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Yogyakarta and Solo among the unforgettable experiences in Indonesia

As a lass hailing from a landlocked country, I must admit I was nervous with anticipation as I readied myself for my first ever trip to the incredible archipelago that is Indonesia.

Visitors gather at dawn at Borobudur Temple complex, one of the world’s greatest Buddhist monuments and boasting panoramic views over the city of Yogyakarta.

I had read of famed Buddhist monuments, incredible royal palaces and gardens and lively active volcanos.
Yet I was still not sure exactly what to expect of my visit to Yogyakarta and Solo, fabled cities on the island of Java, famed for natural, cultural and various culinary delights.
Needless to say the chance to explore such destinations for five days from April 3-7 was an opportunity that no one with a taste for adventure could possibly pass up.
Whatever nerves I had were instantly calmed by the warm welcome from Ms Hani, the PCO for our familiarisation tour.
She had us out of the airport smoothly and off to Tentrem Hotel in Yogyakarta, the latest five-star hotel to serve guests to the area.
Her kind assistance began from before our first step on the island nation’s soil on the afternoon of April 3, leaving a positive impression of Indonesian hospitality from the very beginning.
Meanwhile, the hotel exuded modern style with a tremendous 3D art installation among many touches of artistic beauty to inspire the guest, surely meeting and exceeding the expectations of all concerned.
As to be expected, the room was clean and fully furnished with a prime balcony outside to relax and experience the view, enjoy a libation or perhaps light up a clove cigarette for those so inclined in what remains a largely smoker-friendly country.
After settling in there was a chance to discuss with fellow travelers, in this case some fellow media personnel from the region.
Media counterparts from the Philippines, Vietnam, and yours truly from Laos were joined by Indonesian Ministry of Tourism officials plus the PCO, her assistants and a camera crew.
Of course, we were all pretty excited for the chance to dine out on local specialties.
Traditional Yogyakarta food certainly tickled the taste buds.
To the Lao palate some fare may seem mild but things could always be spiced up with the ubiquitous sambal, a mix of chili, garlic, salt, and some ingredients.
These are stir-fryed with a little cooking oil on hot pan and served as a side dish cum dip for those who want a spicy taste on their tongue to linger longer.
Culture wise, the visit to the Sultan’s Palace was one of the highlights during this trip.
The historical complex that housed the Yogyakarta sultans over generations is remarkable both inside and out for its architecture as well as its collection of treasures such as paintings, heirlooms and rare artifacts collected and passed down over generations.
Such displays make the palace a must-see site that no tourist should miss.
And of course the entrance fee is extraordinary value at only 15,000 Rupiahs (about 9,000 kip) for foreigners from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. 
Tourists can engage guides for explanations of the history of the palace, with the fee depending on your generosity. 
The other destination on our list was TamansariNgayogykarta.
Tamasari refers to the beautiful garden built by the first sultan of Yogyakarta in 1684 as a royal recreation and a bathing place, a veritable private retreat for the royal family.
Open from 9 am to 6 pm, entry is just 15,000 Rupiah once again.
If one has the chance to visit Prambanan temple in the evening, I highly recommend you see the Sendratari Ramayana (performance of Ramayana epic).
The plot of story and detailed costumes are fantastic and make it well worth the price of 125,000 to 400,000 Rupiah (76,000-244,000 kip) depending on your preferred seat.
Of course no trip to Yogyakarta would be complete without a visit to Borobudur temple, one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.
The best time of day is sunrise when the golden first rays of the day illuminate the complex, encouraging the kind of peace of mind that would help just about anyone fall in love with the site, devotee or not.
The serenity of dawn at Borobudur provided quite the contrast to the thrills and spills of the Merapi Lava tour.
Exploring to Merapi Lava tour by jeep was one of the most memorable experiences.
Three tour options are available starting from 1.5 hours.
Each jeep can comfortably carry three passengers but can squeeze in five if necessary.
Alas on this tip we had a limited time so we chose the shortest option.
The driver took us around the Merapi volcano to the museum SisaHartaku.
It was established by a family in their house that was affected during the last eruption in 2010.
This museum shows the damage to property, animal and plant life from nature’s forces.
Next stop was the Alien stone where we grabbed a snap of the melancholic façade that some liken to the face of an extra terrestrial visitor.
The final last destination on the lava tour was an old bunker once utilised during eruptions but no longer considered safe to use for the purpose.
Next it was off to explore the history and development of textiles in the form of Mirota Batik (batik museum) home to extensive collection of antique batik, from not only this city but also all over the world.
Of course, no trip would be complete without souvenir shopping for family, friends and one’s own collection.
Mirota Batik also has a one stop shop for a variety kind of batik clothes, both machine and handmade as well as accessories, puppets, traditional musical instruments as well as local snacks and so on with a most reasonable price tag.
On the exit way of the museum lots of handmade batik products were all sale. Meanwhile, they also had their own handmade batik painting factory behind this museum.
The last night in Indonesia on this trip was at Lorin Solo Hotel located in Solo city centre.
You can positively imbibe the green tinged nature surrounding this place.
The room was warm in terms of décor while the balcony permitted one to see the variety of flowers and fish swimming in a pond outside.
This capped of the trip to Yogyakarta and Solo as one full of unforgettable memories.
The cities are full fill of historical, colourful traditions, and amazing cuisine.
Yet what stands out most is the people being so very kind and warm in their welcome.
The time flew and soon it was time to say good bye to these vibrant isles and her people, expecially those of these most incredible destinations of Yogyakarta and Solo.
I hope to visit these wonderful places and more besides at the next opportunity.
I would like to express appreciation to the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia, the Asean Secretariat, and all hospitality providers for the most unforgettable experience in Indonesia.



By SouksamaiBoulom
(Latest Update April 28, 2017)

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