Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Laurieco's Java-Thailand Trip Report: Earthquakes, Volcanos and Supper in Bed (or, How I spent My Summer Vacation)

Laurieco's Java-Thailand Trip Report: Earthquakes, Volcanos and Supper in Bed (or, How I spent My Summer Vacation)

Old Jun 8th, 2006, 07:00 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,693
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Laurieco's Java-Thailand Trip Report: Earthquakes, Volcanos and Supper in Bed (or, How I spent My Summer Vacation)

Before I begin, a little background for those who donít know much about us. Eric and I are 50ish (well, Eric is; I donít turn 50 until August 13). We have a commuter marriage, with Eric living and working in Albany, NY, where we have a house, and I live and work in New York City. Although we are both professionals, weíre both civil servants and work for the government (he for NY State, I for NY City) and need to watch our travel budget. This was our 5th trip to Thailand and our 9th or 10th trip to Asia. Travel is my passion.

May 18, left JFK about noon on Thai International Airwayís non-stop to JFK. We were in economy but it was by far the most comfortable economy weíve ever been in. Thatís not to say the flight was good, itís still long and boring and uncomfortable after a while. We cannot afford business class and never seem to have enough miles for both of us to upgrade. In retrospect, we should have forgone one very expensive hotel and flown Premium Economy instead but who knew. The service on Thai was very nice and the food at least edible and they did serve a decent sparkling wine. For those who know anything about me, this last point is very important. The flight attendants were wise enough to see that we would be consuming lots of the bubbly and very nicely ďupgradedĒ our puny glasses to much bigger ones. It was difficult to get much sleep the first half of the flight but we did manage a few hours the second half. We landed in Bangkok at about 4:30 pm on May 19. For some reason, going through immigration in Bangkok always seems to take forever. I wonder what they do behind those desks and why itís so slow.

We caught the free shuttle to the Asia Airport Hotel and checked in. The Asia Airport Hotel is no great shakes but for $40 per night inclusive, itís good enough for 11 or 12 hours. Itís clean and quiet but by no means beautiful.

After walking around the adjoining shopping mall for a little bit, we had a light dinner at the hotel and went to bed since we had a 7:55 am flight to Jakarta. Originally I thought we might go into Bangkok for a nice dinner but it seemed silly since we would have been going in at rush hour and the time spent at dinner would not have been worth the time traveling. Besides, we were tired and would not have enjoyed it.

Our Thai Airways flight the next morning left on time and we arrived at Jakarta at 11:30am. Going through immigration in Jakarta was even worse than in Bangkok and I was worried since we had a 1:35 pm flight to Yogyakarta. After collecting our luggage we made our way over to the Garuda Airlines check-in. After handing our tickets to the agent he began to type furiously and finally said that the flight had left at 11:30 am. I told him that there must be some mistake but he wrote 11:30 on a piece of paper and circled it. I showed him our ticket and printout which showed the flight to be at 13:35 and circled that and he pointed to the 11:30 he wrote. I pointed to the 13:35 and he to the 11:30. This went on for a bit until he finally said the flight was changed and left early. After some discussion with Garuda agents, they ticketed us for the 4 pm flight and upgraded us to Executive Class at my request. They were very nice and I didnít get upset since I had been warned that Indonesia in general and Garuda in particular were like this.

We had a bit to eat at the Exec Lounge and used their internet and then set out to find some beer since the Lounge didnít serve alcohol. We passed the rest to the time in a restaurant drinking beer and anticipating the adventures to come. The flight left on time and was very pleasant but when we landed in Yogya it was pouring.

Someone from the Dusun Jogia Village Inn was waiting for us and drove us to the hotel, where we had a VIP room reserved and paid for. The hotel is lovely and the people there very nice but I wasnít happy. Maybe because it was pouring buckets, maybe because there was no English TV (I was expecting CNN or BBC World and wanted to keep tabs on Mt. Merapi) but I felt isolated and immediately wanted to change hotels. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and it was actually very good and very inexpensive. After dinner we went back to the room and found a movie on TV in English with Indonesian subtitles: ďThe BeachĒ with Leonardo Di Caprio. It was a really stupid movie in my opinion and the fact that it was filmed in Thailand didnít do much to help the sorry plot.

