We started day 4 and our second tour day at 9am, after a quick free breakfast from the restaurant – bread, jam, fuit, juice, coffee and tea. Iksan, our guide, had changed our schedule the night before to eliminate the trip to Mt. Merapi. We couldn’t stand the thought of riding for hours on those awful mountain roads again.
Our day started with a visit to a batik painting store (imam gallery, www.imamgallery.com), where there were hundreds of batik and oil paintings available for viewing and purchase. One of my goals on this trip was to find sources for Indonesian arts and crafts that my daughter can sell at the store she works at in Asheville, NC. They already sell such items but want to find original sources. This place certainly fit the bill. The paintings were beautiful, varied and quite inexpensive. I met the owner, got his contact info and told him I would be in touch. Unfortunately, they do not have the batik paintings online yet.
Next we went to a batik factory and had a tour to learn how it is made. This factory also had a store of batik clothing and fabrics but it was way too expensive. A shirt I liked sold for $110. Not gonna happen. Iksan said he would take us to another, less expensive store. This second store was very crowded but I managed to find a shirt that should fit and Via found a bunch of gifts for family. Only spent about $40 but my Visa card would not work, and while I had cash, this worried me that I would not be able to use it again on the trip, even for the ATM. When we left, we promptly went to an ATM and I was able to draw out some cash.
Next up was the Sultan’s Palace, or Kraton, which we had read so much about. Turned out to be something of a disappointment. Instead of a palace, we found a sprawling complex of one-floor, white buildings, housing mostly museum items. We hired a guide ($2) who took us through most of the buildings.
It now was time for lunch, so Iksan took us to a restaurant nearby, the nDalem Ngabean, which was in a walled compound. The restaurant sat under a high wooden canopy, with two musicians playing tradional music for diners. A long buffet of local food awaited. I had two helpings of the gudeg, a local specialty, that is made from jack fruit. This fruit grows right outside my apartment, is very ugly and I didn’t know it had any value. Gudeg is the end result of cooking this fruit with palm sugar until it is brown and the sauce is thick. It looks like beef in beef stew, but is even more tender. Sort of tastes like beef, too.
Until now, the rains had stayed away but a deluge hit as we were eating. It slowed to a light rain when we headed off to our next destination.
Next up was a silver jewelry facory that also had a store. We had a quick tour of the making part and then headed to the store, where I intended to buy Via her Christmas gifts. But everything was too expensive, she said, and turns out she doesn’t like silver.
Since we had a little extra time, we went to a factory that makes kopi loewak, which is coffee made from beans extracted from the pooh of a cat-like animal that climbs the trees eating fruit and coffee beans. The beans are infused with the fruit flavors during digestion and then exit intact with the pooh. It has no smell. People then pick this stuff up off the ground. The beans are separated from the pooh, washed and the skin is removed one bean at a time by hand. Then it is dried and roasted.
A cup of kopi loewak sells for as much as $10. It is very trendy. Had two cups of the coffee while I chatted with the female owner, Merry. Most of her family works at the factory but they live in Dieng – that 3-hour drive we had taken previously. They only live at the Dieng plantation from July-September, when the coffee bean pooh is harvested. We bought two bags of ground coffee for about $45 and it may be a product my daughter can sell in North Carolina.
Our final stop for the day would be the Prambanan temples, located just past the airport. Traffic was fine until we neared the airport and once we were through there was clear sailing. The temples are situation on a sprawling fenced/walled in area, with a huge parking lot. Iksan secured our tickets and we decided to forego the guide this time ($7). entry fee was $3 each (Indonesian fare). The rain had slowed to a very light drizzle, so I said no to renting an umbrella. Via rented one for less than a dollar. You walk for about a quarter mile along paved pathways lined by green lawn, the temples in sight in the distance.
There are about nine buildings in all, with one central structure in the middle, the tallest, which I think is called the Seaw temple. There were a lot of people on the grounds and many were queued outside waiting for helmets to enter. There was an earthquake here a few years ago and you can see the stone rubble surrounding the temples still standing from other structures that were destroyed. They are in the process of restoration. I hate lines so we went into one of the other temples to take a look. Nothing special.
A bit of shopping as we left (there was a maze of hawker stalls blocking us from the exits but the prices were high, as you would expect) and we found Iksan outside and headed back to the hotel, tired and hungry.