Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chinese New Year 2013

Shop at Kasongan
On Saturday February 10th 2013 two friends, the young son and pembantu of one friend, and I went to Jogjakarta for our three day weekend over Chinese New Year. We rode the train both directions. It took about 5 hours. On the way to Jogja we left at 7:30a.m. We had to catch a cab starting at 6:15a.m. We all live in different neighborhoods. We got executive class. I am not sure if there are different companies, but in talking with some of the locals and seeing their pictures it did not seem as if ours was executive. We stopped at several towns to pick up or let off passengers. Also, we had vendors come and sell food products when we were stopped at the different towns. The ride was pretty bumpy. Also, there was a toilet and it was open to the ground, so basically anything that went in there went straight onto the ground in the tracks. When we got to Jogjakarta we met up with the friends of the pembantu that were going to drive us around. They took us to the hotel that one of the ladies had booked and we decided it was not the right place. Not in good condition and not in a good location. I had a hotel that a friend recommended the Bladok Loesman. We really liked it but it did not have cable tv for the son. I knew we needed a pool but not cable tv. We spent two hours looking at hotels. We ended up staying at the Malioboro Inn just down the street from the Bladok Loesman. After we had picked out the hotel we had lunch at the Bladok Loesman restaurant. Then, we had the driver and friend drive us to Kasongan (tempat kerajinana gerabah), the pottery and handicraft/woven road. The street was just filled with all sorts of incredible shops. Many of the shops had great things but I don’t have any where to put them. One of them had an awesome fountain that I really liked but I wouldn’t be able take it with me someday when I move. Our next stop was Kota gede (tempat kerajinan perak) and Tom’s Silver shop. They had lots of beautiful silver jewelry and other items made out of silver. We thought about stopping at Gerega Ganjuran (a church) but we were very tired so we went back to the Bladok for dinner. We looked at a few other restaurants but they all were very quiet and the other two were nervous about eating in a place with so few customers. After that we went to bed.
Borobudur temple

 On Sunday we got up pretty early again. First we went to Boroburdur (Buddhist) temple. Most pictures that I have seen only take pictures of the top, so it wasn’t what I expected but incredible. The only drawback was there were at least a thousand students there. It wasn’t that I minded the students being there, but every few steps I was stopped by a group asking to practice their English and to take their pictures with me. At first they wanted individual pictures. Eventually I had to tell them I would only do one group picture. I told them that I was willing to do one picture but that I wanted to enjoy Borobudur and was spending so much time answering questions and taking pictures. My friends were also asked but not as much as I was. Once we got to the bottom and were leaving I was flocked by men wanting to sell me souvenirs. I remember looking up at one point and my friends were already way past them. On the way to the next stop we went by Mendut. We didn't stop but I did take a picture.

 Next we went to Sendangsono Ziarah Maria. I was told it was close to Borobudur but it took us two hours to get there. If we would have gone straight from Jogjakarta it would have only been an hour. We had all agreed on it but one friend decided that it was taking too long and wanted to turn around.  Plus, we couldn’t find it any of our books. My other friend said that we should just stick it out since it is what I had picked and we were going to her choice after.  The driver knew the general area but had to stop a couple times for directions. This place was way off the beaten path. We had to keep going up and up a hill. We eventually got to the church. They were doing some performance next door to the church under a roofed area. We went in and looked at the church and then we got back in the vehicle and drove to the pilgrimage site. It was another two kilometers. Then we had to walk up this path that was lined with carts full of rosaries, candles, bottles for the water, etc. Finally, we arrived at the building. Next to it was a Virgin Mary statue that had people lighting candles, placing flowers, and praying in front of it. I had read there was a stream that had holy water, so I wanted to get some for my friend that had recommended I came to this place. There were so many different little buildings and stairs everywhere. I saw one place that had a pump and then walked up a flight and there was a graveyard and more stairs but I came back. There was a bridge that we crossed and down below were all these faucets but we had already filled up the bottle up at the pump so wasn’t sure what those were for. I didn’t get much time to enjoy it because the other friend was waiting since she hadn’t wanted to come up after it took so long.


After that we drove two hours to Prambanan, a Hindu temple. Right across from the entrance was a beautiful mosque that we stopped by, but didn’t go in. So for Chinese New Year I saw a Buddhist temple, Catholic pilgrimage site, Hindu temple and Mosque. After that we went back to Bladok Loeseman for dinner. They didn’t want to go anywhere else. I kind of wanted to try the Jogja specialty, Gudeg,  but was tired, so it was ok.

Underground Mosque
On Monday morning we split up. One friend went back to the Pottery street to by some items. My other friend and I went to Kraton (Sultan’spalace). We rode in a becak. We had a hard time fitting both of us. Some are very small. I noticed that they have motorcycles, becaks, horse drawn carriages, and vehicles on the street. It had a couple large buildings, but other than a few pictures in the main building and one building with all these different statues of people there really wasn’t much to see. After that I wanted to see Taman Sari (the water castle). This guy that worked at the palace told us that Taman Sari was closed until noon for renonvations. He told us not to go the Batik shops in the area because they were like the mob and all of their items were really expensive. We were told instead to go to the Government Batik place where the batik was inexpensive. 

Taman Sari
We thanked him and decided to choose another place on my list. As we were coming out becak (baycheck) drivers pointed us the way to the water castle. One man took us down this small alley. I finally got him to leave us and let us find our own way. It was a long roundabout journey because no one would point us in the direct way because they wanted us to stop at their shops and by stuff. At one point there were these arches that looked like they might be the entrance but the sign pointed to the left. So we started walking to the left and then we were pointed down another alley. My friend didn’t feel comfortable following men down alleys. We kept going to the left but then we ran into a whole group that told us we were going the long way around and to go back to the alley. So we went down the alley and the guy caught up with us and passed us. We tried to let him get way ahead of us but he kept stopping telling us we should believe him. We told him it wasn’t that we didn’t believe him we just didn’t want him to lead us. He led us up by people’s houses and above some roofs.  

Taman Sari
 We found the ruins of the Taman Sari and saw the arches that were the entrance to the place. We went down and there were some buildings that had been pointed out. One led us to an underground Mosque, but it didn’t look like a Mosque. It was a circular building. We went down another one and when I came up I had put my hat back on. It was a low stone arch and I thought I was clear but I smacked my head really hard. After that we were done looking at this place. It was ok, but we were tired of guys trying to lead us here and there. Looking at the pictures as I write this post. It doesn't look nearly as nice as on the internet. So we walked back to the hotel and stopped in a few shops. We ate at the Bladok Loesman one last time. Then we took cabs to the train station. The train ride back seemed so much longer. The door on our compartment was broken so most of the time it was left open and it was so noisy.