A few words about the hotel. I was not very fair to it in retrospect. I chose this hotel because it is a boutique hotel and very Javanese and not like a Big American Chain, which I wanted to avoid. The hotel was exactly what I was looking for. It wasnít perfect but no place is (not even the $700/night Amanjiwo which had a major flaw, which I will get to later). The rooms and grounds are lovely and the staff extremely welcoming. The restaurant had very good food, a rarity in Yogya it seems. The room was a bit noisy since it faced a major road but the cheaper rooms, which are beautiful, do not have this problem since they are on the other side. We slept with the bathroom door closed to minimize the noise problem. The bathroom windows have a gap even when closed so bugs can get in but there is mosquito netting over the bed and the bug problem wasnít really bad. On the second and third mornings, there was no hot water but I found out that if you let it run for about 15 minutes, it gets hot. But I got it into my head that I wasnít happy and wanted to leave. Part of it was boredom from the pouring rain which came every afternoon so we couldnít use the beautiful pool (or even watch TV), part hormones, and part because I recently quit smoking and really wanted a damn cigarette to pass the time when I had nothing else to do. The rain was so bad that it prevented us from going out most afternoons; you had to get your sightseeing in early. The rains did lessen later in the trip but those first few days were quite miserable. In any case, I just want to be clear that there really is nothing wrong with the hotel, it was me. I wanted to be in an international style hotel, which is more what I am used to, because I thought there would be more to do in bad weather. Actually, there isnít more to do, aside from having a TV that has English channels. Iím not very good at sitting around and doing nothing when on vacation. I can do it for hours on end at home but nowhere else.

On our first full day in Yogya, we got up early and had breakfast, which was good except for the coffee, which was Nescafe, an utter disgrace, especially on an island called Java! I despise Nescafe or any instant coffee and usually bring my own coffee and filter to make in the room, but failed to this time. After breakfast we hired a becak (a bicycle driven trishaw) outside our hotel to take us to the Kraton (Sultanís palace), water castle and museum, and, the Melia Hotel to check it out. After negotiating a price with the driver, we set out on a very pleasant drive to the Kraton.

The admission includes an English speaking guide who takes you around to the different buildings and explains the history. Itís not luxurious in the way we normally think of palaces but it is interesting and has some nice displays of costumes and batik and gifts from other countries to the Sultans. I was somewhat mortified to learn that the United States has not given any gift but relieved that at least President Clinton made a visit there. After the tour, we visited the gift shop which had a lot of nice stuff at what appeared to be very reasonable prices but I was still jet lagged and felt overwhelmed and there was some horrible screaming going on, which I found to be a caged monkey outside the gift shop. The cage was way too small for this poor creature and this distressed me. I couldnít stand to listen to this unhappy animal so we left. Nothing will ruin my time faster than seeing an animal in distress, especially if there is nothing I can do about it.

After the Kraton we went to the After that we went to the Sono-Budoyo Museum, which has a wonderful collecton of Javanese art and gives a good account of Javanese history. We then went to the Melia to check out their rooms and rates and to get a decent cup of coffee. The rooms looked nice enough and the hotel was a beehive of activity, which appealed to me, but they were pretty well full and were told to call the next day.

We then headed to the Water Castle, which was the Sultanís pleasure park, with baths and pools. As another poster said, much of it requires some imagination but it is worth visiting. We then decided to head back to the hotel for some lunch and perhaps a dip in the pool.

