Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yogging In Yogyakarta

How sweet of Kenny Mah to actually miss my posts....awwww. For that you deserve first line mention.

After the holiday in Camerons with the kids, I needed an adult only holiday, so we were off, just the wife and me, to Yogyakarta, because 1. we wanted to see the Borobodur, (or rather, I wanted to see), 2. it was cheaper than our cuti cuti Malaysia, including the beautiful hotel we booked 3. I was tired of driving, so needed to take a plane.

Our Air Asia flight was delayed for 1.5 hours, and the notification sms came a BIT too late. We were already halfway to the airport. Anyway, I figured it shouldn't be too hard to kill 1.5 hours, mingling with the rakyat, jostling at the Lousy Cheap Cheap Terminal, (LCCT), like we were catching the last helicopter out of Saigon during the fall of Saigon....(Images of me pressing my nose against the barbed wire fence calling out to an imaginary marine spouse come to mind...do they have mariness?)

Twas easy enough, doing the things I normally do to kill time, read the papers, check email (thanks to the wi-fi at Coffee Bean, which was as stable as those old Thai military governments that could be toppled overnight by a coup). I love the RM8 nasi lemak on the flight, but they really are scimping on the rice. Increasing rice& fuel prices must have been the reason. It was like curry chicken with a hint of nasi lemak. As the clouds broke, I could see the city beneath us.

Although timewise, they are behind us, ie, our 1pm is their 12 noon, it gets dark by 6pm, so by the time we got in, it was dark. Dark as it may be, nothing seems brighter than a nice hotel, an executive king room, (like a junior suite), and the trappings that say, "you're in a nice hotel".

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Clockwise from left, the bedroom, the living room, the hotel's lounge area, and the toiletries

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A fruit platter with pastries to greet us in our room

After settling in, we decided to plunge back into reality, and grabbed a trishaw, (but a hotel trishaw...which I later on discovered, on our last day, cost 4 times more than the normal ones you hail off the street) and did a preliminary recce of the town. The main shopping street, Malioboro, is decked with banners and buntings of J.Co Donuts, with a queue similar to that in Pavilion, if not longer. Horse carriages and trishaws are the main form of public transport. Our 2 hour town ride, plus visits to endless batik shops and t-shirt shops, insisted by the beca (trishaw) driver, cost us RM7-00. Despite the inflationary hotel beca prices. Well, live and let live la. Those beca fellas certainly do not need any Spinning Classes.

One of the specialties of Yogyakarta (of course my first question to the concierge was what is their famous food) is Gudeg, young jackfruit cooked in numerous ways. Below is an example of the one served at the hotel buffet breakfast.

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While the buffet breakfast itself is nothing to shout about, I do love the presentations. Jam in a treasure chest. Honey from a honey comb. Nice hor.

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And there's a lady concocting all kinds of jamu. I always thought jamu was meant for women who had just given birth, to ahem, tighten back any parts that may have gotten loose in the process of delivery. Oh oh oh, talking about that, I have to mention the Javanese Bridal Spa Treatment.

It entails the burning of a special incense to clean the genitalia, and to remove any unpleasant odors emanating from the ahem ahem....if you have one, that is. (note, BRIDAL spa)....dont believe me? Here's the menu. (children under 18, close your eyes)

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The Jamu Woman

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The Corridors of the Hotel

As I said, I am amazed how many people have never heard of the Borobodur, apparently the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It's quite amazing, this humungous structure in the middle of nowhere, in tribute to Buddhism.

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I am completely STUPA-fied

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And considering its age, its remarkably well preserved. Unlike some of my friends. I shall not elaborate on its history, as this is a food blog.

The other fascinating tourist attraction is the Hindu Temple of Prambanan. Partially destroyed in the 2006 earthquake, it is now closed to tourist for closer inspection, but you can still walk around its perimeter, and have a good view.

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Don't you think Prambanan looks so mythical? Reminds me of a story of a city that just arose from the seabed.

Some of the foodstuff along the way. If by myself, I probably would have sampled some, but my travelling companion is more wary, and I guess it is harder for a woman to find a loo in case of diarrhoea, whereas men can just plonk it anywhere.

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I thought the fried quail looked rather good actually.

With all due respect to our Visit Malaysia Year, actually historically and culturally, I think we kinda pale in comparison. The pic below is their Water Castle, which happened to be closed for cleaning, but filled with water, it is almost kinda reminiscent of a roman bath. Built for the sultan, of course....and the whole complex has underground tunnels that lead to the sea, 27km long, underground mosque, ....large citadels...how fascinating is THAT!

