Monday, September 29th, 2003 – Day 223 to Tuesday, September 30th, 2003 – Day 224

Monday, September 29th, 2003 – Day 223

I decided to stay another night. I also decided not to do any more side trips or major excursions. I just want to take it easy until I leave Indonesia. They are many places you can go in Java but I am tired and need to cut down on traveling a bit. Over seven months of travelin takes its toll.

Again I was up and round 9.00am but did not leave the room until 10.00am. I got a bus to the main station in order to take a bus to the Royal graves of Imogiri . It was 3,000 IR to get there (a 40 minute ride).

The royal burial site of Imogiri ( ‘Mountain of Fog’ ) was built in 1645 by sultan Agung on the western slope of the ‘Thousand Mountain Range'( Gunung Sewu ). Imogiri is located on a hill, 17 kilometres southeast of Yogya, and has ever been the point of reunification with ancestors. At the parking lot behind the quiet village is a big stone stairs towards the mosque on the burial site. After that, 345 steps have to be taken until you reach the actual graves. The story goes that persons who follow the way up count as many steps as when they go down, their wishes will eventually come true.

At the top of the stairs are four big jars filled with water. From west to east they are named Kyai Darumurti ( from the principalty of Srivijaya ), Kyai Danumoyo ( from Aceh ), Kyai Mendung ( from Turkey ) and Nyai Siyem ( from Thailand ). Once a year ther are emptied, cleaned and refilled, in the Jawanese month Suro. It is said that the water from these jars has healing powers and can also bring luck.

Place of pilgrimage

Through a number of gates built in the Indo-Jawanese style you enter the walled area. The highest burial room, with long white curtains along the walls and a strong sweet odour of burning incense and rose-leaves, is the one of sultan Agung. The small room is a favorite place of pilgrimage among Jawanese. Here too, Jawanese clothing is obliged. One of the seventy royal employees from the palaces of Solo and Yogya is available to accept prayers to the deceased.

On the burial site are most of sultan Agungs descendants; the Paku Buwono royals of Solo at the western side, the branch of Hamengku Buwono from Yogya in the eastern part. The biggest burial rooms have marble floors and contain graves of three or four royal leaders and their relatives. The grave of Hamengku Buwono IX, who died in 1988, is at the end of the eastern part. Many graves which surround the central room, belong to family members of the royal rulers.

I walked from the town to the graves (7 minutes) and you are asked for a donation. I gave only 3,000 IR but te guy seemed happy. There are then 350 large steps to get to the graves (its on a hill). You are then asked to sign a visitors book. There are 8 graves here, but only Sultan Agung 111 is important to tourists. Each grave visit costs 1,000 IR (or 8,000 IR for all eight), 2,000 Ir to hire Java Sarong, belt and aht (mandatory)a and a 1,000 IR camera fee (although you can not take pictures of the grave). You can not wear shoes etc. It was like walking on hot coals (cement) but it was red hot. I was hopping from foot to foot. Not many tourists come here. The last one was 7 days ago (from looking at the visitors book).

It was weird. The tomb of the king is covered by a small shed. You go in when an usher tells you and sit beside the tomb in nearly pitch dark. Candles are burning, wax is sizzling, rose pedals everywhere. Its intense as only 4 or 5 people can fit in at one time and they are praying intensely. Its surreal and I did not feel entirely comfortable as I had no knowledge of the Sultan.

I left. They are seven other graves, but one is enough. Visitors can climb the stairs at all time and walk around the graveyard in about ten minutes.

The graveyard itself has special opening times (open 8.00am to 1.0pm today) and is closed during the Ramadhan month. Taking pictures is prohibited, donations are very welcome are you are reminded again and again.

I walked back into town and got a bus back to Yogya. It was only 2,000 IR this time.

I got back to town around 2.00pm and decided to book my bus ticket (overnight bus) to bandung. It is a 10 hour ride. All the bus companies had similar prices for there economic, AC or VIP buses. I did little bargaining and got a AC bus that leaves at 6.00pm tomorrow for 58,000 IR. It should get into bandung at 5.00am on the 1st of October.

A see from today’s Jakarta Post that Cohabitation, oral sex and homosexual sex will soon become crimes in Indonesia. The ministry is drafting an amendment to the country’s criminal code to include acts not currently categorized as crimes but considered morally unacceptable.

These include cohabitation, oral sex, extramarital and non-marital sex, sorcery aimed at hurting other people and homosexual sex, spokesman Sukartono Supangat said. “It’s still in its early stage. We’re still collecting input from various parties and experts,” he said. He said in addition to Dutch colonial law, the proposed amended criminal code will also adopt Islamic law, international conventions and tribal laws. The draft, which is still being debated, proposes that a couple found guilty of cohabitation be punished to up to two years in jail. A man who impregnates a woman but refuses to marry her could spend a maximum five years in prison. Sodomy and oral sex would be punishable by between three to 12 years in jail and homosexual sex would be liable to punishment of between one and seven years

The lonely Planet had desribed Nasi Gudeg as Rice Cooked in Coconut Milk. I have asked three times for this and have gotten rice with various meat. It seems they are wrong again. What I should be asking for is Nasi Uduk. Anyway, more great food today as I had Rice Rolls (Lontong) served with chicken. Hmm, I love the food here. More recipes here.

I think about Muslim head scarfs and how there is so much trouble them them in France , (France 2), Germany , and Europe generally. They are everywhere here in all shapes, colours and styles.

I also hears for the first time that Female Genital Cutting (FGC) is praticed in Indonesia. I was talking to a tourist who said she had met two Western women who converted to Islam to marry locals. There mother in laws had no problem except both women had to undergo the procedure. The above article goes into the practive here in detail but I was a bit taken back that it occurred here.

Some religious leaders believe that the removal or partial removal of the clitoris is beneficial to marriage because a woman would be more likely to remain faithful to her husband if she had no sexual drive. Some religious Islamic leaders consider this practice a mandate of Islam. Other religious leaders believe that this practice is recommended by Islamic teachings but not mandated.

I had alot of trouble with blog in a Net cafe. Blogs kept disppearing and would not refresh. It nearly broke my heart. i was in there until 1.30am trying to sort things out. Finally, they started to make sence. Sorry, if things were messy at your end. Don’t know why I put so much effort into t. Maybe its a hobby. Nice to ahve something to do instead of travelling, reading guidebooks.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Graves (29-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Chinnese Temple in town (29-09-2003)

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003 – Day 224

My bus is tonight at 6.00pm. I will do little today. i paid my bill for 6 nights at the hotel called Hotel indonesia. It came to 210.000 IR (21.50 Euro) for the whole say. it was a nice quiet place (the ones I like) only 1 minutes walk from the main road (even thought it was down two side alleys). The room was clean and a a good fan. It was ensuite with Western toilet (no flush) and cold shower. The owner was friendly. The only downside were the the half dozen people who played cards in reception every night and if you came ack after 12, you can to strp over 4/5 guys sleeping on the reception floor.

Tyhe journey to Bandung should take 10 hours and I should arrive at 5.00am tomorrow. I will post next from there. I just walked and ate my way around town until the bus left.


The cost of a litre of petrol (gas) is 1650 IR (.17 Euro)

The cost of a packet of 20 marlboro cigarettes is 5,800 IR (.60 Euro). No wonder so many people smoke!!!!!!

Sunday, September 28th, 2003 – Day 222

Sunday, September 28th, 2003 – Day 222

I see on the wires that Militants Poised to Strike in Indonesia . It from today Sep 28.

A new generation of Muslim militants from the Jemaah Islamiah group is plotting suicide attacks on international hotels and expatriate neighborhoods in Indonesia in December, Singapore’s The Sunday Times said.

The newspaper, citing unidentified Indonesian intelligence sources, said 12 Jemaah Islamiah members drawn from six cells planned to turn the festive season in Indonesia into a bloody nightmare.

“International hotels in Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan were picked as one set of targets,” the newspaper said. Surabaya is a big city on Java island. Medan is on Sumatra.

“The other comprised residential areas with large expatriate communities,” it said.

The Jemaah Islamiah has been blamed for the bomb attacks on Bali island in October last year in which 202 people were killed, and for an August blast at luxury hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people.

Anyway after throwing away rubbish from my bags and deciding what stuff I would send home from Singapore, I decided to go to the PRAMBANAN TEMPLES.

I finally got going at around 11.00am. It took 30 minutes to get to the bus station on the number 4 bus. There I moved to the main part of the station to get a PERMUDA bus which is easy to find as its bright yellow. It was supposed to take 30 minutes but with stopping to collect passengers etc., it took 1 hour. I finally got to PRAMBANAN town at 12.40pm. It was a 10 minute walk to the entrance. It was 58,000 IR in and another 30,000 IR if you wanted a guide. They said prices would increase to 10 US in a few weeks. The way they see it here, is that less tourists means a shortfall in come (locals pay about 5,000 IR in) so just increase the price. This is no way to run a visitor attraction.


