The Island of Java, Jakarta and Yogayakarta
Dec 13, 2017
We flew into Jakarta airport arriving later than expected around 10 pm after a two hour flight on which we were the only Europeans.
We negotiated the ticketed taxi service and headed into Jakarta to our hotel the Ibis. It was clear our driver who spoke to the taxi fixer as we got in that he really was not sure where we were going. He spoke no english and we had difficulty trying to help him, google maps is often a mystery to us, it certainly was something above and beyond mystery to him.it was a 40 minute ride along one of the very few fast dual carriageways anywhere in Indonesia, but as Jakarta is making big transport improvements which also coincide with hosting the Asian games in 2018.
We eventually found the Ibis and typical of Indonesians who never expect a tip, our driver would not accept a tip as he was not happy he had struggled finding our destination.
Our hotel was near the. Main railway station called Gambir ready for the next day’s trip which was a seven hour train ride across Java to Yogyakarta. We were a little anxious about this as we had sourced the tickets on line from Tiket. Com and had vouchers to redeem for the actual train tickets. We allowed ourselves an hour and a half before the train left at 8 am as we expected ticket queues and complications such as not really being sure we were at the right railway station. It was so easy and we were in the right place.No queue, handed over the vouchers given the tickets and told where to catch the train. Worked well thank goodness.
The train arrived about 15 minutes before it was due to leave and left on time.The train was impressive, we had reserved seats in a very effective air conditioned carriage. The railway staff were kitted out looking like airline crew with very smart uniforms. The train was not especially speedy but it was a wonderful journey with mile upon mile of paddy fields in various stages. Some fields being rotivated, some being planted out, others having walls and small dams built to control the flow of water. I was fascinated by it all.
We arrived at Yogyakarta and were picked up by a driver and taken to our home stay which was in a traditional Javan village about 10 km out of the city. Our first impressions of the Yabbiekayu Homestay was one of shock, we got out of the car in a timber yard.The bungalows were about 50 metres through an alley way past paddy fields with a range of geckos lizards scuttling along the floor or walls. We had the newest bungalow which was essentially two renovated Javan village houses on a tiled plinth with a small moat or leat all the way round. Each room had an outdoor bathroom with a really good shower, curved walls and bottle lights in the wall.However you had to step over the small moat to get to the bathroom.The moat was to stop termites getting into the room and other creatures. The moat had fish in it to eat the mosquito larvae. The inside was all renovated hard wood panels and the lights and charging facilities were all modern and solar powered. The rooms were great it was just a bit odd having a door that opened straight to the outside world and not being in touch with Sue once the room door was shut which it had to be certainly at night to stop creatures coming in. However it was a great experience to live in a room which would have been a villagers house.
On Saturday we had a relaxing day, walking round the village where everyone was very welcoming. The village was set up to be a tourist village some years ago, but apart from a hotel and a few homestays there is very little to suggest it is anything other than a traditional village which has employment for the locals from the homestays. The village is well known for being very liberal and accepting of beliefs and lifestyles.and is predominately Muslim
We had one anxious night in the village which was more like being in the jungle than any jungle experience I have ever hard. It was thunder and lightening and torrential rain the geckos were making a racket rather like load grasshoppers, there were loads of small frogs with expanding necks making an unbelievable noise , the more it rained the more noise they made and three mosques all within half a mile calling their faithful to pray. Not the best nights sleep I have ever had but quite an experience.
Our homestay is owned by an Australian whose main job is international disaster relief and does a lot of training for international organisations. He was a useful source of information and suggested our eventual choice of substitute destination instead of Bali. We are now going to another Indonesian Island off Singapore called Batam before returning to Perth for Christmas.
On Saturday we had a good walk round the village and across the paddy fields. On the way we came to a Batik artist’s workshop and had a look at his paintings. He spent some time in Holland the Dutch influence can be seen in some of his work.They are drawn by him and then he has local women who put the wax on the cloth and dye it. Some of his work is magnificent and some hangs on the wall of our room in the homestay. In addition he too plays a role in disaster relief driving trucks to devastated places for relief organisations. he is a big Indonesian activist and many of his batik paintings are depicting the social wrongs of what is happening in Indonesia, mining companies causing problems with water flow for rice farmers, large hotel resorts being built and stopping the fishermen from landing their catches. He is becoming quite well known for his work in Indonesia and in the USA.
