Monday, October 7, 2013

last day

Our last full day in Java saw us renting a car and driver for the day as we wanted to see a couple of temples that were far out of the city (around 90kms) on the slopes of Mt. Lawu.

It also enabled us to pass through Surakarta (usually referred to as Solo) and visit a couple of royal palaces. The car, driver and fuel for the 10 hour hire was only US$55. We had an offer for the same for $40 but preferred going through a reputable firm.

We packed a lunch and set off, first to Candi Sambisari, a small temple near the airport that is unusual because it sits 5 metres underground.It was only discovered in 1966 as it had been buried under volcanic ash from nearby volcanic Mount Merapi.

Then on to Solo and after the the mountain temples.

In Solo (an hour and a half drive for 60kms because of awful traffic congestion) we stopped at Keraton Kasunanan (The Palace of the Pakubuwono Kings) and Puro Mangkunegaran (Palace of the Mangkunegara Princes).

As in Yogyakarta, these were not terribly impressive and one of them had the saddest little museum which was badly neglected (as can be seen by the swords display complete with dangling artifact and many cobwebs!)

The we headed up into the hills where it was a lot cooler. We visited the two main Hindu temples - Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho (both 15th century).

Both were connected to fertility rites and there are several erotic friezes and sculptural depictions of male and female genitalia at Sukuh and a phallic stone sculpture in a shrine at Cetho.
Cetho also has an unusual architectural design - it appears like there is a huge cut that has bisected the entire temple complex - as if a giant knife or earthquake has sundered the temple in two.

It was a great day out and a pleasant end to our Java jaunt.

(Not a bad 10 day holiday for a total cost of AU$1,167 including all airfares, visa, travel insurance, accommodation, car hire and all other expenses!!)

Candi Sambisari:


Candi Sukuh:

Candi Cetho:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

jogja memory

Today we spent in Yogyakarta (often referred to as Jogja) visiting the Taman Sari aka The Water Palace - a rather grandiose title as it was a fairly unexciting concrete building of uncertain age and poorly maintained. It could easily have been constructed in the last 30 years and genuinely looks FAR better in the photos than actuality!

The nearby Kraton and Sultans Palace were similarly poorly kept and were characterised by broad sweeping canopied wooden structures (as are most of the other palaces). Lack of photos is a reflection of their aesthetic merits!!

We also ventured about 7 kms south east of the city centre to an area known at Kota Gede - the capital of ancient Islamic Mataram kingdom. Here almost by chance we found some old traditional Javanese houses but again not terribly picturesque. The area is badly signposted and even with the wonders of Google - we were hard pressed to find out where points of interest were actually located.

The most exciting thing, we thought, to be found in Kota Gede was a grand private residence called Omah Kalang which a neighbour informed us was owned by a very wealthy man from Borneo, one Rudy Pesik. As such we were unable to see inside, so a photo of part of the roof and the street side enclosing wall is all we have.

water palace:

sultan's palace:

kota gede:

old building

omah kalang house

omah kalang house

Friday, October 4, 2013

prambanam perambulations

On this day we took a local bus for about 30 cents which took us about 18kms outside Yogyakarta to the temples of Prambanam - probably the second most well known temples in Java.

We bought a combined ticket to these temples and the ruins of the palace of Ratu Boko which are located high up on a hill overlooking the plains of Yogykarta. The ticket included a shuttle bus to and from Ratu Boko which was very convenient for those of us without our own vehicle.

We went up to Ratu Boko first for a couple of hours, which is preferable as the ruins are not as spectacular as Prambanam.

After we returned by shuttle to Prambanam and spent the rest of the day exploring these temples and that of Candi Sewu which was within walking distance and in the same temple park. This latter temple is still under restoration and Paul and I were the only people there.

Ratu Boko:

rice paddies from ratu boko


Candi Sewu: