Tourist Day in Jogjakarta

Again, sorry for the distorted view of the images if you're viewing this on a mobile device... and that the pictures are all different sizes. My type A personality of having everything perfectly sized and symmetrical is taking a vacation. 05 Feb 2014

I learned my lesson at 4:20am to always where earplugs when trying to sleep past the early morning call to prayer. The chanter is tricky, let me tell you. He'd stop for a second or two, just long enough to think it's done, only to have him start up again. He wouldn't make the pauses the same length of time either, one would be a second or two, then the next he'd drag on for just long enough to think it was over only to start up again. I think he was doing it to punish those who were trying to sleep through this. "oh, you think I'm done? Well, let me show you!"

I was able to sleep in a little longer, until about 5:30 when it was time to start our tourist day in Jogjakarta. Our driver picked us up at 6am and we began the hour and a half drive to Borobudur, a Buddhist temple originally constructed in the 700s AD. The drive was incredible as we drove through mountain villages and saw all their farming systems -- they have farms/gardens year round due to the climate and richness of the soil. It really was a beautiful site.

One quick note before I go on with the day's events. Unintentionally, this trip has included visits to major points of religion for Muslim (Taj Mahal), Hindu (Meenakshi), and Buddhist (Bodobudur).

 

Anyway, back to Borobudur. We arrived around 7:30am hoping to miss the crowds and the heat of the day. We failed in both respects. One thing we didn't expect -- school groups. Hundreds of kids swarmed the temple, each with matching uniforms, tshirts or lanyards. See, normally, I wouldn't have minded -- we would have just gone on our way and explored the temple at our own pace. However, being white, tall, and American we were treated like celebrities. And honestly, it was really, really annoying! The first group of three asked for our picture, I said sure, but that was the only time I did that! Luckily Elana speaks Indonesian, so she said "we aren't tourists, but we are trying to enjoy the temple and we've been getting a lot of requests today and are not able to take pictures." We seriously got at least 50 kids (and some adults) asking to take our picture. However, that did not keep them from still snapping a few! Anywhere we went, people were staring. Now, we weren't being swarmed or anything, they were more subtle than that. It did effect where we went and the routes we took though! One time we turned to go up the stairs only to see a swarm of kids coming down ... we turned around and hurried around the corner. It gave me a new appreciation for celebrities and that awful life of living in the eye of people and the paparazzi! I do not envy them in the least.

Okay, now the temple.

We didn't know much of the history except that it was originally build in the 700s and reconstructed in the 1800s, then restored in the 1980s. 1200 years! And the stones are not from around here -- so they were trekked in somehow!

While I don't have an appreciation for the religions, I can respect how each of the three monuments I saw were works of love and very, very, very hard work. They were each built hundreds (if not thousands) of years ago and were not easy creations, especially without modern technology and building materials.

After our fill of the temple and sweating buckets due to little shade and high humidity (and of being mini celebrities), we found our driver and continued onto Jogjakarta (Jogja -- jo-ja -- for short). Our first stop was Malioboro Street for the street market. It was just like any tourist stop -- lots of tshirts and keychains shouting "Jogja!" as well as Bitak fabric stores, which is a certain kind of patterned fabric used for celebrations and special occasions. Our main destination was a souvenir shop that was full of all the types of stuff you'd usually find in a souvenir shop. It was fun to walk around and make fun of the kitchy little trinkets.

We had made our way through the store and had had enough of the incense smell and left to make our way back to the car. We stopped in a store quick and as we were purchasing, a grown man took out his large camera and just started taking pictures of us! Without any qualm, he kind of followed us around the store and just took pictures. Ugh! So annoying! We just left the store without saying anything and pretended not to notice. Thankfully, that was pretty much our last part of being a "celebrity".

I saw my first bit of rainy season (apart from the rain in Jakarta when I stepped off the plane) while we were having lunch at a super nice hotel. One of Elana's teammates recommended this place, and boy, are we sure she did! One of the things the restaurant promised that everything was safely prepared with no msg (a mainstay in Indonesia) and with reverse-osmosis water... meaning, it was safe to eat whatever I wanted!! Hallelujah! Fresh fruit! Ice! No risk of getting thyphoid (hopefully)!

I had a chicken stirry stuffed in a papaya and a coconut drink (that was HUGE!).

While we ate, we were treated to a torrential rain. Luckily we were under cover and didn't get wet! It was pretty crazy though. We witnessed just how crazy it was when we got back in the car making our way to the silver market!

Flooding! Agung (our driver) said this road was poorly planned as it usually floods really bad. The water was up to the door on our Toyota SUV and the motorbikes where having a rough go of it! Especially with the crazy current. A trip that should have taken us about five minutes, ended up taking about 45. 

But we did make it to the silver shop, and it was amazing!

There are silver mines in West Java where they get their silver and everything is processed and created by hand. It was pretty incredible and definitely detail intensive! Elana has a connection through there and is able to get a 40% discount! Score! I got a pair of earrings and a ring for about $20 USD.

The ship below was created completely by hand and took about two months to make. It cost about 2billion rupeas, or about $2000 USD. 

After the silver market, it was time for home. What a day! It was a busy and exhausting day, but the sites, smells, sweat and a stalker here and there made for a great adventure.