Built in the 10th century, this is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Rising above the centre of the last of these concentric squares are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them.

Prambanan, named after the village, is the biggest temple complex in Java. There are 224 temples in the complex; three of them, the main temples are Brahma Temple in the north, Vishnu Temple in the south, and the biggest among the three which lies between Brahma and Vishnu temples is Shiva Temple (47 meters high). These three ancient masterpieces of Hindu architecture are locally referred to as Prambanan Temple or Lorojonggrang Temple. One of its appeals is the wealth of sculptural detail. The well known one is on the inner wall of the balustrade, the wonderfully vital and utterly engrossing Ramayana episodes.

The temples were completed about 900 AD, possibly 50 years after Borobudur, by the Hindu Javanese rulers. It was deserted within a hundred years and collapsed in about 1600 AD. The restoration was completed in 1953. This magnificent shrine is elaborately ornamented with designs of the utmost delicacy.

It was a nice place with great Hindu candi and temples. I enjoyed my visit. It was unusual as I saw only 3/4 other Western Tourists. Usually they come for sunrise. I stayed there for 2 hours. I found the other CANDI temples 1km from the site even more interesting specially Candi Sewu.

This buddhistic complex , built from 780 to 810 in three stages, is 185 m long on 165 m broad and includes 240 similar vaults. It is organized like a mandala centered around a principal temple.

This is been restored. It looked great even its ruined state. More information of these other temples can be found here. More on Bali temples here. More on Jave candi temples here and here.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Prambanan Temples(28-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Prambanan Temples(28-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Prambanan Temples(28-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Candi Sewu Temples(28-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Candi Sewu Temples(28-09-2003)

I got a bus back on the main road. While it was 3,000 Ir to get here it was only 2,000 IR if you catch a Solo-Jogya bus going back. Its on the main road. Tour companies usually charge 35,000 IR for the round trip. I did it for 7,000 IR. Pretty good going. I did not get back until 4.20pm. I decided to do little else the ret of the day. I must decide whether I am moving on tomorrow. Maybe!!

You can find much Indonesian News from the Jakarta Post Newspaper.

I see in Bangkok, a temple which has turned into a hospice for Aids victims has opened a sobering museum. Visitors to Wat Phra Baat Namphu are likely to become speechless on entering the temple, which has created sculptures from the bones of Aids victims and built a museum housing 12 bodies of those who died of the virus.

The temple has turned into a hospice in Lop Buri, with the display of over 20 sculptures created out of bone fossils mixed with resin, and placed in various outdoor areas, with the largest set up outside its medical building.

I did little the rest of the evening. Every few tourists on the ground to socialize with. I have seen none in my hotel. I got peckish at around 11.00pm. Its funny here on the main street. You get food stalls before 8.00am, market stalls in two groups until 10.00pm then more food stalls that stay open most of the night. They were all serving food called nasi gudeg whch you can get me an egg or chicken. Nice and cheap. Maybe 2,5000 IR. I caught the second half of the Manchester City V Spurs game on TV at the hotel.

One thing I forgot to mentioned is that people walked here to mark World Heart Day. I saw a few hundred people in different groups (in teams with numbers wearing team track suits) march around town. Well done. jogya.

Saturday, September 27th, 2003 – Day 221

Saturday, September 27th, 2003 – Day 221

Same old story. Alarm at 8.00am but got up after nine. I walked down to the main attraction is town: Kraton. It was 75000 IR in and a 500 IR camera fee. I was not that impressed. Most of the interior had museum decicated to ther current Sultan’s father. It had his scouts badges, badges collected from conferences and university diplomas. Nothing much of interest for me. Lots of guards in traditioanl costomes carrying tyraditional daggers abounded. The daggers are called KRIS. I did enjoy a performace in the ciurtyard exhibiting the art of WAYANG KULIT.

Wayang is a Javanese word meaning “shadow” or “ghost” and is a theatrical performance of living actors (wayang orang), three dimensional puppets (wayang golek) or shadow images projected before a backlit screen (wayang kulit). Wayang Kulit is probably the most famous and imaginative form of Indonesian Wayang. Finely carved and painted thin leather puppets move behind a white linnen screen, such that the audience on the other side of the screen sees the shadows only.

The wayang kulit use two-dimensional puppets chiseled by hand of buffalo or goat parchment; like paper dolls, but with arms that swivel.

A wayang kulit puppet is a stylized exaggeration of a human shape.

Of the many different style of wayang kulit, by far the most popular is the form practiced in Central and East Java, the most populated island of Indonesia.

It was really nice watching them and there was full Gamelon Orchestra in the back playing away. They use about 50 puppets with 3 men on the left and three men of the right giving the master puppetier the right ones. A man told the story on loudspeaker.

I headed off to the Sono Budoyo Museum neaby. It was 750 IR in. More information can be found here.

The Sono Budoyo museum was set up at the initiative of Indonesian and Dutch intellectuals in the Java Institute, a cultural foundation established in 1919. The foundation acted on the authority of the Dutch East Indies colonial government to preserve and develop indigenous cultures. In 1924 the foundation, concentrating on the cultures of Java, Madura, Bali and Lombok, held a congress in Yogyakarta which decided to establish a museum in Yogyakarta. It took 10 years before a small pendopo was established on a plot of land donated by Sultan Hamengku Buwono VIII. The inauguration took place one year later in 1935 on the Sultan’s birthday.

The collection of the museum grew gradually. Objects came from other people’s discoveries, personal collections on loan, or bequests, including from the sultan. The museum also received ancient objects from the Office for the Preservation of Historical and Archeological Relics.

I enjoyed the museum. It gets no tourists but has interesting Kris daggers, Bali history, how Islam spread into Java and WAYANG KULIT puppets.

I stayed there about an hour.

Nest I headed to Museum Kerata Kraton. This is a small museum holding some opulent chariots (horse carriages) of the sultan’s. Yep. some were very fancy. it was 2000 IR in and a 1000 IR camera fee. I only stayed 15 minutes.

It was only noon and I had finished my planned sightseeing. i decided to walk around the many markets the town has. They are great but can annoy if you are looking for something. i was looking for tape, some bags and brown paer fpr apcking. The markets are so big and disparate that you have liitle chance finding what you are looking for unless if hire a local.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – WAYANG KULIT Live Puppet Show at the Kraton (27-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Gamelon Orchestra for the WAYANG KULIT Live Puppet Show at the Kraton (27-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Waying Puppet Show at the Sono Budoyo museum (27-09-2003)

I must buy the Japanese cartoon film Spirited Away, now showing in UK cinemas, staring a little girl wrestling with monsters after her parents are turned into pigs.

I walked the various amrkets for a while. Impossible to look for anything specific. I bought some tap and brown paper for shipping home some warm clothes to Ireland from Singaapore. I will not need them again until china. Nothing of interest to report for the rest of the evening.

I did find a nice restaurant that had a type of Sate that i had yet to taste called SATE DAGING. It was georgeous.

Friday, September 26th, 2003 – Day 220

Friday, September 26th, 2003 – Day 220

Again I was meant to get up at 8.00am but left it until 9.00am. I decided to visit the main Kraton in Yogya.


At the center of Yogyakarta lies a city within the city: the Kraton. Built in the middle of the 18th century, this walled-city serves as the home of the sultans of what remains of the Mataram kingdom to this day.

It is located in the center of the city of Yogyakarta or just Yogya as the local people call it. Karaton means a place where the Ratu-king lives, other word is Kedaton, with the same meaning. In the Javanese teachings, it has a deep philosophical meaning.

The architect designer of this palace was Sultan Hamengkubuwono I himself, who was also the founder of the kingdom of NGAYOGYAKARTA HADININGRAT. His skill in architecture was appreciated by the dutch scientist – DR. Pigeund and DR. Adam who adored him as ” the architect of his brother-Pakubuwono II of Surakarta”.

The first king moved to his huge and magnificent Karaton on October 7, 1756. Although there are some European style of some parts of the building, structurally this is the vivid example of Javanese palace architecture.

The 14.000 sq. m of the Karaton Yogya has deep philosophical meaning with all its building, courts, carving, trees, and location. This is a Karaton full of significant symbols of human life.

Usually visitors are coming from MALIOBORO STREET, southward through the Alun-alun (north square). In order to understand perfectly well the symbolic meaning of the Karaton, one should walk from south to north. Start from Krapyak, a village of about 3 km south of Karaton.

