| Noraimah Said |
UNLIKE in Bandung, Jogjakarta is very famous for its cultural heritage and ancient ruins that are listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Such are the famous Borobudur temple and the amazing Candi Prambanan.
The city’s population is also made up of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and for many years, the people still live harmoniously together as a community regardless of their religion. To a certain extent, they also prefer to refer themselves as ‘Islam-Jawa’. Hence, the historical background of the place.
Apart from having quite a number of ancient ruins, the place is also known to have several numbers of private museums such as the Affandi Museum and the Merapi Museum.
I find the Affandi Museum to be the most interesting because, it is not only an art museum dedicated to the late Affandi but it was also once home of the late Affandi. The content of the museum focuses on his personal life and belongings and most of all, his contributions. If you are planning to take pictures, it is advisable to bring a pocket size camera or your cellphone because they will not allow you to take pictures or bring huge DSLR cameras or even a handy cam. In terms of entrance fee, foreigners will only be charged 20,000 Indonesian Rupiah which is about BND 2 (which includes a drink and a souvenir).
Apparently, people in Jogjakarta also love wearing Batik, not just the old but also the youngsters. Based on my observation, Batik in Jogjakarta has not only evolved in its design and fashion but has also become a daily attire not only worn on special occasions but everyday in every level of society. Those who are interested to know more about the history and importance of the Batik can visit the Sonobudoyo Museum. There is a gallery dedicated for Batik Indonesia. It is worthwhile to visit the museum and know a little bit about the background of this particular textile and know why Jogjakarta came to be known as ‘Syurga Batik’. Moreover, the entrance fee is only 5,000 Indonesian Rupiah which is 50 Brunei cents. Indeed, very cheap.
Batik lovers can shop at ‘Mirota Batik’ at Jalan Malioboro. The shop opens from 8am until 9pm. Here, people can purchase different Batik design at a very affordable price. Across this shop is ‘Pasar Sore’. Similar to ‘Jatujak Market’ in Bangkok, they sell variety of things such as: mini souvenirs (for example – key chains, magnets), postcards, books, t-shirts, paintings and traditional handicrafts, local traditional snacks and much more.
Aside from that, the street is also quite popular amongst tourists and backpackers. This is due to the number of convenient stores, cafes, cheap motels and backpackers’ hostels that can be found along the streets which are mostly accessible in walking distance. Furthermore, transportations are also very easy to obtain and very cheap. Such would be the popular ‘Andong’ and ‘Becak’ which can be found everywhere along the area. Similar to the ‘Kelisa’ in Manila, ‘Andong’ uses horses to commute. This means of transportation is not only very cheap but it has existed for a very long time. People can learn about its history at the Sonobudoyo Museum.
Besides being known for its cheap Batik, Jogjakarta has a lot of interesting places to visit. For conservationist or an environment advocate, I suggest dropping by at the Wildlife Rescue Centre. You will need to charter a van to go this place. Since it is quite far from the city, it will take about one to two hours to arrive. Bear in mind, the place is not a zoo but a conservation and rehabilitation centre for animals that have been victims of illegal animal trade, trafficking and abuse. There is no entrance fee charged to enter this place but it is advisable to contact the person in charge before visiting. You can find Sun bears, different species of ape (such as Gibbons, Siamangs, Orang Utans), Monkeys (Chimpanzees), bird and even reptile in the centre. The only disappointing part was how the place was badly maintained. The cages were just too small especially for the Orang Utans and the Sun bears. The kitchen providing food for the animals was also not well equipped. I understand it was due to budget constraint and shortage of labour and expertise.
They also have their own Science and Technology Centre called ‘Taman Pintar Science Park.’ Located at the centre of the city, this place may not be very interesting for certain people but it is quite popular amongst students. This can be seen when the place is swarmed with students and youngsters. It is not a very wise idea to visit the place in December during school holidays because then it is too crowded. However, I find it interesting to see that youngsters are very excited to visit the place. The centre itself is enough a reason for excitement for these students. It is well equipped and the information provided in this centre is enough to attract the visitors. The content of display is very interactive, very concise and easy to understand especially for students. If you are a science teacher, who is planning to visit Jogjakarta, I most certainly suggest you to visit this place. Adults are only charged an entrance fee of BND 1.50.
Likewise, your trip will not be complete without visiting the Borobudur temple and Candi Prambanan. Known to be the biggest temples in Southeast Asia, both are also stated as the two most important temples in Indonesia listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to our guide, Borobudur contains more than 500 Buddha statues and still used once a year as a centre for Buddhist pilgrimage. It is believed to have existed since the 8th century during the Sailendra dynasty. The ruin itself has already been restored twice for the past few years. The first phase took place in 1907 until 1911 by the Dutch Government. The effort was more on repairing and photo documentation of the temple. On the one hand, the second phase was done by both the Indonesian government and assisted by UNESCO. The restoration works began in 1973 to 1982. This was considered to be a large scale project because this phase was more on maintenance and conservation of the ancient ruin. The remains of these restorations can still be witnessed until today. It was also mentioned that each level of Borobudur represents the stratification of the group of Buddha statues of the temple.
