowing at the distance. Crispy cool air. Misty horizon. Serene ambiance.

A new beginning....A new day had begun.

Imagine this again: Roosters crowing at the distance. Crispy cool air. Misty horizon. Hordes of tourists like you trying to get a good spot for sunrise. Heheh! It happened in Angkor Wat. It happened here too. :)

Stupas - Notice the stupas at the higher level have square holes while those at the bottom have diamond shape hole.

Our guide - Yanto. Very knowledgeable. Very enthusiastic about Borobudur. For Rp 50,000, he will give you a guided tour around Borobudur. He also good with camera and suggests nice spots for that Kodak moment.

One of the many reliefs at Borobudur.

Some mythical creatures - human body with chicken legs.

Buddha achieved nirvana. Notice the aura around his head and the angels.

Buddha statues in meditation pose. There are six poses altogether. It is fun to run around the Borobodur to locate and identify the poses - Calling The Universe, Blessing, Meditation, Protection, Teaching and Turning The Wheel of Dharma.

Spectacular views of the mountain range from top of Borobudur

The huge middle stupa surrounded by many smaller ones. We were told to walk around it three times clockwise to find Nirvana....Didn't work. I have too many worldly desires. Heheh!

This is Kunto Bimo, one of the statue in the stupas, near the East. To those who touch his hand will be bestowed upon him or her good luck. That's what the tourist guide told me. BTW..That's my hand there. Heheh!

Some Buddhist monks having their pictures taken.

The replica and the real thing. I took this amazing shot from the hotel restaurant.

Alamanda flower and Borobudur in the background.

Bye Bye Yogyakarta. Bye Bye Borobudur.

This is the first draft of my travelogue. I will do more editing when I get more inspiration. Do comeback for updates as I still have more to share about this amazing trip to Central Java.

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