Published: October 6th 2007September 20th 2007
Setia Kawan Losmen
Our incredibly Comfortable room in Yogyakarta.
So, after enduring a 3 hour delay and another terrifying earthquake at the Padang Airport, we were saying goodbye to Sumatra and on our way to Java.
Finally, after almost 4 months in Indonesia, we were going to see the heart of this wild country. We had just touched down in Jakarta about 2 months ago but never left the vicinity of the airport as we had a flight to Singapore the following day.
We arrived, this time, in the evening, hopped in a taxi and were driven through the wide and busy streets to the main backpacker center; Jalan Jaksa.
First we found a hotel, a DECENT hotel (one that wasn't visibly crawling with cockroaches or trannies), had some dinner and then fell right asleep.
The next day we decided to wander about, catch a movie and then browse around some random shopping malls. Well, we found ourselves quite a shopping mall, indeed.
I had never seen a place like that in my life. Imagine a shopping mall full of the most expensive shops and designer boutiques, and now imagine that shopping mall 100 years in the future! I'm serious. This was one flashy, posh and controversial mall.
Giving it a whirl
trying to make some painted batik and making a big mess.
four months in Indonesia we have seen nothing but poor country towns where the people are struggling. And to come to Jakarta, where all the money in Indonesia seems to land, and see people paying 20 times the price of a bottle of water (no joke)...it was a complete culture shock.
I almost cried right there amongst the Saint-Cinnamon and Gucci Sunglasses.
They call Jakarta "the big durian" and it is, indeed, just like that.
****For those of you who don't know....a durian is a large fruit that all Indonesians love and most other people simply cannot stand. Its sweet...but the worst thing you have ever smelt******
I do have to mention that with a massive city also comes a massive restaurant selection. And for that we were thankful. We ate the most delicious Lebanese food, quite possible better than any restaurant in Montreal.
And it was SUCH a great treat.
Thought after two nights we had had quite enough of "the big durian". So, we got on a train and headed east to Yogyakarta.
The train ride was really quite lovely (as we love trains so much), about 12 hours long with some nice scenary along the way (mind,
Scary place, I must admit.
it does take about an hour to travel through all the slums of the city).
We arrived in Yogya and walked over to the hotel/losmen that we wanted to check out and realized instantly that we had found quite a gem.
It was our 49th hotel of the trip and most definately the best.
Everything was perfect. It had an awesome location down a small gang (alley) in which motorbikes are NOT allowed to drive through, so just with that small fact it was much quieter than most other places we have stayed in where it feels like the motorbikes are driving all over our skulls.
There are only 10 rooms in the building which again just adds to the quietness.
Bedhot, the wonderful owner, took into consideration every last detail to make it a warm, cozy and welcoming environment.
From the beautiful, colorful murals painted on every wall, to the free tea and coffee all the time, to the baby turtles who live in the lovely stone mosaic corridor leading to the alleyway.
It was a peaceful place that felt like home to us for the next week.
While we were in Yogya we did the usual things that
backpackers do: visit (and be bored to death by) the sultans palace, get lured into an extremely overpriced batik shop against our will, visit the bird market and get freaked out by how many animals we think that we can recognize from the endangered species list, join the locals in a frenzy of "Ramadan Sale" shopping, sneak into the Ibis hotel pretending to be guests to use the rooftop swimming pool and sauna, dine at the extremely romantic and delicious vegetarian restaurant Mila's, spend our afternoons cooling off in one of the many air-conditioned malls and chatting with other backpackers (which is something that we so rarely had the opportunity to do in the rest of Indonesia).
And how on EARTH could we go to Yogya without visiting the most incredible Borobudur and Prambanan temples.
We went against our own good sense and decided to go with a "Sunrise tour" to see Borobudur and Prambanan instead of going with public transport and having to transfer buses a GAZILLION times.
As much as we dislike tours and being herded around like cattle we ALSO dislike the public transport "system" in Java.
So off we went to catch the sunrise at Borobudur.
Guillaumes watering mouth says it all. Chicken satay....
It was disappointing to find a very cloudy and dark sky looming overhead but the temples sure made up for it.
Disappointed we were not.
It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It was GIGANTIC with bells and buddahs EVERY which way.
I loved it.
And we were given just enough time to walk around and admire the temple then to sit down and admire the view from the top of the mountains, volcanoes and rice paddies surrounding.
After that we made a stop at Prambanan, the magnificent hindu temple. Because of the recent earthquakes we were not allowed to be inside the temples and could just walk around them, which was a bit of a bummer but ok.
Since the full moon was upon us during our visit to Yogya I had the opportunity to attend the Ramayana Ballet. I did fly solo that night since Guillaume wasnt interested in seeing it, but it was quite alright since I was highly entertained for the entire evening.
The story was a confusing one, of a princess who was stolen from her lover by a big, evil dude. And then the story got a bit fuzzy when the
The Bodes, as we like to call it, from afar.
monkey armies went to war and they burnt down the stage. But I can assure you it DOES have a happy ending.
Bravo, well worth $4.40. The costumes and dancers were great.
Next stop, travel Nothwest to the town of Dieng. A plateau situated at 2093 meters above sea level. It is a rather isolated area, hard to believe in Java, and amongst the massive volcanoes and sloping mountain ranges is the most cultivated land I've seen in my life.
Every square inch of land is used, up to the very tops of the mountains and hills (we give BIG credit to whoever has to go and harvest those terraced fields).
The biggest crop is potatoes but Im sure that they grow every vegetable imaginable up there.
The climate is lovely; cool and refreshing. And I finally got to use the tuque that I've been carrying around for the past 3 1/2 months.
We took a liking to the local guide working at the hotel and made a plan to watch the sunrise and tour the surrounding area with him on a motorbike the next morning.
So after another night of having multiple mosques shouting and echoing prayers into our
We tried our hardest not to
Though the temptation was overwhelming.
brains all night, we woke up for our second sunrise of the week.
The three of us hopped on one motorbike and headed to Sikunir.
So peaceful and beautiful and...
what the heck?
Who are these loud people with guns standing around us all of a sudden?
"No worries", says our guide, they are just like any other Indonesian we have encountered toting a massive firearm, they just wanted to say "Hello Mister" and have their photo taken with us.
They were local security guards from a Hydro Plant nearby...and they gave us quite a scare at 5am! We had a little chat and some photo taking and they were on their way.
Moving on, we visited the many other attractions that Dieng has on offer: temples built in the 8th century, boiling mud pools, colored crater lakes and many, many outstanding views.
We highly enjoyed our time there but left promptly after returning from the tour and eating our breakfast (of the most literal adaptation of the word "pan-cake").
We got on the bus, transferred 5 times and 5 hours later found ourselves comfy and cozy, back at "home" at our favorite losmen, Setia Kawan, in Yogya.
with one of the many buddahs.
stayed 2 more nights before heading into East Java.
But we did get to attend a special farewell party for one of the long-time guests at the losmen. It was a lovely affair, filled with fried crab and Arak honeyed cocktails.
We also got the chance to meet a very special Indonesian, Alex, from Kalimantan.
He entertained us all night long with stories of Cannibalism (not quite as far in the past as you may have thought), flying shaman and mysterious floating "blood balls" on haunted hills.
We promised to visit him in four years from now.
The next day we woke up and got onto a bus, yes..another bus, and headed East to Mount Bromo....
There are more photos below