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.
“Who are you again? Where did we first meet?” asked my driver, Wazit, who seemed to have his senses knocked out of him. He has been asking me this question for the nth time after our motorbike accident in the highway midway to our destination – the slopes of Gunung Lawu for the Sukuh Temple. Suddenly my bruises on my left arms, waist and knees seems so minor. Do I continue with my trip to Gunung Lawu?
I really have no concrete plans on my 2nd full day in Solo. The night’s full rest with no alarm to wake me up made me feel rejuvenated. Originally, I was planning to stay in town but during breakfast, I was approached by a man named Wazit who offered his motorbike service to Sukuh and Cetho. He seemed okay and the price was reasonable. I was looking into going there as well so I agreed to tour with him later after lunch. But that morning I wanted to continue my walk and this time at the inner streets of the city towards one of the Kratons (Palace) in Solo – The Surakarta Kraton or Keraton Kasunanan.
I’ve seen the fascinating Batik patterns in many shops when I was wandering the streets of Solo Indonesia. An Indonesian Batik is a cloth traditionally made using a wax-resistant dyeing technique. It is believed the age old tradition of batik making was introduced in Java between 6th and 7th century from India and Sri Lanka. Batik are usually sold in meters (2-2.5m) like tubes or sarong, but these days wit has been widely popular for contemporary use like a polo shirt for formal occasions (akin to Filipino’s barong) or a kebaya, similar to what the female flight attendants of Garuda Airline wear. Interestingly, the Indonesian Batik was also awarded by UNESCO as one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, this makes it worthwhile to go deeper and inspect how these Indonesian Batik are made.
Walking has been the usual way for me to get oriented with a new place. It gives me a better perspective on a place and familiarize myself with the landmarks near the place where I am staying. It’s also a great way to take a glimpse of the local’s everyday life. Like for Solo (or Surakarta), this city unraveled its unique character by seeing it on foot along the paved pedestrian walk of Jl Slamet Riyadi. The low-rise buildings, the less touristy crowd, a sit-back and relax atmosphere, amiable people and great showing of Javanese culture. After setting down my baggage at Cakra Homestay, I went out for an afternoon walk along Solo’s main avenue.
Following the footsteps of my friends who came to Solo (Surakarta), Indonesia more than a year ago, I decided to stay at the same place they lodged there, Cakra Homestay which came well recommended. I took an ojek (a motorcycle taxi) from the train station to take me to Cakra Homestay. It wasn’t hard to find on a quiet block in the neighborhood When the doors opened, I admired the 200-year old home brimming with Indonesian style and architecture.