Weekend getaway: Jogjakarta (day 2)

Sep 10, 2013 by

After having a great cultural day on day 1, we were tired  and thus didn’t start our last day in Jogja early. We had breakfast in the hotel then checked ourselves out before going out and about in the city. Day 2 main destinations were Keraton (the Palace), Taman Sari Water Castle and of course, buying souvenirs. We walked around 20 minutes down Jl. Malioboro before we reached the Keraton. The first half of the road was fine as it’s sheltered but then the second half of the road was definitely hot and dusty. So if you’re planning to walk, don’t forget to put on sunscreen and wear a hat and a pair of sunnies.


Sunny day

squinty eyes!


The Keraton is open for public everyday from 8 am – 2 pm and there’s different art showcase on each day. The entrance fee didn’t include guide fee which we could easily find near the entrance gate. I would highly recommend hiring a guide as there are no sign or information inside the Keraton. The guides are Abdi Dalem, royal servants of the Keraton and there’s no official fee for their service. Interestingly, they usually won’t mention any amount as they see themselves as servants of the Sultan. It’s a public secret that Abdi Dalem receive little salary from Keraton but they believe that their service to the Sultan will give them an eternal reward. Thus, to fulfil their needs many have second job outside the Keraton.

Jogja’s Keraton is still used as residential for the Sultan and his family and so there are some areas closed for public. The Keraton was built in the 18th century and has gone through some renovations over the years but the main structure remains the same. One interesting point was the mix of cultures and religions shown in the architecture; Deutsch, Chinese, Portuguese, Islam, Buddhist and Hindu. The beautifully crafted columns that support the main bangsal (open space) were influenced by different religions in that era, and some elements in the Keraton are influenced by other cultures as well. Clearly the world was never that big!


Open bangsal

Pretty part of Keraton


After listening to Kasultanan Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat’s great history, we headed off from the Keraton to Taman Sari. Taman Sari Water Castle was the royal garden of the Sultanate which located on the Keraton ground. As the complex is huge and there’s no information sign available, I would recommend hiring a guide who can tell the full history of the complex. Similar to the ones in Keraton, guide fee at Taman Sari is based on mutual agreement.

Taman Sari was used as the resting and bathing place for the Sultan and his family members, as well as a hiding and meditation place. Built in 18th century, some areas of the complex were destroyed during the British  invasion in the 1812 and big earthquake in 1986. However, I suppose the main eyesore in this complex are houses that were built irregularly that made the complex more of a village rather than a heritage site.

Originally consisted of an artificial lake where Sultan and his family would go canoeing, it is unfortunately the lake has turned to residential area. A little imagination was needed to be able to picture its beauty. Close by the lake, there’s a 2 story underground mosque which built on Islamic values. From the underground mosque, we then visited the bathing complex. This area had gone major reconstruction and now become the main attraction of Taman Sari. Back in its glorious time, Sultan would choose between paddling through the lake (of course his servants would paddle!) or walking through the underground passageway. Rumour even has it that there’s an underground corridor between Keraton, Taman Sari and the South Sea of Jogja where Sultan can hide to safety.

The bathing complex consisted of 3 baths; one for Sultan’s daughters and young sons, another for his concubines, and a special one for the Sultan himself and a chosen wife. Each of this baths has its own change room and sauna, and the bath for Sultan even has an additional room for a siesta. To choose a lady that would accompany him bathing, Sultan would ask his wives and concubines to bath first while he went up to the tower and threw a flower. The one who picked the flower first would Sultan’s accompany for the day. Nearby the bath stood 2 stones that were used as aromatherapy and hair dryers. Servants would start fire to create heat which was used to dry the ladies’ hairs. Very smart indeed!


Taman Sari

Fancy a dip?




At the back of the bathing complex, there were 4 gazebos where Sultan and his companies would relax while listening to music before going back to the Keraton. Our guide told us that when Sultan decided to go for a bath, it would mean a full day trip that consisted of musicians, servants, wives, daughters and young sons. Eventhough the distance between Keraton and Taman Sari was considerably short, it was the pace of the group that made the trip long. I suppose Sultan and his family should remain graceful at all time.



Musicians hut at the backyard


We then headed back to our becak to visit Mirota Batik in Jl. Malioboro. Becak, or cycle rickshaw, is a vehicle that traditionally used human power. However, our becak was a modified version that used small motor and it surprised us because the becak driver didn’t turn on the motor on from our first leg of the trip (Keraton – Taman Sari). We didn’t know back then that motorized becak was illegal and our driver could be penalized if known. Riding the motorized becak was definitely nicer as it was faster and cooler as we caught more winds yet it’s also more dangerous. With it’s size and design, becak wasn’t designed for high speed. However, to be honest we enjoyed our fast ride more.



a motorized becak in disguise


Mirota Batik was very crowded and the aisles were so packed that moving around was a challenge but I have to admit that Mirota is a good place for souvenirs. You could get everything from batik dresses to wallets, traditional coconut carvings to fridge magnets, aromatherapy essences to traditional drinks. We went here because my dad asked us to buy him some Wedang Uwuh or Junk Drinks, if we translate it literally from Javanese. Wedang Uwuh consisted of ginger, sappanwood, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemongrass root, cardamom and sugar. If you’re familiar with spices, you will know that Wedang Uwuh would taste sweet and spicy which also mean soothing for the throat. Looks aside, this drink is very pleasant and thus is highly recommended.

To close our Jogja trip, we met up with 2 of our Jogja friends who took us to early dinner in a wedangan near the Keraton. Wedangan is not a restaurant but more like a small kiosk / stall that sells various kind of food. There are lots of wedangan in Jogja (and also in Solo) but tourists should be aware that some wedangan would charge tourists more than locals. They can easily do it as most wedangan don’t have menu / price list. It might be a good idea to ask around (hotel / guest house reception or locals) for some recommendations. Our weekend in Jogja then ended as we arrived at Tugu Station to board our 8pm Lodaya Malam train straight to Bandung. The train was freezing cold, as it always is, but we were ready to cover up with socks, shawls and jackets. It felt like Melbourne winter all over again.


Hubby at Tugu Station

First long haul train ride


We arrived on time at Bandung Station on 3.30am, feeling a bit sleepy but thankfully we were able to sleep through during our train ride. As it was hubby’s first long haul train ride, he was satisfied with the experience as the train was clean and the seats were very comfortable for sleeping. His only complain was the lights that were kept on for the full trip. We should remember to pack our sleeping eye pads if we were to go on another train ride. Anyhow, our trip to Jogja was educational and fun, and has made me even prouder of my country and its heritage.

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