Thursday, May 26, 2011

Greeting from Bulgaria

I haven't update on postcard quite sometimes have I?

So, here's one piece I received from Bulgaria with its national cuisines all over the postcard. Thanks Gergana for making me salivating while looking at each of the food. All them look tasty and perfect for 'berbuka puasa' :)

Which one looks appealing to you?
Me? - number 5 ("Shahlik") and 2 ("Drob sarma") :')

If you notice, mostly the dishes are oven baked, steamed, stew-like and grilled. No deep frying - talk about healthy food here. IMHO, they look similar to Middle East food don't they? It must be the influence from Turkey which also its neighbour country.

So here is where Bulgaria is.

p/s: this weekend i'm cooking my favourite dish when in Java recently. I received the ingredient all the way from Indonesia :) Wait for the post.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Weekly Travel Quote

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Central-East Java: Prambanan Temple

When in Jogja, YOU wouldn’t want to miss this place – Prambanan Temple. Opss, I mean, I wouldn’t want to miss this place as it is one of UNESCO World Heritage Site! Located about 15km north-east of Jogja and just 8km from Adi Sutjipto Yogyakarta, it is the best place to visit right after you have landed. TransJogja bus from airport brings you directly to near the site and after a 500m walk (or becak ride), you’ll find yourself at the entrance. There’s a luggage storage room, so don’t worry having to carry your bag throughout the temple spotting.
Having heard the legend of Prambanan had connection with Ratu Boko, I bought the Prambanan-Ratu Boko Package for USD20 which entitle me to visit both temple objects with free transportation. It is definitely not cheap for frugal traveler like me but witnessing myself the buildings with massive history behind it was priceless.
Legend had it Prambanan is also called Loro Jonggrang (it means Slender Virgin) after the local name of Durga, a statue stands in the north chamber of Shiva Temple. The statue believed to be a petrified body of Loro Jonggrang, a princess of King Ratu Boko. Prince Bandung Bandowoso was in love with Loro Jonggrang and asked to marry her from the king. However the king answered he could have his princess only if he could kill him in a battle which Bandung Bandowoso did eventually. To refuse the love of a man who killed his father, Loro Jonggrang gave an impossible task as a condition to Prince Bandung Bandowoso – build a temple with 1000 statues in one night! With the help of spirits and supernatural labourers called by Bandung Bandowoso, the quest was almost fulfilled. To fail him, Loro Jonggrang asked the villagers to pound rice and to set a fire mocking the arrival of dawn that caused all spirits to run away from their work, leaving only 999 statues completed. Feeling cheated, Bandung Bandowoso curse Loro Jonggrang to be the 1000th statue.
However, this temple complex which was built during 9th century was a symbol of grandeur of Hindu kingdom during Sanjaya Dynasty and in response to the construction of Borobodur, Buddhist temple during Sailendra Dynasty. It has three main temples namely Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva as a symbol of Trimutri in Hindu belief. Each of these temples has accompanying small temple dedicated for its animal vehicle – Swan (Vishnu), Eagle (Brahma) and Bull (Shiva). Shiva temple being the most significant one, stood 47 meter in the middle of the complex has 4 statues inside it – Shiva, Durga (Shiva’s wife and also Loro Jonggrang as legend above), Agastya (Shiva’s teacher) and Ganesha (Shiva’s son) while Vishnu and Brahma only has one statue of them inside.
Prambanan’s panels of relief describe the story of Ramayana. Read more on Ramayana here. On every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there is Ramayana ballet performance at the Outdoor Theater Taman Wisata Candi Prambanan which I missed L
After knowing all the history of Prambanan, you might think how it got its name while none of the names mentioned Prambanan right? Well, it got its name from the village the temple stood – Para Brahman which with Javanese corrupted pronunciation turned it into Prambanan.   
Prambanan definitely deserves the selection as UNESCO World Heritage Site for its criteria in masterpiece of human creative genius and as an outstanding example of type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrate significant stages of human history.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekly Travel Photo

Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta

Built in 10th century, Prambanan temple is the largest Hindu temple of ancient Java and is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Central-East Java: Nasi Gudeg & Ngamen

We can have so many reasons to like a place. It could be the warm welcome u received, the cheapest breakfast u ever bought, beautiful scenery just outside your window or the feeling of being young again after a ride on roller coaster. But for me, my stomach always have good connection with my heart. Enjoying food with good company never fail creating sweet memories of the place and that was the reason I never forget my first night in Yogyakarta. I agree when people say food bring people together, no matter where the place.

