To the Beautiful Jogja

As I said in my last post, I competed in the national speech contest held by UGM two weeks ago. After a long and tiring journey that took all day long (and on Good Friday!) I took home… the title of the winner! (+ a glass trophy + a medal + CASH! + a gigantic decorative frame + a frame for my certificate which I somehow managed to get through airport customs) It was a tough contest, alright. Everyone was so good that I honestly thought I wouldn’t win. But I did and it’s still hard to believe I did!

I made some new friends along the way too. Hello to Auli, Marysa, Christine, Windy, Anis! 🙂

But this post won’t be about the competition part of Jogja. I’m writing today as a traveler who has fallen in love with a beautiful place called Jogja. It’s a beautiful city filled with lots of beautiful people – people who live by the correct interpretation of YOLO and never fail to be happy and see the good in anything.

From the moment I got off the plane (which was a rough flight), I was greeted by friendliness. After the competition, I had 3 days to spend while waiting for my (cheaper) flight back home on Monday. Again and again, Jogja impressed me with a smile after another. Combined with its natural and historical beauty, would it be safe to say that it’s alright to fall in love with Jogja?

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What I love about Jogja : the green is everywhere

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Mendut Temple

First stop at Jogja after the competition was the majestic Borobudur Temple. And for your information, it was a very, very, very hot day that day. The sun was right on top of our heads and it felt like we were placed in a sauna there.

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Somehow encountered this little “massage parlor” while waiting for the mini-train

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The temple from a distant. Seems empty right?

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Nope, it’s not empty at all. Not at all. Here’s the crowd…

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… more crowd…

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… and even more crowd.

It was so crowded that day and it was so hot that I felt like we were all fighting for oxygen or something. I hate crowded days. I even caught an Australian tourist saying that she’s never seen so many people in one place. Neither have I, Miss.

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Aside from the crowd, the temple itself is awesome. These are all original carvings from the 8th century, my friends.

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The landscape around Borobudur supports its beauty too. Look at those beautiful mountains in the background!

Traveler’s Tip : it would be better to visit Borobudur on a weekday as it is quieter and there’s less crowd so we can feel the magic of the temple. Take a mini train (only costs Rp5.500!) to Borobudur, but remember to put on comfortable shoes as it will be a walking trip back to the parking lot. Bring lots of water + an umbrella + wear sunblock if you happen to be there on a sunny day! See more tips here.

Borobudur Temple consists of some levels to ascend with the main stupa on the highest level. Some say the ascending process symbolizes our journey to reach heaven. I heard that the best day to be at this temple is on Vesak Day when they would send lit paper lanterns up into the air. I’ve always wanted to see something like that, but sadly I’d only get a day-off on Vesak.

Anyway, just after we descended from the higher levels, it started raining hard. I was quite soaked and a shopkeeper couple kindly allowed us to find shelter in their shop even if we didn’t buy anything. We bought a couple of shirts to change with from them and they told us a little bit about life as a Borobudur shopkeeper and a little route info. Until this day, I hold this kindness very dear to me because it’s a kindness with no false pretense.

After that, we had a lunch of fungi in a place called jejamuran. All the menu in there are made out of shrooms – literally all of them! We had a satay that tasted like chicken and a fishball that tasted like a legit one, but they were all shroom. This place is highly recommended for you travelers, they made such good food. I used to be a hater of mushrooms, but if they are cooked the way the people there cooked them, I wouldn’t mind at all.

Traveler’s Tip : I strongly recommend trying the deep-fried mushroom chips, mushroom satay, and mushroom soup. For a drink, an aloe vera is a wonderful thirst-quencher.

We had a massive road trip the next day, exploring so many things all before midnight. Yes, it’s completely possible to do that in Jogja. Our first stop was Indrayati Beach.

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This beach is said to be not too far from the famous Parangtritis but it’s much, much less crowded. You can park your car next to a volleyball court and children’s playground. The beach is managed by a woman named Indrayati – hence the name. Going to this beach requires about 2 hours from the city center of Jogjakarta. The roads would be quite narrow and winding so it’s best to depart when it’s sunny + with someone who knows the road because it would be easy to get lost on the way here. And in case you’re feeling hungry…

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Ta-da! You can have lunch in these pavilions by ordering from the seafood restaurant just behind them.

We only stopped by this beachto grab a quick meal because it turned out that there was another beach like this with even less people but more scarce food. I present to you…

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… Sundak Beach!

Just a stone-throw from Indrayati, this beach was very quiet if you come before noon. By quiet here, I mean as if you own the beach. There were little bungalows to chill (+ the calm wind really makes you sleepy), parasols, changing rooms, and plenty of coconut water that you can order. The parking fee is super cheap too (around Rp1000 for unlimited time!). I have decided that this beach is my favorite beach so far.

Traveler’s Tip : both beaches have wild waves, definitely NOT for swimming. Surfing is also not recommended here as there are many reefs. These beaches are made simply for chilling. If you need to stay the night, there are cottages for staying but I wouldn’t say the facilities are 5-star.

Next stop : the famous Prambanan temple!

Okay, I didn’t really enter the temple complex. It was gigantic + we were too lazy to buy a ticket, enter the complex only to get caught in a crowd again. No thank you, we’ve had enough of that yesterday. But still…

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… we stopped by at the road, I got out of the car, jumped over a little creek and took this shot through the fence.

This is what is called “the thousand temples” because there were just so many pieces from so many different temples discovered. As you can see, most temples remain incomplete either because no more bricks were found or because Merapi’s 2010 eruption damaged it or the 2006 earthquake crumbling it. We actually visited the Prambanan temple itself. Well, not really but we got near enough to get photos of it by entering through the Ramayana ballet entrance. Many locals used this entry point too just for some narcisstic pictures.

