Indonesia}Central Java}Solo city
GMT +700 (i.e. 4pm here = 3pm there)
Weather hot like Malaysia. Air much more dusty.
Sun rises at 5.a.m. Bright at 5.30a.m. and sets at 5.30p.m.
Currency Indonesian Rupiah. Exchange rate being RM1 to 2830 Rupiah . So what you do is you change RM300 and you’re a millionaire!!!
Keeping the article to a manageable length …my travel blog will focus primarily on my solo backpacking experience of the last 3 days.. the first two and a half days I was traveling within a group of 4.
Most photos can be enlarged, just click at them!
Arrived at KLIA at 10pm! Flight at 6.55am!
Tried sleeping at the chairs which were badly designed ergonomically. Didn’t fare well.
Should’ve slap myself hard because I used my sleeping bag as a pillow instead of sleeping in it. Super dumb! Group arrived at 3 something.. met up and checked in!
Plane arrived on time around 7..To Indonesia we go
Touchdown at 9am. Took airport taxi to solo city 50000rp. Checked in Hotel Indah Palace. Went warung opposite for mini lunch. Went to Museum Radyapustaka on foot, much further than the silly hotel map indicated… went tourist office for details… went kraton surakarta then pasar klewer.. went back hotel. Everyone slept by 5pm and didn’t wake till 3am in the morning!
Called up the taxi driver on a whole day trip to Gunung Merapi, Selo, Candi borobudor, Candi prambanan, Yogyakarta for 650000Rp. Tourist office offers about the same for 750000rp Hotel offered ….. 1.5 million rupiah! Went makro which was just across the street.
Flight delay for the group so we stayed together, went pasar Triwindu(antique market and
Grand Mall Solo. Went back hotel for a little packing up and bye-bye hotel indah palace!
The hotel escort service left me at the entrance or tertonadi bus station, and I went in looking for the bus headed to Tawangmangu. I got on the super stuffy bus (Rp7000)and chatted with a lady concerning my destination. She a vege seller and travels to Solo at 3am every morning by mobil (that’s car) and returns to Tawangmangu at 2pm. For her information I gave her a 50C M’sian coin. hehe
The bus started to move and I settled for a different seat and found out that the windows are fixed in place with a small(15cm) ?exhaust? window at the very top portion of the bus walls which permit minimal exchange of air. The exhaust window above me was stucked and closed shut. Shucks.
Throughout the trip, Pengamen( street musicians with guitar/ drums/ kompangs/ cymbals [!!!] ) boarded the bus at one stop and went down at the next, entertaining (or irritating, depending on their skills and your mood) the passengers then asking for entertainment fees. Paying is on a voluntary basis though. These range from children of 7 to teenagers and adults alike. According to the lady, the pengamen are a common sight because of the high rates of unemployment. I guess they are eking out a living in a honest manner too…
I gave the first two groups of Pengamen loose change but the rest I didn’t want to (they were irritating and loud) and I couldn’t because I didn’t have anymore change on me. The lady paid for me. The memorable part of this ride was, when I gave the children pengamen a 10C M’sian coin they were oblivious of it… however when they disembarked they noticed it and were exhilarated shouting “duit Malaysia ni!!!”. That made me joyous because such a small gesture made them so happy…
We stopped a while at Paloh, and the lady asked me to sit next to her so that she can explain the sights to me, which I did. As the stuffiness lingered and the afternoon sun relentless I was drenched in sweat.. seeing this the lady offered me tissues… funnily I declined saying- “takpalah.. nanti basah balik juga” whilst carrying my huge backpack bag and two smaller bags… I must be quite a sight! Huhu. The heat dissipated soon after as we were starting uphill…. The scenery along the way was just marvelous!
the friendly lady!
the ojek rider
Reaching Tawangmangu,(the journey took around 1 and ½ to 2 hrs) the lady helped me find a ojek(motorcycle) to send me up the hill to the many available guesthouses. Initially I wanted Wisma Yanti but it was fully booked so he brought me to another however the owner wasn’t in. Enquiring the price 100000rupiah I said I wanted something in the range of 30000 to 50000. So he brought me to a guesthouse belonging to his children! (Funny man I tot! shouldn’t he advertise his childrens’ place fervently from the start?) I was asked to give my own quote and I said 40000, which the owner (lady) agreed. I unpacked and went to have a look at the waterfall. However by 4pm it has closed. So back to the resort I went. I chatted with the ojek rider concerning the price to Candi Sukuh and Candi Ceto and quoted 50000. He said that’s too little as most of the route was uphill. He however left the price to me saying he qould quote 100000 but he knew I would squeal. I had the night to ponder.
