On the morning of the 23rd we finally (endlich) left Jakarta and I can honestly (ehrlich) say I have never been happier to leave a place. The city just has this absolutely uncomfortable (ungemütlich) and unsafe feel to it. A place that makes you just feel miserable. I have to admit (zugeben) that after that experience I was a bit apprehensive (besorgt/ hab dem Ganzen etwas kritisch entgegengeblickt) about the rest of Indonesia, but I was definitely ready to keep an open mind (aufgeschlossen seen) and give the rest of Java a chance. I mean there must be a reason why so many people love Indonesia and it surely (sicherlich) can’t just be because of Bali. So with an happy heart we boarded our train to our next destination, Yogyakarta.
The 8 hour train ride was fairly comfortable (gemütlich), as you had a lot of legroom and an adjustable (verstellbar) seat. That also meant, that I was – again, what a surprise – asleep nearly for the whole journey (Tom: “the scenery was really beautiful and green the entire way with rice paddies and palm trees”). Arriving at the train station, we took a Grab taxi (the Indonesian version of Uber) to our accommodation for the following four nights: the Aloha hotel. We were greeted by a really nice receptionist who made us feel welcome without even having seen the rooms. I think after Jakarta nearly every place would have been an improvement (Verbesserung), but coming to such a nice place made the whole thing even better and restored (wiederherstellen) some of our faith (Glaube). Our room was also nothing short of great. A big comfy bed and a large and clean bathroom. What else do you need?
Yogyakarta is the former capital (ehemalige Hauptstadt) of Indonesia so on our first day we had sightseeing on the list. We made a plan of things to see and headed towards our first destination; Taman Sari (the Water Castle). We didn’t get very far though, after a few steps we were stopped by a becak (motorised rickshaw (motorisierte Rikscha)) driver, who offered us his services. As the price was very cheap and we are generally lazy (faul) people, the thought of not having to walk was quite inviting (einladend). We hopped onto our new vehicle and off we went. On the way to Taman Sari we confirmed (bestätigen) with our driver, King Gong (“not like big monkey”), all the places we wanted to visit and he also gave us some recommendations (Emfehlungen) on what to go see. He really seemed to want for us to go to a batik museum, as he pointed out many of them. After the fifth “no, thank you”, I think he got the message.
Taman Sari was built in the mid 18th century under the reign (Herrschaft) of the first Sultan of Yogyakarta and was finished under the reign of the second Sultan. An earthquake (Erdbeben) in 1867, however, destroyed many buildings in the big complex and so it was abandoned (verlassen). In the 1970s restoration work (Restaurierungsarbeiten) was done, but it’s only the bathing area (Badebereich) that is left.
The bathing area of Taman Sari is divided (unterteilt) into several (mehrere) sections. There are 3 different pools: one for all the wives (yes, several; the first Sultan had 40(!) wives. As if one woman isn’t already enough to handle… (als ob eine Frau nicht schon anstrengend genug wäre…)), one for the kids and one in a separate area (getrennter/seperater Bereich) for the Sultan himself. Our guide showed us the changing rooms (Umkleideräume) for the women and kids and the area that was reserved (reservist) for the Sultan only. He had an “observation deck” (Aussichtsplattform) where he could look over the wives pool. From there he would choose one “lucky” lady to bath with him.
Our guide also told us the quite interesting background about working for the Sultan as well. If you’re unlucky enough to have ancestors (Vorfahren) who worked for the Sultan, you are obliged (gezwungen/verpflichtet) to work for the Sultan as well. As this is seen as a priviledge (Privileg), you do not get paid (bezahlt) for it either! Doesn’t really sound like a win-win situation to me.
Next stop, Sonobodoyo museum. Sonobodoyo museum holds several collections (Sammlungen) of Javanese arts (Kunst), like wayang kulit puppets (made out of buffalo skin) and topeng (masks). Sadly a lot of the explanations were only in Indonesian, which was a bit of a shame. Oh well, still interesting to look at the many scary looking masks and handmade puppets (so much detail to it!).
Unfortunately (Leider), our next stop, the Sultan’s Palace had closed at 1pm that day which left us with one last stop: the Pasar Beringharjo, a huge market in which, of course we got lost (wir haben uns verirrt). After about 10 minutes of looking for our driver (“What did he look like again?”, “What colour is our becak?” I asked Tom several times. Sadly he didn’t have an answer though), we finally managed to hop back on our small vehicle and King Gong dropped us off safely. What an interesting and educational (lehrreich) day.
