Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MGMT, Bkt Kiara Indoor Arena 25/3/2011

MGMT concert? Yes, you read it right - it's a Management concert! I can't imagine my bosses performing though! Ah still confused? The band's name is MGMT, it was meant as a joke when they started it. They're from the US - playing psychedelic rock genre. Read more about them here

Iris, as usual informed us on the gig back in January and we managed to get the early bird ticket at RM 128. Originally the venue is at KL Live (near Concorde KL), but it was changed to Bukit Kiara Indoor Arena, and the venue change was only officially announced about 3 days before the gig. I wonder if there was anyone who didn't know about this and turned up at KL Live instead.

But anyway, it sort of made my life easier as it is near to my house. Only I had to make a mad dash from office at 5 sharp, fetched Iris at Kota Dsara then dash again to the venue. Actually, I had to make another mad dash after the concert to Azni's place as I have another trip early the next morning! Yeah I think I'm quite mad to be doing all this :-p

Luckily traffic was clear. We reached Bukit Kiara Indoor Arena (it is actually located in the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club) at 7.15pm The indoor arena is actually a venue for horse showjumping competitions. Planks were used to cover the sand flooring. Me and Iris started to queue only at 8pm, although the ticket says doors open at 7pm. There was not a huge crowd yet at 8, so we just sat and waited. Finally we were allowed in at almost 9pm. We were segregated by gender, as there was a body check and they also checked our IDs (it's for 18 and above only). Lucky again I guess, as we were in the fastest lane at the left most side. We wondered why people crowded at the middle lane. Because of that, we managed to be at the front row again as the hall was still empty! We didn't plan to. We wanted to just come at our own sweet time, hang around at the back and enjoy the show.

But unfortunately, we were very near to the amplifier - and the bass was too loud. Even The Star's reporter agreed with me. (Read the review below).

Overall, I guess because the band is still very young (only 2 albums so far), they hardly moved around the stage and only stuck to their positions, although you can't blame Ben though, cos he plays the keyboard, and that cannot involve much movement! Andrew can be blamed though hehe.. Andrew did communicate with the crowd, quite a few times in fact. And he sounded friendly, he seemed to be very happy performing. Another downside is Andrew's singing voice - he doesn't have the best of vocals, I guess he can improve on that. (But then, what do I know yeah, I'm not a vocal coach :-p)

Last complaint is that the concert started late - there was a local opening act - Kyoto Protocol, and they only appeared at about 9.30pm MGMT only started at 10.30pm, and we only finished at midnight! But then from a girl I met who won a meet & greet pass with the band, I was told that the session was at 8pm at another venue nearby, so maybe that was one of the reasons their appearance was delayed

Anyway, here is their setlist:
1. Flash Delirium
2. Weekend Wars
3. I Found a Whistle
4. Electric Feel
5. It's Working
6. Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
7. Only a Shadow (Cleaners from Venus cover)
8. Time to Pretend
9. Song for Don Treacy
10. The Youth
11. Siberian Breaks (My fave - all 12 mins of it)
12. Kids
13. Congratulations
14. The Handshake
15. Pieces of What
16. Brian Eno

Anyway, back to the review excerpted from Startwo, 29/3/2011 Note: Somehow my pictures turned out very bad this time around, so not much pix to be shared here unfortunately.

It was all about flashes of delirium at MGMT’s concert in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.

NEARLY three years after exploding onto the music scene, New York-based psychedelic rock act MGMT was finally making its way to Malaysian shores. Now sporting a sophomore album, three new band members, and a few years more of touring experience, the group’s live debut in Kuala Lumpur promised to be an insane night of psychedelic thrills.A 3,000-strong crowd filled the Bukit Kiara Equestrian indoor arena last Friday night, making a strong statement that indie fans are a sizeable demographic in this otherwise oldies and Top 40-centric concert town The venue’s traffic and parking woes were also alleviated by the organiser, Future Sound Asia, arranging a shuttle bus service for concert-goers. It was an odd mix of glittered-up hipsters, underground rockers and casual T-shirt-and-jeans attendees just looking for a good party. Of course, the seasoned party crowd were spotted outside the venue gates as they tanked up before the show.

The group already had a taste of this region, performing with Whitest Boy Alive the night before down in Singapore.

Despite a late start to the KL show, anticipation remained high. The crowd was roaring for MGMT as local alternative rockers Kyoto Protocol made their way on stage.

Catching on the audience’s impatience, Kyoto lead vocalist Fuad Alhabshi half joked: “I can’t wait for them to come on, so let’s make this quick!”

Kyoto warmed up the audience, cramming seven songs into a 30-minute set.

Next up, MGMT came in like proper rock stars, sauntering in backed by a cheesy pre-recorded introduction that sounded like something from an old boxing match, “They’re not from Montego Bay, they’re from the Eastern shores and they’re absolutely crazy. Ladies and gents, this is M.G.M.T!” The 10.30pm kick-off was perfectly timed with the venue’s Twitter brigade itching to announce the rock action.

The band started with Flash Delirium, whipping the crowd into a frenzy by the second song Weekend Wars.

Weekend was reinterpreted in the band’s new sound, with more forward electric guitar and drums instead of synthesised sounds making it more rock than psychedelia.

The new approach worked just as well on older songs Moons, Birds & Monsters and Time To Pretend. Unfortunately, one of this writer’s favourites, Electric Feel was butchered by frontman Andrew VanWyngarden’s weak vocals, as he chose to go solo rather than harmonising with Ben Goldwasser like on the Oracular Spectacular record.

The venue’s sound system did the band no favours either, over-emphasising the bass in favour of vocals and acoustics instruments. VanWyngarden’s guitar was only noticeable during Siberian Breaks and encore song, Pieces Of What.

Making the best of their situation, the boys still managed the pull off a few gems, the highlights being the slower Siberian Breaks which gave fans a chance to catch their breath just before the band went all out with Kids.

On Kids, the band lived up to its name as a party band, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser dropping their instruments and howling shoulder to shoulder in the spotlight, reminiscent of when the two were the entirety of MGMT. All this was made possible thanks to new bandmember James Richardson who manned the keyboard while the founding duo showboated. Richardson definitely deserves MVP of the night for his lively performance on guitar, keyboard, backup vocals and even a bongo drum for It’s Working.

One wonders how many real “fans” were at the gig, with most leaving after the band played their most well known hit, Kids. The hardcore fans stayed on, stomping their feet and chanting the classic Malaysian concert goer cry: “We want more!”

Boy, did MGMT deliver, performing three more songs for the encore, pushing the count to 16 tracks on the night (just three songs shy of their entire discography)!

The frantic Brian Eno was the perfect closer with just the right amount of crazy, thanks to Goldwasser hammering his keyboard, unleasing a rainbow of bizarre samples from cartoon laser beams sounds to cuckoo clocks and birds chirping.


Monday, March 21, 2011

May you have as many kids as Chris :)

Haha...that was what Faz wrote on the wedding wish card :-p

Note: Both my friends are huge fans of Muse, Chris is the bassist ;-)

Just a short post on a recent trip to Penang for Miele & Ridfan's wedding @ Kepala Batas 19/3/11

Went with Faz. Took the train to Butterworth (Ekspres Sinaran Utara ) from KL Sentral at 0805, arriving Butterworth 1455. Train back to KL was at 1530, arriving at 2205. We took the 2nd class seat (RM 34/way). We wanted to take the sleeper/bunker, but it is not available for day trips.

Nice scenery at Bukit Merah lake.

When we arrived at Butterworth, we didn't know that the train station is actually located at Penang Sentral, which is a hub for trains, buses and jetty to Penang island, so we walked a bit to an opposite direction and hailed the first (and only) taxi that we saw - a Pakcik was waiting outside. I told him we were going to Hotel Sri Malaysia at the mainland, but he told us there was no such thing - the hotel is at the island!

So I called Miele and she said that the hotel is at Kepala Batas, which is quite a distant, and we can take the bus if we like, but it'd be quite a journey. So we took the taxi instead. It costs us RM40 one way, it took about 20 mins to arrive.

The hotel is actually right in front of the bus station at Kepala Batas. So we could have taken the bus - but then we were tired and in need of a nice comfy bed (I had a late night project before going for the trip hehe).

After a short rest, we walked a bit to KFC, of all places LOL! I was in need of my Krushers (wanted to have one at KL Sentral, but they only start selling it at 11am). But to my disappointment, they don't have Krushers here, but they do have 3 layer tea. I wonder if they have this in KL?

KFC 3 layer tea

Then we surveyed the area - looking for the wedding hall - Kompleks Sukan Bertam. It was quite near to the hotel actually, about 5 mins by car. But we figured it would be weird to be walking to the hall at night wearing pretty baju kurungs- so we hired the hotel van for RM10 one way.

