Exploring along The Clearness of Citumang River

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After paying an entrance ticket of IDR 19,000 and a car park fee of IDR. 10,000, I started heading upstream of Citumang River without hiring the services of personal life guard. I would independently go down the river. Of course, it would feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Renting a life jacket was certainly the best alternative to keep myself safe when exploring the river alone. Life jacket was also the best anticipation for newcomer who of course didn’t really understand the variations in river depth.

At upstream of the river, I approached a young man who seemed to be in charge of caring for life jacket rental. I handed over IDR 20,000 to rent a life jacket and then got ready to go down into river.

Just on the edge, I was already amazed by the clarity of its water. The river body was still very green with large plants, the spread of giant river stones at several points along river flow gave an impression that Citumang River was like a river of the past. Meanwhile, in upstream of the river, there was a cave which echoed the gurgling flow of water flow which calmed the situation.

The clarity of its water made this river reflected beautiful gradations of moss green and sky blue. A gradation painted by nature to perfection. Combined with the cool air and quiet situation, it made my heart felt peaceful. Only natural sounds could be heard at the location. Make anyone forget for a moment the hustle and bustle of a big city.

On the other side, a children’s pool appeared to be built to facilitate family tourism. And it appeared in several places written prohibitions on using soap to preventing river pollution.

Not waiting for long, I started to go down. Along Citumang River which its bottom was paved with mossy stones. The cold water made my body fresh. Daring myself to swam in a deep part, I finally reached cave mouth. The dark situation in the cave made me only dare to enter it not far from its mouth. A little worried about the unexpected in there, considering that I was alone in the river.

A thirty minutes later, other visitors started arriving and river situation was a little busier. To avoid excessive crowds, I immediately did body rafting down the river downstream. It flew with river current which cut through giant boulders along the river.

At a distance of 300 meters from starting point, I began to stop exploration. Chose to step aside and got ready to ending my adventure in Citumang River.

If I wanted to go downstream, I would actually be rewarded with a view of a waterfall which looked like a furnace. The furnace form was often called Tumang by local people. Therefore this river was named as Citumang River.

It was nine o’clock  in the morning. I began to hurry to clean myself and get ready to leave Citumang River. I was ready to go to next destination in Pangandaran, namely Batu Hiu Beach.

Enjoying Sunrise at Pangandaran East Coast

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With the e- “Nyiur Resort Hotel” Reservation at my hand, I felt relieved and even more enthusiastic about enjoying a sunrise which would be coming in an hour. I decided to close my eyes for a moment after eight hours earlier struggled to drive “The Silver” from the Capital City. I purposely set my smartphone alarm to avoid falling asleep too much and worrying about losing the earth show which was about to come.

The alarm literally woke up me who were about to miss. I immediately headed for shoreline and headed to bamboo pier bridge which jutting out towards sea. Then sat down in the shade of hut at the end of pier bridge. Meanwhile view at the east began to appear a red tinge ready to open the dawn show.

The show at Pangandaran East Coast began…..

A dazzling dawn was displayed on a natural screen on eastern horizon. Visitors began to busy arranging their respective cameras. Tripods began to acquire every corner of hut. Cameras with various brands started to light up to capture that beautiful moment. Meanwhile I only entrusted my naked eyes to capture that special moment.

As usual, special show of sunrise is a brief moment and requires serenity to enjoy its beauty. The orange tinge vanished as I walked towards the west side of beach to enjoying morning activities of local fishermen who started landing outrigger boats which loaded with fish from the sea last night. That was the modesty of local fishermen who earn a fortune in the ocean with perseverance and patience.

When the sun moved higher, Pangandaran West Coast was more desolate, the air starts to raise its temperature, my gaze which was fixed far to the horizon stopped. I jumped off an empty outrigger ship which I sit on, grabbing the rudder of “The Silver” again. “Can’t check-in yet …“, I lightly muttered when I reopened a Pangandaran tourism map. “As long as it’s still morning, I will be better to take a far destination….“, I began to measure map scale and my finger pointed at a destination. “Yes, Citumang River ….“, I lightly thought. I came to Pangandaran Beach without a plan. This was an incidental journey in my adventure history.

