Monday, December 30, 2013

5 Days 4 Nights in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

When we were trying to come up with a list of potential places we could go as a family, Yogyakarta wasn't on my list. Our criteria was this: affordable, not experiencing winter, something with a mix of shopping and sightseeing.

I happened to meet up with someone from Holiday Tours and she suggested Yogyakarta. All I knew about Yogyakarta was Borobudur. So I embarked on a short research (this YogYes site was extremely helpful) and it became more and more interesting as a place to visit. Mum was like, "what's Bodobodoh?" (Bodoh means stupid in Malay).
Yogyakarta (or Jogjakarta) is in the middle of Java Island, Indonesia, Jakarta and Bandung on the west and Bali Island on the east. Hmm... 4 of the 5 Indonesian cities I've visited is on this map. 
Nevertheless, I pressed on and got a consensus somewhat from the entire family and proceeded to make the bookings.

So now that we're all back from Yogyakarta, I must say it was one of my most favourite Indonesian city to visit, discounting Lampung because we were well taken care of by my relatives. I believe what really makes or breaks a trip is also the guide and I'm glad that we had Mr Budi from Keisha Luxury Transport who was extremely professional, brought us to good places to eat.

Three things which stood out for me:

The Food:
In terms of touring on our own, we found the food in Yogyakarta so good, we were still having cravings after we came back. Sure it was chicken with rice most of the time but almost every meal was memorable. You've got to try the Warung Spesial Sambal, which is a chain restaurant originating from Yogyakarta. They boast of having 18 types of sambal and we tried three of them, named Bull Shit, Teroris and P3K (I don't know what that means). As you can imagine, Teroris (or was it P3K) was pretty spicy. So affordable and good that my dad wanted to eat it again before we flew off on our last day.

The sambal menu from Warung SS.

The People:
The people are friendly, relaxed and trusting and it was such a pleasant surprise to notice that the streets were very clean! No spitting, no throwing of cigarette butts all over the place. Horse carriages are equipped with a simple sheet behind the horse to collect dung instead of having it strewn all over the streets. We also witnessed a quick cleaning of horse pee using half a bucket of water mixed with some salts and chemicals.

The Heritage:
Despite the many earthquakes and volcano eruptions, the folks preserve as much as they can with the historical structures. Borobudur was rebuilt a couple of times when all the pieces fell from earthquakes, each block pieced together like a jigsaw. And even though Borobudur is a Buddhist temple and Prambanan a Hindu temple, the structures were preserved with respect despite most of them being Muslims.

So, what was our itinerary? The car rental company owner actually did the most work. I gave her the dates, what I wanted to cover (which was just Borobodur and a bit of shopping) and she filled up the blanks for me with a very good understanding of what I wanted. That's what made her stand out from the rest of the car rentals I asked for a quote.

We touched down in the late afternoon and headed straight to Manohara hotel, which is on the grounds of Borobudur. Sunset was about 6 p.m. so we reached when it was already dark. The hotel room was good but the gardens and the distant view of Borobudur was what made this hotel stand out. We took the sunrise tour which had us up at 4 a.m. and really think we made the right choice as there was only about a hundred people, almost half of them with their professional cameras and tripods perched facing east, waiting for the sun to rise. Unfortunately, the sun was partially hidden behind the clouds but it was still splendid.

We were given sarongs to wear to differentiate the sunrise tour from the rest of the crowd that came in later.
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I really like this panaroma, minus the warped human who invaded the photo on the left
What was missing from this sunrise tour was, well, a tour. We were just led to the temple and left on our own. Luckily, we watched a half hour documentary in the hotel room the night before to get a gist of what this temple was about.

After Borobudur, we rested for a while before Budi took us to Merapi Volcano.

Along the way and also thanks to the documentary, we also stopped by this small temple which had a lot of Aesop-like stories carved on the sides. It was used by pilgrims who stopped by to rest and focus after their long trek to reach Borobudur.

Merapi last exploded in 2010 so it's still an active volcano. The roads leading up the mountain was cracked and the only way to get up there was via a 4-wheel drive. Since it was already almost lunch time and the tour would have taken 2 hours, we decided to skip this and just gaze at it from the foot.

Prambanan temple was really beautiful. This time, we got a guide who entertained us with jokes and gave so much explanation that the whole place was made so interesting for us. Gods are carved with their feet together to symbolize a state of rest. Feet apart means you're always working, striving. And the shape of the pieces that fit together to form the temple, the Z, the I and the L blocks, each with a male and female (one bulges out, the other has a concave bottom to fit the bulge... aah, when I find a better explanation I'll revise this) version so that it fits over each other like Lego.
Maybe sarongs are just worn as a sign of respect for these temples.

And on the way back to Yogyakarta, we had a flat tire. We sat in a shop selling tyres to motorbikes and had a chat with the owner who was most hospitable. At one point, he got us to look after his shop while he took Budi to a nearby shop to see if they could assist us! His customers just patiently waited for him to return and a supplier who helped out another customer didn't simply pocket the cash but really handed it back to the owner when he returned.

In Yogyakarta, we visited the Sultan's Palace, a much better palace compared to the one in Medan, and with a tour guide. We also visited Tamansari, which was a Water Castle.

View of the bathing pools where the Sultan would watch his 27 wives bathe in the pool in the foreground and his kids in the pool in the background.
We were told the Sultan would throw a flower from this balcony to the wife he'd want to spend a private bath with that evening. Once the lucky lady caught the flower, the rest of the wives and children would file out of the place and the lucky wife would join the Sultan in the private pool behind. I had loads of questions, like what if the flower fell to the unintended wife because of a puff of wind? What if the wife he wanted was bathing at the far corner of the pool? What if the flower fell onto the roof beneath this balcony? Was a flower heavy enough to be hurled at such a distance? Alas, the guide couldn't answer my questions.

Anyway, after that, we headed to the street which sells leather goods but found the quality wanting. After that we visited the street which sells pottery which also wasn't much. We also went to the beach, Parangitis and I think that was the biggest waves I've ever seen.

Parangtritis beach was packed with activities from football to surfing, businesses such as horse cart rides to buggy rides.
And ended off the day at Malioboro Mall along Malioboro Street. Unfortunately, we didn't find Malioboro shopping interesting as the shops were selling repeated touristy stuff the entire stretch.

The next day, we went to the two factory outlets for shopping, de Kosmo Factory Outlet (which had more quality clothes) and Omah Mode Factory Outlet. They were quite similar to the ones in Bandung.



We also visited a biscuit factory where we bought their famous green bean cookie. And based on a recommendation from a friend on Facebook, we visited Kotagede with it's silver factory and excellent food in a beautiful Dutch building.

Sekar Kedhaton is the name of the restaurant in Kotagede. We really enjoyed our meal here.
Our food at Sekar Kedhaton
Part of the Kotagede building
And here's just some random photos:

We stayed in Phoenix Hotel in Yogyakarta, our rare splurge on such a beautiful hotel.
Gudeg (goo-dak) is made from jackfruit cooked in gula Melaka, a traditional breakfast for the Javanese.
The Yogyakarta Monument which serves as a roundabout.

5 comments:

Yohanes Mendi said...

Joan, P3K means Pertolongan Pertama pada Kecelakaan. ( First Help if Accident Happen). I think restaurant takes that name to make customer curious. So they can order the food and try it. I am glad that kausern and you visited Yogyakarta and medan. Hope to see you all.

jo said...

hey yohanes! thanks for dropping by! and thanks for the explanation on the P3K :)

when are you coming for a visit? :P

Lulu BloggerWannabe said...

Hello Yohanes. Nice blog about Yogyakarta and beautiful pictures. I am planning for a trip to Yogyakarta. Maybe you could answer a few questions ? You mentioned Keisha Luxury Transport as the car rental ? Were they planning for the itinerary as well ? How much did it cost ?

jo said...

hi lulu. Keisha helped suggest a few places to visit so they were a big help in my planning. Do contact them for a quote as our requirements may differ.

Mita Desi said...

Assalamualaikum
senang sekali saya bisa menulis kisah nyata kami
dan berbagi kepada teman-teman disini.

Meski hidup dalam keprihatinan, karena hanya mengandalkan penghasilan dari jual gorengan, namun rumah tangga kami terbilang harmonis. Jika berselisih paham, kami selalu menempuh jalan musyawarah. Hal itu wajib kami terapkan untuk menutupi aib dan segala bentuk kekurangan yang ada dalam rumah tangga kami agar tidak terdengar oleh orang luar. Karena begitulah pesan dari para orang tua kami.

Hari demi hari aku habiskan hanya untuk bekerja dan bekerja. Hal itu aku lakukan, selain sadar akan tanggung jawabku sebagai orang tua , juga ingin menggapai harapan dan cita cita. Yah, mungkin dengan begitu ekonomi keluargaku dapat berubah dan aku bisa menyisihkan sedikit uang penghasilanku itu untuk masa depan anak-anakku dikemudian hari. Namun semua itu menjadi sirna.

Selanjutnya kami pun melangkah untuk mencobanya minta bantuan melalui dana gaib tanpa tumbal,alhamdulillah dalam proses 1 hari 1 malam kami bisa menbuktikan.

Jalan ini akan mengubah kemiskinan menjadi limpahan kekayaan secara halal dan tidak merugikan orang lain.

Alhamdulillah semoga atas bantuan ki witjaksono terbalaskan melebihi rasa syukur kami,
saat ini karna bantuan aki sangat berarti bagi keluarga kami.
Bagi saudara-saudaraku yg butuh pertolongan silahkan hubungi
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