Java is an island in Indonesia. At about 138,800 square kilometers, the island is comparable in size to England. With a population of over 141 million, Java is home to nearly 60 percent of the Indonesian population and is the world’s most populous island. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is located on western Java. Much of Indonesian history took place on Java. It was the center of powerful Hindu-Buddhist empires, the Islamic sultanates, and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies. Java was also the center of the Indonesian struggle for independence during the 1930s and 1940s. Java dominates Indonesia politically, economically and culturally.
Java is divided into four administrative provinces, West Java, Central Java, East Java, and Banten, and two special regions, Jakarta and Yogyakarta.
Formed mostly as the result of volcanic eruptions, Java is the 13th largest island in the world and the fifth largest in Indonesia by landmass. A chain of volcanic mountains forms an east–west spine along the island. While the majority of the people of Java are Muslim, Java’s population is a diverse mixture of religious beliefs, ethnicity, and cultures.
I visited Java on a tour in 2018. We started in Jakarta, stopped in Bangor, Bandung, Pangadaran, Yogyakarta, and Solo. We flew to Kalimantan (Borneo) from Semarang. Returning from Borneo we drove to Solo and Yogyakarta before continuing to Bali for a few days before returning to Norway.
Candra Naya, oldest building in Jakarta, March 2018
Candra Naya is an 18th-century historic building that was home to the Khouw family of Tamboen, most notably its highest-ranking member (‘Major of the Chinese’) of Batavia (in office from 1910 until 1942). Although among the grandest colonial residences in the capital and protected by heritage laws, the compound was almost completely demolished by its new owners to make way for a superblock. The main halls have survived only thanks to vocal protests from heritage conservation groups.
The most notable Chinese features of the house are its traditional curving roof, its Tou-Kung roof frame and its moon gates. The compound consisted originally of three main buildings, surrounded by ancillary buildings to its north and south. The main buildings were separated from each other by a series of inner courtyards.
Dining in Local Restaurants in Jakarta, March 2018
First evening in Indonesia we tasted local foods. A local guide took us from one small restaurant to another, each serving different type of foods.
For desert we stopped along a busy street to taste Durian. We were given plastic gloves to avoid the strong smell on our fingers. Durian did not become a new favorite. Mangosteen and Lyche tasted better.
A memorable evening, and none of us got sick!
Mineature Park and Bird Park, East Jakarta, March 2018
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) or “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park” is a culture-based recreational area. It has an area of about 250 acres (1.0 km2). The park is a synopsis of Indonesian culture, with virtually all aspects of daily life in Indonesia’s provinces encapsulated in separate pavilions with the collections of Indonesian architecture, clothing, dances and traditions are all depicted. There is a lake with a miniature of the archipelago in the middle of it, cable cars, museums, Imax cinema, Theatre of My Homeland and other recreational facilities.
Bogor Botanical Garden, March 2018
The Bogor Botanical Gardens is located 60 km south of Jakarta, in the city center, and adjoin the presidential palace compound of Istana Bogor. It covers an area of 87 hectares (210 acres) and contains 13,983 different kinds of trees and plants of various origins. The geographic position of Bogor means it rains almost daily, even in the dry season. This makes the Garden an advantageous location for the cultivation of tropical plants.
Founded in 1817 by the order of the government of the Dutch East Indies, the Garden thrived under the leadership of many renowned. Bogor Botanical garden has served as a major research center for agriculture and horticulture. It is the oldest botanical garden in Southeast Asia.
The Tangkuban Perahu Volcano, Bandung, March 2018
Tangkuban Perahu is a stratovolcano 30 km north of the city of Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java. The crater is located in the side of the mountain/volcano – not at the top. It has erupted about 30 times throughout history, with the last eruption in 2013. It is a popular tourist attraction where tourists can drive up to the edge of the crater to view the hot water springs and boiling mud up close, and buy eggs cooked on the hot surface. The view from the crater is stunning.
Hot Springs under the volcano, March 2018
After visiting the Tangkuban Perahu crater we continued down it’s northeast slope through tea plantations to a popular recreation area with many hotels and hot springs. We stopped at the Ciater Spa Resort to swim in a pool fed by hot sulfur stinking water.
