Archive for April, 2014

Borobudur and Merapi

Posted: April 3, 2014 in Sidequest, Travel

A short two hours flight away from Singapore, Yogyakarta (aka Jogja from the Dutch influence) is a tropical haven for slight seeing. The town centre is an hour away from two of their biggest attraction, the Borobudur temple ruins and Mount Merapi. Oh, and you get to experience the Tarmac walk on arrival. The allure of the ground, the empty space between you and the plane and the runway in your face adds to the experience.

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Borobudur is about 70km away from town. In the Yogyakarta traffic, that would translate to one and a half hours of drive. The sunrise at Borobudur is to die for, but only if the skies are clear.IMG_3312[1]

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As the largest Buddhist structure in existence, Borobudur is a sight to marvel. Surrounded by mountains and forests, it easily beats the view at Angkor wat.

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Like all historical monuments, Borobudur has stupas and carvings that has been ravaged by time, but are nonetheless breathtaking.

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50km away stands Mount Merapi, the location of the closest volcanic eruption to Singapore in 2010.

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Lava was spewed out of the volcano and engulfed the surrounding villages. Most of the houses were burned and items laid to waste.

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Nokia 3310, I think you met your match.

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WTH are these TV screens made of?!

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The site of the bunker where 2 died while trying to escape from the eruption.

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And Batu Alien, the rock formation that was thrown out of Mount Merapi and resembles an alien… or does it not?

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The city of Yogyakarta is less charming, with the constant sound of bikes revving their engines. It’s even worse during the election period (next month).

And here’s the part that I don’t get about getting votes in Yogyakarta. Masked walk on the streets with bikes revving their engines to sound like cheers or drums beats while holding huge flags and look like they are high on drugs. Not to mention the menacing looking political party flag which is blood red and has an angry bull all complete with horns. They walk along the road and block the entire traffic, taking their time to stroll along every street. They walk around dancing and cheering, high on what not and seems to be on the borderline if taunting passerbys.

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Angsty much? Yes. Because they start at 8am.

Political aside, Yogyakarta is a city to visit. Cheap food, better sights than Angkor wat, majestic mountains and more importantly, friendliness and service that rivals the Thais. Add in 2 flights a day and under $150 for a return, Yogyakarta has just become one of my favourite cities in Southeast Asia.

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