That's about it for this installment. I'm still not feeling well so this is all I can muster for now. I know how Fodorites love detail but if this is too much, please say so.


laurieco is online now  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 07:13 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,693
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oops, the paragraph that begins After the Kraton has a very obvious typo in it. Ignore the "After that we went to the"
That's what happens when you cut and paste.
laurieco is online now  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 07:20 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 114
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
laurieco, I love the details. Keep it coming and I'm glad you arrived home safe & sound.
rsidhu is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 07:33 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,259
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Laurie, I'm glad to see the beginning of this epic, and I look forward to further installmants.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 08:19 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
L-no detail is too small for the obsessed. I wish I had your self-awareness as pertains to your hotel discomfort. See you in October.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 08:37 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,051
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
thanks for starting the report...it looks great so far...

just one thing...i am sure that when clinton visited that gifts were exchanged as they always are....maybe it, the gift, is kept elsewhere...

all of us are very anxious to hear about the day of the earthquake...keep it coming..

bob
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 08:47 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,894
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Laurie - a great beginning. Sorry you are still not feeling well. Anxious to hear more...
Craig is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 11:05 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoying your report which is bring back memories of our trip to Java. Looking forward to the next installment and hope you feel better soon.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 01:54 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,346
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
laurie:
Love the detail in your reports....can't wait for supper in bed

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 02:14 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Laurie
Sorry your hormones and wanting a cig caused you such distress. I KNOW about those darn hormones, believe me. They can do a number on you.

Keep the report coming.

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 04:22 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,693
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
On to the next installment

While having lunch at the hotel, it started to pour and never let up so the pool was out. So was just about everything else so I took a nap. That night we decided to go to dinner at the Gajah Wong Restaurant with a stop at the Hyatt Regency to check it out. The rain had let up some by then. The Hyatt looked very nice and we got a little tour of the rooms but the price quoted was about double what I had seen it for on the web so we decided to leave it for the next day.

The Gajah Wong is a lovely restaurant with separate areas with different music played in each of the areas. We chose to sit in the area with traditional music but you could hear the other kinds (jazz and country!) all at the same time. Everything sounded odd and a bit off, sort of like sitting in the middle of ďA Day In The Life.Ē The food was very good and very inexpensive. Eric didnít tell me until we got back to the hotel but he saw a big rat run out of our area of the restaurant. My guess is that most restaurants will have a rodent or two around but Iím glad I didnít see it.

The next day, after breakfast, we went to visit Indri at Electrotours. She was very nice and helpful and called the different hotels for us and got good prices at both the Melia and Hyatt. We thought we could move that day but it turned out the Melia was fully booked until the next day so we spent another night at the Dusun. We decided to take a tour of Prambanam with her that afternoon and hire a driver from her for the next morning to go to Solo. Indri was to meet us at the Dusun after lunch but around noon it began to pour, as if right on cue. Indri came but recommended that we not do Prambanam that day and save it for the next day and see it on the way to Solo and hire a guide while there. It was clear that she didnít want to go even though the rain had let up some but we took her advice. I was disappointed since we had not seen anything that day so she took us to Kota Gede to see the sliver filigree being made. We went to one of the factories and saw how they make the filigree. It looks like very tedious work but the finished product is very pretty. I bought a pair of earrings. After, we got dropped off on Maliboro Street, the main shopping street and walked around a bit. I wasnít in the mood to shop though so I didnít buy anything. We had a nice dinner at the hotel that night and went to bed early.

The next morning was very clear and I thought we finally may have a day without rain. Our driver picked us up at about 8 and took us to Prambanam. We finally got to see Mt. Merapi, which had plumes of smoke coming out of it. It was quite a sight. Prambanam, which is a collection of Hindu temples, was wonderful. It was a beautiful day and we could see Merapi as a backdrop to the temples. We hired a guide and had a great tour of the temples and took loads of pictures. I would have loved to see the ballet performed there but it poured every night the ballet was on and sitting outside in the rain did not appeal to us.