They even had a small stream for rafting. Not much water, but when the rafters were ready they let out lots of water from a reservoir.
We had our lunch in the restaurant before driving back through Bandung to continue southeast to Pangandaran.
Green Canyon, Pangandaran, March 2018
Green Canyon, or Cukang Taneuh, meaning Soil Bridge in Sundanese, is located about 30 km from Pangandaran beach. The canyon is formed from erosion by the Cijulang River flowing through caves with stalactites and stalagmites. There is small waterfall at the entrance to the canyon in an open cave (or under a rock bridge). Several small waterfalls can be seen falling from the cliffs along the river.
To reach the waterfall at the entrance to the canyon, which is as far as the boats can go, visitors have to rent a boat at the Ciseureuh dock for the 3 km trip. The only way to explore the canyon above the waterfall is to swim. There is a rope fixed to the cliff that the visitors can use to pass the strong current above the waterfall.
Driving from Pangandaran to Yogyakarta, March 2018
We left Pangandaran early morning, and because of narrow roads and heavy traffic it took us most of the day to drive to Yogyakarta. When passing into the East Java province the land was flatter, and there were rice fields and small villages along the road.
On our way to the hotel we stopped to visit a jeweler. They also sold batik, and a coffee shop nearby sold Kopi Luwak coffee.
Candi Sukuh Pyramid Temple, April 2018
Candi Sukuh is a Javanese-Hindu temple built around 1437. It is one of several temples built on the northwest slopes of Mount Lawu on the border between Central and East Java provinces. Its main monument is a simple pyramid structure with reliefs and statues in front of it, where life before birth and sexual education are its main theme; including three tortoises with flattened shells and a male figure grasping his penis. Javanese religion and art had diverged from Indian precepts that had been so influential on temples styles during the 8th–10th centuries. This was the last significant area of temple building in Java before the island’s courts were converted to Islam in the 16th century. It is difficult for historians to interpret these antiquities due to the temple’s distinctiveness and the lack of records of Javanese ceremonies and beliefs of the era.
The Old Royal Palace in Yogyakarta, April 2018
The palace complex was constructed between 1755 and 1756 for the first Sultan of Yogyakarta. It was one of the monarch’s first acts following the signing of the Treaty which recognized the creation of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta under the suzerainty of the Dutch East India Company.
In June 1812 a 1,200-strong British force attacked the walled royal city of Yogyakarta. The Javanese, although outnumbering the invader, weren’t prepared for the attack and were taken back by the event. In one day the city of Yogyakarta fell and the royal palace was sacked and burned. As a result the sultanate was completely subjugated to colonial authority. Most of the palace’s current form was built by Sultan Hamengkubuwono VIII (1921 to 1939).
Prambanan temple, Yogyakarta, April 2018
Prambanan is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound 17 kilometers northeast of Yogyakartais the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is typical of Hindu architecture. The central 47-metre-high building is located inside a large complex of individual temples.
Because of a volcano eruption, the king’s court was shifted to East Java. The temple was soon abandoned and began to deteriorate. The temples collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century. In 1811 a British surveyor came upon the temples by chance. In 1918 the Dutch began reconstruction of the compound and proper restoration only in 1930. Efforts at restoration continue to this day. The reconstruction of the main Shiva temple was completed around 1953 and inaugurated by Sukarno.
Ramayana, Classical Indonesian Ballet, Yogyakarta, April 2018
The story about Rama who is married to Sintha. The evil king Rahwana wants to marry Sintha and manages asks one of his warriors change into a golden deer. Sintha wants the deer, and Rama chases it. While Rama is away his brother creates a magic circle around Sintha, but the king changes into an old man and tricks Sintha to break the circle. She is kidnapped, but a bird sees it and tells Rama. Rama meets the white monkey who helps him to contact Sintha. His monkey warriors fights the kings warriors. The king tries to burn the white monkey, but he has super natural powers and escapes. Rama fights the kings warriors, and wins by killing the king. However he suspects his wife’s purity and asks her to take a holy bath in the fire. The god of fire, Brahma, comes down from the heaven and puts the fire out, and tells Rama that Sintha is pure.