Anyway, I found out (after walking 30 minutes there) that it would be closed today. Damn,. I decided to visit the Water Castle instead. It was about 15 minutes walk through back alleys and winding maze like streets.

Built in 1758 by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I just west of the kraton, part of this pleasure garden and castle is at present no more than an intriguing collection of ruins, pools, arches and underground passages enclosed by massive walls, however, the central courtyard with the nymph-baths has been restored.

The Water Castle is located in the older part of the city within walking distance from the Bird Market. A number of batik workshops line the avenue leading to the pleasure garden’s entrance.

It was 3,000 IR in and 1,000 IR for a camera permit. Although restored, there is no water in the baths etc. Still it was quite nice. Many guides try and latch onto you and try and bring you to batik factories around the area. It was nicer walking around the maze of streets here and watching girls making batiks. They were slaving away and it looked like hard and delicate work.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Water castle (26-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Water castle (26-09-2003)

Batik (also known as Javanese wax painting) is a technique of textile design accomplished by negative (or resist) dyeing. It is also the name of the resulting fabric. Designs are first painted on both sides of a cloth in melted wax, traditionally poured from a copper pot with several spouts, or applied with various hand tools. After patterning, the cloth is dipped in dye, which is absorbed by the uncovered cloth areas but resisted by the waxed design, thus creating a light pattern on a dark ground. After the wax is removed (by boiling or dissolving) the process may be repeated many times to achieve great intricacy of design and richness of color.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Alleys around the Water Palace (26-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Alleys around the Water Palace. Batik Making (26-09-2003)

Batik, known to the ancient Sumerians, was developed into an art of great beauty by the Javanese and other Indonesian peoples. They used traditional geometric or floral motifs, often symbols of religion or social status, most frequently in blue and brown tones. Batik was introduced to Europe by Dutch merchants in the 17th century, and the process has since become commercialized in Indonesia.

Batik is a textile art similar to tie-dyeing. Instead of tying the fabric, however, wax is applied to resist dyes. The wax can be removed and re-applied several times to make beautiful and intricate designs.

They were adding cloured wax to cloth. The wax must be kept at the proper temperature. A wax that is too cool will clog the spout of the canting. A wax that is too hot will flow too quickly and be uncontrollable. The girls often blew into the spout of the canting before applying wax to the cloth in order to clear the canting of any obstructions.

More information on batiks can found here , and here.

It was now 1.00pm and what to do next!!!

To the south of Yogyakarta, where the Indian Ocean is, there are an abundance of beaches stretching for hundreds of miles along the coast of southern Java. It was one o clock and I did know what I would do next. I passed the mini-bus terminal I was left at last night. There was a bus going to Parangtritis 28km away. Why not go!

In the Bantul Regency, twenty-eight kilometres to the South of Yogyakarta, lies the peaceful idyllic village of Parangtritis. Rugged limestone cliffs overlook huge waves pounding the shoreline; the wide expanse of sand dunes merge into the black sandy beach. Parangtritis is immensely popular. Tourists and locals alike travel there not only for the sunbathing and swimming; but also for the fishing and the tranquil setting ideal for meditation. Two wheeled horse drawn buggies called delman transport people to and fro along the vast expanse of sand. The horses aimlessly trudge along in the thickness of the black sand. The heat of the day can be refreshingly satiated with fresh milk from the green coconuts sold at the numerous palm-thatched pagodas. Aging Javanese women chatter amongst themselves in Bahasa Jawa, not caring (or even looking!) as they slice the head off a coconut with one swish of a machete.

Aging Javanese women chatter amongst themselves in Bahasa Jawa, not caring (or even looking!) as they slice the head off a coconut with one swish of a machete.

Parangtritis is steeped in Javanese mysticism and culture. It is believed there is a south axis connecting mount Merapi, the Kraton, and Parangtritis Beach. According to legend, the Queen of the South Seas–Kanjeng Ratu Kidul– together with her confident Nyai Loro Kidul reign over the Southern seas and all within it. It is said that any person wearing clothing coloured green will be lured into the sea and to their fate by the Queen. This superstition is firmly entrenched in the minds of all Javanese, even as far North as Jakarta. It is the legend of Parangtritis that entrances all who listen. According to the legend, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul was at one time wed to Panembahan Senopati, a ruler of the mighty Mataram kingdom, and she enjoyed his company on occasions. The Western section of Parangtritis beach—Parangkusumo beach—is believed to have been the meeting place of the two mighty rulers; that of the sea and of the land. It is also at Parangkusumo beach where the ceremony of ‘Labuhan’ is performed, coinciding with the inaugural commemoration of Sri Sultan Haamengku Buwono X. Each year, on the 30th day of the Javanese month of ‘Rejeb’, offerings are given to Kanjeng Ratu Kidul. These offerings, in the ceremony of Labuhan, consist of food, clothing, hair, and fingernail cuttings of the Sultan of Yogyakarta. The offerings are cast into the sea in the hope that the Sultan and the people of Yogyakarta will have continuous peace and prosperity. The same ceremony is held on top of mount Merapi and Lawu.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Parangtritis (26-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Parangtritis (26-09-2003)

Hmm, more battles with transport companies. I paid 3,000 IR to get to the beach. I had a good Sate before I went for 7,000 IR. It tokk about 45 minutes. The beach and town were deserted, although its a great looking beach with hard sand. No hawkers or souvenior sellers. Just horse and cart rides up and down the breach and guys throwing nets into the sea catching something or another. I had a nice hour there looking around. It was hot and I got a little sunburnt. I had Nasi Gudeg there. Food sites here .

Gudeg and other Indonesian dish recipes can be found here. i will be amking some of these when I get home!!!!!

I took a bus back (this time it cost me 5,000 IR). I met a girl (with head scarf) who had a job translating English books ito Indonesian. She was interesting and she was currently tranlating the FIFTH SEASON into Indonesian. For this alrge book, she said she would do it in 2 weeks. By the way she said mind these village to village buses. She had her wallet stolen twice this year. Still. something didnt not sit right with me about her. I dont know….

In the aftermath of Indonesia’s economic collapse, Chinese women are targeted by the President’s son-in-law’s reckless, and brutal Special Forces. In an evolving Islamic climate, anti-Chinese sentiment drives the country to the brink of collapse as international interest is heightened by factual, photojournalist accounts, of true stories of survival.

Given extra urgency by recent events, The Fifth Season predicted the Indonesian economic collapse and subsequent religious and political upheaval as well as links between Indonesian and Islamic extremist groups. A fascinating and eerily prescient look at recent and on-going events that must be read.

Anyway it was near 5.00pm when I got back. I found a cheap NET place where the bus left me off. It was 7,500 IR for three hours. As most attractions open and close early (2.00pm to 4.00pm), there was little else to do for the rest of the evening.

New Foreign Office (UK) warnings issued today saying:

We advise against all non-essential travel to Indonesia. A bomb exploded at the Marriott Hotel in Central Jakarta on 5 August. We continue to receive information that indicates terrorists are planning further attacks, including against Westerners, throughout the country. If you are already in Indonesia you should consider leaving if your presence is not essential.

We advice against all travel to Aceh. The Indonesian government has declared martial law in Aceh and violence has increased.

A few other things tonight: I had already seen a comical accident involving three cyclists on the way to the beach. I know it was terrible, but to see all those conical hats, and mangled steel and body parts had the whole bus laughing. Nobody was injured. It was just funny. At about 8.00pm, I came accross a big crowd. Two motorbikes had crashed into each other. Both parties were still there. A child and a old amn both had very serious cuts, bruising etc. It was ansty. Many people do not use their lights here when on lity lit streets. A pick up truck came and took them away.

On another note, I came accross a cake shop where its birthday and wedding cakes were enormous. They were asa high as the ceiling and maybe 3/4 metres wide. They are so big I though they may be artificial so I stuck my finger into one (opps) as a test. No, they were real. I never saw cakes so big. I wanted one of the girls to stand in front of one so the pictures would have scale but she refused.

Later, I bought two more MP3 Cd’s. One was Rock Legends, the other was all the albums of John Lennon including two live sets.

I see today that Mongolia’s has a drinking epidemic and is going downhill in a economic sence. I only read in NEWSWEEK a few weeks ago that the country was in great scape and was going to be a regional contender. Funny, eh!!!

I also see today that tourists are getting scammed in Thailand. Visitors get a 30-day visa on entering Thailand. Travel shops in the past have sold extensions but this is now illegal. Many still offer the stamps and hundreds of backpackers unaware of the clampdown are stuck with them. The British Foreign Office is warning that the only legal way to get a new visa is from immigration at a point of entry to Thailand. Nice way to get brides!!!!

Did very little the rest of the evening. Suffering from a little sun burn. I had a beer and went to bed.

