Exploring Yogyakarta (Indonesia) in 3 days

By: Nila Tanzil on August 16, 2006 - 1:57am
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I managed to go to Yogyakarta with my classmate from The Netherlands, Danny. He's never been to Indonesia before and would love to see Candi Borobudur :D. So, we decided to go to Yogya for three days.

First Day

As soon as we arrived, we strolled down to Malioboro Street, where all the souvenirs and batik shops were located. We did some shopping there. Hehehe.. Danny was amazed by the cheap price of all the stuffs that were sold in that street. Malioboro Street is famous for that. It offers different kinds of stuffs for extremely cheap price! Oyeah, one has to bargain to get a good deal. ;) So, your bargaining skills are very useful here! I bought everything for not more than Rp 10thou. It wasn't even 1 euro, yet!

After the shopping, I decided to take him to Gadjah Wong Restaurant for dinner coz I read a lot of good things about it from some magazines. Apparently, it was a good decision as the place itself is very nice with an open air garden and different parts of rooms with different kind of live music – traditional Javanese music, jazz and country music. We chose to sit in a small garden, outdoor, where we could be entertain by the singers and gamelan players who were wearing traditional costumes.

When exploring the place, I was stunned to see the dungeon-like entrance to the underground room in which decorated with Wisnu statues and other ancient-like ornaments. Very artistic, I love it.

The food was delicious. Apart from Indonesian food, they also have Indian and some steaks. I ordered Indian vegetable curry, while Danny ordered Nasi Bebek, the restaurant’s specialty, .. and we were satisfied.

After a nice dinner, we went back to Malioboro Street, Danny bought more stuffs for his sisters, nephew, dad and friends. The art of bargaining started to kick back now... hahaha :D.

People in Yogyakarta are nice and friendly. When you walked along the Malioboro Street, you would get offer from the “becak

An Unforgettable Journey to the Lost World of the Baduy

By: a --. on April 18, 2006 - 7:22am
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By Zakky Hakim

A crystal-clear knee-deep stream running under a bamboo bridge. A single breath of fresh air brings a feeling of deep relaxation, providing immediate transportation away from the cares of daily life.

Waving green leaves, splashing whitewater, darting little fish, hovering birds and elegant, dancing butterflies combine to stimulate the viewer's senses.

A vision of paradise lost? No.

Welcome to the land of the Baduy.

This is the view at the "gate" of Cibeo, one of the three Inner Baduy villages, surrounded by about 37 Outer Baduy villages located in a hilly, tropical jungle on the western slope of Mount Kendeng, 200 kilometers west of sophisticated Jakarta.

It is the area where the sacred people of Baduy live, adhering to their centuries old tradition of shunning modern products and isolating themselves from outside influences.

Very few people have had the privilege of visiting Inner Baduy, which is forbidden to outsiders. Reaching an Inner Baduy village is considered a spiritual journey, which requires pure thoughts, a brave heart and an unbreakable spirit.

I joined a group of 40 people on a trip to the Baduy area in mid-December, after a friend, who was one of the guides for the trip, invited me.

I was surprised to find that the group members had not met before; they had contacted each other through electronic mailing lists. They were a group of young professionals from established companies like British American Tobacco, Ogilvy, Maverick, Hyundai, Garuda Indonesia, Bank Bali and some others, a well-known fashion designer joined the trip too. I found it rather ironic to see the anti-technology Baduy community being visited by a group that had met through the Internet.

Basically, we all wanted to see the isolated way of life of the Baduy people up close and personal. A desire that came with a tangible price. Sure enough, our group was soon called on to prove itself worthy.

The travelers had their first test three kilometers from Kaduketuk, the first Outer Baduy village, as the bus we rode in skidded and went off the road. Fortunately, no one was hurt. We soon continued our journey on foot wondering what we had done wrong.

To our surprise, some Inner Baduy villagers came down from their homes deep in the hilly forest and escorted us along the road. One of them, Sapri, a stocky man in his 20s, said, "Hi, how are you? Everybody OK? Anything we can help with?" They were genuinely friendly and helpful, wearing white headbands and barefoot, strong hikers, with their profiles somehow reminding us of the Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings.

