By Maydaa Abo El-Nadar
If you want to enjoy the magic of Asia, yet restrained by time frame, the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta is the best choice for you.
Coming from a 7000-year-old civilisation, I carry love and appreciation for history and cultures of the world. Therefore, I decided to explore the heritage of Asia on a three-day-trip.
It is common to think that travelling to Asia costs a fortune and is tiring; however, having done some research and good planning saved me some cash.
The 12-hour-trip to Indonesia is worth the wait when you know the beauty you are about to explore in the city of Yogyakarta.
I was mesmerized by the rich cultural and historical taste the city offers the moment you land on its grounds.
A nice choice was accommodating at Yogyakarta Hotel plaza, with its strategic location, where you can enjoy Asian spa and massage.
At the first day, I visited the Sultan Palace of Yogyakarta, which is the most popular destination among both domestic and international tourism. It was built by the Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. It still serves as the resident of the current Sultan of Jogjakarta.
The city houses two more temples: Borobudur and Prambanan, both are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Considered one of the greatest Buddhist monuments worldwide, consists of central dome which tops a nine unsheltered platforms. Climbing to the central dome, you will get lost in the captive Buddhist stories sculpted in the platforms’ walls.
The temple includes 504 Buddha statues, 72 out of which surround the central dome.
According to a Buddhism philosophy, if you reach the central dome, you reach paradise. Which is an on-point figure of speech as the scenery is breathtaking and heartwarming.
On the other hand, Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. It is one of the largest in Southeast Asia to enjoy a whole day full of adventures in the Hindu world after visiting this eye-catching temple. The Prambanan Open Air Theater hosts a ballet show which narrates the Hindu epic of Ramayana.
The thing that I admired most through my visit was visiting the Art Shop Batik Rara Djonggrang. Batik is an art and craft shop that uses wax and dye, especially applied on cloth. Batik is part of an ancient tradition of Java, Indonesia. At this art shop, I was shown the process of making Batik.
Furthermore, there is a special museum for Batik with its vast collection from different areas in Indonesia. This museum is considered as the first complete collection of Batik in Jogjakarta.
The busy streets of Yogyakarta function as shopping streets where you can find everything you need at cheap prices.
You can buy praying colorful suite, Indonesian colorful wooden masks for decoration, hair and body products, cosmetics and perfumes, colorful clothes, high-quality footwear and Indonesian and Italian tasteful coffee. During shopping at this long street, do not forget to enjoy a horse ride.
As for the Indonesian culinary, try Indonesian rich cuisine at the Sekar Kedhaton Restaurant, decorated with Indonesian style.
Shops don’t only serve coffee, they engage tourists and visitors in the art of coffee making. Pawon Coffee shop serves a kind of coffee called Luwak, which is subdivided to two kinds, Robusta and Arabica.
The city of Yogyakarta is utilizing its natural resources for tourism starting beach tourism, volcano visits, climbing mountains and tubing in Kalisuci cave.
A swim in the ocean, cold cocoanut juice and fresh seafood are the traditions of a day in such a beautiful city.
The similarities I found between my Egyptian culture and the Indonesian experience provoked me to explore the relations the two countries have.
Egypt’s Al-Azhar receives many Indonesian students, who study Arabic language and Islamic studies which contributes to the cultural exchange between the two countries.
Finally, I was surprised to find that my tour guide, called Arinto, has a daughter who studies at Al-Azhar; he was well informed about Egypt and start to teach me about Indonesia in return.