Indonesia, Java, Yogyakarta

Joooogjaa …  Jogja !!!

Borobudur Buddhist Temple from northwest


Prambanan Hindu Temple from afar


Misty morning at Borodbudur… I like that photo.

Visiting the famous temples – UNESCO world heritage since 1991 – is only one of the highlights of my stay in Yogyakarta or, as the locals love to call it, Jogja 😉 I find the price gap between locals and foreigners exaggerated. Locals pay IDR40,000 while foreigners pay IDR520,000 to visit two temples. I struggle at first, but in the end I accept it. Tourism is a market, and as such its game rules of Supply & Demand simply have to be acknowledged.

At Prambanan Temple (originally built in 9th century CE, like Borobudur) there is a museum with artefacts, statues, photographs, and also a film to watch about history, architecture and the epic story named Ramayana (part of Bhagavad-Gīta).


Borobudur, at the base


My friend Dhika and me

Candi Borobudur is impressive. There has been a lot of work involved in the restoration and conservation of this temple. Its construction presumably took place between 800 and 900 CE. Original purpose unknown. Much folklore and mystery revolve around abandoned Borobudur until part of it was restored in 1911 by Theodoor Van Erp. Another period of renovation took place between 1975-82 by the Government of Indonesia and UNESCO. Today it is part of UNESCO World Heritage and used for annual ceremonies like Vesakh and as a tourist attraction with must-see status. (Be aware, don’t let anyone tell you what you have to see or what you mustn’t miss out on! Remember you can always practice JOMO)


Great to walk around on a sunshiny day in the Prambanan temple park


My Homebase

I am very lucky to find such hospitable, generous and thoughtful hosts here in Jogja. Dhika picks me up from the bus station. Having arrived at his newly created home he shows me my room. I am tired after ten hours night bus ride from Malang. So he lets me sleep in a big bed for a couple of hours. When I wake up, food is served by his amazing sister Dini.

When I arrive I intend to stay for 2 nights. It all turns out otherwise. In the end, I stay for more than a week and skip volunteering in the north of Jogja.

We cook together. Eat together. We visit temples and go to the beach. i also get the chance to give Ohashiatsu treatments and learn some more Bahasa Indonesia with them. Whenever I mention what I would like they always find a way to make me happy! Sometimes even to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable for me because it seems they change their own plans and practice renunciation only to make my life easier.

I am so grateful to have friends like you who treat me like family. You are mosdef three reasons to come back and visit Jogja again. I will check the sixpack, Dhika, and we go up Mount Merapi, finally!

So … what’s the most important tourist attraction of Indonesia?



My wonderful hosts Ndi, Dini and Dhika cared for me in Jogja at 3DI Backpacker’s Guesthouse. Together we go to the traditional market, to the beach, to an Indian Restaurant, to the temples…


Kuantan, Malaysia, Sharing

East Coast

As mentioned in the post about jetlag we are here to recharge our batteries after the long flight. Another reason is our intention to attend a retreat at Dhamma Malaya which is situated west of Kuantan, reachable by RapidKuantan bus 100. We arrive at Kuantan after a 3.5hrs bus trip from KL station TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan). After we have clarified how to get there we cross the road close to the Central Market which is next to the Hentian Bandar (Town Bus Stop). Well, let’s say we try to cross 😉 It’s a four lane road with a never-ending flow of cars and buses. Over time, we get better at this, even to the point of regarding it as some kind of sport to find the right timing, i.e. the kairos of starting the sprint.

As I had to leave the gas cartridge for my portable gas cooker, i try to find a new one in Kuantan. Alas, no chance. Some things go smoothly. Others are not. Wanting always plays a part. It is the precursor to suffering. That, at least, becomes painstakingly clear. After half a dozen shops and malls I give up on actively looking for a gas cartridge. Would have been a help to cook some water or beans in the jungle, but whatever… does it realy matter? Nope. Once I let go it becomes so obvious how most of the things I think I need are simply things I do not own. Once I own something, the job is done, so to speak. I get, and then I for-get. Isn’t it… an almost too human habit? We all get attached not to things but to the cravings. What follows therefrom is a state of restlessness ever pushing us further into a miserable state of mind dissatisfied with what is actually happening.

So what IS happening?

Today I get up early, at around 6 a.m. and stretch my limbs for about half an hour. I go to the nearby big market (Bazar Besar) to buy some papaya and bananas for breakfast. Joy and I have brekkie in the room and then take the RapidKuantan bus 200 to Teluk Cempedak, the easternmost part of the city.

Teluk Cempedak

Before we reach the beach at Teluk Cempedak we catch sight of McD, KFC, StB, 7/11. We pass all of them and go along the beach and the plastic bridge to arrive at an area called Tongkang Beach. The colourful signs which are fastened to numerous trees carry a clear message: “Private area” and “No Pay No Stay!”, while others are announcing the prices of having a picnic there, using the toilet, littering etc.

There is one sign on Teluk Tangkong that makes perfect sense. ♪♪Forget all worries♪For the rest of the day♪It’s all trouble free, in harmony♪♪

Who puts up these signs?, I think. Curiously, yet somewhat cautiously we venture forth into the dragon’s lair. The first guy we see is a bearded man washing his wild red mane. He looks up and asks: ‘Oh, you must be the couch surfers, right?!’ Without thinking, I respond that yes, we are couch surfers, too. We introduce ourselves and find out that this place is a café. It’s called Sempai Café. The owner comes out and welcomes us to his abode. His name is Thom, and he lives here with MayMay and his two-month old daughter Lya. They are happy to have us here after the retreat. Easy!

We go through the jungle to the other side of Teluk Cempedak and arrive at a beach. No signs here. All empty. Only three boys playing over there. The rest of the beach is one long stretch of white sand. The ocean waves are inviting us to take a dip. After about five or ten minutes, we are visited by a helicopter. He circles above us and then leaves again. Five minutes later he comes back and we have one strange encounter with it. The pilot draws near and hovers just 5 metres above the beach, confronting us, as if inquiring: ‘ Identify yourselves. What are you doing here? How did you get here?’ An awkward situation. The helicopter seems to prepare a landing on that empty beach because of us? Have we done something forbidden? Overlooked a sign?: “No access! Military training ground!” Maybe it was just the coast guard that haveseen me wave to Joy from the sea and thought I need help? Whatever it is, we have no intention of finding out. Instead, we pick up our stuff and vanish back into the jungle, partly enjoying the adrenaline rush while the deafening rotorblades of the helicopter makes verbal communication an almost impossible undertaking.

The helicopter drawing a circle above us before a rapid descent to confront us

We return to Sempai café and tell Thom that we are going to visit again in a fortnight, i.e. after the Goenka retreat. So after two weeks we revisit that place and stay as couch surfers in a tent. And in the course of our stay, it becomes increasingly clear for us how Thom tries to establish a business here while for the Malay people it must feel weird to be asked to pay a Frenchman in order to be allowed to stay at a Malay beach and enjoy a family picnic. Imagine you go to the Danube island in Vienna and some Chinese businessman has recently opened a bar and you come there just like every weekend, and now you’re asked to pay for sitting down and having a picnic with your family. In life and in death, I find it is of utmost importance always to see both sides of the equation.