Good morning from Jogja or as it’s called by Indonesian Yogayakarta! The morning after we got here we headed out on our “party bus” (a large tour bus with built in Karaoke system and neon purple and blue lights) to our first of two temples for that day. Borobudur is a Buddhist temple famous for its size, well preserved carvings and imagery to the ideal Buddhist’s journey to enlightenment. Our tour guide for the temple was named Murah which translates to cheap which he thought was quite a funny joke and made us all laugh by weaving that punch line into his tour of the temple several times.
Other than the extremely intricate well preserved carvings the real highlight of that trip for me was not actually the temple but the chance to talk to some students who were also touring the temple but for a slightly different reason. They were middle school students that came to the temple to practice speaking their English with the English speaking tourists so I had a lot of fun having long conversations with them about where I was from and why I was Indonesia. They were very sweet and very excited to talk with me and take a picture with me for their presentation.
Also while at Borobudur we had the chance to listen to a short lecture given by one of the conservationists employed by the temple to help protect the wildlife and natural setting while still making it the major tourist attraction that it is. It was really interesting to hear about their care for the environment in addition to their catering to tourists.
For lunch that day we had the opportunity to go to a restaurant that specialized in all things mushroom! Jamur, as they are called in Indonesian, were in every dish on the menu and as we ate our dishes we got a chance to look at the in restaurant mushroom garden where they grew many of the mushroom for their dishes and where you could purchase a mushroom of your own! It was not quite like anything I had ever experienced in the US which made it quite a treat. As we left the restaurant with happy bellies full of mushrooms we got a chance to stick our feet in a “terapi Ikan” (therapy fish) pool where little fish came to nibble the dead skin off your feet. It is an Asian spa fad that I had seen all over Facebook but never thought I’d get the chance to try so I was understandably ecstatic when I unexpectedly got the opportunity to for free! It was the oddest sensation and as someone with particularly ticklish feet I’ll admit I wasn’t able to keep my feet in reach of the fishes mouths for more than a couple seconds at a time and finally let them eat dead skin off my less sensitive hand instead but none the less the screams and laughs from all our group as we tries it amused us as well as all the Indonesian on lookers.
After lunch we were off to Prambanan which was the famous Hindu temple in the area. This temple was serval structures together rather than one large temple like Borobudur, which each structure as a different temple to a different god. We started off at the temple with a tour guide but opted near then end allow Sneha, one of the Rutgers students on the trip, be our tour guide as reciting the stories of these gods was like reciting her childhood nursery rhymes it was great to hear her perspective and take on the tales and was what made Prambanan enjoyable for me. By the time we finished there it was very late in the day and we were still full from our mushroom shmorgishborg so for dinner we opted for some small takeout chicken and friend instead a larger sit down meal. Also, takeout meat we could year as we watched the open air traditional Indonesian ballet that was that evenings activity! I ca’t express enough how much I enjoyed seeing the beautiful dancing, colorful costumes and pyrotechnics that all made up for one of my favorite evenings on the trip. Despite my exhaustion from the long day of temple touring, watching the ballet with the temples lit up in the backdrop was an experience I am sure never to forget.
After a good night’s sleep we were out again for one of my favorite days the whole trip. To start off we went to a traditional Batik village where we learned how to use bees wax and dye to create the traditional Indonesian fabric called Batik which I had grown up loving in the states but never really experienced firsthand. We also got the chance after creating our own to purchase some of the handmade fabric that the women at the village was made and since my mother loves Batik and to sow I made use of the rare opportunity to get many many yards the real deal!
Then we were off to a coffee shop run by researchers who are dedicated to gibbon conservation. Cultivating the coffee trees in the study area not only gives an alternative source of income for the locals who tend them but it’s also healthy for the forest, provides funding for the research, raises awareness about their work and is very tasty way to accomplish all these things! The researchers gave us a brief presentation about how they got started, the benefits of the coffee as well as the challenges of getting their coffee to interested markets (they currently sell it in country and at a zoo in Taiwan), and the two genus of coffee they make: Robusta and Arabica. Then it was coffee tasting time! Without knowing the type of treatment of any of the grounds we smelled each of the nine types and discussed our opinions. Then we smelled them again after the grounds were poured and finally after the appropriate brewing time got to finally taste them! After that we finally were told the genus and treatment of each type and were given the chance to purchase bags of beans of our favorites. I purchased dark roast Robusta with a high caffeine content from the research area on Java and a low caffeine Arabica which had been fermented in wine before they were roasted an gave a very original fruity flavor I had never experienced before. I also purchased the awesome awareness t-shirt they had for sale and am excited to wear it around Rutgers and tell all my friends about this awesome experience!
Then after getting back to the hotel we were sent out to Malioboro Road which is famous for its lines and lines of stalls which so many beautiful batik clothing and general souvenirs before I knew it I had spent the majority of money I had taken out of the atm at the beginning of the trip on gifts for all my family and friends! That evening I also had the unforgettable experiencing of an art show being put on by the art school of Yogyakarta. I was shown the entrance by one of the shop vendors who’s sister was a member of the art school and once I get there was offered tea and shown around b one of the five professors of the school. I ended up haggling for and purchasing one of his pieces which is a beautiful rainbow piece which hand drawn fish. Can’t wait to get home, frame it and hang it up.
Walking back to the hotel with a smile and my bags and bags of purchases I suddenly had the realization I needed to fit all of these things in my bags to fly back to Jakarta and then home but thankfully the clothes all folded up small and I even had enough room to spare that when I woke up this morning I headed back out to purchase the last few things I didn’t get a chance to last night. I haven’t spent any money on this trip and was worrying that I had taken too much cash out but after the past two days I’m so glad I had the ability to purchase all these things to go along with my wonderful memories from Yogyakarta!
I am all packed up now and waiting to leave for our flight back to Jakarta! We only have a couple days left in Indonesia and we’ll be spending those in Seribu aka the thousand islands so I’ll update you all from the beach! Till then