Exploring Yogyakarta in 3 days

I managed to go to Yogyakarta with my classmate from The Netherlands, Danny. He’s never been to Indonesia before and would love to see Candi Borobudur :D. So, we decided to go to Yogya on Wednesday til Friday (9-11 Nov 05).

First Day

As soon as we arrived, we strolled down to Malioboro Street, where all the souvenirs and batik shops were located. We did some shopping there. Hehehe.. Danny was amazed by the cheap price of all the stuffs that were sold in that street. Malioboro Street is famous for that. It offers different kinds of stuffs for extremely cheap price! Oyeah, one has to bargain to get a good deal. 😉 So, your bargaining skills are very useful here! I bought everything for not more than Rp 10thou. It wasn’t even 1 euro, yet!

After the shopping, I decided to take him to Gadjah Wong Restaurant for dinner coz I read a lot of good things about it from some magazines. Apparently, it was a good decision as the place itself is very nice with an open air garden and different parts of rooms with different kind of live music – traditional Javanese music, jazz and country music. We chose to sit in a small garden, outdoor, where we could be entertain by the singers and gamelan players who were wearing traditional costumes.

When exploring the place, I was stunned to see the dungeon-like entrance to the underground room in which decorated with Wisnu statues and other ancient-like ornaments. Very artistic, I love it.

The food was delicious. Apart from Indonesian food, they also have Indian and some steaks. I ordered Indian vegetable curry, while Danny ordered Nasi Bebek, the restaurant’s specialty, .. and we were satisfied.

After a nice dinner, we went back to Malioboro Street, Danny bought more stuffs for his sisters, nephew, dad and friends. The art of bargaining started to kick back now… hahaha :D.

People in Yogyakarta are nice and friendly. When you walked along the Malioboro Street, you would get offer from the “becak” or rickshaw driver to take you around. They will take you to a street where there are a lot of shops that sell DAGADU T-shirts and some batik shops as well. I went to one of the shops which were claimed to be the original DAGADU shop in town. Somehow I wasn’t very convinced… (ps. DAGADU is a very well-known T-shirt brand from Yogya. It’s famous for its funny wordings written on the shirts).

I very much enjoyed sitting in the rickshaw. It’s my favorite vehicle, to be honest J coz I one could just sit back and relax, while enjoying the cool breeze and fresh air… (the vehicle doesn’t create any air-pollution as well… perfecto!)

So, that was my the first day in Yogya. One could feel that people are more relaxed here and it seems that everyone is not in a rush. It feels like we have all the time in the world…

Second Day…

We took a rickshaw again to Taman Air (“Water Palace) and Keraton Yogyakarta (“the Palace”). Taman Air used to be a place where the King and his concubines took a bath. It has three swimming pools – for the children, the concubines and for the King himself. The place itself reminded me of a place in Rome or Greece. Perhaps it was because the colors and the style as well. I could imagine the Greek goddess took a bath in a similar place like this. 😀 hehehe.. Rome also has a similar place where only girls from rich families were allowed to take a bath. It’s located in Foro Romano. It doesn’t look similar with this Taman Air, though.. but the idea was almost the same.

Back then, in Taman Air, all the Sultan’s concubines took a bath in the second pool, naked. The Sultan watched them from a high tower facing the pool before decided to choose one of them to accompany him to bath in his private pool. What a cool life he had, huh? 😀 Visitors could also go to the top of the tower, the Sultan’s spot to peep the girls. So, one could pretend to be the King and ask someone to swim naked in the pool.. hahaha.. *kidding*

It’s been years since the last time went to Keraton Yogyakarta (“The Palace”). A funny thing happened when we were about to pay the ticket entrance. One of the ladies in the ticket box pointed me and shouted, “Hey, are you Karen the Indonesian Idol?” Suddenly everyone there started to stare at me and said, “O yeaaahh.. u must be Karen!”. Hahaha.. Dantje was a bit naughty by saying, “Yes yes.. she’s Karen”. It took me a while until they let me free. Had to convince them that I’m not Karen. Geezz.. one of them even planned to ask for my signature and was about to get her camera from the cupboard. Oh noooo!!!

Entering the Keraton, one would suddenly feel peaceful because the place was so quiet. We took a small tour to the Museum of Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX and took some pictures of the Keraton and its surroundings. One guy took us to his house behind the palace. His Dad works for Sultan, that’s why they live in the Keraton area. They produced batik paintings and said that they were having a batik painting exhibition at their house and today was the last day. Again, I wasn’t convinced L.. because those paintings look like they were there for ages! Hahaha… 😀

Last trip was to Ratu Boko Temple. It was far away from the center, on the direction to Prambanan Temple. By taxi, it takes about 40 minutes and costs about Rp 100thou (one-way to get there. It was already dawn when we arrived to the site. It was kind of spooky. However, the areas on the way to the Temple was very unique. U could see the rice fields and beautiful nature, completed with some traditional houses.

There were only ruins in the site. But, u still could feel that the site was so old. Actually, this place was used to be the first palace for the king and his family, hundred of years ago… No wonder I felt the mystical vibes while I was there… or perhaps it was just the dawn that created such vibes and spooky feelings… Anyway, I wouldn’t suggest anyone to explore the site alone when it’s already dawn! So scary, guys..