In contrast, Candi Prambanan was said to have been completed in the mid-9th century, after the decline of Mahayana Buddhism and the Sailendra dynasty. It was further expanded until the Mataram Sultanate and abandoned in the 16th century due to the aftermath of earthquake. Rediscovered in the 19th century by the Dutch, it was finally reconstructed and further initiatives were done by the late president Sukarno in 1990s. In 2006, the place was once again affected by earthquake but it was again restored and reconstructed.
According to the locals, the temple is also associated with the legend of Roro Jonggrang. The place was said to have been built as a symbol of Banduwoso’s love and devotion (son of King Damar Moyo) towards Roro Jonggrang (daughter of Prabu Boko; a man-eating giant). Banduwoso was believed to possess supernatural powers that enabled him to conjure demons to help him built 1000 temples in one night in order to fulfil Roro Jonggrang’s request before he is allowed to marry her. However, everything turned bitter when Banduwoso only managed to complete 999 temples due to Roro Jonggrang’s attempt that managed to send the demons back to where they belonged. Banduwoso became furious and cursed Roro Jonggrang into a stone statue which is featured in the final temple. Today, there are only 204 temples still standing in Prambanan.
Both ancient ruins are also provided with their own mini museums. Bear in mind, no extra fee is charged to enter them. This is because; it has already been included in the entrance fee at the beginning of the visit or tour. The entrance fee for foreigners ranges from 200,000 to 300,000 Indonesian Rupiah (BND 20 to 30). Therefore, for those who want to visit these temples, I suggest people to use a tour package. It will be more cost efficient and less time consuming, as each place is also very far from the city and only opens from 6am to 6pm. Due to overcrowding, I also find these places to be too overrated. It is recommended to visit during off season or non-school holidays if you plan to fully appreciate these places or to enjoy sunset and most of all, to avoid overcrowding. It is also wise to wear decent clothing such as t-shirts and long pants when visiting these temples as to avoid from being forbidden to enter and being disrespectful. Regardless, these places still contribute largely in the history of Indonesia.
Nonetheless, Kraton Ratu Boko is also available for enjoying sunset. Also completed in the 9th century, it is often associated with Candi Prambanan. The real function of the place is still yet to be determined. It is not a temple but was believed to either be a fort or a cremation place. Unlike the other two temples, this ruin is less crowded and known for its serene environment. Although very far but it will be worthwhile to atleast visit this ruin.
Furthermore, it can be acknowledged that Jogjakarta also has a list of other interesting monuments such as Istana Sultan Jogjakarta and Taman Sari Water Castle. The Istana Sultan Jogjakarta is also very interesting. The admission fee is only BND 5 and opens everyday from 7.30am to 1pm. Unlike the Royal Palace in Cambodia and Grand Palace in Thailand, this palace is utilised as a centre for arts and culture. It is nice to see children from kindergarten and primary schools came on school holiday trips to visit the old palace. The palace and its compound are also obviously well maintained. On the contrary, Taman Sari Water Castle was built in the 18th century and was believed to have been present since the first Sultan of Jogjakarta. It is recognized as a resting area for the Sultan and a bathing area for the Sultan’s concubines. Only open beginning 8am to 2pm. It is advisable to speak in Bahasa Indonesia as to get cheaper entrance rate. I was mistakenly given an Indonesian student rate for the entrance which only cost me around BND 4.
Other than ancient ruins and monuments, Jogjakarta is also accredited for its arts and culture. You will not want to miss watching the famous ‘Ramayana Ballet Show’ at their Pusat Seni dan Budaya (PURAWISATA). It is an open theatre which is only best to watch in the evening. The entrance package covers both the dinner buffet and the show which overall costs about 250,000 Indonesian Rupiah (BND 25). Similar to the Saung Angklung Udjo performers in Bandung, these performers have been performing for 37 years.
Indeed, travelling will not be complete without trying local delicacies. Halal food in Jogjakarta are also easy to find and very cheap. I suggest people to drop by at Restoran Ayam Bu Suharti and Restoran Sederhana to try their Nasi Padang. They are two of the best and clean restaurants in Jogjakarta.
Different from Jakarta, there is no traffic congestion, the streets are still quite safe to wander around and the people are also still very honest and helpful. Wandering around on foot is never a problem.
Based on this, it is proven that Jogjakarta is not only rich in history and cultural heritage but the place is also very educational. I not only found my stay to be very productive but worth my time and money. There were lots of places to visit and most of all, a lot of things to try. I most certainly hope that the people in Jogjakarta will be able to maintain this sort of nature and preserve the tradition and the significance of the place for days to come and for the future generation to see.