We arrived quite early at 8am, most of the guests have not arrived yet, and we were ushered to the buffet table to help ourselves to the dishes. I felt weird, as usually, if I go to wedding dinners (at night), we would have to wait for the bride & groom to arrive, bersanding and then only the guests can tuck in.

Anyway, it was a very simple ceremony, no merejnis / menepung tawar. The pengantin came in, straight to the dais, sat for briefly for the doa, and then went straight to the dining table, have their santapan, then cut the cake, and it was done by 9.30pm We took our pictures with the happy couple, then excused ourselves back to the hotel as we were both very sleepy by the lack of sleep the previous day

Resplendent couple ^_^

Next day we woke up a bit late, just in time before the breakfast buffet ends at 10am. After checking out (hotel rate costs RM140/nite for standard room), we planned to take the bus to the Penang Sentral. We were told to take the 601 bus, but after about 30 mins, there was still no sign of it. So we asked for a taxi. Just when our taxi arrived, bus 601 arrived at the same time, so we had to take the taxi. But if we took the bus, it might take another hour there, so we didn't want to risk it.

Arriving at Penang Sentral, we put our bags at the KTM luggage room - you have to ask for it, there's no locker signage - and you have to pay RM3 per bag. Then we walked to the jetty (the pakcik taxi from Day 1 exaggerated that one would have to walk 1 km from the train station to the jetty ). It took us only 5 minutes! Maybe it felt like 1km to him ;-) Funny pakcik him, quite tough to understand his thick Northen accent, but we laughed heartily anyway :)

It was only 12 noon so there was still time to kill before our train back to KL arrives at 1530. So we took the ferry to the island (cost us RM1.20 only). It's free from Penang island back to the mainland though. The ferry ride took us about 20 mins. The vehicle ferry is faster than the passenger ferry, I guess they didn't want the vehicles to be stuck in traffic.

Vehicle ferry

Passenger ferry

Going to Penang Island!

We reached Penang island at 1pm, walked quite a bit (as most of the shops are closed) under the scorching sun looking for nasi kandar. We finally managed to find one after walking about 15 mins, tucked in, then walked back to the jetty and took the ferry back to Butterworth, arriving at 2.30pm, just the right timing.

While waiting for the train, we played around with a cute and smart kitty - Mr Orange, as he has orange eyes :)

Meet Mr Orange!

Back to KL it was raining, so it was freezing cold in the train. We finally arrived KL Sentral at 2205.

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Ode to Mr Vijay

Got a MMS from Fifah this morning on one of our History teacher's passing...
His teaching was really unique, made our history class so interesting and funny!
He taught me in Form 4
RIP Mr Vejay
Here are what fellow friends have to say about him (copied from FB)

Yang Ibrahim Sedih betulll..:( he was the bestest history teacher in d world...I nvr liked history until I went to his class

Etty Eliany Tesno indeed... sampai skrg still ingat the way dia mengajar... all the terms that he used... ewok, doraeman... the way we laughed... :(

Yang Ibrahim Ya..I still rmmbr his jokes..biler ni etty n hw? If only I'm in kl..but anyway thx for lettg me knw...really appreciate it

Etty Eliany Tesno im not sure la. got email this afternoon from my sister. just wanted to share with my schoolmates. he is one of the best teacher n i guess all of us will always remember him...

Mahpuza Kadir Aku kenal sesangat cikgu ni... selalu buli aku kat class... aaahhh miss him so much ... cam ne jadi cam ni.... ajar Sejarah masa form 4 right

Etty Eliany Tesno oh sorry, missed lak nak tag awak. yup. form 4. sebab dia la sejarah selalu score... kita kena gak buli... tapi sampai skrg ingat kat dia... camne tu tatau la, if sesapa ade info update la

Mahpuza Kadir ayat paling power..... "bullshit" yes, I remember him

Nurul Aida Agil condolences.. i dpt mms from fifah this morning. yup, betul,he made our history class most lively!

Mas Ayu Mohamad i still remember of my fav teacher. dia membuatkan kelas sejarah tak boring.. btul etty.. aku ingat dia panggil ko doraemon..

Etty Eliany Tesno hahaha... aku ni mmg salu jadi mangsa gores dan menang cikgu ni... tapi pape pun mmg seronok blaja dgn dia... dah 15 taun pun kita sume still ingat lagi kat dia kan...