The day I arrived was hectic, I straight away visiting places in my itinerary without putting my backpack at a place I would be spending my night at. My lunch was just a bar of Snickers chocolate and raining the whole afternoon didn't make my travel any easier either. I was tired and glad when finally I reached Lisa's house at about 6-ish. At least I could put my head down to rest for awhile before having dinner *I hadn't eat any meal except my in-flight Nasi Ayam Chin*

Lisa was so friendly and she's a chatter box! We talked almost about anything for hours like there's no tomorrow and like we were good friends that hadn't meet for ages and need a lot of catching up to do. I had a good laugh, really! Then I totally forgot about my dinner. My sister already laid herself down and lost in her dream. During the conversation also I decided to change my plan for tomorrow and day after. It was all because of Lisa! Now, I just need to rent a car with driver for my trip to Dieng Plateu, a place 5-hour drive from Jogja. But at 9pm, we were still talking and I hadn't book any car yet for tomorrow's trip that should begin at 5am! And I was still in the same cloth since I arrived without shower nor dinner. Pathetic! I am such a well-prepared freak sometimes, this kind of arrangement doesn't fit me, I need to at least secured the booking then I can be comfortable with anything afterwards. This conversation needed to stop and we should be going out doing the arrangement. Luckily Lisa's helper came into our room and interrupted our conversation, brought 3 plates of Sate Madura for each of us. So, we stopped talking for awhile and I finished them in no time. I was famished! 

This is the look of Sate Madura. Similar to our Malaysian sate but with additional of sambal and kicap. The taste? As yummy as it looked *burp, excuse me :p

If you have been to Prawirotaman to look for mid range accommodation and place to eat, you've probably come across Via Via Cafe. In Lonely Planet, it is rated as top place to eat in Jogja and have been travelers' choice to hang out too. What was I doing at Via Via Cafe while I supposed to look for car rental company? Well, besides cafe they also provide car rental service and as I guessed, the price was a "little" too expensive for my type of travel :( So, I passed and together with Lisa we walked out of the place to look for more wallet-friendly price although I really would love to sit and enjoy the company of other travelers while drinking some refreshing juice there. The cafe had very relaxing ambiance, perfect for me who had tiring day today. 

Just as we were about to leave, our motorbike bumped into Lisa's friend motorbike who also happens to be one of Jogja CSer I requested to be my host. I was very elated when Rose recognized me and she invited us to join her for some meet up with other CSers. How could I say no?! At that instance, I nodded in agreement and put the finding-rental-car mission aside first :p Inside, there were already Fauzi, Taufik and his surfer from Germany, Basti. So later that night, the 6 of us (4 Indonesian, 1 Malaysian and 1 German) shared a table and many stories over our favourite drinks and live jazz music. Oh, how I love travelling...and making new friends!

Although Via Via Cafe serves local Indonesian dishes, Taufik suggested we should go some other place that have more authentic Indonesian taste and ambiance than the contemporary cafe setting Via Via have. Agreeing with him, Fauzi, Basti, Lisa and I hit the road with motorbikes to look for the best place to eat Nasi Gudeg, Jogja signature dish. 

I fell for this place! I never expect such food stall could make me like Jogja so much. It's Jogja not at its surface!

I know, the video is very dark :( and there was no lighting except from the sidewalk but what I want to share is the songs from ngamen. I quite enjoyed their singing :) Do u? Ngamen is what Indonesian call a group or solo street performer. They could be singing any song at any place, including at the market, in a bus, food stalls etc. Usually people give them some money to show they enjoy their performance.

When I arrived at Gudeg Permata, it was almost 11pm but there were still a lot of people queueing for the food. As u can see, they are specializing in gudeg and have a lot of lauk to eat the rice with. Besides gudeg (young jack fruit cooked with palm sugar and coconut milk) I chose chicken with gravy and tempeh-playing safe by not choosing any peculiar lauk. Then Lisa suggested to include beef skin sambal. She claimed it is not as disgusting as its sounds and I was convinced and had some on my plate. 

In the end, what left on my plate was the beef skin sambal. I just didn't have the courage to be food adventurous that night :D And I didn't finish the gudeg as well since jack fruit can caused wind in my stomach. But afterall, the gudeg taste just nice when combine with some sambal since eating it itself can be too sweet for my liking. 

From the video, I did show there's a place for them to boil water isn't it? This is how it looked when I took the photo with flash on.

How classic! A coal stove.

But the more classic was the eating place at this stall. What do u think?

The empty space on the rainbow mat was where I ate and had a good taste of true Indonesia lifestyle (maybe). And that's how I could record the ngamen playing songs uninterruptedly *super happy*

That's how I spent my first night in Jogja :) Awesome, no?

Do u think u would enjoy this place like I did?