Now “The Silver” was advancing to Parigi area on north side of Pangandaran Beach. Getting farther on, “The Silver” started crossing green rice fields with young rices. The road wasn’t wide but more than enough to cars for passing each other, a village road was also comfort enough for four wheels to pass.

Driving for about 25 kilometers, in 30 minutes I arrived at a special parking lot for Citumang River tourism spot. A tour officer came to me and started handing me tour ticket and parking ticket after I confirmed that enjoying the beauty of Citumang River was the purpose of my arrival.

A tour guide as well as a life guard also came over. He offered assistance services to navigate Citumang River from upstream to downstream. But I decided to just do it by myself. Enjoying nature alone was the best way to absorb all its beauty values.

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Penetrating Quiteness towards Pangandaran

That winning prize hadn’t been redeemed for almost two years. December before the end of last year, I won an internal competition at the company which I worked for. Entitled “Education Consultant Training Camp“, I and other colleagues were being trained and tested in the mastery of profound knowledge for a sake of embedding good personal capabilities as a professional who being engaged in education. At the end of this training stage, I proudly came out as winner. That victory provided a meaningful reward in the form of a overnight stay voucher for IDR 1,000,000.

That morning, I felt tired after performing the Eid al-Adha Prayers in the courtyard of an elementary school near where I lived. I sat down enjoying a glass of coffee and a few pieces of fried cassava. This is the first day of a long weekend break in the last week of September.

Yeah, my holiday just ends at home…“, I lightly muttered.

Surfing in cyberspace to enjoy the beauty of Grand Canyon, I suddenly remembered a term…. Yupz, “Green Canyon”. It was in Pangandaran if I wasn’t mistaken. Now my cyberspace surfing screen lead to one of beaches in the south of West Java.

The distance isn’t far to be covered by a four-wheeled vehicle ….“, I started to get excited.

I decided to make a call for one of marketing support staff at my company. Putri was her name.

Putri, Can I can my competition prize two years ago?. But this was really sudden“, I briefly said through my smartphone.

Ah, you always like sudden things. Please try to emailing our boss, if she’s OK, I’ll take care of it later ”, Putri was like that when she spoke to me. A little fierce, but that was normal for me.

I didn’t send an email, nor did I sent any messages, I immediately picked up my smartphone to call the boss. The result was unexpected, I got access to use the voucher during that long holiday weekend.

Yeaay….

I explained to Putri where I was going and the planned hotel entry date. Usually Putri would do it quickly. She already understood such matters.

—- **** —-

At nine o’clock in the evening, I grabbed my favorite backpack which I had prepared since morning, I threw it into back seat of “The Silver” (my Toyota car). Exiting the public garage, I started driving The Silver to Pangandaran Regency, which was 250 Km from my residence in the east of Jakarta.

Armed with hot coffee in a tumbler, my eyes strongly glared at Cikampek and Purbaleunyi toll road sections which had long routes.

Exiting Cileunyi toll gate, I didn’t stop. Now my feet were stepping on gas pedal deeper and combing a dark route to south of Java Island. Nimbly swerving on Nagreg incline, bending following road contours to Lingkar Gentong, Tasikmalaya and then deciding to stop for a moment at a Refueling Station in Banjar City.

I took a sip of my hot coffee for a moment, getting ready to cross a quiet street off the southern route of Java Island towards the coast. I never worried about the safety of this tourism route which I would go through even though the situation would definitely be quiet.

I was 75% in completing my journey. Not thinking much longer, now I was back to drive The Silver to south, through village, forests and quiet rice fields streets. Several times I let some motorbikes overtake me, as if they were farmers who rushing to rice fields. I didn’t know why they left so early in the morning? Some of motorbikes looked like they were going to the same place as me, there were long sticks of fishing rods on their backs.