Thursday, September 25th, 2003 – Day 219

Thursday, September 25th, 2003 – Day 219
I tried to sleep without a blanket but I suppose when you are so used to having it on all your life while in bed, its hard to not use one. I decided to visit borobudur today. I was supposed to get up at 7.00am but stayed in bed until 10.05am.

I got the number 4 bus direct to the station and got a bus direct to borobudur which is about 45km away. I expected to be about 5,000 IR, but the tranport f^^&* were on board. I should have known. There was a Japanese guy behind me who paid 10,000 IR without asking. I knew I was trouble. I told the ticket seller, that no way was it ten. He laughted and said the Jap had paid ten and I was going to pay 10,000 IR. I refused for a while but he was getting angry. I decided to pay up. It was 1 hour 45 minutes to get there. From the station I walked to the site. It was 6,500 IR for locals or 11.500 IR if they had a camera. Get this, it was 66,000 (6.60 Euro) for foreigners. Basically it was 6 times the amount.

The best site I could find on it is at

Borobudur Temple, originally built between 775 and 850 A.D., is the largest Buddhist structure in the southern hemisphere and one of the biggest in all of Southeast Asia. Borobudur is designed in the shape of a massive tantric mandala. It depicts the Buddhist vision of the cosmos starting with the daily world on the bottom and spiraling up to the realm of nirvana.

Images of elephants, kings, warriors and dancing girls lead me up the terraces. I’ve always liked Buddhism; it allows me to walk the pilgrims path without knowing the teachings. I don’t feel as much a stranger as I do in a Hindu temple with their wrathful gods passing judgment. Here, I am welcome to meditate on my own beliefs.

The upper three circular levels are a dizzying spiral of Buddhas sitting in meditation inside their lotus-like stupas. Serenely, they greet the sun daily. Silently, they ask for nothing. Even when Mount Merapi spewed forth her ash and buried the site for almost 900 years, I can imagine the Buddhas still peacefully meditating.

It was an impressive temple which would ahve fallen down if not 25m had been spend on it. Lots of beggars and hawkers outside. One dwarf followed me for 500m shouting MONEY, MONEY at me. Fecker! Borobudur is on the UNESCO World Heritage sites for Indonesia

The World Heritage Committee has inscribed the following Indonesian properties on the World Heritage List:

1991 Borobudur Temple Compounds
1991 Ujung Kulon National Park
1991 Komodo National Park
1991 Prambanan Temple Compounds
1996 Sangiran Early Man Site
1999 Lorentz National Park

Anyway one interesting fact was its bombing in 1985. Apparently Radical Muslims aided by Hizbullah were responsible for the bombing of the Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese group of Shiite militants that has evolved into a major force in Lebanon’s society and politics. It opposes the West, seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state modeled on Iran, and is a bitter foe of Israel. The group’s name means “party of God.”

Anyway, I decided to walk to Mendut temple which was 3km from town. It was a nice walk but sign posting was bad. It was 3,000 IR to get in. No hawkers which was nice.


3 km east of Borobudur. It’s really a pleasure to walk from Borobudur to Pawon, then on to Mendut. This temple’s location is like a breath of fresh air after Borobudur’s garish trinket stalls and uncouth peddlers. Mendut stands alone in an empty courtyard, it’s quiet, there’s a little grass about. This temple is a genuine 9th Century temple of worship, not a candi to the dead. It faces Benares, where Buddah spoke his first words of deliverence. Originally it was over 27 m tall. Mendut was only a mound of rubble with cows eating grass on top until 1836 when it was cleared e”ll the dirt that hid it. It dates from about the same time as Borobudur, 850 A.D. The temple has extensive galleries, terraces, and a stupa on top of the main structure. A very sophisticated knowledge of Buddhist and Shivaite texts, Indian iconography, symbolism, and monumental architecture was crucial to build it. Its builders no doubt visited the Indian Holy Land.

I decided a experiment was in order. The temple was on the way back to Jogya and you pass the main Mageland – Yogya road after a round a bout. I decided to catch one of the buses coming off hat road. It was a different company from the one that over charged me. Many of those passe smiling wanted to me get aboard (looking forward to having a bit of extra pay). I caught a bus. It was only 5000 IR (QED). Well, at least I got one back on them. Tour groups normally charge 35,000 IR for the round trip. It cost me 17,000 IR. i wonder was the hassle worth it!!

Funny, think was that he did not leave me back at the main sation. There were only a few mini buses here. It was 6.30pm (dark) in the city and I had NO idea where I was. Was I near the main station (10km awy from the city) or I was in the city centre. I had no idea.

I have a pretty good sense of dorection. I look for detiantion signs of buses, where the main traffic is coming from (leaving the centre), where people are waking, busy strees, sloping, mountains etc. I rarely get lost. I decided to head towards the widest street where most traffic was heading and going. A guy who wanted to know where I was from told me I was about 2 km from the city centre (i was a street parnell to the main street)a nd gave me good directions.

I had walked some of it last night and I soon ran into good strret restaurants. i ahd Nasi Goreng for 5000 Ir and ice tea. I was stuffed as when I was waiting for the bus 2 hours ago I had Sat Kambing. it wa the niceest yet. He gave me a massive portion of rice (double waht I usually get), a salad, grat lam on shewers and peanut sauce and a drink. I expected a big bill but he was an honest amn. It was only 7000 IR (.72 cent).

As you can see, the amount I pay for food, drink and services is tiny. It is a VERY cheap country to travel in. Again you may notice that I give out if I get over charged. I am not a miser, quite the opposite. i simply do not like to pay more than, lets say 25 % more than locals. I have met tourists who ahve paid 10-15 times what locals pay for transport. What would hapeen if we did the same in Ireland. I know the same things happen in Vietnam etc. At least they offically post the foreigner prices and its state sanctioned. I remember 2 stories from Thaialnd and Vietnam.

A backpacker saw a local buy a T-shirt in Bangkok for X price, the tourist decided to pay the same price. THe counter girl refused and wanted twice the amount. The counter girl took back the T-shirt and told the pack packer to leave. He would rather not sell it, tan to lose face.

I Vietanm was buying food at a stall. Again, the same happened, but another local who had bought it at the local price agreed with the seller. They do the same here. The public will not side with the tourist in any circumstances even if it means lying.

Anyway, I did not get back to the hotel until 7.30pm. I stoppd alomg the way and found a stall seeling MP3 Complications. Grat value at 5,000 IR (.51 Euro) each. I bought most punk rock MP3 albums, best of Nirvana, best of Oasis etc. Excellent stuff for such a cheap price.

Did little the rest of the night.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Borobudur Temple (25-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Borobudur Temple (25-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Borobudur Temple (25-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Muslim Family (25-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Yogyakarta – Java – Indonesia – Mendut Temple (25-09-2003)

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003 – Day 218

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003 – Day 218

I was up around 8.00am and I packed. I was going to Yogyakarta (or Yogya as local call it) today. I wanted to see Kraton Mangkunegaran before I went. As it was only a two hour journey to Jogya, I had the time. I packed in any case.

This beautiful, well maintained Palace (Puro=Karaton) is located in the heart of Surakarta (Solo), in between Ranggowarsito, Kartini, Siswa and Teuku Umar streets. The construction of the Puro dated back in the year of 1757 by the then Kanjeng Gusti Pangeran Adipati Aryo (K.G.P.A.A) – Mangkoenagoro I (1757-1795). Adipati – Junior King. The Mangkunagaran Principality was founded after a series of bitter struggles against his family and the Dutch V.O.C (East India Company).

The Mangkunegaran Palace is another superb repository of clasical Javanese art and culture. The royal estate contains numerous priceless treasures, mostly from the Majapahit (1293 – 1478) and Mataram (1586 – 1755) empire eras: an exquisite collection of classical dance masks, wayang orang (dance drama) costumes, leather and wooden wayang puppets, religious icons, jewelry, and uncountable other antiques and heirlooms.

Within this magnificent palace is the Reksopustoko Library, where rare volumes of literature, religion and philosphy written in Javanese characters are preserved.

I went there early as there was traditional music and dancing practice from 10.30am for approx. one hour. It was expensive in. It was 10,000 IR (1.05 Euro, hell, thats not expensive) and if you wanted to enter the museum you would need a guide. Donations for the guide were extra. It was a simple place with a nice open air pavillion. The music and dancing were both relaxing and graceful.

I stayed about an hour and a half.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia – Kraton Mangkunegaran (24-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia – Kraton Mangkunegaran (24-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia – Kraton Mangkunegaran (24-09-2003)

After that I went down to the markets to look around. Very crowded but I had my favourite Indonesian dish called Sate Kambing. It was 10,000 IR plus ice tea. It was 11.15am and I headed back to the hotel. I got a rickshaw for the trip to the station and jumped onto the many buses to Jogya. I paid the local 5,000 IR (.52 Euro) price. The train would be nicer, but less flexible. Anyway, it took about 2 hours 15 minutes.

