Tag Archives: indonesia

Climbing Merapi

Mount Merapi is the most active volcano in Indonesia and is about 2930m high. And even though we are terribly unfit and do not engage in any sort of exercise on a regular basis, we decided that we wanted to climb Merapi.

We left our hotel at 10pm on Tuesday evening and made our way to Selo. Along the way, our car picked up a Polish couple from a hotel near Borobodur. We got to Selo just after midnight and waited around with an Austrian guy, a Dutch guy and a French girl.

At 1am, we began our trek. We walked uphill on a paved road for about half an hour and stopped at a look-out point. I was already feeling a bit tired by then and wondering if we had made the right decision to climb Merapi. But we pressed on with the rest. It became clear after a few minutes that the Austrian, Dutch and French were significantly fitter (and younger) so they went on ahead with one guide while we and the Polish couple trudged along with the other guide.

Climbing Merapi was the most backbreaking thing I have ever done in my life! Not only was the track steep, the small rocks made it very difficult to get a grip on the track. After some time, I was huffing and puffing, my legs were burning with every step and I wanted to stop and rest after every five steps or so. Adrian must have felt a lot worse because he was carrying about 3 litres of water.

Hour after hour went by and the trek didn’t get any easier. I wanted to sit down somewhere and cry from the exhaustion! We made it to the first plateau then took another lifetime to get to the second plateau. We were above 2500m at that point and told the guide that we just couldn’t go on any more. He convinced us to drag ourselves to a ridge 10 minutes away which had a better view and he accompanied the Polish couple to the third plateau.

It was really cold there and we were so tired but there was such a sense of accomplishment that we made it as far as we did! Really an unforgettable experience.

breaking dawn

Merbabu

jump shot on Merapi

waiting

happy we made it this far

hiding from the cold wind

gazing at Merbabu

a beautiful sight

picking a souvenir rock

with our guide

The way down was not as strenuous but was more difficult and I slipped and fell many times. It was interesting to see the track we had covered in darkness hours before. It took forever and a day to get to the look-out point but I was so happy to see a vehicle waiting there for us because it meant that we didn’t have to walk any further! Our ascent and descent took us about 7 or 8 hours.

We had some hot tea and a pancake back at the village before we were driven back to our hotel. My legs were like jelly and I could barely make it back to the hotel room. Good thing we had the foresight to book a massage and foot reflexology session at the hotel spa for after our climb!

I’m glad we did the climb together but I’m quite sure I will never attempt to climb Merapi again. I don’t think my knees and ankles could take it. This climb was way harder than I expected and I’m not getting any younger.

back to the second plateau

resting with our guide and the Polish couple

so happy when we got here

a look at where our trek started

room service after returning to the hotel

Merapi and Merbabu from the plane

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Candi Sewu, Central Java

After Prambanan, we hopped on a tandem bike and went around the compound to look at the other temples. Most of the temples were not in very good condition. We stopped at Sewu but couldn’t go in because the temple was severely damaged during the 2006 earthquake and is structurally unsound.

Sewu is an 8th-century Buddhist temple and the second largest Buddhist temple in Central Java after Borobudur. It is quite hard to tell just how big Sewu is supposed to be because most of it is debris on the ground. I wonder if they will ever be able to restore this place to even a fraction of its former glory.

ruins of Candi Sewu

quite a mess!

one of the guardian statues

the other guardian statue

our bike fell down; it was two-tyred

bicycle built for two

Prambanan, Central Java

Prambananis a 9th-century Hindu temple compound dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. Like Borobudur, it is truly a sight to behold

We visited Prambanan on the 3rd day of our trip and were blessed with beautiful clear skies. It was quite crowded when we got there with two large school groups wandering around and generally getting in the way. But we outlasted them and managed to get some good photos.

