Indonesia is soon becoming my favourite holiday destination.
Despite living in Singapore, the only place I have ever visited in Indonesia is, (ugh, embarrassingly) Batam. I know. I ought to get deported out of my own country. I am so determined to travel in Southeast Asia more after this trip to Yogyakarta. My sister always introduces cool things and places to me.
I only spent 4 nights there but I left wishing that I could bring the warmth of the village back to Singapore. It started with a mid-morning flight to Yogyakarta on the only direct flight from SIN to YOG.
Day 1: Village Life
In four days, my body seemed conditioned to wake up at 5am and be sleepy at 9pm. In our first day, we walked around the village. I mean, I knew that Yogyakarta was a cultural and arts centre, but this village in the Bantul region literally consisted of artisans and craftsmen. They were all at work during our stay there and it was amazing seeing this village come alive with creative energy.
Ceramics, woven baskets, bricks, kites, furniture. I love furniture. I don’t even have a place, but I just love looking at well-designed furniture, for my uh, future apartment? Along the way we had some lunch: Bakso.
Look at that bowl of noodles. It was so delicious we ordered another bowl from the noodle cart. 5 meatballs and some really tasty soup/gravy/seasoning for just 10,000 rupiah.
The beautiful part of the village were the smiles of every one along the road. And the green green paddy fields! I am a deprived urban child. We got tired before even reaching the gateway to the village we gave up and walked back.
Day 2: Scooter fun in Yogyakarta
Our first time on a scooter began in day 1 when E borrowed it to test it out. It was exhilarating being on the scooter around the village. We got to explore even more paddy fields and covered so much area.
On day 2, we braved the city traffic on the scooter with nothing but cheap helmets. But somehow I felt quite safe because E is such a safe driver.
Perhaps the most touristy attraction is the Kraton Palace. And you can really see the space, the grandeur and details in the life of a sultan. Gilded moulding, gazebos and crafted prayer halls just reiterates how much creativity and art is seen and viewed in the community.
These graceful dancers really made me want to get some kebayas. Look at the colours of the delicate lace. A teacher was going around correcting postures while tourists stood by the side, watching.
We spent a lot of time looking for food. Trying to communicate with a language barrier was more difficult that I imagined. But as a Southeast Asian, the little Bahasa that I was exposed to did help us. No one really speaks English there unless the area is super touristy. So we just asked for directions whenever we stopped for food or at sights.
I also spent quite some time shopping for batik. There are just too many choices in Mirota Batik. It is a fixed price shop that sells everything from batik to wooden spoons. I was so tempted to buy decor. But I stopped myself. Or rather, E stopped me.
Day 3: Temples
We were awoken by the crows of a rooster and the prayers from a nearby mosque. 4am. On a vacation. Right. E and I arranged for a car with a Dutch couple living in the same Airbnb as us. It made economic sense to do it, and also, nobody wanted to ride a scooter at 4am for 2 hours to reach the Temples. Navigation hell written all over that suggestion.
FrogStay, the Airbnb we were hanging at, really catered to our needs. We paid 60,000 rupiah for 4 of us to go to Borobudur and Prambanan and some sunrise area. They were very flexible about everything and really went with the flow. Now that’s my kind of vacation.
First, we hiked up a hill to catch the sunrise. Yeah. Nope, no sunrise here. It was overcast and we couldn’t see the sun. 😦 The climb up just reminded me of how unfit I was. Seriously. I was literally out of breath. (This reminds me of Torres Del Paine, but that’s another story for another day.)
Then we headed to breakfast at a local market! Ayam bubur in my tum. Oh my goodness. Chicken rice porridge with crackers.
Just look at how much stuff there is in it. A burst of flavours! We also bought random snacks and it seems like all kinds of Indonesian food are amazing. The food vendors of Yogyakarta can do no wrong.
9th Century architecture just dwarfs everything around it. I was so blown away by the sheer size of it. Everything about it made me feel like I was just a little being in a huge world that I have no control over. Maybe that is what the teaching is.
The view is amazing from the top as well. Each of these stupas contained a Buddha statue within. We were so mind-blown when we found out.
Just look at the detail in the corridors. A sense of excitement and tranquility just floods you when you are here. On one hand I was super amazed at all the work and craft put in, and on the other hand the vibes and surrounding park area just made me feel so calm and contented. Is this what holy ground does?
The entire architecture is beautiful and it really makes me wonder how anyone could design such a large scale thing without the use of modern technology. Right after this though, we tried to exit the park but we were rerouted by official park signs that led us through a winding path filled with souvenir shops. I think I must have walked past 500 of them on the way out, or even more.
Bye Borobudur! I highly recommend that you go in the morning. We were there at 7am and there were no crowds! Nothing says nirvana like a swarm of tourists right?
Prambanan was next, after we had an amazing lunch recommended by our guide, Viga. He really knows where to eat good food. And for the first time in a long time, I ate a whole lot of beansprouts. Travelling just makes you more open-minded. And also, the beansprouts were pretty damn good.
After feeling like Lara Croft in Borobudur, we continued our adventures in Prambanan. Isn’t it architecturally beautiful? I thought the form of the Prambanan temples were more aesthetically stunning, but the size and majesty of the Borobudur takes the cake.
The intricate structure of each temple is so beautiful. We climbed the stairs to each of the temples. If you are lucky, you meet statues representing different aspects of the Hindi beliefs. The temples were also shelter from the sweltering sun.
On our way back, Viga brought us to a restaurant near us. It was next to a paddy field: my favourite! Also, we were super hungry and the four of us ordered so much food.
The jelly drink I had looked like moss, but tasted like an explosion of sweetness and richness. Perfect for a warm day climbing and walking around the vast temple compounds!
After we went back, we took the hot afternoon sun’s cue to shower. It sure beats a cold shower at night. Then we headed out and had a massage. Ya, can’t shake the Singaporean in us. Haha. Nothing ends a day out like a massage.
Day 4: Final Day Batik Painting
E tends to overpack, so for the batik workshop held right at the Airbnb place we were staying, I wore his clothes. We also had yoga before that and I had nothing to wear, so luckily he overpacked too.
Bagus, our batik shifu taught us how to conceptualise our design and then helped us make some magic with batik. It was a great experience because we were also hanging out with all of them and chatting.
Arghhhhhhh I would love me some tempeh now. Our hosts graciously cooked lunch for us and we had such a great meal. I am not a fan of tempeh, but their tempeh was AMAZING. I ate so many I almost felt bad. But the tempeh made that all go away. They also steam rice in banana leaf packets. Très genial! You get the scent and the portions all ready.
I didn’t take a photo of the completed batik, but they turned out pretty awesome and a bit trippy. Woohoo! Bagus was teaching us about the process and told us we could do it at home in Singapore. We also talked about the renovation project that they were working on when we made a comment about how late the workers stayed till. Then we found out that all the people working on the construction and renovation, were volunteers from the village!
What a life they have in the village. Everyone helping each other out in such a big way. It made me want to stay there forever. But with that 4am crowing rooster, 4 nights was enough HAHA.
Indonesia has so much to offer to the traveller. And I can’t wait for my next trip there! 😀