Saturday, July 23, 2016

Indonesia: Solo (Surakarta)

Well hello there Mister Mister

So, I have to admit, we didn't see much in Solo proper. We arrived in the evening and stayed at the wonderful Roemakhoe Heritage Hotel, a hotel situated in an Art Deco house with close attention paid to decoration and detail and tons of original elements. Also we got a room for something like $45 US/night, because Indonesia is a country where you can get great deals on accommodation (our hotel in Borobudur was even cheaper and it came with a full bathtub and was also very nice). Included at Roemakhoe is afternoon tea, and one of the best things to do on a monsoon-pouring afternoon in the whole city is to just hang out in their Indonesian Art Deco (basically Dutch colonial) restaurant and drink tea and eat the free banana-based sweets that come with it while reading novels.

The next morning we arranged a car to take us to two temples on a nearby hillside, through gorgeous tea fields and up winding mountain roads; Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho. These two temples are more indicative of a native Indonesian style rather than having the flavor of Indian or other Southeast Asian imports (though both are of Javanese Hindu origin from the 15th century). Other temples have stronger Buddhist or Hindu influences, these were devoid of such callbacks, having more of a Pacific Islander/Oceanic feel. Also, way more penises. WAY more. In the pictures below, Candi Cetho is the one that looks like a crazy alien dimensional portal, and Candi Sukuh is the one that looks like a pyramid imported from Mayan ruins. I don't know much more about these temples so I'll leave it there rather than try to disingenuously play the expert on Indonesian temple architecture and religion.

We had then planned on seeing some sights in Solo proper (we decided to head for the mountain first as the monsoon rains tend to hit in the afternoon - rather like in Taiwan - and it's easier to get around a city than a mountainside in a downpour). But, well, by the time we got to the kraton (local ruler's palace), it was closed for the day due to low tourist turnout, probably thanks to the rain. We went to the other kraton, the smaller but more beautifully decorated Mangkunegaran Palace, to find it had been closed for days in preparation for the wedding of some younger son of the family. So, we were driven in driving rain to the Danar Hadi batik museum to find that the museum itself was closed: the rains had caused part of the roof to fall in. But the store was open, so we just went shopping! Kind of a shame, I know, but frankly it was all OK. We did our shopping then returned to Roemakhoe for tea and to read away the afternoon, and left the next morning.

Hanging out at Roemakhoe

Note: we actually saw Candi Kalasan and Candi Sari, mentioned in the Prambanan post, on the way to the airport at some ridiculous time like 7am. They're right on the way, and we'd missed them due to rain on the way to Solo. So, our driver gamely stopped at both. I included them in the Prambanan post for ease of reading as they are geographically better categorized there, not in Solo.

Check out my other posts on Indonesia:

Surakarta (Solo)
Baluran National Park

Anyway, enjoy some photos!




















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