Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Java Jive '08 Part 1: Impressions

I just got back from a 10 day 'backpacking' holiday in Java with two of my best buddies Nan and Panda. We had a great time there sampling the local culinary delights, were awestruck by the temples and ancient ruins and broke the bank shopping for souvenirs, t-shirts and everything else in between!

Now, comes the gigantic task of sorting through the hundreds of photos I took throughout the trip, from Jakarta to Bandung, then by train to Jogja and finally a half-day sojourn in the Solo countryside.

So, while I put iPhoto and Photoshop Elements into overdrive, here are a few tantalising morsels of what I call my Java Jive 2008. Enjoy!

We touched down on a very wet and congested Jakarta. Those horror stories about Jakarta's traffic jams? All true!

First up: MONAS (Monumen Nasional) Park. Lots of monuments (duh!) and a very informative museum about Indonesia's political history.

We wandered around the seamier side of Jakarta in our quest to venture beyond the beaten track and found a shipyard of gigantic sailboats and a squatters block side by side. Amazing!

This is Taman Mini Indonesia, a Bali-meets-Disneyland-meets-Taman Negara behemoth of a park which was filled to the brim with visitors because we happened to go there on its 33rd anniversary celebrations and entrance was free for the day!

We then escaped to cool Bandung, a city situated about 750m above sea level. Panda got a hoot out of performing his solat at the largest mosque in the city, Masjid Agung.

Then it was off to the markets for some retail therapy. Here we are at the local textile market looking for telekungs for Panda's mum.

Traffic in Bandung was also chaotic, no thanks to traditional modes of transportation like horse carts and trishaws.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanoes and hot springs abound throughout Java. This is Kawah Putih (White Crater) where the trees are charred black and the lake water is an otherworldly green.

In Jogja, we were literally driven into a batik factory, but I didn't mind as it was an educational trip which allowed me to appreciate the fabric art-form even more.

I couldn't say the same about the Wayang Kulit performance, as it was performed in a sweltering hall with no fans, no windows and worse, the performance was not in Bahasa, but Javanese!

The jewel in Java's crown is Borobudur, a 9th century Buddhist temple complex situated about an hour from Jogja.

Nan couldn't pass on trying the famous local coffee called Kopi Luwak, brewed from coffee beans collected from within civet cat droppings. It tasted a lot better than it sounded, believe me.

We also got to explore Taman Sari, a partly ruined complex built as a pleasure garden by the first Sultan in 1765. Lots of tunnels, pools and dutch style architecture. Great photo-ops!

Our last day in Java was spent in Solo, a city renowned for its beautiful countryside. Everywhere we turned, there were picturesque rice terraces, majestic tea plantations and wind swept sugar cane fields.

There were also a few ancient Hindu temples (called candi), which are still used today by the local population for their religious ceremonies as well as sites for their wedding photos.

This is where I sign off for now. Hope you guys enjoyed the pick of the litter. There's more, of course, and I hope to be posting them up in the days to come. Tunggu ya, pak!


Beruang Madu said...

Oh nilah dia team yg pegi Jawa tu... barulah betul ada gambar orang... tapi cantiklah sawah padi tu... nice

M@x said...

Nice pic...Hope to see more pics and tips later. Me going to Jakarta and Bandung mid May.

Shah said...

Hmmm.... must go to some of these places la -looks really interesting

Josh said...

Wow, interesting! I'd only been to Jakarta and Jepara. Not as exciting as your trip.

Amazonman said...

Honey Bear: Thanks. Gambar orang bukan takde... cuma diorang very shy lah... taknak ditangkap gambar.

m@x: Thanks for your comments. I am sure you will have a great time in Java too... especially Bandung...bring an extra empty suitcase!

Shah: Yes they are. Very similar to Malaysia yet so different.

Josh: Erm... where is Jepara?

Josh said...

Jepara is at the west of Java Island, if I'd not mistaken. A famous place for teak wood furniture.

Anonymous said...

I always motivated by you, your thoughts and way of thinking, again, thanks for this nice post.

- Joe