Sleeping enough on this noon made me able to survive from the onslaught of sleepy during eight hours of driving.

At 5 am, my arrival in Pangandaran was accompanied by a WhatsApp message which sent by Putri. I was so curious about hotel name which listed on a PDF document which containing a hotel booking invoice that was paid off with my company budget. “Nyiur Resort Hotel”, that was hotel name which I managed to read.

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Kanaya Bus from Yogyakarta to Jakarta: Going Home….

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On ten o’clock in the evening, I left Brievenbus van Djokdja. Along the shoulder of Panembahan Senopati section towards Malioboro bus parking area. The fleet was ready, of course, slowing down its engine while loading its passangers.

I ran a little because there were no more colleagues back there, worried about being left behind on the way to the capital.

I boarded the fleet when its seats were full.

Where have you been, Donny, you’ve been waiting for?“, A female committee member lightly joked. I was just saying that I was interrupted for a moment by a small but important business …. the event was short farewell, one of admins in my sales team.

I immediately immersed myself in middle seat, preparing physically for long journey to Jakarta. The fleet slowly advanced, leaving the bustle of Panembahan Senopati section, leaving Malioboro which still partying.

Meanwhile, two consumption committee members distributed travel snacks. But I was still focused to watching an atmosphere outside from windowpane. A reflection continued to stalk in the memory of my head.

A memory which reminded me of last night’s party. The party which kept me busy guiding it by taking on the role of being one of  trio Master of Ceremonies. But it wasn’t about the role which I reflected on, but on my achievement as one of the nominees for Best Leader in my company and also 7 Loyalty Years award. It turned out that I had been ordained to be a senior at my company. Where was I going to make the next decision?

The bus fleet was now on Yogyakarta outskirts, heading north and would pass northern toll road on Java Island. That evening, the flow was quite smooth, so that within a span of two hours, the fleet reached Salatiga City and allowed all its passengers to enjoy dinner before being involved in marathon journey again.

Taking dinner for a while and praying before I finally got really involved in fleet’s fast running. Kanaya Bus which was rented this time was still relatively new, so it was very comfortable to run with.

All passengers have no more energy left to carry out arrogance in the front cabin for karaokeing. They prefered to fall asleep in their dreams. The marathon trip was really tiring, but it was the most lavish Year End Party celebration in my company’s history.

Before this trip was realized, usually my company would hold the same party by choosing a routine area such as Puncak area, Bogor City or at the most distant Bandung City. But this time the party was taken to Education City, i.e Yogyakarta.

For me, this trip might be a normal thing, but for other participants who rarely traveled in long distances ,it was certainly a happy luxury item.

In the midst of cabin’s quiet atmosphere with dim lights, I decided to immediately close my eyes to recover my energy by resting like other passengers. All committee colleagues have also fallen asleep before, now the journey leaves behind the driver and conductor to escort the safe journey to destination.

I didn’t need to worry about anything, the new trip would reach the capital city tomorrow, so I decided to just sleep that night.

Thank you Yogyakarta.

Welcome back to Jakarta.

THE END

Closing Yogyakarta in Malioboro

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I left Borobudur Temple at the last second of the sun which was about to say goodbye to its duties. I turned my back on that wonder of the world as bus which I was riding towards south. Still at the center of Yogyakarta, the last destination of that night.

A fatigue as a result of focusing on tour guide steps at Borobudur earlier, as well as the wilt of my body due to consistency of sun sting, made me fall asleep during last part journey. But I wasn’t alone, all passengers have started exploring their dream world just before I did the same.

Approaching eight o’clock in evening, a committee who sat in front seat raised his mic and began to wake up participants, most of whom were still asleep. Meanwhile, I was still focusing on seeing a biographical film of Samba’s football legend.