Peacefully cradled at the foot of the Menoreh Mountains in Central Java is the city of Yogyakarta. Often referred to as the biggest village in the world, it is the cultural heart of Java, a culture that spans many centuries. A population of over one million people live in Yogyakarta from a total of four million spread throughout the province.

Yogyakarta has the status of a ‘special area’ and one of only three in Indonesia – Daerah Istemewa Yogyakarta or the Special District of Yogyakarta. It has its own Government and is responsible directly to the Government in Jakarta and not the Government of Central Java.

At one time Yogyakarta was the capital of Indonesia and also the base for the revolutionary forces against the Dutch during their occupation of Indonesia. Located some sixty kilometres from the ocean, Yogya is surrounded by the Menoreh mountain range and shadowed by the volatile volcano Mount Merapi. Yogyakarta is a place that has not only the beauty in its architecture but also in its people and culture.

The Yogyakarta bus station is about 10 km away from the city centre. Rickshaw drivers only want a reasonable 8-10,000 IR for the journey but if you catch the city bus (Number 4) from the station next door, it will get you the main back packer area (Sosrowijayan) for 1,000 IR. It took 30 minutes, but they got me very close to my chosen hotel on that street called – Hotel indonesia. It was a nice clean, quiet hotel for 35,000 IR per night. It had a cold shower, but a shower none the less (I have not seen one of those for a while). I had the best wash for ages and I shaved my hair for the first time in a while. Clean clothes etc and I was a new man. I strutted down the streets. Its a far bigger city than Solo so I needed time to get my bearings. It is supposed to be the central city for back packers but not many (that I could see) about. Not as many facilities either like laundry and email. It took me quite a while to find a laundry which they would hand wash and dry. It seems not many of them have machines. It was 25,000 IR for a big bag.

I found a nice place to eat and I took my time. I walked down the main street which was crazy busy clogged up with horse drawn cart taxis and mptorbikes. I went on the only NET place I could find and I bought two ICE cold beers for after. I sat on my porch and drank the first really cold beers I have had for a while. The owner of the place guaranteed me there were no bed bugs in his hotel. I have been bitten quite badly the last few days. I hope they are not in my blanket!!!

Journalist apologises for ‘cheeky darkie’ jibe at Annan in New Zwaland.

The List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites Issued for 2004. The 2004 World Monuments Watch ( for the first time encompasses all seven continents. It includes 80 sites never before listed.

Monday, September 22nd, 2003 – Day 216 to Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003 – Day 217

Monday, September 22nd, 2003 – Day 216

I am writing this bog today in a NET cafe 1km from the home of the Bali Bomb mastermind called Imam Samudra.

Many of the Bali and Jakarta Marriott bombers came from Solo and much of the planning was done here. I have seen many young men wearing Osama Bin Laden T-shirts in Java and Madura – maybe 5/6 since I arrived. Thats a high percentage. One came on board my bus in Madura and gave out letters of introduction to all (except me) looking for donations. In Madura, the bus was stopped in front of every Mosque and people threw donations out the windows.

The Bali bombers were rootless young men recruited from the dusty poverty of a West Javan village, their overseer an older, more worldly West Javan burning with the zeal of Islam and with the contacts to organise and bankroll their jihad. Eric Ellis retraces their steps as they moved from village to town, drawing up their plans, meeting the fixers, financiers and bombmakers, and finally assembling and detonating the devices that would kill and maim so many in a Kuta Beach tourist precinct. Read the story here.

It seems there is an attitude in Indonesia that foreigners are fair game. This includes Chinese whom Indonesians have a particular dislike for.

For the Bali bombing, the plotters decided to finance their jihad by robbing non-believers. Stealing from infidels was not a crime. Two Bali bombers called Andri and Andi donned balaclavas and pistols to raid the Toko Elita Indah jewelry store in downtown Serang of $A80,000 in cash and gold. It helped that Elita’s owners were Chinese, regarded by many Javanese as polluters.

I think the same goes on today in regards the attitude many here have of non-Muslims. If may think I have been too critical yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. I like Indonesia, I love the food and the people but when it comes to money they loose the plot and who can blame them.

In 1997, the country collasped. The currency went from 2500 to 1$ to 17,000 to 1$ and inflation was 80%. Many blamed the IMF and still do. Information on the 1997 crisis can be found here.

I see four people died on Saturday as troops and police tried to rescue a group of more than 800 tourists, including about 40 foreigners, being held by the protesters at a roadblock near Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Last week, indigenous Aymara Indians had blocked major roads linking the country’s capital – La Paz – with other towns in Bolivia and also with neighboring Chile and Peru.

In local news, Indonesia’s police chief has warned that militants are planning more attacks on his country (19/09/2003).

I decided that for today and tomorrow I would update my website (the one you are reading). I have left it for about 11 days and its falling behind. I hate those blogs that fit 1 month into two lines. THIS is a pictorial blog rather than a guidebook. Its to give you a visual pictorial aid to your trip plans. Basically, I found a NET cafe on Bayangkara Street that copies my photos onto disk for pnly 5,000 IR (some places in Bali charge you 65,000 IR – no kidding) and an hourly rate on a fast connection for 3,800 IR.

The only thing I did today was visit Kraton Surakarta

The susuhunan (king) Pakubuwono II moved his court to the newly built Kraton Surakarta in 1745. The palace was significantly expanded at the turn of the 20th century by his descendant Pakubuwono X. However, many of the structures were destroyed by fire in 1985 and have been reconstructed.

The kraton is still home to the susuhunana of Surakarta, which means that much of the residence is off limits. There is a museum and guided tour through parts of the kraton available.

There was supposed to be an admission fee but I just walked in. Nice museum with guns, horse carriages, costumes, art from Java.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia – Do you ever feel some one is watching you!!! (22-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia. Where’s an umbrella when you need one !!! Plants been watered at Kraton Surakarta (22-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Solo – Java – Indonesia. Rickshaws (becaks) (22-09-2003)

According to the New York Times (21/09/2003), Indonesia Bans Foreign Aid Workers From Embattled Province of Aceh

According to the Washington Post, China’s Hippies Flock to Tibet to Sample a Simpler Existence

Found a good South East Asia News Site.

As you can see, I spent a lot of time on the Web as I have not been using it for 12 days. If anyone knows me, they know I am a NEWS JUNKIE. I did little in the evening. I just walked around looking and meeting the people. I do love the street food here.

Some recommendations:

Tempe: A soy-based solid food, remotely resembling beef. Eat with rice.

Nasi goreng or mie goreng sayur: Vegetable fried rice or noodles.

Rendang telur: Curry eggs. Eat with rice.

Tahu: Tofu

Sambal goreng kentang: Fried potatoes in chilli sauce. Eat with rice.

Bakwan: Vegetable fried in a flower-mixture.

Sayur asem: Green vegetable in a sweet and sour sauce.

Cah kangkung: Green Kangkung vegetable stir fried in a sweet soya or oyster sauce.

Lalab: Various green raw vegetables with chilli sauce (Indonesian salad).

More information can be found here. I love drinking ice here. Its so refreshing, usually 1000 IR for a half point. I only think I hate is thinking whether the ice is safe. I do not think about it. I see the ice coming to restaurants (usually on a horse driven cart, sold restaurant to restaurant a few times a day). They move it in big chunks to the bare ground and cut it up. Sometimes, they use a towel to have it safe and cut it up with a hatchet. Not very hygienic.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003 – Day 217

I decided last night to take the day off. If you have checked out the archives, you will have noticed I have been very busy for the past 7 months. I decided to sleep in and finish off updating the blog.

I was out of bed my 10.00am. They always get up so early here (5.00am) and you hear them sweeping and washing in the morning.

I spent the morning visiting the markets and eating. I had at least 4 meals before 2.00pm. I just wanted to try some great looking foods around the markets. Typical street food costs between 6,000 IR and 15,000 IR (1.80 Euro).

I enjoyed walking round. It hard to walk here as most shops keep there produce on the paths and people park their bikes there. Leading up to every business are steps so as you are walking its up and down, avoid the bike, restaurant etc. Its like an exercise mat. Its easier to walk on the road even though its is more dangerous, not that anybody walks here. I have never seen people walk any distance here. They use public bus, rickshaws or have a motor bike. When buses I have been on collect people on the road, people can be seen waiting 5 meter ahead. They never walk towards the bus. The bus starts up again and has to stop 5 meters on. Its true, they never walk anywhere!!! Yep, it hard to walk in comfort in the cities!!!