Mas Ayu Mohamad mmg ingat sgt2.. time kelas sejarah la bole ketawa gile baban. sampai senak2 perut la gelak..

Etty Eliany Tesno no hal ayu... zaman kegemilangan sejarah kita dulu kan bersama dia... teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. he will remain always with us... as long as we can remember... huhu...

Mas Ayu Mohamad yup..always.. R.I.P mr. vejay..

Nik Azranee Nik Husin Rasa br je bercerita psl dia... tima kasih atas jasamu Mr Vejay...

Nazim Annas tq kepada mr. Vijay. banyak memori indah masa dia mengajar. RIP

Elia Ramli Baru crite kat my officemate pasal cikgu ni..sbb diela I dpt 1 utk subject sejarah tu...:D may him rest in peace.

DalatiDamia Nawi condolence to his vejay yg introduce aku kat 4 melati...still remember.....thanx a lot teacher....

Nina Idrina Ab Rashid cikgu sejarah yg paling sporting... masih ingat lagi kalau time kelas dia siap gelak2 je.. condolence to his family....

Muhd Tarmizi tqvm etty tagging me..cikgu paling best..kelas dia aku xpernah ponteng walaupun aku xminat sejarah...hehehe..RIP...

Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin walaupun dia tak pernah ajar aku. aku still ingat lawak2 dia. R.I.P

Fauzah Mohd Mokhtar RIP Mr Vejay.. Rasanye dia ada ajar tp mcm ingat2 lupa... Sakit tua ke dia

Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin dia kena heart cancer rasanya.

Roslina Ruslan hahaha...aku ingat,,aku ingat cikgu ni...dia msk kelas sastera mesti bengang sbb kami lawan ckp dia balik...dia yg kena buli..maaf kan kami cikgu...lawak mu tatap menjadi pOjaAn hati kU..

Ahamad Emran kalau cerita bab sejarah, mesti ada raja yang main congkak dengan gundik.

Tootee Gemini Cikgu Hoki....REST IN PEACE teacher.

Tootee Gemini Sebabkan dia ni lah saya jadi coach Hoki kat UiTM Melaka utk Fakulti saya...Juara pulak tu tempoh hari. hasihh...

Sharifah Enson Al-Shahab Caya la Tuty..rindukn kt dia..?

Tootee Gemini Enson- itulah baru je tringat kat dia masa team hoki saya tgh game.

Farhan Rahman My condolences to his family... Very sporting teacher

Eina Latiff RIP Mr Vejay....

Noor Baizura Hermeyney yep coach hockey kite kan...RIP

Abu Ammar setuju Mr Vejay cikgu sejarah terbaik. Dulu kalau ada budak baru mesti dia suruh nyanyi. dia cakap tradisi kat sekolah budak baru masuk kena nyanyi. Cikgu vejay memang best.

Nina Idrina Ab Rashid a'ah.. baru aku ingat... asal ade budak baru je kena la nyanyi kan... best giler style dia kan..

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Borobudur – Parangtritis

Borobudur – Parangtritis, Yogya 14/2/11

Ah, it's Day 3 already. As usual, after breakfast, we headed to Borobudur temple, about 38 km or an hour's drive from our hotel. We arrived Borobudur quite early, but there were many people already, mostly local school students. Lesson learnt from yesterday's Prambanan trip – this time we hired a guide for IDR 75K (RM 26) – we got Aishah as our guide. Entrance fee cost another IDR135K (RM 46) each. Parking is another IDR5K (RM1.70)

Back to Borobudur. It is also a Unesco Heritage Site, no. 592 in the list. It is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument. It is a shrine to the Lord Buddha. There are 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades, each depicting a different story. Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year to celebrate Vesak.

Unesco Heritage Site: No 592

Borobudur was built between 760 and 830 AD, during the peak of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java, when it was under the influence of the Srivijayan Empire based on the carved reliefs and inscriptions used in royal charters during that period.

Borobudur is built as a single large stupa, and when viewed from above takes the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind. It has 9 platforms - the lower 6 are square and the upper 3 are circular. The upper platform features 72 small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped, statues of the Buddha sit inside the stupas.

Borobudur temple complex

One of the Buddha statues

Some Buddha statues missing its head

Stupa. There is a statue of Buddha in each stupa.

The relief panels (the picture carvings) are grouped into 11 series, which can be divided into 5 types of story:

Karmavibhangga - The law of karma which illustrates cause and effect. e.g. depiction of blameworthy activities, from gossip to murder, with their corresponding punishments .

Lalitavistara - The birth of Buddha

Jataka - stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha

Avadana - similar to jatakas, but the main figure is not the Bodhisattva himself. The saintly deeds in avadanas are attributed to other legendary persons

Gandavyuha – tells about Sudhana's search for the Highest Perfect Wisdom. Sudhana was a youth from India who was seeking enlightenment. The pilgrimage of Sudhana mirrors that of Gautama Buddha

Relief panels

Borobudur lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. The monument was not forgotten completely, through folk stories - Babad Tanah Jawi (or the History of Java) and Babad Mataram (or the History of the Mataram Kingdom). During the British administration after the Anglo-Dutch war in Java, Governor-General Thomas Stamford Raffles, was collecting Javanese antiques. In 1814, he was informed about a big monument deep in a jungle near the village of Bumisegoro.He was not able to make the discovery himself and sent H.C. Cornelius, a Dutch engineer, to recover the monument. In 1973, UNESCO funded renovation for the site. In 1985, 9 stupas were badly damaged by bombs planted by extremist groups. Last Nov '10, it was closed to clean up the ashfall from the Merapi eruption – this was the original schedule that we were supposed to go to Yogya, but our flight was eventually cancelled.

To know more about Borobudur, read here


Us with Aisyah

We were now already hungry and ready for lunch. But before we could go out of the compound of Borobudur, we had to walk through quite a long stretch, and so had to endure the throngs of street peddlers persuading us to buy their souvenirs for very cheap prices. But we couldn't buy them, or more of them would be swarming us.

Lunch was at Boyong Kalegan restaurant, about 32km from Borobudur at Pakem Sari (about an hour's drive) which was quite a nice restaurant with huts and a very big fish pond with very big fishes. We had gurame bakar, bawal asam (which was more like sweet sour), tumis kangkung, sayur asem , and lalapan. All costs us IDR211.2K (RM72). Taste was just so-so. By the time we finished, it was already raining.

Fish pond @ Boyong Kalegan

L-R: Bawal asam, tumis kangkung, tauhu, gurame bakar

We then set out to Kota Gede, an area with silverware shops. We didn't stop here, only passed by otw to Parangtritis beach, which would take about an hour ( about 45 km). We planned to ride the horse and catch the sunset there. But then, it was raining, so probably the sun would be shy. I couldn't resist the beautiful scene of the rice fields, so I asked Tri to stop by the roadside and we took some photos. We then resumed our way to Parangtritis.

Paddy fields otw to Parangtritis

We were greeted by a main gate upon reaching Parangtritis, and paid IDR14000 (RM4.8) for entrance. I wonder how residents come and go to Parangtritis daily? Did they have to pay too? Probably they know how to differentiate visitors from residents I guess.

Parangtritis beach has black sand, unlike the white sandy beach of Malaysia. It is surrounded by an open sea – the Indian ocean – so the sea was rough – the waves were high and swimming is not allowed here. Liza was excited to see the horses and couldn't wait to ride them. There were also ATV rides available.

Open sea: Indian Ocean: No swimming here

Black sand

Horse carriage by the sea

After dipping our feet in the seawater, we rode the horses – individually – with the guides following closely by the side. It was quite an effort to climb up the horses lol! But eventually we managed to, and soon we were riding the horses by the beach! The horse ride cost us IDR20K each (RM7) and lasted about 15 minutes.

Riding horses :)

We then chilled out by the beach, eating jagung bakar and drinking air kelapa muda, taking in the gentle sea breeze. But just before sunset, it started to drizzle, so we had to make a move.

Sipping air kelapa muda

Sunset @ Parangtritis

Since this was our last night in Yogya, and we still had money, we asked Tri where we could buy nice t-shirts. So Tri brought us to kedai kaos Unit Gawat Dagadu (UGD), a neat t-shirt shop at Jalan Pakuningratan. I was so impressed with the cute designs, I forgot to take a picture of the shop. According to this website, Dagadu originated from a group of architecture students from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogya who designed creative Yogya t-shirts back in 1994 when they opened their first stall at Malioboro mall. I particularly liked the United Nations logo which was changed to the state of Yogya, and another one with Colonel Sanders (yes, the KFC mascot) wearing the topi jawa. I wanted to buy it, but then I thought I might be shy wearing it in public I didn't.