My bed(slightly er...gal like)
After changing to more comfortable clothes I walked out to explore the area. Tawangmangu lies next to Mount Lawu and is quite elevated. The air was chilly and clear, in contrast to solo’s dusty polluted warm air. I walked downhill then up again, surveying the shops. I stopped at a stall for mineral water (the ubiquitious Aqua 1.5l costing 3000Rp.) Then had dinner at a stall Bu Sri, tried their Nasi Pecel Ayam, rice taken with vege in peanut sauce. At another stall I tried their Sate Ayam, unique I nthe sense that the chicken strips are thinner but all meat and no fat. I had a look around for unique fauna and look what’ve found!
Mount Lawu in the distance
One of the few chinese houses around
I rested a bit and had a bath. Holy COW! The water was chilling to the bone. And its only 8pm! I dunno how to imagine how a 5am bath would feel like! Its way cooler than Genting, I tell you.
After the bath I trembled to the living room and proceeded to map out the trip details for tomorrow, plus a little reflection on the day’s events… particularly my misunderstanding with ruru…
I woke in the middle of the night…because it was just too cold! I add on another shirt and wore my tracksuit and pulled the blanket all the way up… but it was just too cold… BRRR.. didn’t sleep well and before I knew it, it was 5am!
I went to the waterfall at 6 but no one’s there.The counter won’t be open till around 8… So I looked left, looked right then climbed through the gate! I’ll be paying on the way out, I told myself!
Super cool waterfall!
I went exploring but I saw a man near the pool ares so I secretly sneaked past him hehe. I saw the waterfall from a distance but I thought nothing of it. I started from downstream and worked my my up, playing with water along the way… BRRR… then I saw the waterfall up close. Wow. It’s a sight to behold. 81m of water come crashing down hard. The impact turning the water into mists and sprays and vapour. Approaching the waterfall the ground became rocky, boulders upon boulders covered in moss and algae… I started having second thoughts as to whether I should risk the climb as I was all alone. If I slipped and fell and hurt myself, I might have to lie there for hours before anyone stumbled upon me. However my curiosity got the better of me and didn’t want to come all the way to Indonesia and miss the sight of this waterfall. So up I went!
Well. What can I say? It was well worth the effort. Thanks to my trusty Vaali Sandals I bought 4 yrs ago in spore I managed all the slippery rocks just fine and before knew it I was soaking wet although I never went into the water. The mists of water vapour and sprays of water were just everywhere!
Having had enough fun… I left the area. (Now I regret not going into the water!!! Argggghh.. all because of the camera, which was wet too and luckily is still functioning now.. hehe
Oh, well… I have an excuse to go there again now, don’t I?)
I went back to the counter but no one asked me to pay. But wo3 liang2 xin1 fa xian4.
I really would like to pay for the conservation of such a wonderful place… Thanks for the beautiful memories.
Went back to the Guesthouse. My wet shirt and trousers are difficult to keep and may grow fungus on reaching Malaysia.. furthermore they weigh much more wet. Packing up I accidentally “forgotten” to bring along my wet clothes…hehe…I left some Malaysian tau sar pia (halal, of course) and 5 packets of nestle oat drink (what? I’ll lessen my burden and they work as good souvenirs too!) Actually my mum asked to bring along these stuff… turns out I didn’t even consume any of them until the 4th day… aiyaiyai… should have gotten rid of them long time ago!
I sneaked off at 8.30 sharp so I can avoid the ojek man( previously we settled for 10.30 as our meeting time) and find some cheaper transport somewhere nearer to the Candi’s. Luck would have it that he came back just there and then. Owww… so came my sad story of forgetting to calculate in my departure airport tax so I won’t be able to pay him much much than my previous offer… so he came up with a new offer of 60000. Yeah. But he didn’t bring along a helmet as promised. What do I do. I know I should’ve insisted on it but I just went along… sigh.