I also promised myself that I would not use my camera today. This would about the first day I have not used it. I have taken about 15,000 photos (digital) in seven months. Of course I deleted many of those soon after I took them. They were all saved to CD-R various times (except where I over wrote them one two occasions. Sorry to Sydney and Buenos Aires). It was tough not taking photos, but I enjoyed my day off doing nothing. I even had the time for a VERY cold (yes) noon beer. That felt good!!!

Back on the NET…..

I also see the Wires (23/09/2003) say more bombings are expected in Jakarta.

JAKARTA (Reuters) – The man accused of designing the bombs that rocked the tourist island of Bali last year and a Jakarta hotel last month plans to strike again in the Indonesian capital, the country’s police chief said Tuesday.

Azahari, a 46-year-old British-educated Malaysian engineer accused by authorities in several countries of being the top bomb-maker for the militant Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiah network, is still on the run and one of the most wanted men in Asia.

“The group is still planning bombings and terror in several places, particularly in Jakarta,” General Da’i Bachtiar told reporters before a hearing in parliament.

More good sites on Indonesia here.

I also found another Irish Travel blog. Three lads went from India to Ireland on motor bike during 2001. Not a great blog. I did nothing today. Thank God. I did buy a few souvenirs. Any happy anniversary to Tom and Marie back home.

I had a late dinner around 10.00pm. It was on a sidewalk mat. I had chicken BBQ. I was called over my a big guy who was eating. He was a businessman from Jakarta called Jon. His Merc was parked outside. He had good English and we spoke about Ireland, Indonesia and Finland. He had two associates (bodyguards) who never smoke and three (pay for play) local girls. I was there for over an hour and he wanted me to come to a Karoke club with him. His favorite topic of conversation was food and we spoke of it most of the time. He made me promise to ring him tomorrow to go driving round the city to sample the food. He said he would bring the three girls as well. Hmm. We will see.

Sunday, September 21st, 2003 – Day 215

Sunday, September 21st, 2003 – Day 215

Well I came here for the bull race. It was meant to start at 9.00am. I got little sleep last night. Two guys were sleeping on the ground outside my front door for some reason. As I said they get up early here. Some guy was giving a academic lecture to 5 students outside my door at 6.00am.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java (21-09-2003)

I was up around 7.00am and walked around and packed. I decided to try to get to Solo City in java for this evening. At about 8.00am I headed towards Geleng Stadium(about 1.5km away). I was followed by three young guys who started trying to converse with me in English. I was wary at the start but as they had school packs decided they on the level.

They wanted me to come to there school. They said it was on the way to the stadium. I did and I met there teacher. I had to go to there classroom and was asked to interact (question and answer session) with the English learning students for 10-15 minutes. The teacher said they do not get many tourists here and if they see one, they try and get them to come to the school. They asked my the various standard questions and asked me to take a photo. They asked me to promise to send it on.

The teacher then gave me a ride of his moto bike to the staduim, there I bought a ticket for 2000 IR. People were staring to stream in.

The beginning of the bullrace originated from the fact that Madura is not so fertile that is not good for agriculture, instead the Madurese catch fish and breed cows and bulls which are also used for farming especially to plough the fields where paddies or second crop plants are grown.

A man named Syeh Ahmad Baidawi who firstly introduced the weay of working the soil with using bamboo sled pulled by two bulls known as ” Nanggala or Salaga “. He was actually a proselytizer who came to Madura to spread up Islam bul also touch Madurese the way of ploughing the fields. This is way he got title ” Pangeran Katandur ” ( Prince of Planter ).

The early purpose the bullrace held is to get strong bulls for ploughing. The Madurese take care of the bulls and compete them in ploughing their fields as soon as possible. In this way the idea of competing come into existence and then developed into organized sport called ” BULLRACE “. The bullrace soon becomes routine activities carried of every year especially when harvest on the fields has finished

The Madurese take grat pride in their race bulls. They are reared specifically and it costs them lot of money. They are powerful big animals. They are fed the leaves of corn, beans and soybean trees and good grass. They are also fed the mixer of traditional spices like crushed ginger, pepper, chili, honey, beer and tens even hundreds of eggs. The mixture is later forced into the mouth of the bulls with using a bamboo lath. A owner gives a bull up to 50 eggs a day!!!

To make the bulls strong and health the bullowners sometimes also massage them by way of treading their backs, train every weekly and at times lulled to sleep especially when the racing day is approaching.

The Use of Magic Power

Three or four days before the racing day come, bullowners and their families crowd the surrounding of the racing track looking for good parking for the bulls, as on this particulary day black magic is common among the bullowners. In this case the one tries to overpower bulls from the other. Fashing for the bullowners is also prepared as such is believed to give them the inner power and strength to defeat the black magic of others.

It was nice seeing all the bulls. They are treated like royalty. They are masaged, washed etc. One team came in on two open back trucks. The bulls and supporters were in the first. In the second were more supporters and a private band who were playing local music.

Each team (they may have been about 30) had a tent. It seemed for every two bulls, there are about 20 men to look after them. It was a bit different from the Bali races as instead of a cart, they use a sleigh here (with no wheels). They go a lot faster here and it s a straight .5km straight race. Another difference was the jockey. All of them here were maybe 10-12 year old boys. It was amazing to see them hang on using the whip on the two bulls. Even more amazing was the way they stopped them.

Like a greyhound track they are turned into a blind corner at the end of the race, facing a dead end wall. To stop them, the kid jockeys jump between the two bulls (wild west cowboy style). It was amazing to watch.

Still there were many false starts as the bulls are hard to control. They are monsters. At the starting line, the bulls continuously broke free. It could take 20 minutes for a race to start as bulls broke free or crossed the lines or turned on their owners. Still, the speed was impressive. They go faster than man, at 100 metres in 9 seconds.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Bull racing / Kampang Sari (21-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Bull racing / Kampang Sari (21-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Bull racing / Kampang Sari (21-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Bull racing / Kampang Sari (21-09-2003)

I stayed there until 11.15am and got a rickshaw back to the hotel. It was 2000 IR for 1.5km. There waiting for me was the guy who over charged me last night on the beano from Ambuten. He found me (even though I did not tell him where I was staying). He wanted to be my guide! Basically I told him to get lost. He wanted to drive me to the station for a fee saying it was too far to walk and very dangerous. What a f%%^$.

I hired a rickshaw for 1000 IR to the station. They all want to over charge. I asked would he take me for 1000 IR. He pleaded ignorance even when I showed him the note. They don’t want to agree price until the end of the journey where they demand 5000 IR to 50,000 IR. I usually walk away until they cycle after me and agree. Always agree the price before you get on!!!!

I got a ride for 5000 IR back to he capital. From there I got another Beano to the port of Kamal for 8000 IR. From there a ferry to Surabaya for 2000 IR. From there a bus to the main bus station for 2000 IR. From there a bus to Solo (six hours) for 19,500 IR. From there a rickshaw to the PARADISO HOTEL (4 m) for 4,500 IR.

So the total cost was 42,000 IR (about 5 Euro). It took me nearly 12 hours. I had taken a motor bike ride, two rickshaws, a ferry and four buses. A few points about the journey.

Firstly, everyone in the above chain of events wanted to overcharge me. I meant eveyone from the beano drivers, bus drivers to rickshaw drivers. There is something in the combination of transport, money, foreigners and Indonesians that causes them to be greedy bastards. I know they learn little and they think I am rich. Indeed, I do not mind paying a little more (10-15%), but not 200%.

A few examples. The bus from Surabaya ferry terminal to the bus station is about 12 km. Its a bargain as the taxi drivers will want 20,000 IR. One looked for 50,000 IR. There wee lots of buses available to al points of the city. Mine was about a 70 seater and there were about 10 people on board. I put by bag on the two seats beside me as there is no baggage room. Many locals did the same as there was so much room. The conductor wanted to charge me X 3 as I was taking up space. Even when I put my two bags on my lap (very uncomfortable), he still wanted to charge me more. The locals were openly laughing. Told him no. Spend the rest of the journey with the back pack in front of my face with two empty seats beside me. Two locals were discussing the pros and cons of wearing shoes (like me) versus there flip flops. I did not join in with their discussion.

At the bus station, I had to pretend I was mute. I had about 10 touts shouting at me asking me where I was going. I ignored them and scoped the buses for my destination. As usual there were agents outside the back of each bus waiting to sell over priced tickets to tourists. I heard they would try and charge me 50000 IR to Solo. As my bus was leaving, it was going about 10 km an hour, I jumped in the front. All I could hear were the agents shouting. I was away. I wish I could have given them the finger. It was a nice journey but the driving was reckless. Tailing gating, passing when there was oncoming traffic, road rage. I saw it all. People go to bed early here and rarely travel late. The bus was empty most of the way. It was a pleasant journey apart from the crazy driving.