Dagadu t-shirt shop

That t-shirt looked like this: Colonel Sanders with topi wak
Image taken from here

The rest bought loads of t-shirts for their family members – Liza being the winner and had to gesek her kartu here ;-)

After getting the t-shirts, it was time to nom nom again yeah! But it was raining quite heavily, so Tri dropped us at the same spot the previous night we had our lesehan dinner, and end up eating there again! This time we ordered gurame bakar (again!), udang goreng, ayam goreng, ayam panggang, and lalap. All cost IDR 186K (RM 64).

Our lesehan

Ikan gurame

Ah, a group of pengamen (buskers / street musicians) came to our stall, so Liza requested her favourite songs –Kenangan Terindah (Samsons) and Demi Cinta (Kerispatih). The group was complete – with a drummer, guitarist, violinist, double bassist and a banjo-ist (hehe no such word). But before the band came, an mbak came, singing in classic Javanese, that even our own Professor Jawa couldn't understand :-p

The pengamen band

After the pengamen group finished, the solo pengamen from the previous night came, whom Liza wanted to make a request too, but couldn't because the patrons beside us were hogging him (non-stop request) until we had finished eating! So this time, Liza asked for Tapi Bukan Aku (Kerispatih). We requested only 1 song, then he went to the next table, and I heard he played Yogyakarta, yeay! (I forgot to request that song)

The solo pengamen

Since it was raining, we decided to go back by trishaw (beca). We had to take 2 becas as each could only carry 2 persons. I wanted to go to the biggest roundabout in Yogya, which was nearby, but since it was raining heavily, we cancelled the plan.

We chatted with the bapak, he told us that he has a brother working in Shah Alam as a driver, that he lived about 30 minutes away from Jl Malioboro, that he does double jobs to earn a living, he would go back in the wee hours of the morning, rest for a few hours, and be back again for his day job. And it was raining so hard, he was drenched from top to toe...poor him. Makes us feel thankful with what we have.

That night we had a nice hot shower after a long day out. And sob sob it's the last night here in Yogya. I will surely be coming back for some unfinished business ;-) The next day we would be going back home via Solo, so it's another 2 hours drive there after breakfast. Our flight was scheduled at 1215 WIB. See you soon Solo / Yogya!

Us with Trihan

Pulang ke kotamu, ada setangkup haru dalam rindu
Masih seperti dulu
Tiap sudut menyapaku bersahabat penuh selaksa makna
Terhanyut aku akan nostalgi saat kita sering luangkan waktu
Nikmati bersama suasana Jogja

Di persimpangan, langkahku terhenti
Ramai kaki lima menjajakan sajian khas berselera
Orang duduk bersila
Musisi jalanan mulai beraksi seiring laraku kehilanganmu
Merintih sendiri, di tengah deru kotamu


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meet our friendly reporters!

Ah before I post the 3rd day report of our Yogya trip, I must first report on the wannabe reporters! :-p

We had fun reporting ;-)

Host Chak! Jom Jalan2

CNN cum Bernama reporter cum vulcanologist cum archealogist

Professor Jawa cum sign language interpreter

Our very able but shy camerawoman


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Kaliurang – Prambanan

Kaliurang – Prambanan, Yogya Sun 13/2/11

Ah rise and shine! Today we would be visiting Kaliurang, a view point of Mount Merapi in the morning and Prambanan temple in the afternoon. Tri suggested that from Kaliurang we go to Borobudur instead, but because we wanted to watch the Ramayana ballet which was scheduled tonight (or so I thought, there's a story behind it, read on, I'll tell you later), we decided to stick with our original plan. I have checked the Ramayana ballet schedule online beforehand here.

After breakfast, we headed to Kaliurang (900m above sea level) which is about 30km (45 minutes) from our hotel. “Kali” means river, while “urang” means prawn, so literally it means prawn river. It is located on the southern slopes of Mount Merapi. We then proceeded further to the village of Kinahrejo near to Kaliadem which is 1100m above sea level and about 6km from the Merapi summit. In its original state, it is a scenic lush green pine forest with cool mountain air.