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Not Roman, but Yogyakartan

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Myriad underground walkways

Unlike Bali, Yogya isn't one big tourist trap, and as such, doesnt really cater for our delicate palates. Either you have the stomach for the local gudegs and nasi padangs, OR, end up eating at the hotel, like unadventurous, spoilt, pampered western tourist.

My prawn bisque soup was excellent. The breads that accompanied the meal were good too. Below is wife's hot and sour soup, which was also not bad.

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For the mains, I had the Duck Magret Yogyakarta, supposedly their specialty. I'd say this was a Michelin star rated meal. The duck was tough and rubbery as Michelin tyres! Perhaps it was in the way they sliced it. Large chunks that would choke Linda Lovelace. However the accompanying vegetables and mash were good.

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The hotel Grand Mercure by night

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And by day

On Day 3, (gosh, is it as tiresome reading this as writing it?) we visited the Kraton, aka the Palace. Interestingly, the Sultan of Yogya is now the governor. Another interesting fact is he has no male heir, and though he could take on 3 more wives, his current wife is a smart intelligent woman, an MP even, who will not entertain the idea, according to our guide, who resembled Linda Hunt. A short forceful speaking lady, .... yeah, I really kept thinking of Linda Hunt.

For dinner, we decided to try the Nyonya Joint across the road from the hotel, TIGA NYONYA. Lovely ambience.

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My fresh soursop juice. Yummy.

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Lumpia something something. Lumpia must be springroll. Aren't I brilliant.
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Soft Shell Crab deep fried with Salted Egg Yolk....not bad, but not as egg yolky as our usual ham dan hai here.

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Some rojak dish. Nothing to shout about. The other dish, no photo, is their bakso, which are basically beefballs in soup.

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Lots of affordable riverside properties in Yogya.

Anyway, gosh, that was long. Yeah, unlike Bali, Yogya probably is more representative of the real Indonesia. A great majority of them are fairly liberal and broadminded, for example, you get Muslims who sell (and make) statues of Buddha, and it's not uncommon to see statues of the Virgin Mary plonked against a picture of Quranic Verses. The wayang kulit is alive and well, and as the artisan told me, in Indonesia, Budaya (culture) and Agama (religion) are held in equal esteem.


"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

hahaha..u go to wateverkarta to eat popiah?

looks like every RM well spent on that new baby of the year..

seriously no eating quail on the street?

Precious Pea said...

I have to show your post to my Hubby oledi. He kept telling me Yogyakarta nothing to see. How's the weather there? HOT?

Nic (KHKL) said...

i didn't realise you updated your blog this morning and asked you a few questions via facebook just now.

ok, i've got my questions answered right here.

oh, one more question. no sunset pictures of the temple?

oh, another question. do they serve pork there? like babi guling?

Bernsy said...

So did u go for the Body Smoke ? Cleanse your body and stuff..

reading was tiring, but looking at the pictures not. SO I just looked at pictures onli.. wakaakakkaa

FBB said...

bernsy, since its body smoke is not a les mills registered program, i didnt dare try. and i also dont have that particular body part that the smoke is supposed to cleanse.... well, at least you didnt miss the part about body smoke...

nic, i am too old to go for these sunrise sunset postcard perfect tours.... sunrise is too early, and sunset is time for massage and relaxing.... and to answer your question, there wasnt a pig or its meat in sight.

pea, actually the weather was bearable...its their "winter" month now, and at night, is nice actually.

nipples, if i went with the likes of you, i'd eat the quail on the street la...but wife a bit queasy...as i said, it's easier for a guy to dump his load in the event of diarrhoea, than a woman....

Kenny Mah // Life for Beginners said...

Yippee! Fresh post! Brand spanking new some more... (Or would have been, if I were online earlier and spotted this. Ah better late than never.)

So the luxury right? Honey from the honeycomb indeed. Mucho pampering for two. Sounds like an ideal vacation to me.

By the way, I wouldn't blame your wife for worrying. I had the worst diarrhoea ever in Indonesia, in Jakarta, Bandung AND Surabaya. So one can imagine. At least they are consistent with the hygiene of their street food. Maybe this is why I never became a foodblogger... Lol.

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I was excited to see pics of Grand Mercure. Lovely hotel right? Sooo jambuuu..If it's a girl, it'll be a hawtt girl.

