JOGJA-JAKARTA-BANDUNG, ONE EXPERIENCE

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Jogjakarta – Jakarta – Bandung (11 – 18 November 2014)

IT’S BEEN SAID that if you really want to get to know a person, travel together.

My first experience with travel buddies was during a one month trip to Europe in 2001. It was one great trip with all the dramas, one can only get when traveling. Three girls with three different personalities traipsing the western parts of Europe.

When life bring us in our different courses, it is difficult for me to really connect with other human being to go on a travel together. However, a few years ago I met an individual whom I trust enough to be my short travel partner, Mr Rashdan.

We planned and we decided that this time we should explore some parts of Pulau Jawa, starting with Jogjakarta and ends in Bandung. Our travel mode should be a no frills airline of course, and my favourite, train, from Jogjakarta to Bandung.

Jogjakarta or Yogyakarta is a favourite holiday city for the locals, and it is famous for its traditional arts and cultural heritage. It is also known as City of Students thanks to its many universities, the famous being Universitas Gadjah Mada, one of the oldest and biggest higher learning institutions in Indonesia.

Like any major cities in Indonesia, Jogjakarta roads are chaotic. You have to be an expert driver dodging the slow moving pedicab and the two-wheeler daredevils. And of you’re tourists on foot, just be brave heart when crossing the roads.First place to visit.

The Keraton Yogyakarta or the King’s Residence.

We took the pedicab to the King’s Residence. At some points I was worried that the driver wouldn’t have the energy to paddle the old bicycle with two passengers in it. Would he asks me to get down and push the cab? Okay, imagination overdrive.

The residence was where the Jogjakarta’s king who also acted as legitimate governor used to reside. For your information, Jogjakarta is still a kingdom until today.
You have to pay the entrance fee and more fee for a guide. Although we tried to declined for a guide, they insisted that we took one in English.

It was a pleasant way to spend the day actually. You can enjoy the intricate Indonesian woodwork that are evident in every parts of the residence. There are also mini museums of the king’s passion in photography, the life in kraton and accolades received by the king.
The first day in Jogja was spent leisurely and planning for the next adventure. We also bought the train tickets to Jakarta as Rashdan had made plans to meet his friends in Jakarta and later on to our last destination in Bandung.

The night was spent exploring Malioboro Street. A shopping haven for the shopaholics. It’s a 24-hour street. This is the place to experience street food, while sitting on the mat eating nasi gudek on low tables. It is very basic street food.

The pavements are crowded with sellers selling cheap souvenirs and t-shirts. It is fun to watch but after a while it could be annoying as you would have to find your way among the huge crowd. Plus most of the shops and stalls kind of selling the same items. Even the batik shops are a bit monotonous.

However, out of this ordinary, you would find shops selling unique trendy homegrown items. These young entreprenuers gave more vibrant colours to the retail industry in Jogjakarta and appealed to young travelers.

To Borobudur Temple.

As they were only two of us and we are considered ‘too old’ to hop on a public bus to some of the must seen places here, we took a private car and our first destination is the Borobudur Temple.

The temple is about 40km from Malioboro Road and the journey took about an hour or so. Since the price to watch sunrise from this temple is more expensive, we decided to take the normal tour.

Be prepared and bring along either an umbrella, cap and sun glasses as the glaring of the sun here can be quite intense. Make sure to bring along bottled water as you may need it after climbing the stairs to the top.

There are two types of entry fee for Borobudur Temple. For international tourists, the fee is now at USD25, the fee for local tourists is much cheaper. If you think you can get away with it, just go to the entrance for locals.

Tip: If they didn’t ask for kartu pengenalan (identification card) just say that you’re from Batam.Rashdan teased, visiting Borobudur was kind of a pilgrimage for me. Ye-lah, we were visiting Borobudur Temple. And I was following this sami (monk) making his rounds there. Pilgrimage or not, the temple is spectacular.

This magnificent structure was built using basic tools and I wonder of the dedication and attention to details that they did to ensure this monument can last thousands of years, and withold the many volcanic eruptions and activities on this island.

Merapi Lava Tour Jeep Ride

This is the highlight of our visit to Jogjakarta.

I’ve been meaning to visit Merapi and was grateful that the tour package we took included a jeep ride visit to a mountanious village at Merapi. We headed there after lunch. The trip up the mountain was smooth. We enjoyed the padi fields scenary and for the first time saw rivers that were filled with cold lava and ash.

The volcanic mountain peak is located near the centre of the island. It is about 32km north of Yogyakarta. The biggest eruption in 2014 took 16 lives.

Here, tourists can opt to go on a jeep ride or rent a bike to explore the mountain. However it is advisable to take up the guided jeep ride as the roads here are crazily bumpy all the way to the top!

These drivers are mostly locals, so they know the history and every nook and cranny of this village. Mine (I forgot his name) has an extra skill. He is a good photographer and would ask me to do this and that. So, for the first time, my pictures are awesome!

We visited the Mbah Maridjan house, a head of village who perished during the eruptiion as he refused to leave his house as he had made a promise never to leave Merapi and the village. At his house you can see normal household items such as pots and pans and electrical items like mini-compo (radio) melted when the lava struck the village.

The journey continues, where we visited odd shaped boulders such as the Alien Stone, Tiger Face Stone and the bunker. The bunker was a bit eerie and dark and these bunker failed to save those who seek shelter there during the eruption. The force of nature was too strong.

Prambanan Temple
The one day excursion ended with a visit to Prambanan Temple. It is another Unesco World Heritage Site and was built around 9th and 10 Century. This Hindu complex is dedicated to 3 gods – Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma.

There are around 500 monuments on the site. While many have been restored others remain as rubbles. The complex is huge. When we arrived, it is already late afternoon and the complex was about to close.

Lucky I brought along my small torchlight. It is handy to see the statues inside the candi (smaller temple). For those who love history and how about Hinduism, spend more time here. Marvel at the rich history and architecture and at the same time enjoy the breathtaking view from this temple.

Early on the fourth day, we left the hotel to catch a train to Jakarta. The journey took around 8 hours.

As Rashdan was the one in charge with all the bookings and planning while I was in charge of having fun, I wasn’t sure whether we bought the Business or Executive class, but don’t be impressed with the title. The train was like KTMB in the late 90s. But, if you’re train fan like me, then the older the better.

We took a taxi to the Jogjakarata Tugu train station. The station retained a Dutch facade and inside is a mixed of modern and old facilities. It is quite a delight to explore the station actually. There is a special platform for people to wait for their trains.

It’s actually another place to visit if you ever come to Jogjakarta.

Although the train is a bit old, it is equipped with power point in case you need to charge your gadgets.

And always keep your tickets and pasports handy for the train officers to come in and check if you have a valid tickets.

From mountainious view of terrace paddy fields and the gushing of river waters, the scenery slowly changes as we are approaching the capital city of Indonesia.

The clear river water turned murky and open spaces are now changed with views of ugly looking buildings and dilapidated wooden houses along the train tracks and continue to changes to views of skyscrapers of a modern and bustling city.

Jakarta

Not much can be said about the metropolitan city of Jakarta. We didn’t explored the city much as Rashdan was down with fever. Poor him. Maybe he hasn’t got enough rest after the full day excursion to the temples and bumpy ride at Merapi.

We managed to go for a movie and decided on a horror movie by local production. The theatre was fun though and they even have ushers to bring you to your cinema.

After two nights in Jakarta, it is time to say goodbye to new friends who helped in arranging our accommodation there. It was a short meeting but still a good one. Hopefully I could return the same hospitality some day.

We continued our journey to Bandung, and arrived at this part of Java Island around 8pm.

Bandung is another famous city among tourists from Malaysia. It is a shopping city. Mostly famous to shop for cloths and laces.

We didn’t do much in Bandung as our money reserve was fast depleting (ha ha ha). So we just hire a cab driver to bring us around Bandung, did some shopping and of course try out weird and wonderful menu at Pizza Hut!

Before we took the flight home, we had our last meal and to finish off whatever rupiah that was left at a small cafe called the Roti O. We took the coffee buns that are similar to RotiBoy and crushed ice tea. One of the best tea we had in Bandung.

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