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Published: February 21st 2016
It was a choice between Bali and Yogyakarta (Jogja) for our year-end trip, and considering the crowd heading to the former, we hopped on the less conventional destination and based ourselves in Kasongan town, some half an hour south of Jogja city to spend our 5 nights spanning 2015-end and 2016-start. Here are 7 experiences we shared while ushering in the new year: 1. Infinite sunset by Parangtritis beach
We rented a motorbike and headed down south where the beach was. It was massively crowded! Lots of people enjoying all the various offerings by the beach; ATV across the sand, horse carriage, kite flying, swimming, sunbathing, etc. We were equally amazed at how everyone's having a great time despite the huge crowd. Not wanting to jostle with the locals for space, we took a stroll to the further end where activities and people were sparse. That's where we truly admired the beauty of this sandy, shallow shore. To top it up, we headed up to Queen of the South Beach Resort
nested atop the cliff-front,
dipped into their pool and busked in the setting sun. The sunset was incredibly beautiful as nighttime falls, where we had an unparalleled view of the beach-line and vast
Indian ocean stretching out into the endless horizon. An unforgettable start to our trip! 2. Caving in Goa Jomblang, Semanu Goa Jomblang
was a little far out from Jogja, though the adventure was definitely worth the time spent going there. After swiftly putting on our gears (helmets, safety harness, boots), we abseiled some 20+ metres down into the caves. Instead of repelling ourselves down, the rope descend was controlled by the guides so it was far from dangerous. The highlight was of course the caving itself, as we relied on our phone torches to navigate through the darkness. The air was so crisp, and the slightest of sound could send echoes, creating surround sounds not unlike those in cinemas. The limestone formations developed over the thousands of year were immensely delicate as well. At certain lucky times while we were inside, sunlight shone across the small opening at the top of the cave, sending rays which pierced right through into the cave. Light at the end of the tunnel (cave)! 3. Taking a dip in Air Terjun Sri Gethuk This waterfall (Air Terjun)
was recommended by our driver/guide and it was great fun swimming with the locals in the pool.
There's a natural cliff-like platform where we could climb 5metres up and do cliff jumping. It was kinda hilarious here as Steph was seemingly afraid of taking the plunge, getting stuck at the top for a good 10 mins. I had to go a coupe of times more before we could take the "leap of faith" together. Besides that, our monkey instincts took over as we climbed up the smaller falls into the main plunge pools where the main waterfalls are. The adventure of exploring this area was rewarding! The water was much cooler nearer to these plunge pools and warmer out down the river. Of course, there's also the other spectrum where we could just relax, float on the waters, people watch and listen to the sound of nature. Overall, a very enjoyable couple of hours spent here. Minus the fact that Steph's phone memorably "drowned" here! 4. Frogstay and Kasongan Town
What made this trip particularly laid-back and relaxing was largely due to where we stayed. FrogStay accommodation
is nestled in Kasongan town, where it is surrounded by Padi fields and villages. For nature lovers like us, it was the perfect location to slow down the pace
of our travels, immerse in the local culture and enjoy simple village life. We were lucky to meet an inspiring traveler, Florian, who travels around the world by bike
. And on the last day of 2015, close to 50 people from all around the village came over for a movie screening of his latest adventure in Australia. It was like a big family homecoming! During which, we interacted closely and had to chance to help the owner, Yohana, prepare the food, like tempe and toufu sticks for the 'big event'. A very meaningful end to the year 😊 5. Meeting local friends - Sindu Kusuma Edupark
In a last minute arrangement, we managed to meet Adien and his girlfriend, Farah, in Jogja city for lunch despite the heavy traffic. Being locals, they brought us for really good and cheap lunch at Ayam Geprek Susu. We could choose the spicy level of the smashed friend chicken and man did I underestimated the chilli padi there. It was hot! Nevertheless, a super sumptuous lunch for like SGD$2 per pax, before we headed for a short tour of the University they went to. After which, we decided to head to Sindu Kusuma Edupark
for some fun! They have never
been there before either so it was refreshing for us all to take the amusement park rides. The ferris wheel ride gave us a good view of the city basked in the evening sun while the bumper car was heart-stopping. 6. Shopping at Jl. Malioboro
To be honest, we had little inclination of squeezing with the crowd at the tourist attractions, which probably explained why we did not visit many of them. In fact, the most distinct memory I had of Jogja city was on Jl. Malioboro
, where we walked through on 2 separate nights. This street/road is full of almost everything that you could find in flea/street shopping, and at very budget prices too. When we first arrived, we were so excited to find T-shirts selling at SGD$1.50?! And the quality ain't bad either. We ended up getting quite a few gifts here for our family and friends back home. Street entertainers were aplenty too and we did got ourselves amused at some of them. Warning though: be prepared to be sandwiched with the thousands of people on the streets! 7. Borobudur Temple
How could we not visit the UNESCO site while we were here right.
Kinda saving the best for the last, we took our time and rode up to the temple late morning, taking about 2 hours on the road. In hindsight, it might be better going with a tour bus to save some sweat and time on the road. Then again, it's all about the adventure isn't?! At the entrance, we honestly (irony not intended) tried to pass off as locals for a much discounted entry fee but to no avail. So we paid a hefty 28 bucks per pax and headed in, greeted by the majestic buddhist pilgrimage site. Amid the heavy crowd and scorching afternoon sun, we found solace amongst 1 of the many walkways and admired the impressive structures which withstood the test of time. At the top of temple, we also took time to pray for most importantly, health, and happiness for ourselves, family and friends. A wonderful feeling to start 2016, and towards an even more awesome year ahead!
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