I was there from last Wed to Sun. I love Prambanan but I as I was tired I wasnt as excited compared to when I was at Borobudur earlier in the day. Tomorrow I'll start work with memories of Joga still lingering on my mind...sigh..

fatboybakes said...

anonymous....you were there last wed to sunday? then our paths MUST have crossed, as we were there from tues to friday. haha, how bizarre. which one were you? !!!!

kennymah, usually my stomach has the constitution of an ox...those roadside pho in vietnam damn good wor. but those were boiling hot...whereas these street fare seem to be sitting out there, and are bacteria hotels.

Henry Yeo said...

there is a reason why there are hot, heat kills most bacteria and germs.

now that you are recharge.............get back to food blogging and baking already!!!

msiagirl said...

Haha good travelogue...even got to ogle your shampoo...aiyah that smoke thing said available for Couples! It's on the sign. Enjoyed your description of the duck. grin. Looks like an amazing place, lucky lucky. I want the furniture at the nonya place.

Kenny Mah // Life for Beginners said...

Constitution of an ox? Oh how I envy you, my friend. Me? They don't call me Doctor Diarrhoea for nuthin'. I could give Laosai Lemongrass a run for her money. (Run? Runs? Was that a pun? Or not? Pardon it if it is, ya.)

By the way, "Bacteria Hotels" sounds like the title of a darn good bio-warfare thriller. Wanna write that one for us to read? :D

Paprika said...

That is such a charming hotel! Love the honeycomb detail. Borobodur reminds me of my recent trip to Angkor Wat but on a much smaller scale. Dang, that reminds me, I really should blog about that before I completely forget! The food looks better though but they have babi over there. Hmmmm...

fatboybakes said...

paps, yalar, very reasonably priced too. yes, angkor is much larger, although in terms of "built up" area, they might be comparable, as angkor wat itself, (the one with the 3 stupas) is not that big, but the perimeter wall, the moat etc make it look very big. food's definitely more palatable in siem reap, more touristy.

kennymah, i not as articulate as you la, to write a biowarfare thriller, though i am flattered you think i can. heh ... usually my diarrhoea is from alcohol poisoning.

msiagirl, yes, the smoke thing package(which is part of the spa ritual) is avail for couples, though i doubt they do the smoke thing on the male.

henry yeo, it was food blogging wat...the touristy stuff was mentioned only in passing....

babe_kl said...

gosh its every Buddhist's dream to step foot on Borobodur. we will find our way there one day, hopefully in the very near future. thanks for showing all those lovely pics.

fatboybakes said...

really babe? i know some buddhists who've never heard of it!!! hahahahah. buddhist celup. but hey, it is VERY accessible la, no need to think and plan so hard. my air asia package cost RM780 per head, for flight and hotel. you can get even cheaper packages. some ppl on tour said they paid RM580 for their tour, that's full board and lodge, AND tours!!! the fees to boro is USD11 per head. and to prambanan another USD 10.

Anonymous said...

hmm.. I was there with two other girls. We are the only 3 Asian-looking girls around cos it seems other visitors of Grand Mercure are either Mat Saleh families or business delegates. We're from Singapore.

fatboybakes said...

anon, these was last week, as in 11-14 june? we were there 10-13 june. must have seen you at breakfast, though i dont recall 3 singaporean girls...i was with the wife, i think the only asian couple in their 40s.... hahaa, fancy meeting you here. how on urf did you find this post?

Kenny Mah // Life for Beginners said...

Really? I'm amazed alcohol has any effect on you, the way you've been spinning tales of your drinking years to us young people of today. Waitaminute... how much did you drink to get alcohol poisoning? Don't tell me it took something like a whole case of beer before you even got tipsy? Like Legolas from the LotR: Return of the King (Extended Edition)?

P.S. Even if they had that smoking thing for us men... I doubt I'd let something liddat near my preciousss... Nanti accidentally terbakar how? :P

UnkaLeong said...

hahaha...laffs at kenny's latest comments. Gives new meaning to the term bush fire!

Looks like you had fun! Probably all templed out by now huh?