Our first stop was Candi Cetho and boy was the traveling difficult. It was uphill most of the way and the poor ojek huffed and puffed uphill then spluttered and creaked downhill… The backpack I’m carrying weighed at around 5kilos and It was hurting my back. Wondered how people really managed to backpack European style…you know, with a backpack half your height…oh I mean their height heh heh… Despite the discomfort and my paisehness of paying him a pittance… the journey was fun and the air cool and fresh… tea plantations and other agriculture lined both sides of the road and the scenery was just amazing. Couple that with chirping birds and a nice cloudy weather made me wish the journey would stretch on that much further.. minus the undulating terrain lah!
We reached Cetho and I explored on my own. There I met 3 Malaysians..(2 guys, a girl and a piz..uhh..mamak place) who had a guide. I didn’t know what the temple held as I didn’t do my homework thoroughly so I just went through in a zhou2ma3kan4hua1 manner. I sidetracked to a smaller temple behind- Puri Saraswati- which I found to be extremely peaceful with a sense of holiness to it… Although it’s a hindu temple I paid my respects and looked around again for unique flora. Afters I went to find candi kethek but after a long narrow dangerous path I ended up at a stream. I tried a smaller trail but went nowhere… so I thought to myself… if it didn’t want to found I shouldn’t…. and headed back to exploring candi cetho. Without a guide I did not manage to understand the formations and symbolic bas reliefs… It’s a place of active worshipping, in contrast to borobudor which now only serves as a lost monument. Mist started to swirl around the temple and the feeling was just magical… I took some photos and off to Candi Sukuh we go.
THe biggest dandelion I've ever seen! Ruru will be excited to see this!
Those are clouds rolling in
My ojek rider lost his way for a bit but we managed to reach Sukuh all the same. This time there isn’t any karcis to pay entrance fee (Cetho was 10000Rp for tourists) and I just headed in. Wallah! I met the M’sians again. This time I chatted a bit with their guide and exchanged pleasantries… once again unable to comprehend the structures I lingered by them for a bit before exploring on my own… Candi Sukuh is a fertility shrine so certain carvings and statues can be rather explicit. Yet I find the temple far from being “the most erotic temple in the world”… as commented by a traveler at virtualtourist.com. Winds are picking up and mists blow straight here…. making my visit even more memorable as I visited 2 “ temples in the clouds”.
Male Phallus and Vagina, Dekan will be excited bout this!
So I left Sukuh and Mr ojek brought me to a T junction to wait for any bus bound for Solo. I gave him 75000 instead of 60000 because I felt the trip took a toll on his motorbike. Maybe he felt paiseh too so he waited with me for the bus… We waited for around 20 minutes chatting away.. discussing how Malay and Javanese language differed, the meanings of the signs… most important to take note is these…
“wisata” means recreation
“wisma” means hotel/ guesthouse
“pria” means male A famous cigarette there… pria punya selera actually means Men’s Taste.
Then 2 guys joined the waiting… and it started to drizzle… Mr ojek started to call down passing vehicles for us and presto… someone he knew.. we boarded a jeep and off to Solo we go…peacefully without having to endure the stuffiness of bes… or so I thought. This driver was MAD! He speeds through narrow streets at 100kmh… honking away with impunity at becaks, ojeks, cars, even buses which were in his way. Swerving In and out overtaking without thought I started worrying whether I’ll be able to leave Indonesia… In my short ride with him he probably honked 200+ times… even more than all the honks through my driving years combined…
Now that's what I call a cool Monument! Chio!
Oh well… I paid him 10000 when we reached Solo safely… I was left somewhere near Tertonadi Station and was approached by becak riders… I rejected a few outright until I had some shade to look at my maps and asked for Jalan Abdul Dahlan. Enquiring the man whether he knew he said yes and the price was 15000Rp. Off we go and it wasn’t even 2 minutes when I found out he had no idea where we are headed… SHOOT. WE went round and round under the scorching heat and dusty air, him stopping ever so often to ask his “comrades’ the location of our destination..we even backtracked and yet unable to find Lucie’s Guesthouse. He started panting and asked me to pay 50000. At that point I wanted to get off and said 30000.. he said 40000 then I started reasoning. Really… if he didn’t say he knew the way I wouldn’t have taken his becak. It wasn’t my fault. I was at a loss… 30000 is a night’s stay or even a taksi ride to the Airport(which I foundout later).