Kinahrejo was badly affected by the recent Merapi eruption in Nov '10. We could see trails of destruction from the ravenous Merapi lava spewing hot clouds of 800-1000 C air. The lava flow left a valley of dried river.The hot lava set afire the houses, villages and plantations, burying them under the hot sands. What was left is grey sands and rocks from the lava. Trees were destroyed, but the people of Kinahrejo have come back to build back their lives by planting new crops – we could see patches of greenery sprouting up. Some were also seen trying to salvage whatever they could from what was left behind and building back their houses. There was also a CSR effort going on where we saw volunteers cleaning up the area under the “Peduli Merapi” campaign.

Valley of dried river

Trail of destruction

Peduli Merapi

Ooops excuse us, we like to jump around :-p

We saw a house that was missing its roof, part of the walls tumbled down, with chairs, tables and bed frames half submerged in the volcanic ash. Clothes were strewn around. A car was flipped with only its chassis carcass left behind, its metal melted by hot molten lava (tongue twister intended hehe)

Carcass of a car

Houses destroyed

Unfortunately also, the Gatekeeper of Merapi – Mbah (wise old man or grandfather) Maridjan perished in the Nov 10 eruption. I was told his body was found in a prostrating (sujud) position. Mbah Maridjan was a royal servant, born in 1927, and was given an order by the King of Yogyakarta Palace to be Mount Merapi's gatekeeper, continuing his father's job. Every year he lead the ritual of Labuhan Merapi, a ritual which hundreds of people climb up near to Merapi's peak and pray to God to protect them.

Read more here

We visited the spot that used to be his house and took a picture of his daughter. We also visited the site that used to be Masjid Al Amin.

This is where Mbah Maridjan's house used to be - completely destroyed

Mbah Maridjan's daughter (with black headgear, seated 2nd from left)

Before heading back, we had jagung bakar and some drinks. Prambanan temple was next in the list, but before that, we had lunch first at Rumah Makan Nyonya Muharti and had nasi padang. Lunch cost only IDR 113K (or RM39) with nom nom chocolate and cheese banana fritter as dessert. Otw for lunch, we passed by a village where there was a traditional wedding ceremony going on. All were dressed in traditional Javanese attire and we saw the bride and groom seated at the dais, quite similar to a Malay wedding. We couldn't stop by as it was a narrow road, plus everyone was dozing off actually hehe, we were awoken by the loud traditional music.

Jagung bakar @ Kaliurang

Cheese banana fritter @ Ny Muharti

It was scorching hot so we took our own sweet time to finish lunch. After praying at the nearby masjid, we proceeded to Prambanan temple just across the street. Entrance fee is IDR117K (or RM40). There is a big difference between locals and international tourists – locals only pay IDR17.5K (about RM6!!) We didn't dare to pose as Indonesians as Tri told us one of his customers from Malaysia were caught by the guards – their accents blew the cover. Maybe one should just keep quite as to not arouse suspicion hehe.. The Malaysians were brought to the guards office and were not allowed in.

Feeling the entrance fee quite expensive, we decided not to take a guide which would cost us another IDR75K (RM26), but then regretted the decision as we could only guess what the statues / carvings were about (told ourselves to google them up later or check our Lonely Planet guide book), plus we didn't have a tripod with us and there was no extra hand to take pictures of 4 of us together. The guide cost would be shared with the 4 of us anyway, so we should have taken a guide – lesson learnt for next day's trip to Borobudur!

Braving the sun, we entered the temple complex with the museum in mind first – for us to seek shelter. I told you it was really hot!

Otw to the museum, we saw a traditional Javanese performance of “Kuda Lumping” (sort of kuda kepang). Common Kuda Lumping performances comprise only of the troops riding horses, however the one we saw also incorporated trance. We saw 2 teenage girls seeking 'permission' from the elders to perform, and later being possessed and was screaming, it was quite scary.

The girls being possessed

Kuda Lumping dance

Anyway, back to Prambanan – here's a little bit of background:

Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple dedicated to Trimurti Gods -the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). It is no. 642 on Unesco's World Heritage List, declared in 1991. It is the biggest temple complex in Java.

Prambanan:No 642 on the list

It was first built by either Rakai Pikatan or Balitung Maha Sambu the Sanjaya king of the Mataram Kingdom. It signified the Medang court shifting from Mahayana Buddhism to Shivaist Hinduism. It served as the royal temple of the Hindu Kingdom of Mataram where the state's religious ceremonies and sacrifices were conducted. In all there are 224 temples in the entire complex. The Siva temple is at the centre, which is a tower at 47m high Brahma temple at the North and Vishnu temple at the south. The temples of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are decorated with reliefs illustrating the Ramayana period (history of the Hindu hero Rama). There are also other smaller temples around Prambanan e.g. Candi Plaosan, Candi Sewu, Candi Bubrah etc.