Hazelin said...

your photos makes me want to just dump everythg and straight fly to Jogja! Was the hotel part of the Airasia package coz i tried searching and Grand Mercure was not listed..and how many days would u suggest to sufficiently cover Jogja?TQ!

fatboybakes said...

hazelin, yes, the hotel was part of air asia when i booked it, but if its not, you can still book it from the various websites...just google it la. well, my suggested itinerary would be this: (if air asia, which arrives in evening)
day 1 - yogya by night...nothing much really, malioboro street, the kraton area...all can be covered by beca in 2-3 hours...

day 2 - borobodur (if u want to see sunrise gotta start at 4am, so not my cuppa tea), gunung merapi, (which i missed, but now regret missing), yogya by day, including kota gede (old town), the water castle (taming sari)...might wanna throw in a cultural show at night.

day 3- prambanan, and solo. i missed solo, but apparently its also not bad, and worth visiting. alternatively, fly back via solo and spend a night there.

day 4 - laze by the pool at the grand mercure...or get grimy again in the streets of yogya.
4 days cukupla.

unkaleong, cant you see my halo emanating from my temples? and yes, i also dont fancy smoked meat balls.

kennymah, reminds me of someone who had to pee quickly coz the hair was on fire....
how much did i drink to get alcohol poisoning? well.... i honestly dont remember... but the effects are very much like diarrhoea..

Anonymous said...

hah.. I think we definitely crossed path during bfast if U were there ard 8-9. There's a Chinese guy who came dwn late making his wife wait for some time. He was wearing the hotel bedroom slippers when he came dwn. I cld only rem tht couple. Wonder if tht's U hahahah..

I stumbled upon ur blog as I was looking for more info on Borobudur & Prambanan.

Jogja is great eh? I'm planning for an art trip with my students nxt yr. ( free holiday!) Jogja is so raw and I feel so humbled there. Art and culture surround you without trying too hard. Jogja is a real gem comparable to what they have in Europe. Jogja is definitely a must-go place!

Anonymous said...

Btw I went to Mt. Merapi. Managed to steal some time to paint. V. peaceful but the clouds hid it tht although it looked so tall our driver told us tht what we're looking at is only the foot of the mountain. He even offered to bring us to meet the penjaga gunung ( a normal human being) bt we declined heeee... seram beb..

Kenny Mah // Life for Beginners said...

FBB: Pee cos the hair was on fire??? You can possibly just leave it at that. You gotta tell us more! Hehe.

Anonymous: Gosh, your comments are making me long for a place I've never been. I should stay away from the urban areas in Indonesia and revisit the archipelago, this time for something more spiritual and beautiful.

Let's hope I don't meet no penjaga gunung either (human or otherwise). Lol.

fatboybakes said...

kennymah & anonymous: i would LOVE to meet the penjaga gunung. lots of stories involved. the role is passed from generation to generation because of their ancestor was willing to sacrifice himself for the sultan for something or other la. read it in the air asia magazine.
i can or cant possibly leave it at that, kennymah?

anonymous, where can we view your art? yeah, the day we went to boro, merapi was shrouded by clouds, like a bride under a veil.

ooh, not me make wife wait la, and we were never there before 9, except on the morning we went to boro. and i wouldnt wear bedroom slippers to breakfast...just usual slippers. because i dont want to slip and fall.

boo_licious said...

ooooh, now I must convince splashie boy he must go there...

Anonymous said...

kenny mah: yes !! U shld try..This is my first time going to such places too. Really change my whole perception of Indonesia as a whole. Like what fatboy said, Jogja represents the real Indo.

fatboy: So far my paintings are raw and half-completed cos of short of time at those places bt I plan to paint them on a bigger canvas. If U hv Facebook acct, I'll add U cos I'll b putting up the half-complete paintings soon :)

Anonymous said...

Btw if anyone is going, get a local as your driver. They are honest people as they believe tht doing bad things to visitors will incur wrath on themselves. They are also v knowledgeable on the mystical side of Jogja. For all the natural calamities tht struck Jogja, they have their own mystical explanations. They love to tell you abt their Sultan and his predecessors.

Go to kraton (Sultan's palace) to know more, people who work there earn barely S$1 per mth and 15000 Rp per yr. One of them told us tht a pack of cigarettes for him will cost a year wage bt they don't mind as they feel tht they are seeking "keberkahan" (inner peace?)

Tummythoz said...

Unbelievably, I'm putting Jogja into my travel plans. That's how incredible Anony & u are as Jogja tourism promoters. ;)

I too find cuti overseas are of better value than cuti local.

fatboybakes said...

tummythoz, yes, its def worth a visit. you'd love the toilets in the hotel.

anonymous, i know...it makes us realise how blessed we are in msia and singapore actually. and all those poor beca flers.... tons of them, and hardly any passengers. its a hard hard life man. i do have facebook, but its under my real name, so send me an email, and i'll i'll send u my accnt. fatboybakes@gmail.com

hazelin said...

Thanks for the travel tips FBB..i'm booking my flights now..ciao!

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