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We are part of the narcisstic locals apparently. Hahaha.

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Really, it was much quieter from afar than near the temple. It’s easier to feel the magic of the temple when there’s only peace and quiet  and some good ol’ breeze. Plus, this was the most fun I’ve had as a traveler, being in a place that we’re not supposed to be at and all. That was really awesome.

Next stop was a river that used to be a gigantic river but was wrecked by the 2010 eruption of Mt. Merapi. Here is Cangkringan.

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This was what’s left of the river.

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It is common knowledge that the sand from Mt. Merapi was of high quality. The eruption bought a blessing for sand miners here because they can collect plenty of sand and re-sell them at a much cheaper price than before because there’s plenty to take and free for all.

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This gigantic rock just flew from the volcano during the eruption and landed here. They turned it into a road sign.

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And dang it, this is a ginormous rock. I honestly can’t imagine it flying like “psyiiiiung” out of the volcano and just went “boom” when it landed here. Can’t imagine what it was like in that area at the time.

When Merapi erupted, it was basically like living in an apocalypse movie. The earth would rumble and as far as 30 kilometers away, you can hear the booms of the eruption and you got volcanic dust all over you when you walk out. It was really scary and I honestly couldn’t imagine being there when it happened. I salute all the locals who had such positive views about the whole thing after the disaster and the volunteers that kindly helped out.

Not too far from Merapi, by a field of rice was where we had lunch. The place was called Warung Makan Lombok Ijo “Mbah Wiji”. Just sitting there, eating the most local food in the most local fashion of sitting on a mat and eating with your bare hands… this was my favorite moment of the entire trip.

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Where we ate

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What was next to it

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This lady wanted me to take a picture of her.

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Actually went to the rice field, balancing as I walked for photos.

Traveler’s Tip : they’re going to serve you everything they have in the restaurant. My recommendation is to try everything!

Later on that night, after dampened by rain for a couple of day, we explored the heart and soul of Jogjakarta’s nightlife : Malioboro. I was supposed to biking there along with Uncle Danang’s family but I freaked out with the traffic in Jogja. It was crazy, man! I wasn’t a good rider too so I eventually got on a becak, switching with my mom. Haha.

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This is what you call “angkringan” in Jogja. You can get a little rice with some accompanying food in such a cheap price. One of the reasons I love Jogja : everything is cheap!

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My dinner

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If you’re thinking that the heart and soul of Jogja’s nightlife includes row upon row of nightclubs, then you are incredibly wrong because ladies and gentlemen…

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… this is Malioboro. It’s filled with row upon row of shops selling almost everything – mostly great batik with cheap price.

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This final shot was taken before a blackout suddenly happened here. Lucky one!

Traveler’s Tip : there are many pickpockets in Malioboro so when you’re exploring the area, remember to watch your belonging, don’t dress glamorously. Keep it simple and be as local as you can.

Being a becak passenger in Jogja, I got into a conversation with the becak driver. He was a very lively and chatty man who just spilled about his life story, how he once got unfair wages when working for the government, when he visited Jakarta,  and loads more. I talked about the hectic life in Jakarta, how annoying and stressful being a student here is, and how I love his city and I wish I could never leave it. This is something I could never have done in Jakarta and this, my friends, is completely priceless.

On our last day at Jogja, we got a chance to explore the sultan’s palace aka Kraton.

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The main palace itself isn’t that big, but the surrounding complex is GIGANTIC!

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The scarily real-looking statue of the sultan’s deceased guard

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This is the place where…

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… this (the coronation) happened.

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Perhaps the only good candid photo of myself. Haha.

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This carriage might be Cinderella’s or something. It’s topped with real gold.

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The special carriage for the princesses. But a note here is that you must never call them princesses. They will always be called the sultan’s “sons” or “princes” somehow.

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You really should try this dawet in front of the carriage museum in the Kraton complex. It’s absolutely tasty. Not too sweet, not too bland. Just right.

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This batik shop run by the sultan’s servants.

And then after five wonderful days, it was time to pack up and go back home to Jogja. But 5 days is enough to make me fall in love with a beautiful city filled with beautiful people.

Jogja isn’t love at first sight, it’s that kind of love that crept up on you and the moment you leave is the moment you really wish you’d never left. Jogja isn’t that kind of place that will make you fall in love all at once. It’s a place that with all its little things and imperfections and those things are the ones that will make you feel at home, loved and very much alive. Random conversations that you can have with strangers without false pretense, that spontaneous “let’s do it then!” thrown out every once in a while, street musicians, extra cheap food, random acts of kindness from people… however you’re feeling when you enter Jogja, you’ll just come back feeling loved.

The people of Jogja believe in YOLO, but they interpret it – in my opinion – correctly. YOLO for them is being happy while you can, making the most of what you have and sharing that with other people. Being there with them, I don’t think one can ever help feeling that spontaneous.

Another note is that if you want to travel glamorously, then I’m really sorry to say that you can never feel the true Jogja. Jogja is simplicity. It lies in sweating by the pavement because of the heat and dressing in T-shirt, jeans, and slippers.

On a final note, I would like to thank and dedicate this entire post for Uncle Danang, Aunt Nanik, Theo, Ko Timmy, Kak Vory, and Ma’am Pat for this entire trip. Thank you for taking us to your Jogja and I’ve never met such wonderful people whose kindness have made me feel so at home and have treated us like we’re part of the family. You are all  truly incredible people and I’ll always feel as if you guys are part of my family as well. Thank you for showing me how beautiful Jogja is and thank you for each trip, each drive, each meal,… everything. Hope you guys will always receive many many blessings as much as the blessings that you’ve shared with us.

And now let us play KLA Project’s Yogyakarta. 🙂

 

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