Keraton (Palace) Ratu Boko

One of the mystery of Central Java that is still remain unsolved today is Keraton Ratu Boko (Keraton = Palace) in Sleman, Yogyakarta. In fact, it is also still being disputed whether this place was used as palace. Some disputed that this place was for rest and recreation for royal families and friend, or even a monastery.

It was estimated that this palace (or monastery) was built in 8th century. When it was found in  18th century, nature has take its part on the palace, and the palace was left in ruins.

The Main Gate of Ratu Boko

The picture above shows what is left from the main gate. I was standing inside the palace when taking the picture. The wall that surrounds the main building was no more.

Lies in ruins

Big boulders scattered around Ratu Boko area. Experts are still studying this place to determine to which part of Ratu Boko Palace does these boulders belong.

Royal Swimming Pool

This place was the pool in the bathing room. It was suspected that this is the place for the concubines to take a bath, and where the King will pleasure himself.

Wall of the Bedroom

Perhaps, the most well-preserved structure in this complex is the Pendopo, or meeting room. Pendopo lies behind this wall, through the small entrance. The room itself is also pretty much well preserved.

This post is made in response to WordPress Photo Challenge: Delta

Sultan Ahmed Mosque of Istanbul (Blue Mosque)

Inside the Blue Mosque

The nickname of Blue Mosque originated from the blue hue of sunlight coming from its windows. Unless you look up, you will be deceived by the red color of the carpet.

The official name of Blue Mosque of Istanbul is Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It was built by Sultan Ahmed I in 1600s, and serve as place to pray, as well as symbol of power of Ottoman Empire.

The Blue Mosque is still functioning as Mosque today. Men still come to pray 5 times a day, and also for the Friday Prayer.

This post is made in response to WordPress Photo Challenge: Heritage

Go (Glamorous) Camping

Let’s put it this way: I’m not a big fans of camping. Too much hassles of building the tent, taking gas stove and all canned food, cooking utensils. And most of all, to have less decent toilet. That’s why, when my son want to go camping, I only have one condition: I will only going to do Glamorous Camping, or more commonly known as Glamping.

Uniform Tent
Camping site at Tanakita, at the foot of Mount Gede, Sukabumi, Indonesia

In Glamorous Camping, the campsite owner basically take care of your needs, from food, building and tearing down the tent, and setting up the bonfire. All you need to do is bring yourself, and some personal stuff like soap and medication. Don’t forget to bring some marshmallow too.

At the Raft's End
Bamboo Raft at Lake Situgunung, Sukabumi, Indonesia

To be honest, this camping trip is the first in the last 22 years. I kind of enjoy the camping trip. I enjoyed sleeping in nature, with nature’s sound instead of Air Conditioner, wake up early watching the sunrise in the fresh cool mountain air, and the morning hiking to the most secluded beautiful place accessible only by foot. And Glamorous Camping site provide just what I need to go back to nature

This post is made in response to WordPress Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

Harsh Tourist Winter in Göreme

Saray Restaurant, means Palace Restaurant in Turkish, sit in the corner of Göreme’s main road and the small road leading to Göreme Cave Palace, where we stay. Despite the cold winter and snow, I sit outside eating my Kebab while waiting for my Turkish Coffee to cool off a bit. From where I sit, it is easy to observe the main street of Göreme. Stores, restaurants, and supermarkets lined up along the road, with bright light as the day drew to a close. What is missing is the tourist, the visitors to patron the road. Göreme, just like all other place in Turkey, is facing the a harsh tourist winter, as harsh as the weather in this time of year.

Snowy Road

“The snow will usually come in 2 weeks time”, Jay, the owner of Göreme Palace Cave Hotel told us during breakfast. Just few hours after noon, however, the snow fall. It come early this year, to our delight, because it will be first snow experience for us.

The tourist winter, however, come as depressing reality not only for Göreme’s tourism industry, It is really sad to see shops and restaurant, well prepared, but devoid of tourist. Just like Saray Restaurant, there are only 2 tables filled from about 15 or so. Blame it to the bombing in Turkey, 3 of it was in Istanbul in 2016, and finally the failed coup attempt in July. All of it has spread fears to those who want to visit Turkey for holiday.

Lit by Supermoon

The snow fall grew in intensity that night, and the temperature has drop well below zero. With no proper winter coat, we took out some food stock and hide in the warmth of Göreme Palace Cave Hotel’s restaurant. The big window of the restaurant shield us from the cold, but provided a spectacular view of the snowy Göreme City under the Super Moon.

“It is all politics”, Jay said when we discussed about the recent events in Turkey. “And especially the foreign government who don’t like Turkey’s fast economy growth”.

“Yeah, it is always like that. So, back in Indonesia, during Bali bombing 2002, it was the local who eventually save Bali’s tourism industry. Do you still have many locals coming to Göreme?” I asked, reflecting on our own experience.

“Not really. We don’t really like the locals. They are noisy and asked too much”, he said.

“Well, I hope the tourism industry will recover soon”, I said. We drink in agreement and call it a night.

The next morning, I woke up early as usual. The snow fall has stopped, leaving white snows blanketing the whole city. I sipped my hot coffee at the balcony that getting cold very fast. In the distance, few flash of light are visible. It is the hot air balloon pilot inflating their balloon.

Few minutes later, those balloons are airborne. They decorated the morning Göreme sky with their colors, red, green, light blue, dark blue, and many more. They are beautiful. And somehow, I have a warm feeling that, as long as the Hot Air Balloon airborne, the Göreme will be just fine

Fly Above the Snow

Evening at Malioboro

Just as the sun begin to set, the crowd started to gather at Malioboro Street. To anticipate the crowd, several food seller already set up their basket, ready to serve hungry stomach. They set up their baskets in a non-intrusive way at the wide pedestrian of Maliboro Street. And in case you pass through them, they will greet you and offer the food, with the signature smile of Yogyakarta.

Evening at Malioboro Pedestrian

This post is made in response to WordPress Photo Challenge: The Road Taken

Not a Tourist, Not a Backpacker