The following day we had booked transport to the famous Borobudur and Prambanan temple. We got picked up at the VERY early time of 3:45am and after an one hour journey we arrived at the viewpoint for the sunrise. From there you were supposed to have a brilliant view over the Borobodur temple as the sun rises in the horizon (Horizont). I more and more get the feeling that we just aren’t very lucky on this trip, at least weather-wise (wettertechnisch). A big foggy cloud (Nebelwolke) prevented (verhindern) any sighting of neither the sun nor the temple. What a pity, 60000 Rupiah well spent. At least I got a student discount (Studentenrabatt) for both temples, which made up for the disappointing (enttäuschend) sunrise (Tom: “damn freeloaders” (Freeloader bedeutet Schmarotzer, Tom versucht lustig zu sein…).
Borobudur temple is one of the biggest Buddhist temples in the world and also (as with Prambanan) is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of (besteht aus) nine different platforms: six square and three circular with a central dome on top. The temple was supposedly (vermutlich) build in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty. There is no clear evidence (Nachweis) of the construction time (Baujahr/Bauzeit), information only came from comparing (vergleichen) carved (meiseln/einritzen) reliefs on the temple’s foot and the inscriptions (Inschrift) commonly used in royal charters during the 8th and 9th centuries. It was definitely a very impressive sight and the temple itself was a lot different from all the temples we had seen in Thailand.
Our next stop was Prambanan temple, the biggest Hindu temple in Indonesia and one of the biggest in South East Asia. This temple site consists of several small tower-like temples surrounding one big one in the middle. Each temple houses (enthält/beinhaltet) different statues of Hindu Gods, such as Ganesh (Ganesha).
This temple was also very impressive to look at although our visit was somewhat interrupted (unterbrochen). Like any other tourist, we just wanted to have a look around the temple site, but we soon found ourselves surrounded (umgeben) by a group of Indonesian teenagers wanting to take pictures with us. Quite why they wanted to have their photo taken with us was a mystery but maybe they don’t encounter (treffen) many white people so we’re a bit of a novelty (Neuheit)! After many pictures being taken we managed to escape (entkommen). Maybe this is what it feels like to be famous (berühmt).
The following day, our final in Yogya, we rented a motorbike and decided to explore the area of Bantul to the south of the city. We first went to Jurang Palosari waterfall and it soon was clear (klar), that not many tourists come to this area. The bridge over the small river was completely collapsed (complete zerfallen) and therefore unusable (unbenutzbar). As the water wasn’t very deep (tief) though, we waded (waten) over to the other side and made our way down to the small, but very nice waterfall. There were some local kids swimming in the water and one of them had brought his “pets”. He was swimming with two slow loris’ who didn’t really seem to enjoy the water too much. We enjoyed the nice waterfall and then headed to our next stop: Curung Banyunibo waterfall. Also a small, but very nice waterfall.
Our next stop was a Christian church called Gereja Hati Kudus Tuhan Yesus. It was very interesting to see the differences (Unterschiede) between the Indonesian-Christian traditions and the ones I know. First, the people wanting to pray had to wash their feet, hands and face in 9 separate “footbaths”. They had to start at the right-hand one and work their way down to the last one. After that they had to sit in front of a small temple, with a statue inside. It looked like they were sitting in line, waiting for their turn to pray in the temple. Whilst waiting they would sit in front of the temple and place their right hand into their left (or the other way around – I can’t remember properly), put their head down and start to pray in silence. Only one person at a time can go up the stairs to the statue and coming down, you have to face the statue at all times (Man muss also rückwärts die Stufen wieder runter).
We then headed to the Parangtritis beach, where we very quickly ended up being the main attraction (Hauptattraktion). A group of teenage girls came up to me and asked me for a picture. Seconds later I was surrounded by about 30 excited, screaming teenagers. Some of them were close to tears. They seemed to be on a school trip and they probably have never seen any Europeans in their whole life. I mean, I get it on the one hand, we look different but is that a reason to absolutely freak out (ausrasten) and nearly start crying like I’m some kind of superstar?! It all seemed a bit surreal and after shaking many hands (Hände schütteln), we managed to escape (entkommen) the still screaming (schreien) and squealing (quietschen) crowd (Menge) and headed to the Gumuk Pasir Parangkusumo sand dunes.
After a nice dinner, we went to bed early, as we were going to get picked up early in the morning for our bus to Mt. Bromo.