being a tourist in Indonesia
Starting in the Batik town of Pekalongan, where Mom was able to buy a fair bit of batik in just a couple of days. We even managed to have a nice seafood lunch by the beach :)
(ohhh we took the train to get from Jakarta to Pekalongan. I think my expectations of Indonesian train might have been somewhat high.....but I kept hearing of how 'good' it is!)
From Pekalongan, we travelled by road to Borobudur. We stayed at the famous Manohara Hotel, on the grounds of the temple. Full compliments to the hotel for their very high level service. I was recommended the hotel by Rainer. Read quite a few not so positive reviews on the internet. Glad I decided to ignore those reviews and took Rainer's advice. the place is a true delight.
Borobudur itself was nice enough. I wasnt 'wowed' by it though. The view from the top of the temple was great of course.
From Borobudur, we hired a taxi to Yogyakarta. It is much bigger than I anticipated, with lots and lots of tourists. Marlioboro street reminded me of Khao Sarn Road. Just a longer strip. We did check out a lot of the batik shops - from the bigger ones to the smaller cheap style places. There was so many different styles, designs and a vast variety of colours. I resisted and didnt buy too much, except for some small pieces. Mom bought a bit more for samples. We also took the commuter train to Solo. Another batik-capital of Indonesia. didnt quite manage to go out to the smaller villages that make the batik. Running out of time. We decided to spend our last evening in Yogya at the Hindu temple, Prambanan. We were lucky enough to catch the outdoor Ramayana, classical ballet performance. Great performance, set against the background of the beautiful temple on the other side of the river bank. It helped that we know the story of Ramayana, and hence could follow the story of the performance.
[as an aside - many places I went to, they offered to give me student discounts for entry into sites. too bad I dont have a student card :) ]
A short but sweet trip ended far too quickly. However, what followed was not as sweet. A couple days after we flew back to Jakarta, Mount Merapi, not far from Yogya, erupted. We infact considered going there one evening to observe the active volcano. Little did we imagine that only a couple of days later, it would have turned into a disaster zone, causing much destruction.
PS. Speaking of disaster - there seems to be plenty these days. I started this post more than a week ago. Since then, I have left Indonesia, spent a day in Penang, catching up with my friend Nee, then made my way home to south Thailand. Only a couple of days later most of south Thailand, including my hometown, was hit with flash floods, causing lots of damage. I report about this in a separate post.