Monday, August 09, 2010

Yogyakarta - Food and Volcanoes

A slightly cloudy afternoon welcomed us as we touched down at Adisucipto Airport, greeted by an extremely distressed airport staff. We found out a few seconds later, why... the lines were long, almost non-moving. After the immigration process was completed about over half an hour later, we lugged our bags ahead and was greeted by the tour guide and the driver.

Our journey started almost immediately that afternoon. The bags were sent separately to the hotel while we were taken to our lunch destination, a place called Hartz Chicken which was a big disappointment seeing that it as also available in our country, not that any of us had tried it before, but that's beside the point. The thing is, we were all ready to have our tastebuds explode with new and interesting local flavours and not franchised outlet stuff. (Actually, we probably overlooked a lot of things while planning for this trip, being in different countries during the planning - one of it being not knowing that food was also part of the tour package!)

After the disappointing lunch, the tour guide explained that Yogja is also known as the city for education, boasting a large number of institutions for higher learning and that many homes there offered home stay for foreign students. According to him also, it is famous for silver, some batik, and a very important and famous Sultanate that might face the fate of being left without a proper heir. He also told us that his real name was not Johnny as he had introduced himself earlier, but when he was at school, there were two other boys with the same name and his seniors gave them new names. His was Johnny, which he stuck to, seeing that it was convenient for his job, talking to tourists and all. (I unfortunately cannot remember what his actual name was)


As we drove along the city streets, we entered a quieter region, heading towards Merapi, an active volcano situated at the border of Yogya, which last erupted in 2006. Of course we were not on Merapi itself (which would have been uber exciting), but at this place called Ketep Pass. Ketep Pass functions like an educational centre for Merapi where there is a screening of Merapi in fury, spewing hot lava in all it's volcanic glory, a museum and places where you can observe Merapi (and it's dormant neighbour - Merbabu) at a safe distance. Cloudy skies prevented us form getting excellent views, but I must add that volcanoes, even from a distance can make you feel very, very gloomy for no apparent reason. So probably it was best that we didn't go too near. 


Merapi is somewhere in the background. 

We hung around the volcano observatory for quite a bit before heading out again for our long drive back into town for some shopping at a gift shop where you could get some traditional craft stuff... couldn't find the compulsory batik cloth I was looking for, although we spent quite a bit of time there. As most places close by 9 pm, we headed out to dinner, and instead of sticking with the dinner planned by the tour agent, we picked our own place courtesy of TripAdvisor (at least we managed to research for places to eat!) and had an incredibly enjoyable meal - all local cuisine. 

End of Part 1.

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had an exciting time although you wouldn't catch me near a volcano!!

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  2. I've never seen a volcano close-up so I wouldn't know about the gloomy feelings. Certainly the possibility of suddenly being buried in molten lava is hardly uplifting!

    Good for you resisting the official food and seeking out something more authentic. Perhaps they get a commission from Hartz Chicken?

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  3. Ryan: There's something about volcanoes...

    Nick: Actually, the tour guides get commission from any place they bring us to. The place we went to happens to be famous for being a tourist spot, and we did overhear other tour guides congratulate our tour guide when they saw that he had brought four women to a shop that makes and sells silver! They probably assumed that the probability of women buying silver is more than men?

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  4. I love Yogyakarta . If you want to be on an active volcano, you can go to Tangkuban Perahu at Bandung . Kawah Putih (inactive volcano) at Bandung is my favourite. The view is superb if you can stand the sulphuric smell

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  5. I love volcanoes - they have an eerily threatening quality.

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  6. manage to witness any smoky volcanoes ? oh and btw , nice pictures :)

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  7. Jai: I'm all game for that... If i can stand solvent smell, sulphuric smell should be ok too!

    SAW: Me too... I need to find a way to make them less depressing, though.

    Nurse: Thank you :)

    Unicorn Girl: No smoky ones... although Merapi supposedly smokes about 300 days a year

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  8. Volcanoes are cool as long as I don't fall into one. then that would make me like Anakin Skywalker who went on to become Darth Vader which is not good.

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  9. Oh yeah... falling into one is probably as bad as burning to death...

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