By M.Darishinni Mathura
Some of you might be wondering – What is this “Jogja” that I speak of? Garnering far less attention than its familiar neighbours such as Bandung and Bali, the quaint town of Yogyakarta (aka Jogja) harbours many attractive sights that you might have missed out!
Yogyakarta is the centre for the arts and culture of Java – perpetuating the culture of batik, ballet, poetry, music and drama.
Here’s an itinerary that will definitely make your vacation worth every penny.
We started off with breakfast upon arriving at Yogyakarta Adisucipto International Airport. We arranged for a driver for our whole stay; who turned out to be incredibly friendly and meticulous. Initially, we were apprehensive of the food there but to our surprise, we got the hang of it.
Our first stop, the Sultan Palace or Kraton, a palace once lived the great sultans who ruled the Sultanate of Yogyakarta. There are museums with immense collections of relics from traditional musical instruments to batiks to kitchen wares. There are also lots of photos and vintage stuffs kept in glass boxes. Weapons like rifles and guns as well as traditional garments are showcased too. Sultans are like kings, no doubt you will find the huge family lineage of more than 50 children with several wives.
After you’re finished the palace, walk or take a becak (a trishaw) to Taman Sari or Water Palace. This 18th century complex is the erstwhile royal garden of the sultans which served as a foremost bathing area. There are little alley-ways which will lead you to a room or another area of the multiplex. It’s like you are caught in a maze.
Around the stunning swimming pool are more rooms – the dressing, relaxing or laundry rooms which reflected the wealth and grandeur of the sultans’ lifestyles.
From the Water Palace, we then walked to a mini batik factory in the backstreets of a nearby village. It is said that Indonesians are experts in making Batik. I looked in awe at the intricate details of the designs skilfully painted/printed out by hand. Here, you can buy Batik paintings or clothings and you can try batik painting.
We were so excited after our first day visit that we couldn’t wait for our next visit to Mount Merapi.
Mount Merapi is an active volcano that last erupted in October 2010. Are you ready for a fantastic 4-hour hike up Mount Merapi? Hitch a ride by jeep through the rough terrain of lava rocks laid down by Mt. Merapi’s former eruptions. The ride will also take you through museums, ruin houses, ‘Alien Stone’ and the Merapi Bunker.
Our first stop was the House of Memory which was a village destroyed by the latest Merapi’s eruption. There were melted potteries, a set of animal skeleton and photos taken during and after the eruption. The most catchy sight was a clock that jammed and the time shown was the time of the eruption.
The next stop was “Alien Rock”. This Rock was blown out of Mt. Merapi to the present location. This rock looked like a giant alien’s head. You can also see rivers of hardened molten lava all the way from Mt Merapi. If you’re lucky you could see the peak of Mt. Merapi on a clear sky.
After an exhausting day trailing Jogja’s heritage, we checked-in Hotel Neo Malioboro, located in the Central Yogyakarta. It is in Malioboro Street. This modern contemporary hotel offers 154 stylish, comfortable and reasonably priced rooms, ideal for a few days retreat here in Jogja. There are many shops and eateries nearby, where guests can try the famous local Indonesian food, Bakso.
We explored the UNESCO World Heritage site, Borobudur and Prambanan which are absolute must-sees.
Just an hour away from the city center, both the temples provide different tourist stories on Central Java’s past.
Borobudur is the world’s largest buddhist temple, its architecture is unique. It comprises of nine stacked-up platforms, several Buddha figures and 73 stupas or bell-shaped structures with Buddha figures inside. Plan a visit at around 5 in the morning to witness the famous sunrise effect.
Prambanan on the other hand is the world’s largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia. It is dedicated to Trimurti, an expression of God as the Creator (Brahman), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). This typical pointed architecture of Hindu temple is a must to explore and it is wise to get a tour guide to get the stories on the history of the temple. Also, you wouldn’t want to get lost in the huge temple! There is also a Ramayana ballet show.
Two attractions aren’t enough for the day? Trust me you will be drained. Now, make your way to Jogja City Mall for some food and shopping. The architectural design amazes me – a big mansion!
Now, you should get enough rest before heading to Malioboro Street tomorrow. Gear up shopaholics! This place is the exact spot for you to shop till you drop.
Everything is incredibly inexpensive – bargain for the best price!
Later, proceed to Alun-Alun, little known. This place has been converted into a playground for people to unwind. Hop on the Beatles and Volkswagens which are transformed into pushbikes where you have to power your own car by pedalling. The cars are decorated with circus lights and furnished with a sound system. So, you can choose your music and sing along in your own moving karaoke vehicle.
Don’t forget to go to the two enormous trees in the middle of the area to make a wish.
Local legend says that if you keep your eyes closed, your wish in mind and walk between the trees your wish will come true. Come on and give it a go! Your dream might come true!
Your trip to Yogyakarta will not be complete if you don’t pay a visit to one of the most beautiful beaches called Pantai Timang.
The unadulterated beach located in Gunung Kidul offers a spectacular sight – of white waves crashing into coral reefs and cliffs that will make it a worthy day trip. If you are the adventurer type, take a valiant ride over the treacherous waves on a wooden gondola to the rocky outcrop just off the beach. The gondola is a simple wooden box, tied together on several pulleys not with the normal steel cables but with fabric rope! – worry not, they’re totally safe. The gondola was traditionally used by fishermen to look for lobsters.
Not challenging enough, amble on the newly built dangling wooden bridge then – which leads you to the outcrop too! That surely is not made for the faint hearted. Instead, just listen to the rhythmic echoes of the waves across the blue ocean in a picturesque waterscape.
You’ll be sure to get the experience of the ultimate adrenaline rush of your life.