Bus had already lunged at the end of Panembahan Senopati Avenue, busy splitting the heavy flow of road in order to get a slot in Malioboro parking area. Failed at the first try because parking area was full, bus took a detour again to wait for several buses to leave parking area.

The second attempt seemed to be successful, bus slowed down at parking staff’s cue who was seen in front. Bus slowly pulled over and started to enter the parking area. I’ve been impatient to get down. Apart from the Malioboro armosphere which looked thick with culture and history, hungry condition had strengthened my intention to enjoy Malioboro culinary tourism.

I hurried to get off when bus had completely stopped. “At nine o’clock in night, we gathered on bus again, friends!” Said a committee member with a loud voice at same time as participants’ small jumps out of bus.

I was walking now along Panembahan Senopati Avenue at a fast pace without reducing my eyes seriousness in witnessing Malioboro area busyness. To west of avenue, perches Serangan Umum Sebelas Maret Monument as a historical landmark which represented effort to defend National Independence in 1949.

Post Indonesia Building.
Bank Indonesia Building.
BN! 46 Building.

Meanwhile, old and classic Dutch heritage buildings which functioned as Bank Indonesia office, Pos Indonesia office and BNI 46 Yogyakarta Branch office looked beautiful with spotlights on building paint which still looked fresh, neat wide sidewalks with andesite and fenced bollards.

At an intersection of Yogyakarta’s 0 Km point, I headed north, changed directions at Malioboro Avenue, enjoyed several souvenir and culinary stalls, my eyes began to watch out for finding appetizing culinary delights, considering that I was almost two hours late to dinner.

My steps stopped in an alley with a very busy meatball stall. Its smoke spreads a fragrant aroma indicating that this shop was a favorite place in Malioboro area. I decided to take a queue and got ready to eat a vein meatball menu.

Hi, Donny“, several other participants seemed cheerful passing me.

They headed for a cart with satay griller. “Oh, they want to eat satay“, I thought in the middle of impatience waiting in line.

Fifteen minutes later, I managed to acquire a seat. Meanwhile, some friends who I knew still seem to flock to that satay cart. Apparently a participant gave a short message to another friend to get closer there.

Satay might be better“, I was still thinking, trying to defend myself that I didn’t choose a wrong dinner menu. But there was a little regret feeling too, why I didn’t join with them to eating satay at the end of alley.

Kriinnngggg….”, my smartphone rang when I was just halfway in eating an ordered meatball. There was someone who wants to meet. She was a Sales Admin who had worked as a team in my sales team where I work. She was waiting in front of Brievenbus van Djokdja, many of friends had gathered there, she said.

Forcing me to hurry in eating remaining meatball in order to immediately join with the others. Dinner which I didn’t really enjoy. After paying, I jogged towards the place which mentioned by her earlier. At the far end, I saw that my friends were busy and shaking hands with her. Intriguing me, I hastened my pace, to got closer and immediately knew what was happening.

Oh my God, it turned out that she was saying goodbye because she resigned from the company when the year-end party was over. It turned out that she chose as a housewife and got married. The closing of year end party wasn’t so perfect for me. The moment of saying goodbye was also be a closing of that night’s journey.

Malioboro Avenue.

All participants began to flock to bus. Likewise myself, after taking last few photos with her, I hurried to bus.

Fifteen minutes later, all passengers were ready. A committee had calculated based on manifest, nothing was left behind. Bus started to drive away from Malioboro towards the capital.

Before all felt asleep, I, who was still curious, asked a friend a friend on an opposite seat.

Me: “Hi, what satay were you eating, it was really fun?…If I know that it was fun, I was with you guys from earlier“.

He: “Hahaha….it’s pork satay. Do you want?