In any event, the test was not over. The jaro (village chief) in Kaduketuk said that our group was not permitted to enter the Inner Baduy area for some reason. The guides said it was the first time they had been refused entrance.

We then decided to continue the trip to Cipaler, the last village before the inner area, and planned to ask for permission again there.

Then we faced the next test. Heavy rain poured down. The journey took three hours through along hilly, slippery tracks, across rain-swollen rivers and through dense jungle.

Still, the views were amazing. Before Cipaler there was Cicakal, a village on a hill with stone steps and a view down on a green valley. Stones and wood dominated Cicakal, reminding us of the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru, South America. The road became steeper from there.
But we made it.

Our group spent the night in Cipaler, the last Outer Baduy village before reaching Inner Baduy land.

Negotiations continued that night, and an Inner Baduy delegation allowed us to progress to the inner area on condition that some members of the group with foreign-looking features were not allowed to enter.

The next morning we went uphill to Cibeo.

Cibeo, one of the three holy villages, is located in a beautiful green valley. To reach it we had to walk about one and a half hours from Cipaler. And there was one obstacle: We had to hike 300 meters up a hill with an approximately 60 degree slope.

However, when we finally reached the village, we soon forgot our hardships.

A crystal clear river surrounded the village, which was fenced with flowering red hibiscus trees. The water was so clear, we were tempted to jump in for a swim. And we did.

The houses were predominantly beige colored, and built of bamboo with thatch roofs. Green grass and moss covered the ground. Red, yellow, black and white butterflies flew all around. The Baduy wear only black and white. The view was very soothing.

The people were nice. They smiled before we did, greeted and asked us to stop by at their houses.
Through the day I explored the village. It was beautiful, warm and orderly. I began to feel guilty that our visit might ruin or pollute their culture.

When night fell, it was drizzling and pitch dark -- no moonlight, no stars. Light came only from candles and some beautiful fireflies around us.

Our group sat on a terrace around Sapri, a native of Cibeo, who played a kecapi, a 13 string zither-like instrument. The music soon cast a spell on everyone. It was the sound of music in the middle of nowhere. This was the moment when I finally knew the journey was really worth it.

Such views and peaceful lives will, hopefully, be preserved as the Baduy people insist on their self-imposed isolation, handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.

"The mountains may not be destroyed, the valleys may not be damaged ... What is long may not be cut short, what is short may not be lengthened ... The ancestral injunctions may not be changed," Sapri said about their code.

According to their pikukuh (essential rules) there are taboos against, among other things, digging the soil to lay foundations for houses, hoeing for agricultural purposes, entering the forbidden forest, breeding and keeping four-legged animals, using petroleum-based fuel, digging wells, disposing of garbage in a haphazard manner, catching fish by poisoning, bathing with soap and brushing the teeth with toothpaste.

The rules must be followed by all members of the Baduy community as well as visitors who happen to be in the Baduy area.

The next morning, as we left the land of the Baduy, we made sure that we did not leave any garbage or indications of our presence. As a token of appreciation we gave the hosts some gifts such as dried salted fish, salt and sugar. They were only willing to receive them after making sure that we gave them from our hearts.

Just as we were sure nothing was ruined, we heard them saying to each other, "Kasiaaan deh lu!" ("Poor you!" in trendy Jakarta slang)."

Mount Bromo - Java, Indonesia

By: kdasteve on October 16, 2005 - 8:50pm

An early morning trek to the top of the outer crater of Mount Bromo, in Eastern Java, produced the most amazing photography of my trip.  Mount Bromo actually is a steaming active  volcano situated in a large outer crater, and is part of a chain of still active volcanoes on Java.

 During the day, the outer crater is an ashen moonscape in which sits a somewhat ghostly Hindu Temple. 


However, in the early hours of the morning, mist fills the outer crater transforming this moonscape into a stunning lake of cloud from which emerges the inner crater, often giving off quite a bit of steam.  In the background, another volcano in the chain lets fly some ash. 


I shot about 12 pictures and got three or four nice ones, of which this is the real stunner of the bunch.  My scanner is not so hot, but hopefully it will not interfere with what you see.


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