31 January 2013


[I'll figure out the formatting issues later. Enjoy!] 

Yogyakarta (pronounced Johg-jah-karr-tah and Jogja for short) is one of the cultural centers in central Java. A few days after Christmas, Morgan, another Fulbright ETA, and I flew to Jakarta and took a 7-hr train ride to Jogja. The ride was pretty enjoyable. We arrived in Jogja around 2AM and drove into the town of Borobudur where UNESCO World Heritage Site, Borobudur Temple is located. Less than two hours later we were up again to see the sunrise over the temple. the locals call it Borobudur Nirvana Sunrise. It is quite the site and it literally takes your breath away. The clouds the sun, and Mt. Merapi, in the background, are all so mesmerizing that you forget about the temple. l

The temple itself is incredible - At least 500 statues of the Buddha in meditative poses are dispersed across the temple. You cannot enter the temple as it is to be admired from the outside. So, we walked around each level until we reached the main stupa in the center. 

Due to our brown skin and hair texture, Morgan and I are instant celebrities here, so every 10 minutes or so, someone wanted to take a picture with us. I did not even think that this would become an issue. I write issue because we could not move more than 10 feet without someone wanting to photograph us, and we were trying to enjoy the temple just like everyone else. But I responded with a yes to every request. There are worse fates.  

On the train to Jogja from Jakarta. We enjoyed 
Christmas music and a showing of Home Alone. 

Our beds at the romantic Lotus II Hotel in Borobudur. 

Borobudur Nirvana sunrise. 

Mt. Merapi in the background (slightly off center and to your left). 

I was so excited to visit the temple!!

One of several photo ops with complete strangers.

Namaste in between two stupas. My yoga poses are getting better :). 

The next night, we went to see the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan Temple, a Hindu temple that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Yes, two UNESCO sites in one shot.) The ballet was lovely. It is basically a Javanese love story with an evil and jealous king, a golden stag, and two groups of monkeys that fight each other to help the prince win back a princess. Morgan and I enjoyed being able to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. The show is held during the night, so we had to come back to see the temple in all its glory during the day. Prambanan is another great wonder here in Indonesia. There are three main temples dedicated to Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. Near the exit are the remains of many smaller temples. We also went to see the ruins of Ratu Boko Palace since it is close to Prambanan. 

Showtime at the Ramayana Ballet. 

Two very happy audience members.

After the show ended the audiences members were 
allowed to take photos with the cast members. Here, I pose
with two of the monkeys. 

Morgan posed with one of the princess' helpers. 

More monkeys at Ratu Boko Palace. 

The entrance to the palace.

Front entrance to Prambanan Temple. 

Another photo op with a cute Indonesian bu. 

The grounds at Prambanan.

The detailed artwork on the sides of the temples are incredibly compelling. 

Shiva Temple in the back, a piece of Vishnu Temple to your right. 

A view of Shiva Temple, on your far left. 

The remains of many smaller temples. 

On another day, we went to the Kraton (Palace) of the Sultan of Jogja and Taman Sari Water Castle. There was not much to see at Kraton, but Taman Sari was gorgeous. Our tour guide during the visit explained that the royal garden was used by the sultan to choose his lady. There are three pools: one pool held the older concubines, another pool held new concubines, and the third, and inner pool, held the chosen concubines. The sultan chose his lucky lady by throwing a flower into the new pool. Whoever caught the flower was the chosen one. And if he did not like her, then he would re-do the throw. 

The entrance to pool #1. This was definitely an 
eye-opening, wow, moment for me. 

A photo with our newly purchased batik wrap skirts 
in front of pool #1 (for the new concubines). 

Pool #2 (for the old concubines).

Pool #3 (for the chosen ones). 

A man creating wayang puppet artwork. 

Art on a house along the narrow streets behind Taman Sari. 

More artwork. 

High-level macet (traffic jam) in the streets of Jogja.

For the remainder of our stay in Jogja, we went inner tubing through a bat-infested cave and also down a river in Goa Pindul. We took a scenic moto ride into the hills and high above the city. It was definitely a fun and memorable experience. We also met up with another Fulbrighter from Cornell and dined at Italian and Indian restaurants. One night during a meet up, we all went to this place called Movie Box. How it works: a group of people rent a room and pick a movie to watch. We watched The Other Guys. I will have to watch it again because I was exhausted and fell asleep during the movie!

Morgan and I kick back in our tubes with our new friend, Azin. 

Another memorable event from our trip was that we almost left Jogja without most of the clothes we came with. Morgan and I dropped our clothes off at a laundromat and on the day we came back to pick them up, the laundromat was closed. We wrote a note hoping that the owner would pass by. We ate breakfast at the same warung every day while we were there, and fortunately, our new friends from the warung found the owner, and our clean clothes were returned to us well head of our departure. It is truly amazing how the people at the warung and in the community came together to help us.

This is the note we wrote. It says, "IMPORTANT Good Day, We will return to Jakarta this evening (20:00), but we need our clothes from this laundry! Can you call us (Morgan and Mika) 0813… (or) 0813… Thank you!"

Here are more sights from Jogja: 

When else will I see Winnie the Poo
resting from a long day's work in Indonesia?

Artwork at a museum in Prambanan. 

View of the street from my moto in Jogja. 

A taste of my new year celebration at Club Boshe with the Fulbrighters. 
(Erica, Morgan, and fellow Cornellian, Arjun, to my left.) 
Good times were had by all. 

Even the staff at Boshe know how to party. After live performances 
and before a DJ comes on, the staff have a dancing number to pump up the crowd.

A wicked structure in the center of town. 

Engaging in Jakarta night life at the end of our trip. 

From what you read, you can see that we had a wonderful time. Learning about and experiencing Jogja was a great way to end the year. We picked up some cool bahasa Jawa (Javanese) vocabulary, and we had an enriching experience being cultural ambassadors - many people wanted to know about life in America and how we could be people of color and, simultaneously, be Americans. The latter is something I discuss with other people frequently. But it is something I enjoy because it is a teachable moment for everyone involved in the conversation. 

I was sad that the vacation had to end, but also happy to return to my students; I really missed them. Upon my return, I went on a fun three-day retreat with the students in Kelas 11. More on the retreat in the next post :). 


  1. Choumika - We are so proud of you. Obviously you are grasping every moment, every opportunity in your adopted home, Indonesia. I can't believe the year is almost at an end. Continue enjoying this once in a lifetime experience.Elizabeth E

  2. Thank you EE. I definitely will. I'll call you soon.