Me: “Oops ……

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Borobudur Temple: the Third

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Big party last night was over. Successfully delivered the party as the MC role with my two work-colleagues. After midnight, I felt asleep in Sahid Jaya Hotel & Convention room. In the morning, I just realized that since last night I embraced two awards as a result of my work in the company for a previous year. Even though, I didn’t really win it, I became one of five Best Leader nominees in my company. The award was closely hugged by me along with a symbolically of five gram gold as a door prize which I got last night.

This morning, committee allowed Year End Party participants to enjoy hotel facilities until noon. Because of that, I took time to go to swimming pool, relax my muscles along with several other participants who had been descending into water since morning.

I also enjoyed my breakfast at hotel restaurant for a long time, the most comfortable moment after yesterday’s rushed breakfast. Even more relaxed, I still had time to enjoy my hot coffee on the porch of room with the best view.

—- **** —-

After closing and praying together session in ballroom, all participants flocked to leave the hotel, boarding their respective buses according to the manifest. I sat on my seat. Still on Kanaya Bus number 2 as before since leaving Jakarta. Buses pushed north, the harmonious acceleration of throttle, brakes and clutch shown by the driver made almost all passengers fall asleep. Accelerated by the impact of post-lunch drowsiness before event closing session.

Meanwhile, I prefer to be busy surfing using the world’s leading search engines. Looking for all literatures which can explain a little about the masterpiece of Samaratungga. A masterpiece which was composed by a series of stories starting from Karmawibhangga as a consequences explanation of good and bad deeds, then Lalitawistara which tells the story of the Buddha’s birth, continues to Jataka/Awadana which explains the story of the Buddha before becoming the consecrated as Prince Siddharta and closes with Gandawyuha which explains Mahayana Buddha.

I continued to trace the stories behind the splendor of this ninth century architecture. The Buddhist version of a classic cosmology depiction which involving three realms, namely Kamadhatu (world realm), Rupadhatu (transitional realm) and Arupadhatu (the highest realm of Buddhists).

One o’clock in the afternoon, my bus entered parking area, I immediately jumped, rushed to ticket booth, spent group’s ration money to enter this historic building.

Quite a long queue because of so many visitors, I got a ticket ten minutes after entering the queue. Now I step towards the gate and enjoy the beauty of this historical building from a distance.

Not the first, this was already the third….I have always admired Borobudur….The pride of my country.
The largest Buddhist temple in the world.
Founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.
With 2.672 reliefs.
Beautiful view.
72 stupas.
Abhaya mudra stupa.

That afternoon visitation was like a bonus, I was met by a tour guide who was explaining each side of Borobudur to ten foreign tourists. Like reading a novel, I followed the storyline about this temple starting from base level to the top of temple….

Because of my own busyness, for three hours I separated from the group. Like that myself, always troublesome the group by traveling at will….Bad habbit on me.

At exactly four in the afternoon, my smart phone rang, announcing that visiting time was over. It was time to gather back at parking lot because tour group would leave Borobudur soon….

Two Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace’s Plataran

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Who doesn’t know about the greatness of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace. This two and a half century old palace was still the largest kingdom in Java until today. Founded by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I as the embodiment of Giyanti Agreement on 1755.

Simultaneously with the stepping down of the sun from the highest peak, I began to leave Pasar Ngasem (Ngasem Market), together with my group along Taman Street to east. Apparently the tour guide intended to entering my group to Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace from south side.

Dokar/Andong right at the junction of Polowijan Street, Taman Street and Magangan Kulon Street.

Changing steps on Jalan Magangan Kulon, I finally entered the palace through Plataran Kemagangan (Kemagangan Courtyard). In this Plataran, there was only a Bangsal which looked clean and well-maintained, namely:

Bangsal Magangan

Bangsal Magangan in south of palace complex.
Bale Raos is a palace restaurant. Near of Bangsal Magangan.

I noticed a uniqueness around this Bangsal where people who passing through this area had to get off their motorcycle and pushed it. The absence of vehicle engine noise made the situation around Bangsal was quiet, cool and serene.

