Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Java land tour 30 September - 4 October 2008

End of Ramadan, Yogyakarta, Borobodur, Prambanan

A fast ferry took us from Karimun Java to Java for a four-day trip visiting the World heritage temples at Borobodur and Prambanan.  Arrangements were complicated as the timing coincided with the end of Ramadan - causing chaos on the roads.

Ferry Karimun Java to Jeparra

Ferry passengers

The group were up bright and early for the fast ferry trip to Jeparra, taking some two hours.  Some got a chance to catch up on sleep, others to read.

On arrival we were installed in a bus and taken to a Chinese restaurant for lunch.  Back on the bus we headed off towards Yogyakarta.  The distance is about 190 km and the journey should take about 4 hours. 

No one, including the organisers, had foreseen the impact that the last day of Ramadan would have on our trip. Traffic congestion, road blocks, crowds, parades were all viewed from the confines of a bus!  Streams of children were heading for the mosques. Unfortunately, photographs through the bus windows were not successful.

Tembi homestay village

Homestay Tembi

After dinner in another Chinese restaurant we arrived 6 hours late to the “home stay” village of Tembi at 2230 , exhausted, to be serenaded and offered the ubiquitous sweet black tea and musical entertainment before being shown to our accommodation.  To be fair, it was the last night of ramadan and our hosts had opted to entertain us rather than be with their families.Sleeping allocation was pot luck some couples managed a double mattresses, some a single and others a floor. We were lucky - we had a house to ourselves, the owners having moved out. This seems to be the local interpretation of homestay - you use their home, not share it.  We had a 4 foot mattress on the floor, a shower and squat toilet.  Breakfast was "local" but included some fruit.The aim of a home stay is to be with the local people and experience a little of a different culture but not this night the entire population of the village were in the mosque and chanting 24/7 through loud hailers.

Box makers Tembi

In the morning we took a short walk to admire the paddy fields then there  were demonstrations of some of the local crafts, including audience participation by some.



Borobudur is the aim of the day. By no means as sumptuous as Angkor Wat, it looms out of a patchwork of paddy fields a colossal Buddhist relic, fully restored since the 1985 bombs. The main temple itself is built from 2 million block stones in the form of a massive symmetrical stupa, literally wrapping itself around a small hill. It was conceived as the Buddhist vision of the cosmos in stone. Starting in the everyday world and ending up in Nirvana, Buddhist heaven. It was not crowded but Asians have this habit of climbing over their heritage like monkeys, which is very irritating! We thought that this was going to be a rushed tour but we found time to visit the museum.

No climbing

Lunch at another homestay, more audience participation

Pony & trap from Borododur

Getting everyone gathered together at the end of the Borodobur visit was a bit of a challenge for the organisers but it was eventually achieved and we were all installed in horsedrawn carriages for the short ride to lunch. This was to be in another homestay.

Trainee gamelan
Play by numbers

After lunch some of the group had a go entertaining us with a gamelan recital - with "do it by numbers" instruction from the hostess.  We didn't think the trainees needed to rush into finding an agent!

Dinner at the Kraton Mankunegaren, Surakarta

Gamelan orchestra

For some reason, dinner at the Kraton (palace) in Yogyakarta was not available.  As a result it was back on the bus for a 60 km drive to Surakarta (Solo) for dinner at the second of the two Kratons in the city.  Entertainment consisted of a gamelan orchestra (very much better than the lunchtime one) and dancing in the main pavilion, followed by a buffet dinner eaten in the ornate function room and a tour of the state rooms.


Shiva temple

Before leaving Surakarta we went to the centre of the the small walled city within a city. 25,000 people live within the compound. It is here that we visited batik factories, local markets and silver cottage industries.After these stops and resisting the associated opportunities for retail therapy we are back on the bus for the trip back to Yogyakarta; the route takes us past the Prambanan group of temples.  Although not perhaps as famous as Borobodur they are also a World Heritage site.  A stop here was not actually on the programme but this was amended to allow a group of us a few hours to view this site, while others went on into Yogyakarta.

In contrast to the Buddhist temple of Borobodur, Prambanan is Hindu, with major temples to Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu the three manifestation of the deity in Hinduism.  The Shiva temple is the largest, flanked by those of Brahma and Vishnu.  Access to the interior of the temples was limited because of damage done in the 2006 earthquake. In front of each of the temples is a smaller one dedicated to the god's "vehicle", Brahma's swan, Chandi, Shiva's bull Nandi and Vishnu's eagle Garuda.

There are numerous other temples and shrines on the site, which covers a vast area.

Sam Poo Kong Temple, Semerang

Zheng He sets off

After a fairly leisurely start at the four-star Puri Asri Resort at Magelang, whilch had been our overnight stopover - a big imnprovement on the previous two nights, we are on tthe road again.  Lunch is at a coffee plantation, from berry to pot exhibition and we arrive at Semerang in the early afternoon. 

The Sam Poo Kong Temple honours the Chinese Muslim Admiral Cheng Ho (or Zheng He) who led vast treasure fleets to much of the known world in the early 1400's.  A must to visit if you are even half convinced by Gavin Menzies' books 1421 and 1434 which claim that the Chinese fleets got much further than is generally accepted before political infighting made China introverted for centuries.  The stunning bas reliefs in this temple, however, are limited to the areas about which there is solid historical fact.

Gereja Blenduk (Domed Church), Semerang

Gereja Blenduk

The Dutch colonialists also brought their culture and religion to Java.  The Gereja Blenduk, built in 1793, is an impressive reminder of this, with it's large copper dome, The church has an ancient pipe organ, which apparently cannot be used now.  Presumably organ restorers are thin on the ground in Indonesia.


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Last updated from Durban Marina on 15 December 2015


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