I paid what the locals pay: 19.500 IR for the six hour journey. This was the same amount I paid fro my trip from Porolingo to Surabaya (2 hour journey) with the help of a tout. This tout also wanted 2000 IR for directing me 5 meters to the back of the bus.

Another example. At the Solo bus station, it was 11.40pm and the rickshaw driver wanted 3,000 IR to take me to the hotel. He tried to take me to two other expensive places (better commission in dearer hotels) before getting me to the Paradiso. He then wanted 5,000 IR (I gave him 4,500 IR) as it was 3km. It usually a mistake to show weakness as they then double the price again. He still was not happy (they never are). The guy from reception came out and said I should pay him 8,000 IR (includes the commission the hotel pays drivers). I refused so the hotel guy had to pay commission of 2,000 IR (or more) even though I had wanted to come here.

I wanted water and a beer (I had not eaten all day and my bum was sore from all the sitting) so the guy from reception walkes me down to a stall down the street and the cost is 13,500 IR (correct price). I pay 50,000 and my guy and the reception guy count out my change about 3 times using different denomination notes and coins. He gives me the change and says lets go. I stay and count the change. Its only 30,000 when it should be 36,500 IR. All laughs… “Our mistake” and they provide extra amount. I count again, again it was only 34,000 IR. Ohh, “our mistake” again and I finally get the correct change. My guy (who was part of the scam) says, “you foreigners are very good at numbers”.

My point is when it comes to money, you can not trust the indonesians. Its hard to say, but they see nothing wrong in cheating us – or any non-Muslim. They dislike the Chinese as much as us. Shopkeepers are fine. They are honest, but when it comes to services, especially transport, they all up the price.

Anyway I got back to the hotel and watched the last 20 minutes of the Manchester United V Arsenal game live. It was good. I paid 30,000 IR for a large double bed with a large ceiling fan. One problem though was the fact that the power switch to the fan was connected to the lights. I could have the fan on during the night (essential) but also the full glare of the lights. Hmm, Catch 22. I was getting annoyed at this stage and woke the reception guy from the mattress behind the counter. I should have kicked him awake.

I made him hold the chair on the bed as I un screwed the 3 bulbs. It was 1.00am at this stage and I fell asleep quickly.

Saturday, September 20th, 2003 – Day 214

Saturday, September 20th, 2003 – Day 214

i was up early. Well, the locals are up around 6.00am. I was up around 9.00am. It was HOT. When i went outside I saw that thousands of ants were eating my breakfast (donuts and teo hard boiled eggs). It must have been there since 6.00am. I checked out.

I got a rickshaw for 1500 IR to the bus station. From there I agreed 5000 Ir to Sumenep. It is a 1 hour or 58km journey.

Again the scenery was nice and the mini van was not as packed. The people on board agreed that 5000 IR was the correct price. From the station I got a rickshaw to my chosen hotel called the Hotel Wijaya I. I decided to get a fan room for 23,000 IR. It was basic but fine. Lots of Asian tourists about but I have not seen a Western face since I arrived.

From there I walked into town. I first saw the towns Great Mosque . It is in the center of the city. It is exactly infront of Taman Adipura ( Adipura Park ) and on the left of it is the building of regional consultative body.

The Mosque was built by Tumenggung Arya Noto Kusumo I which known as Panembahan Sumolo in the year of 1763.

The style of its building was influenced by Islamic, China and Europe architecture. All these can be seen on its beautiful and unique gate.

From there I walked to Asta Tinggi which is a Royal Cemetery located in the Kebunagung village on the northwest of Sumenep city, about two and half kilometers away. I decided to walk. Many buses with local pilgrims passed me. Entry fee but doantions are expected. I gave them 5000 IR.

Asta Tinggi has two main buildings. The first is on the west side where one can find an old pendopo and three grave dooms. It is a simple pendopo used for helding a meeting in the time ago. While the dooms is a placed for grave. The first doom posited on the west content of Prince Pulang Jiwo grave. The second doom posited on the north is a grave of Prince Jimat and the last that listed on the east content the grave of Bindoro Saod and the queen Raden Ayu Tirtonegoro. This old building was built in 1750 in the reign of Bindoro Saod whose tittle Raden Tumenggung Tirtonegoro.

The second building placed on the north side is greater. The entrance is a big and beautiful gate that about 2 meters after it there is an inscription written in Arabic. This building has one great and interesting doom content of the grave of Arya Noto Kusumo I and his descendants. It has Islamic, China and Europe style. It was built in the year of 1763 by Aryo Noto Kusumo I.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Asta Tinggi (20-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Asta Tinggi (20-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Asta Tinggi (20-09-2003)

It was nothing special and from there I walked back into town and strolled around. Many business owners came out to look at me and some asked that I take pictures of them and their shop front. i had to take a picture of a squat tolet retailer, the owner and all the staff and a separate shopkeepers family. Strange.

It was 3.00pm and nothing to do. I decided to take a Beano to Ambunten which is about 30km away. I wanted to see some of the fishing boats up close. I had seen hundreds in the sea getting here and they looked impressive. the beaches also looked great. It was only 3000 IR to get there and we passed Slopeng beach to get there. This is meant to be one of the best beaches in Madura.

At Ambunten locals sleep on the beach with a sleeping bag and a tent. Only a small village here. Everyone stared. Still I found my way to the beach. The boats were impressive alld ecked out in colour. Many had European football team flags on. Everyone wabnted their picture taken. I had about 20 kids around me wanting their photo took. All the fisherman wanted their photo taken in front of their boats. TOO much. Everywhere I went, 20 kids following. One kid thought I was Japanesse. They get no tourists here. I was very much the centre of attention.

I could only spend one hour here before it got dark. I liked it. its a pretty backward palce but with the sea and boats, it was cool. A pity about the litter and dead cats etc which were every where. It s the same in Java, they throw their litter everywhere. I would not liek to stay in the village as people were pretty rough looking. No offense but people of the sea.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Ambunten (20-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Ambunten (20-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Sumenep – Java – Indonesia – Ambunten (20-09-2003)

I got a bus back. The conductor who was young and had prety good English wanted to rip me off. He wanted 5000 IR (I paid 3000 IR to get there). He gave me 1000 IR back after the disagreement as he said it went up 1000 IR after dark. Asshole.

Anyway I found theat the only place that sold beer was a hotel in town and so I bought a bottle to drink on my porch (12,000 IR). Maybe I should not have done so, as I saw as least five rats for the time it took me to drink it. All the toilets for the hotel lead to a open sewer in front of each of the hotel blocks. Nobody else was taking much notice of them. No wonder that about a half dozen cats are employed on the premises.

There were some Warung outside the hotel and I had Nasi Goreng for 5000 IR. I had another early night.

Thursday, September 18th, 2003 – Day 212 to Friday, September 19th, 2003 – Day 213

Thursday, September 18th, 2003 – Day 212

I met an English Guy last night who spoke of new travel warnings from the British foreign Office about Indonesia. Check out the warnings (dated 14 August 2003) here.

Some excerpts include:

We advise against all non-essential travel to Indonesia. A bomb exploded at the Marriott Hotel in Central Jakarta on 5 August. We continue to receive information that indicates terrorists are planning further attacks, including against Westerners, throughout the country. If you are already in Indonesia you should consider leaving if your presence is not essential.

If you choose to remain in Indonesia you should exercise extreme caution. There is a continuing risk of harassment of Westerners by fundamentalists.

I am surprised by its advice. Its hard to know but there are very few tourists about. The Japanese market here has collasped and many guesthouse listed in the lonely Planet have closed.

Anyway I took the bus back to Probolinggo. I was went a Brazilian girl. We went got a public bus to Surabaya. Again we were ripped off with the aid of the driver. A guy cam on with the official ticket book and wanted us to pay the 20,000 IR to Surabaya. The local price is between 8,000 and 10,000 IR. We refused and said we would pay later like everyone else. The driver was there but said nothing (it was his ticket book the agent had). The agent then said he would throw us off the bus and got VERY angry. I have never seen anyone as tough as the Brazilian girl when it came to negotations and bargaining but we decided to back down. Everyone is involved in the scam and all lie to you. They would rather kick you off rather than you paying the local rate.

I t was 2.00pm when we got to Surabya. Its a sprawling city and the bus station is 10km from the city centre. It was hard finding a public bus to the city. I had to go to the bus terminal exit and ask the guard to point out the proper bus when leaving. Good Man, as he did. Buses may not have destination signs on it.

