Ready for Asia

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Monday, July 11, 2011

Country, culture change was as blatant as can be between the efficient operating system in Dubai to the inevitably delayed and confusing functionality in Indonesia. For example the flight I booked upon arrival in Jakarta to get me to Yogyakarta was scheduled to depart at 7:00PM; I believe we finally left at around 9:00PM arriving into Yogya, also spelled Jogja at 10:30PM. I later learned that Lion Air is notorious for its inability to depart on time.

Upon arrival to the airport and with no plan in place, I was sold on a $36 room at Gloria Amanda. Although above my budget I agreed to stay there for the night based solely on the fact that it had Wi-Fi and A/C only to arrive and find the Wi-Fi connection barely working that night and not at all the next morning. Neither was the A/C but this wasn't really the fault of the hotel. It turns out that as a way to control electricity usage in Yogya, the city selects one neighborhood per day, per month to cut off all electricity. Just my luck that today the Sosrowijayan area was the designated area.

Interested in finding something cheaper, it was a good excuse for me to move hotels the next morning. Barely outside of the hotel, a local immediately offered to accompany me to a few nearby places. All of the hotels and guesthouses offer a range of accommodations, you pay extra if you want hot water, A/C and television.

After getting situated I found my new hangout for the next couple of days: Bintang Lounge owned by Irwan. By the way, Bintang is the local beer and the logo is plastered everywhere. The restaurant offers delicious Indonesian and European food, is filled with travellers and has an adjoining tour business to boot. Not to mention that I could access Gloria Amanda’s wifi connection.

Once I expressed interest in seeing Borobudur Temple, World’s largest Hindu Temple for sunset, Irwan made a phone call and the next thing I knew I had hired a chauffer. Well more like a guy with a scooter. His name is Agoes.

Only an hour ride to the temple, we arrived by 4:30PM, giving me ample time to explore. Normally it would have been a gorgeous sunset view but due to the clouds we couldn’t see much so leaving at 6:15 when they kicked us out was no big deal. The temple is one of the greatest Budhist Temples in the world.

I wish I had prepared for the return ride on the scooter, over an hour with the cold wind on my neck was sure to leave me with a sore throat the next day. Agoes had a plan for us once we returned to the city and changed into some warmer clothes. First stop the "blackmarket" vendors to buy cheap wine and beer before joining the locals at Alun Alun spuare. This popular hangout among the locals is the same sight I had read about close to the Kraton where two large banyan trees stand with a 30 foot gap between them. There is a myth that you make a wish and then walk blindfolded through the two trees. If you succeed your wish will come true. I was glad to have Agoes with me, to guide me in case I collided with other blindfolded peeps. It’s funny to watch and to see where you end up. The first attempt I somehow walked to the outside of one tree.  

The other attraction here, aside from the local grub off of the street cars, which we indulged in: vegetable soup and fried noodles, are the overly decorated tandem bikes and multi-level push pedal carts all lit up in neon lights. Really quite hilarious sight to see.  

In Agoes’ mind the night was still young so why not stop at the happening bar with live music called Lucifer. We stopped by Lucifer, a popular bar, expat hang out, which looked like fun but for another night. Instead we returned to Bintang my local hangout.
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