If there’s one thing that I remember most about my trip to Central Java, Indonesia, it’s the very hospitable Indonesians that I have encountered. Yes, there may be dodgy ones like my motorbike misadventure in Solo, but it was the affable stranger in Yogyakarta that stuck in mind. I was shooting at Candi Prambanan when I did a little chat with a local photographer that seems to find good angle of this temple complex. Finding that I don’t seem to have a ride when the park closed, he offered me a ride on his bike and even treated me to a delicious street-side nasi goreng. In Solo, the neighboring city of Yogyakarta, I remember being invited in a gamelan rehearsal room to fully enjoy the mesmerizing music and soaring vocals of this Javanese culture. So traveling Central Java for me is more than the archaic temple complex but also immersing with the local culture and its people.
It all started with a play of words, how the word “Borobudur” fondly rolls out your tongue as you one repeatedly utters it. Then the interest to visit this one of a kind UNESCO site came. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join my group of friends on their planned visit so I embarked on a journey to Yogyakarta and Solo on my own as a birthday gift to myself. It was 5 Days in Yogyakarta and Solo of discovering mountain slope temples, admiring wonderful batiks, got into a motorbike accident and met hospitable strangers. Here’s recounting the trip with itinerary and trip cost.
The last day of any trip is a bittersweet moment. For one, I was glad I have an eventful trip in Central Java, but on the other, it felt it wasn’t enough. Just to squeeze in some quality hours on my last day in Yogyakarta, I decided to visit the Yogyakarta Kraton, the palace of the Sultan, which is just a walking distance from Hotel Winotosastro, where I was staying. It was a pretty normal day with the temperature just right for a comfortable walk. I just followed the road from my map and found a walled complex where houses, shops and the kraton (palace) is found.
I felt a tap on my right shoulder. It was the bus driver signaling me we’re near the last stop. I didn’t know I already dozed off in front of this mini-bus on my way back to Yogyakarta. I had an early start that day visiting Candi Borobudur before sunrise and now I head back that afternoon to Yogyakarta this time for Candi Prambanan. One of the UNESCO Heritage Sites in Central Java, often times shadowed by the nearby Candi Borobudur.
I squint my eyes as I look towards the afternoon sun. A large imposing silhouette loomed before me hiding a visage of one of the worlds sacred and impressive monuments, the Borobudur Temple (Candi Borobudur). This huge Buddhist monument, which is also listed in UNESCO’s world heritage list, almost had the same awe-factor I had when I saw Angkor Wat for the first time. I walk towards this colossal stupa with excitement to discover closely this place which name has already enchanted me for some time.
After a full day of exploring Jumog Waterfalls, Sukuh and Cetho Temple outside Solo, I decided to take it easy that morning at Istana Griya Hotel. Dabbing my wounds with ointment the night before I can still feel the sting and the soreness underneath the skin. It’s a good thing today is about transit, going from Solo to Magelang for Manohara Hotel Borobudur.
It’s a 9km ride to out next destination coming from Sukuh Temple and Jumog Falls. We go higher up the slopes of the sacred Gunung Lawu and the views just keeps getting better. The afternoon light illuminates the vast tea plantation hills and we pass by a few tea harvesters going up and down the slopes. We are now 1400 meters above sea level and I see the gates to the Cetho Temple (Candi Cetho) bathed in warm light with stone guardians to welcome us.