Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Amazing Jogja (Part 1)

Day 1

Arrived at Yogyakarta, Adisucipto International Airport at 5.45pm. After clearing immigration counter we were inundated by hordes of taxi drivers. We chose a guy who spoke english and went straight to hotel to check in. The taxi driver offered to take us around Yogya for two days, 12hr per day. We stayed in Oasis Hotel in Prawirotaman street which is teeming with lots of guesthouses and budget hotels. Its quite far from town centre, about 10mins away from the main shopping area of Malioboro. Day 1 ended with dinner at Gading restaurant, Prawirotaman st. and food was good but a little expensive (IDR 200, 000 dinner for 4) and took a long while to arrive.

Day 2

Taman Sari (Water castle)

After a satisfying breakfast of toasted bread and eggs we left for Taman Sari or better known as water castle. Entrance fee for foreigners is IDR 7000. The soft pink thick walls, azure blue pools of water surrounded by stone urns with jasmines and various trees are a delight for eyes. A guide followed us around and explained the various rooms and pools. The palace is surrounded by villagers houses and its quaint and beautiful and a walk arround it was indeed nice. we asked the guide to bring us to the underground mosque near taman sari and he was rather surprised that we knew of the place. Thanks to prior  reading about Jogja we were well equiped about the various hidden treasures. Another 15 mins walk lead us to the hidden mosque built beneath taman sari and right below the villagers houses. It was an amazing architecture which entralled me with its light display. Be sure to ask your guide to bring you to this place. 

the entrance of taman sari- unique structure

carved archway

entering the underground mosque - sumur gemuling

the 5 way steps inside the mosque depicting the five daily prayers for muslims, utterly unique

curved building with many windows

tunnel leading to taman sari, light flow from above

After Taman Sari we headed off to Candi Prambanan, the ancient hindu temple built in 10th century. There's a interesting legend behind this temple of 1000 god statues, a tale of love and betrayal. The entrance fee is IDR 110,000 and students can get a special rate. The temple was flanked by beautiful garden and greenery  I was stunned when I saw the looming structures at the end of a row of red tulip like flowers. In spite of the heat, we enjoyed ourself very much. There were 3 main temples, built for Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma and three slighlty smaller temples for their animal consorts, nandi, garuda and angsa. The temples were a sight to behold, each piece of dark stone has a story to tell. Intricate stone carvings along the temple tells the story of ramayana. We walked up the stairs leading up to the main deity in each temple. The stairs were quite steep and once at the top the surrounding area looked beautiful. There are guides available if you want detailed explanation of the history of Prambanan.

candi prambanan

Impressive main temple of Shiva, on the left, temple of Brahma
Map of Prambanan park, Sewu temple is at the northern corner
Prambanan is quite a large area. After walking up and down each temple, we were quite tired and walked back to the main entrance. After giving some much needed rest for our legs we headed to the Prambanan museum near the entrance. The museum had more description on the founder and history of Prambanan temple, along with many Hindu deity statues extracted from the site of temple. We found quite a lot of headless statues and reason for this is not known. 

Elegant statue of brahma in museum courtyard
Museum compound
Various deity statues placed in museum ground
Candi Sambiseri

Its a smaller Hindu temple near Prambanan and situated in a valley surrounded by villages. Either it sunk or was built to be hidden from view. =)

Mount. Merapi

After getting tantalizing glimpse of the active volcano from a distance, we urged the taxi driver/tour guide to bring us there. Alas, to our disappointment, when we reached the base after about an hour's drive, the peak of Merapi was hidden by dense clouds. So this is all we could snap, up close. So if you are planning to go, the best time is early morning and late evening.

glorious Merapi hiding from view

Plenty of bikes to bring you all the way up for better view of Merapi
Prangritis beach

Guess what, you have to pay to enter the beach area. Its IDR 4000 for entrance. This was our last destination for the day. The beach was not crowded and the weather was slightly cooler here. Unlike the beaches in Malaysia, this beach has greyish black sand and enclosed by hilly terrain. There were horse carts available for rides and also we saw some para gliders. 

cliff side beach with greyish black sand

horse carts 

The day ended with a nice dinner at Via Via restaurant near our hotel and we were very satisfied with the places we visited. A day well spent indeed.