I got off and paid him 30000. Yet seeing his darkened, sweaty look I just couldn’t do it so I gave him 37000 instead…
Actually It is my fault. I wanted to go to Lucie’s while there are so many other well known guesthouses around. The reason was the less well known the guesthouse the cheaper the rates. So I paid the hotel rates to the becak rider. Oh Well. Lesson learnt.
I didn’t get to Lucie’s eventually… sulking I walked down Jalan Kha Abdul Dahlan…
The street where most guesthouses are situated… Istana Griya, Keprabon Guesthouse, Warung Baru… but I walked past them for some reason… then I passed by Losmen Seneng… Oh I remembered losmen meant inn or something…then I made an about turn and headed in for some reason. I asked the lady whether room’s for rent? She said 20000Rp. Deal.
That would be my room...RM6.80!
Plonked my bag on the bed I lay down and reflected on the the morning’s happenings.
This is a two bed room… without a toilet.. without a fan… and a lot of noise… construction was going on opposite the street then I almost slapped myself. Why didn’t I consider that before moving in? dumb dumb. I couldn’t sleep so I approached the landlady..(we call “bu”) and asked whether I can moved out. She looked at me and said YES!. Then after a pause quickly added “No refunds”. Err…. What was that again? Haha
Luckily the construction would stop at around 5pm.
Off I went to survey the surrounding areas to get my bearings…And I stumbled onto a bacheli (msian cherries?) that’s bearing red ripe fruits! Very sweet too! (what? It’s by the roadside la.. no one’s!) I continued on while scouting around for bike rental stores.. Hey what do you know.. I walk right into Pasar triwindu. Seems its just two streets away! Immediately I know my bearings and position from Jalan Slamet Riyaldi, the main road running across solo city. Makes things a lot simpler for me. I asked around for bike rental but to no avail… a lady selling srabi (that’s pancake-banana or chocolate chip) offered to rent me the bike however, I has to decline because she uses it for work. Finally I was told bike lanes abound at Jalan Dr. Rajiman. Oh I need to get back to the guesthouse to look at the map again… and I passed by Istana Griya. I decided to drop in for a look!
Do you have bikes for rental?
How much per day?
If it’s now(4pm) till tmr 3pm? 30000
25000? Can’t you make it that?
Oh well I’ll take it…
Hey! I saw you at Candi Sukuh and Candi Cheto!
Oh can you help me with the bike here?
Ok. What you do is…this… and this… What? The seat too tall for you izzit? Haha. You’re short… just like me…
(okay… I didn’t see that coming… A shorty Indonesian calling me short…hmmm I’m169)
My Rented bicycle... despite its' looks, its' fast!
Getting the bike I went back to Losmen Seneng..
And that’s where I met Pak Tan Tiong Sui.
We had a chat and after founding out that I’m backpacking alone without any relatives in Solo… he gave the thumbs up and an exclamation “HEBAT!” Oh that felt sooooo good!
He’s an Indonesian Chinese but he doesn’t speak his mother tongue other than Chinese numerals. He helped me a lot with finding tourist destinations and finding good food. He even waited as I took my bath…sitting idly there. He brought me to an oleh-oleh store (that’s dry food… tu2 chan3 of Solo) and afters we parted ways.. due to his great help, I gave him a RM10 note for souvenir’s sake (for lack of smaller change :-P) I have his number too! For anyone who’s interested in going there… I believe he would be a great help!
After a bath too cool off, I cycled in search of the famous Nasi Gudeg.( Nangka stew rice) which turned out not too bad at Adem ayem.. probably should have tried lesser known café’s where the food portions are larger and less pricey… Next I cycled along Slamet Riyaldi and went to the Sriwedari amusement part. Bicycle parkir here costs 1000rp, 500rp at adem ayem.