In the past, Bangsal Magangan functioned as a training ground for abdi dalem (courtiers). But now, this place was used for wayang kulit performances and several other activities. Including functioning as a kitchen to carry out a big celebration, for example Ngapem. Ngapem itself was a procession of making apem cakes which was carried out at the moment of the coronation or anniversary of king ascension at Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace.

Its existence was also very strategic to make this area accessible for tourists from south side of palace complex because it was quite close to Taman Sari and Pasar Ngasem.

After enjoying the silence of Bangsal Magangan, I continued to north and started to entering Plataran Kedhaton (Kedhaton Courtyard). Kedhaton is the main platform which has the highest hierarchical level because it is the center of palace complex. Some of the parts which I got on this plataran were:

Bangsal Manis

This building was used as an official royal banquet venue. European-style formal banquets were also commonly performed by the Sultan in this place. Now this place was used to clean the royal heirlooms during Suro month.

Bangsal Manis

In some parts of Bangsal, there was an interior decoration in the form of a dragon snake. “Dragon snakes are a typical animal from China, this shows that at that time Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace had cultural influences from China“, said a female tour guide who accompanied my group.

Bangsal Kencana

Bangsal Kencana.

Right next to Bangsal Manis is the embodiment of Bangsal Kencana. Raised on three floor steps, this Bangsal was a building used to hold important palace ceremonies. If Bangsal Manis relied on a combination of green and cream in its interior carvings, then Bangsal Kencana exhibited a combination of green and pink color.

Gedhong Patehan (Patehan Building)

Gedhong Patehan.

Gedhong Patehan was located adjacent to Gedhong Danartapura. This building was used by abdi dalem in making tea for the king. Non-alcoholic drinks for the king were also prepared in this building. If the king was entertaining guests from Europe who drank alcohol, another room called Gedhong Sarangbaya would be used.

Gedhong Danartapura which was used as the palace treasurer office.

If the Sultan wasn’t present or was on duty outside the city, the serving of tea was still done every day, i.e on six in the morning and eleven in the afternoon“, a tour guide said.

Gedhong Patehan wasn’t open to public, therefore I couldn’t visit this building inside. Five female courtiers would serve the tea. Gedhong Patehan was led by KRT Danukusumo, grandson of Hamengkubuwono VIII.

Unfortunately, this building wasn’t open to the public. Visitors could only catch a glimpse of activities in this building through an open door at the back of the building.

Gedhong Kaca

Gedhong Kaca.

The last part which I visited was a building with glass walls. This building was called Gedhong Kaca and was designated as Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX Museum.

Gedhong Kaca was the longest part which I visited. In the main hall, there was President Soekarno’s statement when he handed over the safety of Yogyakarta to Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX as the King of Yogyakarta and Yogyakarta was part of the Republic of Indonesia.

And in the mandate of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX coronation the sentence was also spoken:

Although I have received a true western education, but first I am and remain Javanese“.

I didn’t have enough time to visit the palace in its entirety. Hopefully one day I could come back to this place to do a deeper exploration.

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Pasar Ngasem: Agrotechnologist from Switzerland

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My imagination of past stretch around Pulo Kenanga has ended. My thinking wass wild enough to imagine the beauty of lake stretch which juts out to the north. The lake in the past looked deep when you look at its bottom which had become a stretch of residential architecture down there. I didn’t know why the lake dried up during its time, so that the bottom stretch of lake was used by people of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Sultanate as a new economic center, namely Pasar Ngasem (Ngasem Market).

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s go down to Pasar Ngasem. The market is more than two centuries old. We will learn the economic history of Sultanate there! ”, our tour guide started to lead the group down Pulo Kenanga. I immediately finished my last glance on each side of Pulo Kenanga. I moved down at the tail of tour group.