The architecture of Prambanan temple follows the Hindu architecture of Vastu Shastra (like the Chinese Feng Shui). The compound site consists of three zones :

Bhurloka - the lowest realm of common mortals; humans still binded by their lust, desire and unholly way of life

Bhuvarloka - the middle realm of holy people. People here began to see the light of truth

Svarloka - the highest and holiest realm of gods

In the 930s, the court was shifted to East Java by Mpu Sindok, who established the Isyana Dynasty, probably caused by Merapi eruptionor a power struggle. That marked the beginning of the temple's decline. It was soon abandoned and began to deteriorate. The temples collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century. The ruins however are still recognizable and known to local Javanese people which inspired the Loro Jonggrang folktale.

In 1811 during Britain’s short-lived rule of the Dutch East Indies, Collin Mackenzie, a surveyor for Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, came upon the temples by chance. Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918, and proper restoration only started in 1930. In 1992 the Indonesian government created a State-owned PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan, dan Ratu Boko to manage the parks. Now it is privately managed.

More info here

Candi Prambanan

As usual, we had our mandatory jumping shots here, but we had to take turns as we didn't have a tripod with us, so we didn't get a complete quorum jumping, sigh. We took pictures until closing time at 6pm, and then planned to watch the Ramayana ballet at 7.30pm. We also bought some souvenirs from the stalls here.

When Tri came to fetch us, he told us that there was no performance tonight, the next one would be on Tuesday night. I swore I have checked the schedule correctly – later when I re-checked, I realised that it was not an updated one – I didn't realise it was for 2010! Double whammy. Now we have to come back again to watch Ramayana. Careless me, I should have asked Tri to just check again the schedule on the day we arrived. There was a performance on Saturday, so we've missed yesterday's show.

So we decided to drown our sorrows with eating instead hehe...Eating never fails to make one happy :) We ate at the Lesehan Citra Rasa. Ah a lesehan is a roadside eating place where you sit down on the mats strewn on the floor. When the shops closes late evening, lesehans take over – the operators open their stalls until the wee hours of the morning – offering various types of food such as nasi gudeg, nasi liwet, gurame bakar, burung dara, B1, B2, tongseng jamu....ooopsss be careful there.

A lesehan

We ordered the nasi gudeg komplit which comprises of rice with jackfruit (nangka) cooked in coconut milk, ayam penyet (smashed chiken, literally), tauhu, tempe, egg (looks like telur pindang, tastes like one too, I think) and beef skin stew (sambal krecek). The krecek is soft – jelly like, and yellow in colour. Only Manto ate everything on the plate lol! I ate everything except the krecek – I did try it, but erm, it was weird. But the other things on the plate were nom nom! Razeif and Liza fared worst – only eating the chicken and tauhu/tempe. Ah I survived the lesehan food yeay! We also ordered our all time fave - ikan gurame bakar and lalap (ulam) to complement our nasi gudeg.

Nasi Gudeg komplit.

Oh, back to B1, B2 – what is it you wonder? It's actually pork – B1 for matured ones (b*b* dewasa), B2 is the meat of the younger ones (b*b* remaja - as told to me by a guide in Medan). Another version I found is B1 is dog meat. Dog meat is also known as tongseng jamu. So be careful when choosing your lesehan – look out for a halal sign before plonking yourself on the mat.

Dinner cost us only IDR 199,000 or RM68. By this time, each of us were fighting to pay the bills – as we wanted to finish up the rupiah lol!

After eating, we dropped by Malioboro wall, just killing time there as it was still early :-p There was a school band competition going on, they performed their own songs, not bad :) But the sound system was really bad though. Liza also bought some tokens and played some games at the mall, but didn't win anything, and in the end gave her token balance to a little girl.

We then decided to go back by taking the horse carriage ride. Well, actually Liza wanted to, so the rest relented hehe. The horse ride only cost us IDR50K (RM17). I liked the sound of the horse trotting with the horse shoe (yes ladam is horse shoe in English, simple as that – we tried to figure this out for days lol!)

On our horse carriage!

Ah, tomorrow will be another candi tour. Stay tuned!