Friday, August 29, 2008


Day 7 would be my last day in Jogja. Tomorrow would be sayonara. So this day saw me waking up early as usual, with a fixed program of visiting Borobudur. Borobudur would be 50kms from Jogja. In the early morning that I left my losmen in Marlioboro, the weather was still cool. Traffic was just building up as office-workers were making their way to work.

I had some bread to prop my stomach, planning to have a good breakfast upon reaching Borobudur. Traffic police were seen at most junctions as I cycled along the main road to Borobudur.

About 20kms from Borobudur, I came across this welcome sign SELAMAT DATANG DI JAWA TENGAH. I stationed my bike against the stupa, the symbol that is synonamous with Borobudur and took this shot.

Later, I branched off from the main highway towards Borobudur. When I arrived, it was still pretty early. The restaurants were just about to be opened. I went into one, Nasi Padang breakfast (what else!) Had my fill and made my way to the parking lot. I paid the parking fee and parked my bike besides the parking office. The attendant gladly accepted my helmet and glove for safe-keeping. "Bisa Pak" when I request them to leave my helmet at the office.

Almost immediately, I was approached by a lady offering for sale, caps and hats of various colors. "Panas Pak" confidently telling me, probably noting that I "need" it more than others. I bought a hat, thinking that I could also use it for gardening back home. No sooner had I completed this transaction, a young man approached me. He must be thinking this man is "easy meat". "Sobenir Pak" offering me a replica of Borobudur. "Terima kasih, tidak mahu". He followed me and continued to offer, the price reduced with every "tidak mahu". Noting that I was no easy meat, he changed tactic.

"Biar saya jadi guide untuk bapak. Saya bisa ambil gambar untuk bapak". "Terima kasih, tidak mahu".

"Nanti tidak ada orang nak ambil gambar untuk bapak. Guide disini harganya 40,000. Saya murah aja Pak". This guy was persistent.

"Berapa?" aha, I was weakening.

"Ikut suka bapak"

"Rumit kalau begitu. Berapa?"

He became my tourist guide. I was glad I employed him. His name is Solikin, a young man in early 20's, recently married. So, I finally got a chance to pose. And pose I did!
Pose # 1
Before entering Borobudur

Pose # 2

Pose # 3
At the Stupa

Solikin could not qualify as a tour guide. He did not know much about the history. But he knew how to take my photos. He was smart too. He enticed me with a trip to see Mount Merapi, that elusive volcano that I failed to capture on my train ride to Solo. He said we would rent a spedamoto, travelled through the villages to Kaliurang, one of the foothills of Mount Merapi. Offer was too good to refuse. We started bargaining again!


"Terpulang pada Bapak", noting that this same statement worked earlier!

"Ngak boleh begitu. Berapa ongkos sewa spedamoto?"

Soon, we left Borobudur and I found myself a pillion-rider, headed for Mount Merapi. Dear elusive Mount Merapi, here I come!

We passed several villages. Solikin took shortcuts which only the locals would know. The weather was grey with threatening rain. It was cool. Passing a stream, I noticed black rocks. It was larvae from past eruptions. The lands here though were fertile from the volcanic ash. Vegetables abound.

The road began to climb and the Yamaha was protesting as we headed up and up towards the foothills of Gunung Merapi. No signs of Merapi. The weather was misty and I was feeling chilly. We reached the foothill and I was greeted with this view.

Merapi had eluded me once again! It was a wash-out. On a clear day, Merapi would be visible from this look-out point. The caretaker was sympathetic. "Tunggu Pak, mungkin matahari keluar dan cuaca bertukar. Nanti bisa melihat Merapi". So I waited, and waited, and waited.

While waiting, we went into the office. He invited me to visit the bunker.

Made of very thick concrete, the bunker would be the safe haven for staff should Merapi erupt. Entering it gave a feeling of being trapped. One could even feel claustrophobic inside it. There was also a viewing window made of very thick glass to view the larvae flow. It also had a thick hatch to close the window. Would it stand the massive heat of molten rock? I certainly would not want to be there to test it.

A seismograph to measure the movement of Merapi was on, 24 hours a day, monitored by the care-taker. It looked primitive by today's sophisticated system. The monitor showed moving graphs. To a layman, the graphs looked pretty similar to those in any hospital when your body is wired for medical observation!

I continued waiting. My tour guide Solikin was patient. He could wait the whole day he said. After all, his day's earning was already secured. Merapi remained elusive. Past lunch hour, I told him we should head back to Borobudur. A final glance at the foothill. You have won, Merapi!

We had another round of Nasi Padang at another restaurant in Borobudur. Later Solikin brought me around to visit his village and view Borobudur from another angle. I took a shot of him with Borobudur in the background.

It was getting late in the afternoon and after saying goodbye to Solikin, I decided to take the bus back to Jogja, with my bike as additional luggage. It was a fruitful day. Merapi would have to wait another visit, another time.

I ended my 1 week exploring Jogjakarta and its surrounding on a satisfactory note. I loved the countryside. I loved its people. I loved its food. I loved its crowd. I blended in well. Alhamdulillah. I carried the fond memories with me on this "becak".

Selamat Jalan. Sampe ketemu lagi

1 comment:

Murad said...

Waduuh! seronoknya Jogja. Saya nak kesana bulan November main golop.Kalok bapak ada cadangan yang baik untuk dilakukan disana bisa beritau saya.