My steps headed north, not far, only around two hundred meters and in five minutes I arrived at Pasar Ngasem. Inside the market, the committee had provided a lunch menu in the form of boxed rice which were neatly arranged on a clean and roofed market hallway so as to reduce heat of the sun which was already at its peak.

Pasar Ngasem inside.

When the participants were busy picking up their boxed rice, I was still engrossed in walking around Pasar Ngasem Plaza which functions as a performance area. In the form of a semicircular concrete platform with a short podium surrounding it.

I watched a foreigner sitting on the podium and enjoying the situation. I purposely approached him to talking:

Me: “Hi, sir. Where are you come from?

He: “Hi… Hello. Switzerland

Me: “I’m Donny from Jakarta. How about Taman Sari. Is that good?

He: “Hi. I’m Armend. Yeaaa..It’s great. It just need a little touch more to make it more classic. Tapi disini panas juga (but it’s hot in here too)“.

Me: “Hahahah…. You can speak Bahasa Indonesia. This is a surprise

He: “Yes, Donny. Surely. I had worked in Cianjur for a year. I little learns

Me: “Yeaa, it’s certainly cooler there. Dibidang apa Anda bekerja? (What field do you work in?)

He: “Agrotechnology“.

Me: “Wow… Cool. Sendirian ke Jogja? (are you going alone to Jogja?

He: “I have a family… .That”, he pointed to his father, mother and younger sister on a side of market who were busy walking around.

The two of us ended up having a conversation that was so exciting until a voice from the end of plaza called me “Donny, let’s have lunch soon, we will leave the market“, shouted a group member reminding me. Finally I said goodbye to Armend and immediately joined the group to enjoy lunch.

Pasar Ngasem gate.

That afternoon there was very little selling activity in the market. Most of the items sold were daily necessities. Even though I know that this was the biggest bird market in Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Sultanate. But now the bird trader have been relocated to Pasar Satwa dan Tanaman Hias Yogyakarta (PASTY).

Now this market had played a key role in assisting the existence of Taman Sari cultural heritage. Half of Pasar Ngasem area had been transformed into an area of ​​arts and cultural performances and part of it was still used for traditional trade.

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Boating in Pulo Kenanga

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A secret architectural show at Sumur Gumuling was over….

Come on, ladies and gentlemen, we are leaving for the island!“, our tour guide clearly uttered nonsense words. Where was there island on dry land like this? “Where is the sea?“, I still denied full of wonder.

Walking out through stairs at the end of Sumur Gumuling tunnels, I positioned myself at the back end of group, also pushed my self to surface. Arriving at ground level, the guide casually walked to east while focusing on answering several questions from group members who were very enthusiastic about learning the history of Yogyakarta Sultanate. While I myself was plagued by a busy, it wasn’t important to catch some iconic corners with my mirrorless camera lens.

In the past, the land where we were standing on was the bottom of a lake, ladies and gentlemen“, the guide started throwing a clue which made me play with my imagination. “If I’m currently at the bottom of lake, it means that the island is the higher part of where I stand, and the high part must be very easy to see from here“, it turned out I was still as smart as ever …

I rotate my view on 360 degrees, made a quick looking. “That’s it!”, my observation was fixed on a tall building with thick walls in the style of colonial architecture. And the building was right in the direction which I walked.

In the past, kings and their families often boating above us while enjoying beautiful colors of fishes which swim in a clear lake“, the guide explained again. For me, it was common for kings to have worldly pleasures like that, I didn’t really respond to it. I just thought, how could this place combine to special architecture spots at that time, starting from a bath of royal family, a underground mosque and now an artificial island on the highest part of Taman Sari contour.

There it is!“, the guide pointed his finger at a building which I had guessed through imagination. “Pulo Cemeti“, he smiled to all members of group which he was carrying. “Let’s go up!“, He led the group up stair to entering that sturdy old building. When most of  group members were running happily upstairs, I was still in the lower courtyard and looking at Pulo Cemeti, imagining its original form and royal family activities in it in ancient times.