At the entrance to the Ratu Boko Temple, one could have drinks or meal in a nice restaurant while enjoying the beauty of Yogyakarta from the above. Prambanan Temple could be seen from up here. The scenery was stunning…

Before dinner, we took a walk and tried some street food, such as “Nasi Kucing”, “Sate” and “Wedang Ronde” at the food vendors that we passed. One had to try the “traditional” food here. Dantje also tried salak for the first time. I had to laugh out loud knowing that he’s never seen the fruit before! 😀

Finally, we managed to eat the famous gudeg lesehan. Ferry, a friend of mine who lives in Yogya, took us to the famous place where they sell a delicious gudeg. I always trust “insider information” from the locals everywhere I travel. And, this night, the gudeg that we had was so delicious, even when we had it our stomach was already full with some “nasi kucing” and other snacks that we ate before.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you where the exact location as I forgot the name of the street (sorry!). But, for sure, it wasn’t in Malioboro Street.

To burn some callories of the meals that we just had, we went to Alun-Alun, where there were two twins trees at the back of the Keraton. People in Yogyakarta believed that if one could walk in between the trees with closed eyes, then his/her wishes may come true. The rule is: to close your eyes and walk from about 100 metres away from the trees. Try to walk straight and pass the trees by walk through the middle of those trees. It may seem easy, but believe me, when you try, it’s not as easy as it seems ;). I couldn’t make it even I’ve been trying for four times!!! 😀 😀 😀 Danny made it once and to add more excitement, he tried once more but this time he decided to run to those trees instead of walking… It was so much fun until he bumped into a guy who was walking carefully with his eyes folded 😀 Haahahhaa!!! Ferry and I burst out laughing.. 😀 What a fun night!

Third Day…

We were planning to catch the sunrise at the Borobudur Temple. The planned was to leave from the hotel at 4 o’clock in the morning. Unfortunately, the driver arrived half-hour late and in the morning, half-hour makes a lot of different.

It took us approximately 45 minutes to get to the Borobudur Temple. By the time we were there, the sky was already bright. But, still we were persistent and tried to see the sunrise from the famous temple. Apparently, if one wants to see the sunrise from the Borobudur Temple, there is a different entrance for that. One should enter from the side of the “public ticket entrance”, which is a hotel lobby. A bit odd, that is. When I told the hotel’s staff about my purpose of going there, he asked me to pay Rp 150 thou per person. A bit expensive, though. It’s even more expensive for foreigners as the entrance fee would be Rp 250 thou per person. Wow. We decided to cancel the plan coz the fee was just too expensive and it wasn’t worth it because the sun was already up anyway…

In front of the public entrance of the Borobudur Temple, there are a lot of food vendors and souvenir shops. While waiting for the gate opened at 6am, we used the time to have breakfast in one of the food stalls there. Danny ordered fried rice and fresh young coconut, while I had a durian juice, my favorite ;).

For the entrance, I only had to pay Rp 7,000 while my friend, Danny, had to pay Rp 110,000 because he’s a foreigner. We had to walk for about more than 300 meters until we get to the edge of the temple. This famous Buddhis temple, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and, at the top, a monumental stupa. The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,500 sq. m. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. The temple is unique because all reliefs tell a continuous story from the first tier until the top. Amazing. Too bad that some Buddha statues were stolen or some of their heads were chopped off.

If you’re in the Borobudur Temple, don’t forget try to touch the Buddha’s finger inside the stuppa and make a wish. If you could touch his finger, then your wish might come true. J Let’s try your luck!

Next trip was to Prambanan Temple. This Hindus temple is the biggest temple in Java. There are 224 temples in the complex – three of them are the main temples: Brahma Temple in the North, Vishnu Temple in the South and the biggest one is Shive Temple (47 meters high). The temple is also known as Lorojonggrang Temple. The Lorojonggrang statue is still there as well, located in one of the temples.

The temples are so well preserved, enables everyone to see the detail of each sculptural designs. After exploring and listening to the legend of Lorojonggrang from a local visitor, we took a mini train to go around the Prambanan Temple complex to see other smaller temples that located at the same complex. Sewu Temple was amazing as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to walk around the temple because the mini train was waiting for us. Oyeah, the entrance ticket was only Rp 6,000 for Indonesians and Rp 95,000 for foreigners :p

That was our journey in exploring the ancient sites and sensing the mystical vibes around those temples. Getting backto the heart of Yogyakarta, I asked the driver to stop by at Pathuk area to buy some bakpia pathuk for my mom and my lovely friends in Jakarta. Bakpia pathuk is a famous cake from Yogyakarta, it tastes sweet, just like other Javanese food J.

Our trip in Yogya ended at the point where we started, Malioboro Street. We tried to have guded lesehan in Malioboro, Megawati’s (the former Indonesian president) favorite gudeg lesehan place. Unfortunately, it only opens in the evening. So, we just had mie ayam at one of the food vendors there. Had ice durian as well, but I wasn’t satisfied with the food… Temy’s girlfriend, Acid, came to meet us to say goodbye for a while. A funky girl, she is. 🙂

That was the trip to Yogyakarta. A town where everyone seems to take everything slowly and live peacefully without rushing and panicking over small things…

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