The amusement park is more or less a fun fair (entry 6000rp) with rides and luck games the addition of a stage… for Dangdut. Now before this I only heard of dangdut because I known Islamic states like Terengganu and Kelantan frowned much upon it but I didn’t know much… I sat it front of the stage like a few other guys… at 7 pm… however the crowd started growing and growing and soon it’s a horde of wildly dancing men, and women and transsexuals… dancing with the music belted out by gyrating female singers in less than conservative outfits. So this is the phenomenon. Teenagers take the chance to show off their moves, others simply dance in any way they want…which can be quite hilarious… I even spotted a one legged man dancing with crutches!
De Dangdut Crowd!
I would so like to play this but... hai...too tired
I soon left the scene and went to the nearby Wayang Orang performance. 3000rp, it’s a traditional culture performance much like Chinese opera where the performers speak Javanese ever so softly… I admire the performance but couldn’t stand it 15 minutes later as I understood none of their dialogue…
Wayang Orang Stage
I was rather tired by then and called it day… back to the hostel…and ZZZZZZ
As usual the rises above the horizon ard 5.30am and as usual I’m up before then!
After a quick wash I’m on the speda headed towards Pasar Legi. It’s very big… very deep and very dark… you have no idea how massive it is unless you head on inside..
It’s where I bought Kluwak (Indonesian black nut 3 for 1000rp)
After some surveying I passed by the 1945 Monument(commemorating Indonesia’s Independence), on my way to Balong…for a shop Timlo sastro selling… timlo… Balong is quite far and difficult to find.. I asked at least 7 ppl before arriving at my destination.
Timlo is a soup which tastes nice except that for this shop they use a lot of chicken innards so I end up eating mostly plain rice haha… But the taste is not bad. I also bought Nasi Liwet from a peddler across the street.. You have rice with coconut shredding, chicken meat, egg, and cabbage soup for just 3000rp! It’s not exactly nasi lemak as it tastes different.. I heard Nasi lemak is called Nasi Wuduk here but didn’t have the chance to try it.
Next I make a visit to the acclaimed…Pasar Gede (gede is Javanese for big) or fruit market and was served up with unique sights and sounds…two stalls selling kuih muih had my eyes rolling up down left right at the myriads of foodstuff they had. Looking at the fruits… I’m stunned by the size of their pumpkins!!! Their guavas are very unique looking… and very fragrant and sweet! I didn’t find Kopi Luwak though.. purported to be coffee beans crapped out by the civet cat.. Ewww but who knows after some brewing it will turn to Ahhhhh? Haha.
Halloween Anyone? These are Humongous!!!!!
Nasi Liwet with an assortment of kuih From Pasar Gede
Jambu! (my parent say this variety used to be available here but commercial pressures pushed it into hiding) and the indonesian black nut
Wow… typing this in Microsoft word I’m halfway through the 8th page.. better summarize the rest of my trip….
Went to Grand Mall to buy shoes and a shirt that says
“I may not be perfect but parts of me are fantastic!” heh heh heh… you need to ask sum1 bout that, won’t you? *Wicked evil grin*
Went to El bas restaurant and had a go at ther Nasi Goreng Jawa which didn’t turn out so well. Nevermind I has extremely talented musicians entertaining me throughout lunch… so much so I didn’t want to leave and stayed for a full 20minutes after I finished my food and cleaned of the last drop of my es nangka!
Thereafter its back to Losmen Seneng and packing up… return the bike… and hail a tazi off Jalan Slamet Riyaldi… and its… goodbye Solo!
At the airport I met another interesting person who chatted with me for a long time!
An Indonesian lady working in M’sia for over 30years… her first husband (in solo) took another wife so she divorced him and found a new hubby in M’sia…clap clap!!! Shes works in desa petaling in a company dealing with real estate. It must be a very big company as all employees get a holiday together to exotic destinations at the end odf the year… on top of a very juicy Ang Pow! Oh.. and she says being back in Solo for just two weeks… she misses roti Canai soooo much…. ;-)
The flight home was uneventful and I touched down at 10.05pm!
We are much more privileged here…, In terms of employment rates, etc etc.
For once.. I felt learning Bahasa Malaysia was very useful. Haha
Avocado juice here is called jus Alpukat and is very thick, laced with chocolate sauce and very very yummy!