There are no rip offs on the city or inter village buses. I paid the local rate of 2000 IR to get into town. The bus was not going to my chosen hotel (no one did) and its a massive city. I told the ticket seller to let me on a certain road. There are no road signs so you need advice. He did and I walked about 20 minutes in this hot stuffy city. Its the first big Asian city I have been in since I got to South East Asia and it was hard. Its impossible to cross the road without getting nearly killed. I booked into the Pavillion Hotel. Its not cheap at 66,000 IR but I needed the comfort and rest. I had to put on my pants last night because it was so cold. Tonight it will be so warm, that I will not wear any clothes.

I was so tired that I rested from 4.0opm to 6.00pm before walking around. Very busy city.

  • Population: 2,159,000

  • Language: Bahasa Indonesian

  • Industry: Shipbuilding, Heavy equipment, Food processing, Electronics

    Expots: Handicrafts, Funiture, Sugar, Coffee, Tobacco, Teakwood, Rubber

    Climate: Tropical

Surabaya is the capital of East Java, one of Indonesia’s main islands, and is Indonesia’s second largest city and port. With a 700-year history, it is one of Indonesia’s oldest cities. It is known as the “City of Heroes” because of its courageous role in the struggle for independence at the end of World War II.

Today Surabaya is a rapidly developing commercial and educational center. Some of its main industries are shipbuilding, heavy equipment, food-processing and agriculture, electronics, household furnishings, and handicrafts. It has outstanding universities, a famous zoo, and many recreational attractions in East Java’s mountains and along its coasts.

I walked down to Chinatown where a festival celebration was starting.

The Lonely Planet describes Surabaya as a hot and dusty crowded city with precious little to see (Lonely Planet, 1990, p. 288). Most interesting sights are located outside Surabaya.

I agree with this. I walked around for three hours and made no dent in this city. All of the pointed NET cafes were closed. I finally walked into a five star hotel and asked for tourist information (letting on I was a guest). They gave me some good amps and were telling me use there free Internet in the executive business centre. I was nearly going to put he pointed out a NET cafe on the map.

I headed down there and was there for three hours (for 10,000 IR) – A Bargain.

I then headed to China town. All the red lanterns were out and the streets closed off to traffic. There must have been 200 food carts there selling Chinese food and drink. You could hardly find two that were the same such was the variety. There was some sort of celebration but I was too exhausted to eat much there.

Its a hard city to like. Traffic is everywhere with no pedertinised crossings. You take your life into your hands everytime you cross the road. If if they are crossings, all the drivers ignore them. You need to be pretty fast and fit to pass any road without getting run over.

I also had a taxi driver shout at me for 10 minutes while walking. If he was just looking for business or something else, I do not know. I was in bed my 12.00 and listened to MP3’s. It was SO hot, that I found it hard to sleep.

Friday, September 19th, 2003 – Day 213

Its a VERY hard city to like. The public bus service is impossible to understand as most do not out destination signs or numbers on there bus. The heat and pollution is terrible and there is no central point to the city. Attractions are hours apart if you want to walk. The traffic is very bad and you risk your life everytime you cross the road.

I was up early and decided to find a Tourist Office to find out about whether there was bull racing on in Madura island this Sunday. To no avail. People said it had closed down. It was really hot at this stage. I am drinking two lires per day at the moment.

I decided to visit the Submarine Monument which is close by.

The sub marine monument is located in the bank of Kalimas River, on the east corner of Surabaya Plaza. The brief history of this Sub Marine was started a long time ago. The ship was called KRI Pasopati with the body number of 410. It was one of the elements of Indonesian Sub Marine Army Unit on the east region. This Sub Marine once belonged to the Russian Whisky Class and it was received by the Indonesian Government on December 15, 1962. In the National Indonesian Navy Force (TNI-AL), the Sub Marine of this kind has the main duty to destroy the enemy’s sea line (anti shipping), to do the spying activity, and to do the silent raids. When this Sub Marine dedicated itself in the National Indonesian Navy Force, this Sub Marine had done many operations to defend the Indonesian independence and even in the “Trikora” operation to gain Irian Jaya (at that time Irian Barat) back to its mother land. At that time, this Sub Marine was in the front line. Fourteen mediocre officers from TNI-AL had ever lead this Sub Marine as the commander. The last commander on this Sub Marine was the Navy Lieutenant Colonel (P) Imam Saki. This Sub Marine ended its dedication as the Indonesian War Ship (KRI) in 1994.

Indonesia has no modern submarines today because its water territory is too vast, comprising two-thirds of the archipelago’s total 5 million square kilometers, connecting over 17,500 islands. Operating submarines wouldn’t even be “better than nothing”.

It was only 4000 IR in and it was a short 20 minute visit. Nothing special.

I decided to walk to the main city tourist office. Its really confusing as there are no street signs and you are chancing your life as you try and cross roads. Surprise, Surprise as the main tourist office has also shut down. Tourism has been badly hit recently and I suppose they saw no point in keeping it open.

I was so hot and frustrated that I went into a MacDonalds for the first time since I left Ireland. Don’t worry, as I didn’t eat a burger. I had a ice cream and a coke.

from there I walked to a travel agency next store. It was big and had air-con. My faith in the citizens of Surabaya has been restored. They gave me a seat and the International Herald Tribune to read. They provided me with the 2003 Madura schedule of bull races.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Surabaya – Java – Indonesia – General City (19-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Surabaya – Java – Indonesia – General City (19-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Surabaya – Java – Indonesia – General City (19-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Surabaya – Java – Indonesia – General City (19-09-2003)

I decided to head to the Island there and then. I walked back to the hotel and checked out. From there I walked to the only NET cafe (that I could find) in the city and send 2/3 emails on a slow connection. From there I took a 1000 IR beano towards the Harbour. I had to change to another. As none have destinations signs of them, its difficult to find the right one. It took me about 15 minutes. I then took another 1000 IR beano to the harbour.

I ignored the touts and agents selling tickets and walked to the public booth inside the terminal. The price was 1950 IR for the 30 minute trip. It is a 24/7 operation and the ferries leave every 20 minutes. They were all packed and full of cargo and vehicles. As everyone was smoking on board, I went outside to get some fresh air. A lot of people selling various objects on board from belts to toys. Some were annoying.

When I got to Madura, there were supposed to be buses available. There were not, but a local pointed me to the bus terminal about 1km down the road (you take a left after leaving the ferry building).


A large island 160 km long by 30 km at its widest across the strait separating it from Surabaya. East Java. Madura is usually included in the statistics of East Java. The best day to visit Madura is on Sunday, the market day. This island is famous for its bullraces. These colorful, crowded farmers’ festivals are held frequently and attract visitors from all over the world. Traditional races are put on between April and Aug. in bullracing stadiums in villages all over Madura. Races are also held on weekends and public holidays.

From this figure, the inhabitants of Madura accounted for 1,509,431 females and 1,367,763 males. Spread among the four Regencies the population figures are as follows:

SUMENEP : 914, 053

BANGKALAN : 717, 600

PAMEKASAN : 624, 592

SAMPANG : 620, 949

Until the end of the 1970’s one could say that the Madurese led a hard, uncertain existence whether their livelihood was sought through farming, fishing or business In the last few years, however, technological progress has brought about increased living standards, improved roads, waterworks, electricity, land and sea travel, as well as communication in general. The result is an economy that stands at a higher level than it did 20 years ago.

From there I was able to get a Beano for 9000 IR to the capital of Madura called Pamekasan. It was 2.5 hours in a stuffy mini van. We kept stopping taking on and letting people off. Still, the scenery was great and I saw some great coast line with blue seas and white sands. What I found most interesting was the number of small fishing boats bobbing up and down.

I had no maps of the city so I had to take a becak (rickshaw) to my chosen hotel called the Ramayana. I had the choice of a 23,000 IR room without fan or a 50,000 IR room with air-con. As I have not had air-con for a long while, I went for it. It was basic as I sway two of those small bastard lizards on the floor. Even with the in room brush, I was able to get rid of them.

I walked own down. Lots of starring and startled looks. I read in the brochure from the hotel that the people of Madura are well known for their straightforwardness and direct approach, particularly evident in their manner of speech. I also read that they will defend their honour at the drop of a hat. Hmm, I did not want to look at the Muslim girls directly in case I offended some one.

According to the Surbaya city guide the Madurese are hot-blooded and quick to excite. It may seems so, as when I went to the supermarket for a beer, lots of giggling girl’s and HELLO MISTER. Weird.

Anyway there were lots of Warung (street restaurants) outside my hotel> Sate Kambiing was about 5000 IR and I had it twice in the evening. I was told that NO BEER was to be had in the city. True, no beer available.

It was a pretty religious city as the call for prayers blared around the city on loud speakers. There was little to do or see here at night. I found a NET cafe (with one computer) and went on the net for an hour.

I had a early night and had a goods nights sleep (even with the though of those Lizards in the room).