Friday, July 10, 2009

Diary Entry: Day 1

By: Natasha Tan

9 July 2009

The view of Mount Merapi seen from up above in the comforts of our cramped AirAsia seats signalled the end of a gruelling two hours and thirty-five minutes flight. We have finally arrived after months of planning and constant exchange of emails between the pathfinder, Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan, local student guides as well as the other 17 eager travellers.

View from the airplane

It became apparent that the adventure of our lifetime was about to begin; from the bumpy descent to the tasting of a local dish labelled as ‘gudeg’, a sweet dish eaten with rice and ‘krecek’ (bull’s skin), to the discovery of a 24-hour McDonalds (you can imagine the happy faces of our travellers!)

Arriving at Adi Sutjipto Airport

Tired and hungry, we started the festivities with a getting-to-know-you session where we each had to introduce ourselves, providing our names, course of study and giving an interesting fact about ourselves. Our team traveller’s had it easy as we’ve already known each other before the trip began but for the local student guides, it was a test of their memorising skills. Each of the five local student guides had to mention the names of 5 travellers! Granted that they only started to know us about 5 minutes ago, they managed pretty well getting our names and faces right.

After that, we began our hunt for dinner and at the same time, managed to have a tour of Malioboro Street, a shopping haven for any shopaholics out there. There were T-shirts, batiks, souvenirs and the likes going at low and affordable prices. Food stalls too were aplenty, all displaying their delicacies, making us even hungrier as we continued on our journey to the restaurant.

Road-crossing is certainly hazardous to one’s health! The zebra crossing is there but there are no proper indications to point out to pedestrians whether it’s an OK-go. Instead, we had to rely on the traffic and move according to them. If there’s a red light, we would literally have to speed across or risk being knocked down by the opposite traffic. Crossing the road is an experience itself here in Yogyakarta!

On the other hand, the food may require an acquired taste. It was sweet and slightly spicy but nonetheless, extremely good. Nothing was going to ruin a hungry appetite. Everyone finished their dinner and chatted with the local student guides, resting our tired legs before heading back to the hotel.

Gudeg at Jalan Wijilan

But before heading back to the hotel, there was a detour where we stopped by ‘Alun-Alun Utara’ and had a local dessert which consisted of ginger, bread and some local fruit thrown into the mix. An interesting fact about ‘Alun-Alun Utara’ is that it is located directly in front of Kraton (the Sultan's Palace) where the road leads directly to Mount Merapi. It is believed that the King receives his power from Mount Merapi. Interestingly enough, the King also receives his power from the South Sea, which is the opposite direction of ‘Alun-Alun Utara’.

'Pengamen' (Street Musicians) on our way to Alun Alun Utara

All in all, it was a promising first day where the sights and sounds of Yogyakarta are waiting to be discovered by us 17 travellers.

Here’s to 8 more days of adventure to go...

*View more pictures of the day from our photo album

WRITER'S PROFILE: Natasha is in her final year pursuing a degree in the Bachelor of Arts majoring in Communications and Writing. She is from Subang Jaya and in this trip, she will be seen lugging the unversity's camera being a part of the photography team, as we embark on a journey in search of Yogyakarta.

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