I arrived right at its building door when the entire group was still busy with selfies. Now I look down, imagining the height of water surface and the activity of boating in the middle of lake and followed by colorful fishes along paddling of boat.

Because many Kenanga flowers were planted around this building, public also often refers to this site as Pulo Kenanga. Oh yes, this building is more than a quarter century old, you know ”, the guide enriched information for tour group.

For then, I sat in a giant wind window and still admired the splendor of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I’s work. These thick walls were of course the influence of great architectural culture of Dutch colonial era, which made this site able to survive today.

Also known as Gedhong Kenanga. Because this building area appears to be floating on water during its heyday, it’s often referred to as the water castle”, the guide explained for the last time. The Yogyakarta Sultanate indeed left monumental works like this one. If its site management were made exclusive, surely all parts of Taman Sari would be a matter of pride for Yogyakarta Sultanate.

Next Story—->

Sumur Gumuling, Secret Mosque of Yogyakarta Sultanate

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Our tour guide waited for a moment for Year End Party participants to enjoy king’s bathing pool, empress and their sons and daughters in the past. For a few minutes I imagined some possibilities of what the story would look like in this place on more than two centuries ago, definitely classics looked like colossal cinemas from old kingdoms. For a moment I thoughtfully enjoyed that imagination.

My focus was destroyed by tour guide’s call to continue journey into another part of Taman Sari. “We will see mosque, ladies and gentlemen!“, He said. I just followed with an ordinary feeling. I could only imagine an appearance of Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace, which I visited three months ago. “Oh, this mosque appearance will like that“, I closed my own guess.

For a moment I was in a large and neatly arranged courtyard with a visitor circular path which follow area shape. A magnificent ornate gate proudly stood at one side of this area, large and old trees covered participants from hot weather of Yogyakarta.

Gedhong Gapura Hageng (Gapura Agung), Taman Sari’s main gate.
A small gate to the mosque.

Meanwhile, on opposite side of it, there was a small gate with a door which leading visitors to underground. Ten minutes later, tour guide called group and they began to follow him into gate.

I was at back of them and began to descend stairs to follow the underground tunnel. “What kind of mosque is in underground?“, I kept curiously wondering.

This mosque isn’t what you imagine, it is just a tunnel for worship. Because this mosque was hidden from Dutch colonialm. In ancient times, Dutch colonialism prohibited kingdom members from performing worship“, tour guide explained, which made me directly understood.

To tunnels.
To tunnels.

It was only camouflage of a function as mosque. A brilliant idea from Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, the first Sultan of Yogyakarta”, I started to admire this architecture in my mind. The tunnel could be passed without having to walk down your head, designed in such a way which it was sufficient for adults to pass through. During regular intervals, lamps were installed which would certainly helpful when the day turns dark. Tunnel walls were also shown original stone texture without paint, adding to its classic atmosphere.

I continued to explore along tunnel to find the end of this unique architectural masterpiece. I was even more amazed, the tunnel led to an arrangement of four staircases which were additional part of tunnels and also fifth staircase which was protruded from second floor tunnel to form a stage. “This stage was a pulpit for khateeb (Islam preacher) to give sermon, and palace’s family members would pray and sit listening to the sermon from the tunnel“, tour guide stood on pulpit while pointing his finger in several tunnels.

Tunnel as a mosque.
Other side of tunnel.
A pulpit.

Sermon sound would be heard until the end of tunnels because it used tunnel walls to echo the voice of khateeb” he continued.

Wow, I really praised the smart strategy of Sultan to be able to worship in the midst of colonial government’s prohibition. If Dutch colonial had inspected this place, of course, they would never have known if these tunnels actually functioned as a mosque of Yogyakarta Sultanate which was very secretive. They must have only suspected that this tunnels only served as an access between sides in Taman Sari area.

This mosque was nicknamed as SUMUR GUMULING.

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