After our tour of Prambanam, which lasted several hours, we went on to Solo. I didnít like Solo. Mostly it was sitting in huge traffic jams and not moving. I canít stand sitting in traffic and it seemed thatís all you do in Solo. We went to one of the Kratons (there are two of them, one not being a true Kraton though) and walked around a bit but neither of us were very interested as it didnít look as nice as the one in Yogya and we didnít really need to see a second one. Solo is known for batik but I donít have a big interest in batik (and Eric certainly doesnít) and I wouldnít know good batik from bad batik so I wasnít going to shop for it. We did go to a big batik market but we didnít know what we were looking at and didnít really care for that matter. We decided that going anywhere else in Solo would require sitting in long traffic jams so we decided to go back to Yogya and check into the Melia and maybe go swimming or shopping there.

By the time we got to the Melia., the rain began. At least it was starting a little later in the day. Our room there was nice, though much different than the Dusun and more generic but I was happy to be there. As we couldnít figure out where to have dinner and no one could recommend any place, we ate at the hotelís Chinese restaurant. It was okay, nothing special. The following morning, someone from the Amanjiwo was picking us up at 8:30 and I was excited about going there. As many of you know, I really wanted to stay at the Aman. This will have to wait for the next installment though.
laurieco is online now  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 04:38 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,346
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ahhhhhh...another commercial, I hate commercials

Sounds like everything before the Amanjiwo was just wasting time till you got to go to the Aman?

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 06:37 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoying your report enormously Laurie - thanks - I look forward to the rest.
MaryW is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 07:06 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,051
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
waiting patiently...ok not so patiently...had to say it before andy did...

we need someone for rat patrol, for the cambridge GTG, so eric is our guy...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 08:43 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,779
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
laurie, I'm enjoying your report. The Nescafe thing here in Indonesia is really mystifying. For years it was considered a luxury that was always brought out, often on a silver tray, for honored guests. Now they've discovered Starbucks! Coals to Newcastle syndrome, I guess.

Indonesian cities and towns really are claustrophobic and take some adjustment. There simply isn't anything akin to public space and the density of population,lack of sidewalks, constant traffic and pollution make it very difficult to stroll and observe.

As for the rodent in the restaurant -- this is not acceptable in any culture and that's exactly why I don't recommend any restaurants in Yogya! We once saw one climb up the wall right in front of our table. (We didn't stay.)

My first visit to Java was about 15 years ago. I lived in New York then and never dreamed that I would one day live in Indonesia. I can remember being alternately charmed and repelled by the experience, both mesmerizing and over-stimulating. I can say, however, that the country is addicting.
marmot is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2006, 11:53 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the report Laurie. For the record, I love all the details! Looking forward to the rest.
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 02:20 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,353
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the excellent report, Laurie, the details and especially your candor are wonderful. (Though I'll admit to having more than a bit of empathy for Eric.)
DonTopaz is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 03:02 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,693
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, don't feel too sorry for Eric. I didn't take it out on him! I wasn't happy at the hotel but it's not like I was yelling and screaming about it. I just wanted to move and even told him it probably wasn't the hotel as much as the rain and the desire for a cigarette. This was suppose to be dry season and yet there were monsoonal rains every day. It's a bit depressing. And for anyone who ever smoked and quit, when you have an urge for a cigarette, you think that smoking one will automatically make everything better and the urge becomes overwhelming. It doesn't make anything better of course but you think it will. I'm happy to say I never gave into the urge, not even after the earthquake when I REALLY could have used one!

I never understood the Nescafe thing either. I remember years ago in Europe, it was considered a luxury there as well. It's instant coffee!! Why would anyone prefer it? As an old friend of mine once said about serving instant coffee, it's downright rude! After that first day, we requested filtered coffee and the folks at the Dusun very nicely made Javanese coffee for us. It was better than the Nescafe but very thick with grounds in the cup. It was very nice of them to do it though. One thing I found is that the Indonesian people are the NICEST people in the world. I can't say enough good things about them.
laurieco is online now  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 03:52 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 682
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoying your trip report. So sorry about the rain, though! I certainly hope you got some sunshine before you had to return home. When we were in Bali in September, the rainy season came early. It was kind of neat the first day but downright depressing by the 3rd day.
Ericka is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 05:44 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 54
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
can't wait to read more..keep it going..and welcome back..
kclaudia is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:47 PM.