Showing posts from 2009

Java Jamboree: A Drinking Spree

Walking from Kraton to Kraton under the hot Indonesian sun was not an easy feat even when we had umbrellas to protect our heads from the scorching sun. Upon leaving Kraton Puro Mangkunegaran, we were glad then to come across an eating shop called Malioboro. The name, Malioboro, seemed to have been stripped from Malsboro, the brand of cigarettes famed for billboard advertisements and the Malsboro Man but nay, we were at Malioboro not for a smoke but for a drink. The shop offers a variety of fruit juices and we ordered every type available, from star fruit juices, water melon juices, carrot juices to even durian juices, the last was a surprise and a novelty as it is not available in Malaysia. We shared the drinks and each of us had had the opportunity to try out each of the juices. They were all thick, creamy and indeed heavenly! My friends and I did have a lot of fun out of all those juices! That was a hell of a drinking spree!

Can you spot the fun drinks and identify which one is a dur…

Java Jamboree: Inside a Kraton

I suppose we could count our lucky stars. Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat may be closed when we were in Solo but Puro Mangkunegaran was not. Umbrella in hand, we walked down the streets in the opposite direction under the hot tropical sun. Taking a trishaw would be nice, I think, since the two kratons were really not so near to each other. We bought our tickets immediately and hired a guide too, who explained to us the intricacies of Javanese dance and took us around the kraton. If you have seen great palaces of the world, maybe you'd not mind missing this kraton unless of course, you want to view the gold chastity lock for the past Sultan or ogle at portraits of the royal family...

Can you spot our guide?

Traveling Tip: Use your umbrella!

Java Jamboree: From Kraton to Kraton

Kratons abound in Java Island. Kratons are palaces and in Solo, there are two, Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat (Palace of Pakubuwono II to IX) and Kraton Puro Mangkunegaran. The two are not really far from each other and you can visit them all in one day. If you are fit and wishes to burn the calories, you can forgo the trishaw and walk like we did. We went for the Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat first. You would know you have arrived if you come across high white walls. Just look for the entrance and buy a ticket to enter its compound. My friends and I were there when the kraton was closed; so, we just walked on to the nearby Pasar Klewer which is the biggest textile market in the region. If you love batik, you would love this place; otherwise, you would find it a bit drab, dark and even seedy. Don't hang too long here then and move on to the other kraton...

Off to the kraton...If you are wondering what the woman wearing the scarf is doing by the roadside, well, she buys gold from anyon…

Java Jamboree: Street Delights

I suppose you can find delights when walking down the streets of Solo. Keep your eyes open and you'd perhaps come across a poster advertising Sate Kuda or Sate Landak which I suppose is a type of food -like the satay we had back home -skewered meat barbequed over charcoal embers, only now the meat used were horse meat and porcupine meat and the advertisement claimed that they were aphrodisiacs. Then, you'd get to meet the jamulady too, the lady selling traditional Indonesian herbal concoctions called jamu to pep up your health and well-being. And a school nearby may just beckons and you'd perhaps like my friends and I, zero in and get all ga-ga over schoolchildren playing in the school compound. We really had a fun and memorable time mingling with some schoolchildren and their teachers...

Can you spot the jamu lady and her jamu?-

Traveling Tip: Visit a school!

Java Jamboree: Chinese Desserts

I remember not being very impressed with Solo upon arrival. The streets looked rather shoddy and in need of a good scrub. There was nothing much to look forward to at night and thanks goodness, we came across this cheap-looking roadside stall selling desserts. The proprietor was a nice friendly lady who looked very much a Chinese but we weren't really sure. The desserts she dished out though were definitely Chinese in origin. The one made of peanuts, I am sure is easily available here in Taiping though the Indonesian version was thicker. Then, there was one with glutinous rice balls inside which reminded me of the glutinous rice balls of Tung Jie, the Chinese Winter Solstice. I like them all and the skoteng too which is actually ginger juice, which I remember having drunk it in Kunming, China; only now it is sweeter than you could imagine...

At a street in Solo...Now the push cart here does not offer any desserts but a kind of pancake...Can you spot the pancake and which one of the…

Java Jamboree: Eating the Surakarta Way

Upon reaching Solo or Surakarta, we had promptly employed the service of a van. We had not booked a hotel and the van driver kindly took us to a quiet street where there were a number of cheap hotels with rooms and facilities that seemed to have seen better days. One nicer one had not a so nice owner with a snobbish attitude of stay if you want and leave if you please and that had us scouting for a room elsewhere. I remember walking quite a distance and I was beat when we finally ended with one near where we had started. After a shower, it was off for dinner and we walked to a quaint eating place near where the statue Slamet Riyadi was, that's the name of one of the leaders that led a guerilla war against the Dutch in the late 40s. It was already dark then and there was quite a big crowd. People don't just sit on chairs or stools and eat with their food on their table here; some would sit on the roadside on mats and eat their stuff and we heard that was cheaper that way and o…

Spell of the Roses

Java Jamboree is taking a break!

Roses are red.Violets are blue.Sugar is sweet.And so are you! The roses in Thuan Hee's ancestral home in Sungai Bakap weren't exactly red; they were more pink and orange but what the heck - roses are a joy to look at! Roses are perennial flower shrub from the genus Rosa and the family rosaceae and that contains well over 100 species which come in a variety of colours. Most are native to Asia but wherever they are and whatever colour too, they are still a joy. I remember the ones in the Rose Park in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand. They were in full bloom and a middle-age couple were lying together on a piece of cloth, enjoying a romantic moment in the paradise like atmosphere. Who wouldn't under the spell of the roses? Traveling Break: Enjoy the moment!

Java Jamboree: Taking a Train to Solo

From Jogjakarta, we moved on to Surakarta aka Solo and that just being 60 km away, it was such an easy thing to do. There is a train to Solo every half hour or so and you would like us, not mind standing all the way to this city where one of the most prominent South East Asian terrorists, Noordin M. Top was reportedly killed in a shootout on September 17th 2009. Perhaps, you would shudder to know too that in the early 1980s, an Islamic school, Pesantren Ngruki was established here by Abu Bakar Bashir and Husein Al Habshi and a group with connections to the Ngruki school plotted violent attack on foreign tourists in the nearby Borobudur temple and on the island of Bali. If you like us, were not aware of the facts, then you would enjoy your wait at the railway station in Jogjakarta, drinking in the sight of cute Indonesian toddlers and the adults going through the hustle and bustle of everyday Indonesian life and taking the pleasant ride passed farms while you try the local fruit, buah …

Java Jamboree: A Just Dessert

We didn't spend a lot of time at the bird market. It was not just that it deserved just a browse but the encounter with the unsolicited tourist guide perhaps shortened our visit there. We walked back to our hotel and on the way, we came across a little stall selling a cold dessert which looked very much like the ice-kacang back home in Malaysia. It was already high noon by then and the sun was high up in the sky. The tropical heat really got to some of us and the ice-kacang really looked inviting. It must really be good; otherwise, how could there be such a crowd eating at the stall. So, that was it - so what if we decided to eat at the roadside? We deserved our just dessert yet!

Can you spot our dessert?

Traveling Tip: Enjoy your just dessert!