Favorite Images: Indonesia

PTX Studio in Indonesia

Initially my idea for this post was to make a top ten list of my favorite images of Indonesia, however that soon proved to be impossible.  Scrolling through two years of blog posts there were too many memories and snapshots of unforgettable destinations for me to narrow it down to a mere ten.  So my top ten became a compilation of pretty much any image that I was fond of starting with our fantastic honeymoon in Kuta and Ubud.  I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed compiling them.

PTX Studio in Bali, Indonesia

Continue reading Favorite Images: Indonesia

Second time around in Solo

PTX Studio in Solo, Indonesia

If spending two weekends in Solo in two months will tell you anything, I think it says we enjoy this little city.  It feels little when thinking of it in comparison to other Javanese cities like Jakarta, but with a population of half a million, Solo is nothing to shake a stick at.

Our first trip to Solo was for my birthday in March; we stayed at the beautiful Royal Heritage Surakarta Hotel and loved every minute of it.   But there were other interesting hotels in Solo that we wanted to explore and we thought our last long weekend of the school year was a perfect time.  We found the Rumah Turi Eco Hotel online boasting their reputation as ‘the first eco-friendly boutique resort in Solo’ and we scooped up the last room on Booking.com.   Unfortunately, someone got their wires crossed and when we arrived to check in there was no room waiting for us, despite the confirmation email I had in hand stating otherwise.  It was a rough blow after holiday traffic had stretched our two hour trip to four.   The hotel apologized and found us another room in town (presumably the last one available anywhere due to the holiday) and even gave us a ride to the new hotel.  However the last room in town wasn’t anything to write home about so we stayed there only one night.

For the remainder of the trip we were able to snag a room at Roemahkoe Heritage Hotel.  Roemahkoe embodies everything that Joel and I love in a getaway, so much Javanese character, beautiful art and culture and of course, live gamelan music.

PTX Studio in Solo, Indonesia          PTX Studio in Solo, Indonesia

The hotel’s location was fantastic, situated in the heart of the Laweyan Batik Village.  The maze of winding alleyways took us on a journey discovering countless batik stores and workshops.  I had no trouble picking up a couple of souvenirs for myself including a fan that I made use of immediately.

PTX Studio in Solo, IndonesiaPTX Studio in Solo, Indonesia

In typical Javanese fashion, the streets were lined with friendly faces and tons of kids who wanted to have their picture taken, especially the ones that can pop a sick wheelie on their bike.  The vibrant buildings around the city do their share of beckoning for portraits as well with their eye-catching architecture, traditional murals, brightly colored doors and tiles.   Solo is as busy as the signature patterns on their batiks with few places for the eyes and imagination to rest.

PTX Studio in Solo, IndonesiaPTX Studio in Solo, IndonesiaPTX Studio in Solo, IndonesiaPTX Studio in Solo, Indonesia

On our first trip we only managed to make it to one of the two palaces in town (yes, it’s a city with two royal palaces!), so we made a point to see the second palace or kraton this weekend.  The photo ops were few and far between as they don’t allow photography of many of the artifacts and the buildings can be very dark.   In my opinion, the placement of the taxidermy tiger was all wrong, being located in a dark area where photos were off limits.  If I ever get the job as kraton decorator, I’d definitely move him into a covered, but well lit area on the porch in hopes of some royal tiger photos going viral.

PTX Studio in Solo, Indonesia

The history and culture of Solo give it a really soulful vibe.  Spending our holiday bumming around one of Java’s biggest cultural hot spots was a perfect long weekend escape.  Next up on our travel schedule is the good ‘ol USA.  We have just over a month until we go to North Carolina to visit family and get reunited with my dog, then on to Seattle to get married.  I can honestly say that our travels in Indonesia have been hard to beat, but I think seeing family after almost a year abroad will be the best trip yet.

PTX Studio in Solo, Indonesia

 

 

Birthday Getaway to Surakarta

PTX Studio in Surakarata, Indonesia

Last weekend I celebrated the big 3-5 so we decided to take our festivities on the road and visit Surakarta.  Called Solo by most of the locals, Surakarta is one of the two cultural centers of Java (the other being Yogyakarta).  Steeped heavily in tradition, Solo is considerably more conservative than Semarang.  So conservative in fact that when Joel ordered mimosas for my birthday brunch the hotel staff was pretty baffled.   I don’t think they had ever heard of a mimosa and by the looks of it, they don’t get a lot of day drinkers.

We stayed at the Royal Heritage Surakarta which is in the same group as the Phoenix Hotel, where we stayed for one night when we went to Yogyakarta for Christmas.   Adorned with hand-carved masks, statues, puppets and teak furniture, the hotel has a stunning collection of Javanese crafts.  Every morning during breakfast they have two men singing and playing traditional gamelan music; a perfect way to start the day.

Royal Heritage Hotel Surakarta, IndonesiaRoyal Heritage Hotel Surakarta, IndonesiaRoyal Heritage Hotel Surakarta, Indonesia

With only two days in town, we had to prioritize our to-do list, but we somehow ended up at Pasar Triwindu twice.  I think that speaks to the true amazingness of this market.  I nearly emptied my wallet walking through rows and rows of stalls with every kind of Indonesian antique imaginable.

PTX Studio in Surakarta, Indonesia

We also passed multiple shops selling jamu ingredients.  I’m familiar with the end product, the contents of the bottles below, but I feel like I had never seen the ‘before’.   The store was a buffet of seeds, barks and herbs that are ground to make the earthy concoctions that are then sold on the street.

PTX Studio in Surakarta, IndonesiaPasar Klewer Surakarta, Indonesia

Solo has two palaces, called kratons, but we only toured one.  They had a museum with lots of history of the royal family and multiple halls full of portraits of the sultans, antique carriages, guns, swords and ornaments from ships.  Though the kraton is distinctively Javanese, you can definitely see the Dutch influences.

PTX Studio in Surakarta, IndonesiaKraton in Surakarta, IndonesiaPTX Studio in Surakarta, Indonesia

We had heard that Solo is a more reserved community and has much less tourism than Yogyakarta so we anticipated the possibility of people being aloof to two Westerners.  But we found the people of Solo to be incredibly friendly and welcoming.  People seemed flattered and delighted when I asked them for photos and others were downright elated to get a photo of me.

PTX Studio in Surakarta, Indonesia  PTX Studio in Surakarta, Indonesia

Having paparazzi style encounters with the local teenage girls coupled with Joel spoiling me with birthday gifts, drinks and antiquing made for the perfect birthday weekend.  I’m a lucky lady!

PTX Studio in Surakarta, Indonesia