All around Indonesia, there are wonderful experiences to be had even if you are somewhat short for time. This is first in a series of travel articles that will offer suggestions for those who desire a short jaunt on the weekend or to fill in time during business trips.
Plane Departs roughly at 2:30 pm
Terminal 3 at Soekarno-Hatta International is really coming together. There are now a number of well-recognized restaurants, shops and cafés to bide the time until your Garuda flight takes off. Unfortunately, I still don’t see a reflexology kiosk, which would really make the experience as we usually arrive an hour or so before our departure time and I could really use a foot massage before heading on the plane.
3:45 pm Arrive at Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport
Exactly what a regional airport should look like in Java. Needs a little refresh here and there, but fairly well-served for the general populace and the few tourists during low season. We had a car and driver pick up requested from our hotel, and were off through the dizzying small streets of Yogya. Sidewalks are covered with makeshift tarp roofs and plastic tables and stools; every other vendor sells sop kaki kambing (goat stew) or gudeg (jackfruit stew). Businesses seem to be conducted on the streets as opposed to permanent storefronts in the outer rim of the city.
4:30 pm Check-in at the Tentrem Hotel
The first thing one notices is the heady scent of lemongrass in the lobby. At the Tentrem Hotel, they use their own lemongrass essential oils throughout the property. Billed as a luxury, 5-star hotel, it is a relative newcomer and the rooms are refreshingly large and bright. We had an excellent view of the cloud-covered Mount Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, from our double room. There is also a large indoor playground for children that has slides, a ball pit, trampoline, climbing structure and various child-related activities for those with young ones. For those who enjoy historic architecture, there is also the Phoenix Hotel just around the corner.
5:30 pm Dinner and a Swim
The Hotel Tentrem offers meals poolside with a lovely bar and rocking chairs. Their extensive a la carte menu from Kayumanis restaurant offers traditional Indonesian and specialities from Yogya. They also have a Western and children’s menus to satisfy any appetite. Board games and a couple of frosty pints of Bintang from the tap rounded out the evening as did a nice dip in the pool with the family.
7:00 am Breakfast Buffet at Kayumanis Restaurant
This is a breakfast buffet dedicated to Indonesian treats and regional specialities. Guests will find a selection of Western breakfast items, but the real delight is at the noodle bar, the mixed rice plates, the Yogya-style breakfast paos (small buns filled with meat), the gorengan (deep-fried snacks) and salads the cooks make for you on-the-spot. The lattes are nice, too.
9:00 am Gaharu Spa at the Hotel Tentrem
It is difficult to turn down a 2-hour massage at Gaharu Spa. At the time of our trip, they were offering 40% off all services that lasted 2 or more hours each Monday. This spa is expansive and offers a massive state-of-the-art fitness gym along with a large whirlpool Jacuzzi to beat away at sore muscles. All treatments are conducted in private rooms, and there are several single and couples’ treatment rooms along with a sauna and meditation room.
12:00 pm Lunch at Jejamuran
This café is dedicated to all things mushrooms. It is well outside of Yogya’s city limits in a neighbouring community called Sleman, but don’t let that deter you from venturing out to try their sate, rendang, lumpia and fried jamur-jamur (mushrooms). The best dish was the King Oysters with Black Pepper Sauce.
2:00 pm Kota Gede Historic Sites and Jewelry Shopping
Kota Gede is a historic neighbourhood that offers traditional silver crafts as well as the remains of the first capital of Mataram Sultanate from the sixteenth century. There were a great mosque and royal palace that was situated in the centre of the city, and although the mosque had been rebuilt and restored the only bits that remain from the palace are three stone blocks. We visited the silversmith dens and watched elderly Javanese craftsmen deftly worked copper and silver together whilst taking long drags from what seemed like an endless supply of cigarettes.
6:00 pm Dinner at ViaVia
There’s nothing much to say about this somewhat hippie-style café except that they have wonderful, fresh, mostly organic offerings. Plates are large so one must come with an appetite. The upstairs open-air dining room is especially pleasant in the evening where there is a slight, cool breeze. Get the mezze platter.
3:00 am Sunrise at Borobodur
A trip to the celebrated temple is a must for anyone who comes to Yogyakarta. During low season you might probably miss out on a spectacular sunrise due to fog and cloud cover, but what you get in return is bliss and peace as you may be only one of 20 or so odd tourists who visit during this period, especially at the break of dawn. Hire a guide if you’re not up-to-date on local or religious history and you’ll get a much better return on your hike around. Also, remember to bring a light breakfast and water as the selection is limited at the café.
11:30 am Lunch at Mediterraneo
One of the best restaurants in all of Yogyakarta, Mediterraneo really caters to the business expat crowd at lunch. There seemed to be an overwhelming percentage of French men in the dining room, but it might just be attributed to Chef Camille Massard Combe’s popularity and finesse in the kitchen. Chef Kamil (as he’s known to the locals), created a lovely French-inspired menu with excellent wood-fired flatbreads, cured meats, salads and mains. The produce was some of the best I’ve had in Indonesia as much of it is sourced from surrounding organic farms. My plat du jour comprised of duck breast and fancy, crisped potatoes was simply divine. The dining room is elegantly casual and families are most welcome. It was a lovely last meal before we embarked to the airport to catch our flight home.
Hotel Tentrem Yogyakarta
Address: Jalan AM Sangaji No. 72 A, Yogyakarta 55233
Telephone: +62 274 641 5555
Phoenix Hotel by Sofitel
Address: Jalan Jenderal Sudirman 9, 55233, Yogyakarta
Telephone: +62 274 566 617
Address: Km. 11 Rt. 01 Rw. 20 Jalan Magelang No. 53, Sleman, Yogyakarta
Telephone: +62 274 868 170
Address: Jalan Prawirotaman 30, Yogyakarta
Telephone: +62 274 386 557
Address: Jl Tirtodipuran No 24A, Mantrijeron, Yogyakarta 55143
Telephone: +62 274 371 052 or +62 274 422 1213