Indonesia has more than it’ s share of disasters, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and Tsunamis and now finally has a system to support any affected area.In the Tsunami of 2015 Worldwide there was a loss of 250,000 people but it is likely Indonesia alone lost that amount but unless a body is found Indonesia will not declare a missing person dead.
During our time in Yogajakarta we had two major trips out of our village. One to Borobudur the second largest Buddha temple in the world, which lay in undergrowth for many years and has been very well restored. It is an interesting symmetrical shape and could be well placed as an intricate cake decoration.We had the perfect day, not too hot and very few people around.
Our other major trip was to the Sultan’s palace.Yogyakarta which spells it’ s name many ways with Y or J and is the only part of Indonesia which is not part of the democracy. It is run by the Sultan of Yogajakarta who is essentially a dictator and the people of Yoga are entirely happy with that and do not want any change.The palace had a fabulous Sunday morning show of traditional dancing which was a delight to watch. The palace was divided up int all sorts of different sections and was spread over a large area with all sorts of memorabilia. Each sultan and his wife have, throughout the ages each had their own batik cloth made to their design and named after them. Nelson Mandela was a great lover of Batik and many of the shirts he wore came from Indonesia.
We had another day in Yoga where we went to the silver area of town. Lots of craftsmen making silver items much of which is sent down to Bali for the tourist trade. We visited several workshops and bought a couple of items after some hard bargaining. We then went off to look for some batik cloth and clothing. There are so many different qualities made of silk or Cotton. Numerous places undertaking the very painstaking process of putting the wax onto the cloth. We were not awfully successful so decided to take another trip out to a village in the middle of some very well ordered paddy fields were they make high quality batik cloth and some items of clothing. This was much more successful and we bought a few items. Our favourite batik place However was back in our village were the batik art was produced, so we went for a second visit to chose the art we would buy and bring home. Even though this was our second visit we were there for most of the afternoon making our final selections and having photographs with the artist. On our way there we took a walk around the village and came across a very long bright bright green snake, I thought Sue was going to tread on it, so grabbed her. The snake was about 8ft long and very very zippy. According to the locals almost certainly a tree snake who had fallen out of a tree or was hot slithering after his next meal. Verdict was it could have been one of the deadly bad guys but may not have been. Snakes hadn’t crossed my mind for a while, not since leaving the jungle in Bukit Luang as one of the first animals we saw in Bukit Luang as we headed into the jungle was a green mamba sleeping in a tree, totally deadly and definitely one of the bad guys. Our guide said he could smell the snake, so the slightest strange smell I was on high alert a significant amount of the time!
We have had some difficulties with the language as it is really difficult to even decipher an advert or gain any vocabulary. We asked the locals to do our washing, which they happily did for just over a pound, on the day of collection they were shut, but very usefully they had a phone number over the door as nothing was going to keep me from clean under wear and I was well equipped with Indonesian SIM card in my phone I phoned the number not having a clue what I was going to say. However very fortunately we had a young man who was our driver with us who also spoke no english but was very happy and convivial, so handed the phone to him to speak to the laundress, but of course he had no idea what was going on or what I wanted, however by some miracle the lady arrived and clean washing duly handed over
We only had one night left in our Javan house but it did focus the mind and we went carefully and very alertly as we walked along the side of the paddy field to get to and from the restaurant.
All the time we have been in Indonesia we have had to be careful about creatures, mosquitos, large ants, cockroaches etc etc, so it will be good to move on to Batam and to a Radisson hotel where hopefully those things are not a problem and we don’t have to cover ourselves in insect repellent every night and shake out our shoes every morning
On Friday we left our Javan village called Tembi and flew out of Yogajakarta airport with Lion air and landed on Batam Island mid afternoon. Didn’t quite understand the protocol for getting a taxi, not sure if there was a queue, but to Sue’s amazement we were in a taxi in double quick time, the heavens opened torrential rain all the way to the hotel, but it cleared up just as quickly as it started,. The hotel is very luxurious, has its own golf course and will be just what we need for the next few days