Ages come and pass, leaving behind memories. Our Day 03 in Indonesia was blissfully spent taking a peek into the country’s memories imprinted on the beautiful city that is Yogyakarta.
Arrival in Beautiful Yogyakarta
Voices, mumbled then clearer. A child cried. A man barked orders in a language I couldn’t comprehend. All accompanied by the sound of metal grating on metal and the swaying motion of a locomotive inexorably moving forward. After controlling the usual urge to punch the faces of anyone ending my slumbering state, my fogged brain slowly pieced together that I’m on a train bound for Yogyakarta, the cultural center of Indonesia. Jakarta was hours ago and it seems we’re about to arrive at our destination, hence the other passengers noisily getting themselves ready for disembarkation.
The train stopped. Out the window was still darkness. Marj, Popoi and I gathered our belongings and we stepped out to Tugu Station, Yogyakarta. It was past 3AM when we got off but the station wasn’t deserted. Several souvenir shops and food stalls were open and so we decided to shake off the sleepiness by browsing through everything on offer. Taking a leisurely breakfast of I-forgot-what-that-fried-chicken-was-called, we ventured out to the taxis when the sky got lighter. I was getting good at communicating to drivers at this point so I was like: taxi? meter yes? Venezia homestay. *shows printed address of accommodation.
Found Comfort at Venezia Homestay and Garden
This was our accommodation for the 2 days, 1 night we were in Yogyakarta. The place was affordable for the three of us, comfortable enough and had a small pool. It was located in a sort of subdivision so the neighborhood was quiet enough but is accessible. The staff were friendly enough and the owner treated us really well. I’ve had the best sleep there in the whole trip so thank you Venezia!
The Sweet Old Bechak Driver
After checking in, we wasted no time going out again to explore. The great thing about Venezia and why we chose it in the first place is that it is within walking distance from Taman Sari (historical Sultan’s Palace) and Jalan Malioboro (known shopping destination in the city).
A few minutes on the way to Malioboro, we came across an old man sleeping on his bechak. Despite that his ride was worn in several places and that we fully intended to walk, we were no match for his happy look when he woke up and saw us. He volunteered to tour us around wherever we wanted to go, offered a good price, spoke better English than the taxi drivers we’ve dealt with so far, and enthusiastically declared he could fit the three of us on a bechak generally made for two. Wanting to give him some business, we hopped aboard!
Oh, what is a bechak?
Bargained Furiously at Malioboro Street
Our very helpful bechak driver quickly took us to Jalan Malioboro and said he’d wait for us outside.
Enter Malioboro Street and rows of stalls selling all kinds of things – batik bags, scarves, shirts, shoes, wooden carvings and other curios – will greet you. Touts of street food abound too. In fact, touts abound period. Don’t be discouraged though, ignore them and proceed to the major part – a more than two story building filled to the brim with beautiful things that can drain budgets in a heartbeat.
Securing our valuables against pickpockets, we bravely joined the thick crowd of locals and visitors jostling each other in search for the best bargain of the day. The plan was simple – haggle furiously! That’s what Malioboro Street is all about after all ^_^
In the end, with smiles on everyone’s faces (including the store owner), we walked away with a handful of souvenirs to make friends and family back home happy. Budget damagers included scarves, skirts, shorts and blouses.
Retraced Sultans’ Footsteps at Taman Sari
Also known as Taman Sari Water Castle, this place was formerly the royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta. Basically a house of pleasure for the Javanese rulers who lived there long ago. Upon paying the entrance fee, one of the guides in attendance will tour you around the place. Guide fee is supposed to be part of the entrance fee already but you may still give your guide a tip upon finishing the tour. Sure you can also skip the services of guides but then you’ll also miss their knowledge of the place, interesting stories and funny anecdotes. We decided to go with a guide.
In the next hour or so, we walked through courtyards for music and dancing and gazed at the pools for the sultans’ concubines and children where the strapping rulers are known to throw flowers into the water to be caught by the prettiest of concubines. We went through dark halls and low ceilings to visit the sultans’ bedchambers, sauna and meditation area as well.
The place was for all intents and purposes a building devoid of furnishings and decor save from those carved on the stone walls. But the guide’s stories about the history of the place made every nook and cranny alive and it wasn’t long until I was imagining plush cushions in the bedroom, steaming bathwater in the sauna and beautiful Javanese women adorned in gold gazed upon by the man who bears the title of Sultan.
The Batik and the Wayang
No those aren’t some mysterious creatures of the dark. Batik is an art form and an industry in Indonesia. It involves decorating onto cloth all sorts of wonderful and beautiful art through the use of a traditional dyeing technique. Traditional batik designs are often inspired by the Javanese and their beliefs about and relationship with the universe.
Wayang meanwhile, or specifically wayang kulit, refers to shadow puppet theater. The shadow puppet is also often called wayang. Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow for us to see a shadow puppet show but good thing we got to see how they were made. Kudos to the artist for having the concentration and skills to finish very detailed wayang pieces.
These batik and wayang shops can be found inside Taman Sari still.
A Magical Afternoon at Prambanan
After a fulfilling morning, we went off to have lunch and decided to go back to our B&B to refresh. That afternoon, we were scheduled to visit one of the well known temple ruins in Yogyakarta – Prambanan. The tour was booked through Venezia.
The place is super wonderful for me that I cannot possibly do it justice with just a subsection of this post. Jaw-droppingly magnificent, I feel it deserves one whole post dedicated to it so here it is – our magical afternoon at Prambanan!