Tried to wake up early cos I wanted to see the sunrise and but was too late. The sun was already up. Open the front door and I was greeted by one hell of a view.
Went along the corridor and took a few shots. To the right the sun was up already but the view was just as amazing. Went back to brush my teeth and to get ready for breakfast and a great day. Breakfast was served poolside alfresco. There was the usual buffet stuff though the variety wasn’t that great.
After breakfast, went back to the room to retrieve our packed bags for check out. We would be spending our night in Semarang due to an early flight the following day. We had booked a driver for the whole day to bring us touring and he had arrived early while we were checking out. It was for a price of about SGD 45 for the whole day for car and driver, pretty good if you asked me. The driver spoke reasonably understandable English and was born in the region and thus familiar. He had even suggested a change in our sequence just to get the best of everything. He suggested doing Mt Merapi first since the sky was clear in the morning and we would get good pictures then. About an hours’ drive and we arrived at location after going through an entrance. There were still many staying beside this active volcano, with the latest eruption just in 2010. The fertility of the soil made farmers stay.
The parked his car and we alighted and were free to go to wherever we wanted. There was various stalls that were not opened and a few that operated 4 wheel drives to the volcano. Those were a tad bit out of our budget and we continued walking towards the volcano till we saw a pretty good deal. Pillion riding for on a motorcycle for one of the location for just SGD 2 per person! The “chauffeur” were ladies but they were shy about ferrying us around in their little bikes. It was pretty fun.
We were first brought to a location where there was a view deck, and a few posters talking about the eruption and a shed with a burnt vehicle. Around the area were workers at work, rebuilding the area.
After the view deck, the riders brought us to the right hand side of this location, down a small slope to an long empty brown stretch. This was the lava river that formed after the eruption and it stretched as far as 20km away, we were told. An obvious jut was found in the middle of this stretch – a little 10T (or much more??) boulder was spitted by Merapi and it landed some 7km away from its mouth, the location where it was sitting now. That was some eruption I must say!
After countless shots of the majestic Merapi, we finally decide to go back and the ladies drove us back to the initial location where we first boarded. There we roamed around abit, trying to look for various viewpoints of the mountain. After completely satisfied with the shots, then we boarded the car for the next destination, another hour away from where we were. Borobudur, the site that motivated the visit to Yogyakarta.
Once alighted, we went through the entrance till we reached a ticketing counter that was within a room. There you could get free bottled water and also the place where you could engage a guide which was great so that you would learn more about its architecture and history. We had to pay the entrance fee of about SGD20+ and were each given a sarong to don as a sign of respect for the visit in the temple. Along the way, the guide would share some info on the history of the temple, the cravings of the temple what it meant, the different stages of Buddhism up to the enlightenment at the top of the temple. There were also different postures of the Buddha at the different side facing, comprising of mediation, calling the earth to witness, compassion and cycle of life.
The guide provided pretty interesting information. He told us that the architect who designed this temple was buried in the hills which can be seen from the temple. The hills formed a shape of a sleeping man and thus represented the architect lying beside the temple, keeping watch over it. He also shared some distasteful dirty jokes that we both felt bemused but turned a deaf year too. Minus point.
This temple had me comparing with Angkor Wat which I visited years back. I remembered Angkor Wat as somewhat bigger in area, but with much empty spaces unlike Borobudur which was quite compacted. Although both were Buddhist temples, each offered different styles of design and definitely worth a visit each. If required to make a choice between the two, I would choose Siem Reap for the variety of temples in a localised area though.
Spent quite a while for shooting more shots though the more we shot, the more the pictures seemed to look the same. Oh well. More is better mentality. After finally leaving, the route was arranged such that we were made to walk through rows and rows of stalls that were all closed. It was a wonder why there weren’t many tourists at that time of the day. After the stalls, we then came to a place where there were a couple of food stalls and since business wasn’t bustling, the waitress tried to grab the people that were just exiting. And usually the first stall often got the most customers, us amongst them.
Our next and final stop was another UNESCO listed Prambanan Temple, some 2 hrs away. One the way out of Borobudur, we alighted outside the compound of Mendut Temple by the road, and took some shots. It was a small temple so we decided not to spend too much time (and money) on that and proceeded towards Prambanan.
The tickets costed almost SGD20 but the whole area didn’t look as big as that of Borobudur but the towering temples could be seen from far. Similarly we were given a sarong to wear before entering the temple compound but this time we didn’t ask for a guide. There were multiple towers but there was one in the middle of the compound that had a queue. We proceeded to line up too after taking some photos of the surrounding.
There was a large sign that informed visitors of the structure of the temple being unstable, up to a point where number of visitors were strictly controlled and everyone who entered was given a helmet each. That took a while and finally it was our turn. This Shiva temple was the biggest tower in the compound and there were steps to climb to move around. The temple was different in terms of architecture compared to Borobudur, a beauty on its own. There were also various wall carvings too.
Took about an hour to finish walking the complex but we roamed around the complex to shoot photos.
We waited for quite a bit for sunset and did our shots. Satisfied, we walked out and there were rows of stalls selling stuff and food. We visited one to get our dinner. Across the store where we dined, there was a shop that sold wood crafts and a wooden craft man and he was hard at work. Though we wasn’t really interested in his wares, we striked a conversation with him and understood that he came from Bali. He came here to earn a living and was able to speak good English, a consequence of an island full of foreign tourists.
Night had fallen by the time we boarded the car. It was the fasting month and it was also time for him to break fast. However, he was very service oriented and continued to drive us to the Joglosemar office for our trip back. Booked the next available bus, which is a smaller van compared to the one we arrived in. The traffic back wasn’t really good either and it took another 3hrs before we finally arrived in Joglosemar in Semarang. From there, we took a taxi back to our Ibis hotel in Semarang. It was a simple hotel and it was really cheap. There ain’t wifi in the room though so Rendell has to go to the lobby to use it. On the other hand, my laptop could be wired for internet but it was not working. The IT guys came up and replaced the cable and the internet came alive! Ordered some room service since the dinner wasn’t really filling.
The town looked pretty boring as we attempted to walk around. It was more of a business town then a tourist town and virtually all the shops were already closed. There weren’t anything fantastic to watch and so we went to sleep.
Awoke early the next day since our fight was 1040 in the morning. Went back to the tiny airport. There were some shops at the airport, selling tourist souvenirs and local food to bring home. There were also 2 different locations for international and domestic flights, but fairly closed to one another.
This was my first trip travelling with this old friend of almost 20 years. It was really fun as there were many things that we caught up with one another during this trip. He made the itinerary which suited our travelling styles and was easy-going the same way that I was too. I loved taking pictures and he was far more a cam whore than I was, I discovered! Well, memories like these are worth the digital storage.