Pt I: Prologue
Pt II: Getting There
Pt III: Phoenix Hotel and Yogyakarta
Pt IV: Borobudur
Pt V: Kaliurang (and rest of the day)
Pt VI: Village Cycling Tour & Paprika
Pt VII: Going Home
Pt VIII: Epilogue
We had never heard of Kaliurang until we were researching for our transport to Borobudur few weeks prior to the trip.
Since we were renting an vehicle for our excursion to Borobudur, we thought that we could add on another place to visit. Kaliurang which was located out in the foothills of Mount Merapi seemed appealing enough; we just told the driver that we wished to visit Kaliurang and had no expectations whatsoever.
While the displacement between Borobudur and Kaliurang seemed small on the map, it took us around an hour to reach there. There were two toll booths and we paid 11,000 IDR between us. Not quite sure what exactly they were for but all seemed legit with receipts issued.
The driver dropped us off a large parking area surrounded by shops and eating places. A man came up to us and offered us a jeep tour for 350,000 IDR per jeep.
It seemed that every visitor there went for the jeep tour and we decided to follow suit.
Somehow we were allocated a driver who couldn’t speak much English. After our helmets were put on, we were off in an left-hand drive jeep.
First stop: diesel.
After driving for around 10 minutes on the tarmac roads, we turned into bumpy dirt tracks. We briefly stopped by a site where several residents perished due to a landslide caused by the last Merapi eruption in 2010.
We moved on and came across workers working on sites like these. Apparently they were collecting the volcanic sand for use as raw materials for bricks.
The driver actually pulled the jeep beside a truck and asked a worker to pass us some sand. These sand were still warm and we could still see smoke emitting from the ground. Not sure how this was possible though.
We could get off the jeep at our next stop. It seemed that all the jeeps would make a stop there.
The main purpose was to view this:-
I would learn later from the driver that there used to be houses at the site but they were buried under the ashes. Fortunately the villagers were evacuated before the landslide occurred.
It started to drizzle soon after we moved on and the driver had to put the canvas roof up. It was a good time for a break and we stopped by a stall for some tea and milo.
The owner was a friendly woman who spoke better English than our driver. She told us that their house used to be located on the same spot before the eruption; now they are relocated 8km down the hill for safety. Everyday they will make their way up by motorcycles and run their small stall which caters to tourists like us.
Ying was persuaded to get a packet of grounded ginger (seen on bottom left in the picture above) for quite a reasonable price. I like to think that the purchase was our contribution to the local area’s reconstruction.
Due to the rain and low clouds, Mount Merapi wasn’t really visible. The best view that we could get was one where it was shrouded by mist.
There were actually trails where the jeeps could have some fun; our driver drove us through several and we were knocked around within the jeep. Good fun and something quite unexpected.
Our penultimate stop was a destroyed-house-turned-mini-museum. It had a collection of stuff collected from the different villages and was a showcase of the damages that the last eruption did to the area.
Apparently the final stop was only accessible by motorcycles and we would need to pay extra to get there. From the description, it seemed that there wasn’t much to see there and we decided to give it a miss.
On the way back we went through quite a few more bumpy trails and even needed to do a river crossing. Ying managed to take a picture of the jeep which was behind us.
Initially, I felt a little apprehensive about this kind of “disaster tourism”. It seemed that the jeep tour operators were capitalizing on the misfortunes of the villagers. However, after experiencing the tour, I realized that without the visitors, the locals would have a harder time rebuilding their lives. At least the villagers had some direct benefits from the visitors’ spending in the area.
Despite the language barrier and having no idea initially how it would turn out, we found ourselves enjoying the tour. It was definitely worth the time to make a trip to Kaliurang and learn first hand about the eruption and its impact on the locals.
The drive back to Yogyakarta took around 45 minutes and we got the driver to drop us at Nanamia Pizzeria for lunch.
It was highly rated on Tripadvisor and once the food came it was evident why.
I am no food blogger so no over-the-top description besides the food being delicious. The bill came to a reasonable 110,000 IDR or SS$14, a fraction of what we are used to paying for good Italian food in Singapore.
We were happy to be back at the hotel by 3.30pm, exactly 12 hours since we left for Borobudur. We paid the driver the quoted price of 375,000 IDR and some tips (~10%); we wasn’t sure if it was sufficient since he didn’t display much emotion.
We thought that the housekeeping staff had a great sense of humour when we returned to the bed half covered with pillows.
After sufficient rest, we decided to venture out of hotel and see if there was any food places nearby. There were several options and we decided to go for the really low-cost one.
Despite its humble roadside origins, the noodles were surprisingly delicious. We thought of getting more but decided to try other stuff.
While waiting for the burger, a transvestite dancer came and started dancing in front of some guys at the (other) noodle stall. It lasted for a few minutes and he/she left after someone gave some money. Surreal and freaky.
The beef patty was juicy and the chili sauce was a killer. Now I am thinking of bringing the Big Burger franchise to Singapore…
We finished off the dinner with a Magnum ice-cream (10,800) which ironically cost more than both noodles (6000 IDR) and burger (9000 IDR).
Lesson of the day: Indonesian street food is cheap and awesome!