The temple was damaged during the May 2006 Java earthquake and it seems the damage was quite significant and they are still carrying out restoration works and repairs. Nonetheless, Prambanan is still extremely impressive.

showing off his Prambanan sarong

posing at one of the little Pervara temples

the three main temples in the background

bas-relief of breastfeeding

Nandi the bull

Brahma temple

Brahma

Gangnam style?

safety helmet area

men at work at the top of the Shiva temple

Adrian in a hard hat

Agastya

Durga

some details

stairway

reminder of the 2006 earthquake

Adrian being strange

time to go

from a distance

a final look

Anniversary Dinner at Kesuma

Our 7th wedding anniversary is definitely our most memorable so far. We rode to Borobudur on our rented motorbike and it took us one and a half hours each way. On the way back, I carried a keropok tin with me. I’m probably the only person in the world to request for, and receive, a keropok tin for an anniversary gift!

two nuts, a keropok tin & a motorbike

After our morning at the amazing Borobudur, we had a wonderful massage at the hotel spa and then dinner at Kesuma. Kesuma is a family restaurant serving traditional Javanese cuisine prepared with fresh local ingredients.

Our dinner was superb. I loved my sup udung, an Indonesian-style tom yum soup, and I drank it to the last drop. Adrian’s lumpia isi ayam (chicken spring roll) sounded ordinary but was tasty. Our main courses were very flavourful. Adrian had the ayam kesuma (chicken roasted with ginger, chili, cashew nuts and pineapple) and I had the kakap bumbu bali (snapper fillet roasted in a spicy sauce with Balinese bumbu genap besar spices). They were both delicious.

Kesuma

beautiful little place

inside

us

sup udang

lumpia isi ayam

kakap bumbu bali

ayam kesuma

sunburnt Adrian

me

Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java

Borobudur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is simply amazing. It is the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia and you really have to see it for yourself to appreciate the scale and the detail of the place. Although Borobodur is quite well-restored, it saddens me greatly to see the Buddha statues that have been destroyed by looting.

Borobudur consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms. It is decorated with more than 2000 relief panels and more than 500 Buddha statues. The upper platform features 72 small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped and statues of the Buddha sit inside the enclosures.

Once a year, Buddhists in Indonesia observe Vesak day and the ceremony is centered at the three Buddhist temples by walking from Mendut to Pawon (the one we didn’t visit) and ending at Borobudur.

approaching from the east

looking up

walking around

over the shoulder

this row of statues is in relatively good condition

first level of stupas

with Adrian for scale

timed shot

a Buddha statue exposed

final level of stupas

making our way back down

from a distance

cooling down

lunch

Candi Mendut, Magelang, Central Java

We were on our way to Borobodur on our rented motorbike when we came across Candi Mendut. I’d read about it in one of our guide books but didn’t make any special plans to visit it so it was great that we rode right by it!

Mendut is a 26.4 metres tall Buddhist temple built around early 9th century AD. It was rediscovered in 1836 and restoration was finished in 1925. Mendut houses three large stone statues, the largest of which is the 3-metre tall Dhyani Buddha Vairocana which is meant to liberate devotees from bodily karma. The other two statues represents the liberation from karma of speech and of thought.

from the outside

some strange creature

climbing up

looking up

bas-relief of Hariti surrounded by children

at the entrance to the main chamber

Dhyani Buddha Vairocana

Boddhisatva Avalokitesvara on the left

Boddhisatva Vajrapani on the right

another bas-relief outside

The Phoenix Hotel, Yogyakarta

We stayed at The Phoenix Hotel while we were in Yogyakarta. The main building is beautifully restored and dates back to 1918. The place reminds me of a mini Raffles Hotel. The Phoenix Hotel is quite conveniently located and it’s possible to walk to Malioboro.

The rooms are clean and comfortable and the service staff throughout the hotel are warm and friendly. I really like the feel of the hotel and the charming vintage touches you find here and there. They have a very good spa and we enjoyed the massages.

The Phoenix Hotel

from the other side of the pool

our room

buah salak

balcony

breakfast

soto ayam station

fruits

juices

some traditional drinks and local food

before our spa session

and after