28 July 2009

Moving on to The Darker Side of Development

After 21 months of static microsites, microsites and even more microsites, I will be moving on to the darker side of development.
I relish this opportunity to take on a role that requires competency in totally different skill sets. And even more, the challenge of constant change.
I'm definitely sticking around to witness my accelerated hair loss to something more stressful. More importantly, to see what I'm made of.

25 July 2009

Yogyakarta - Borobudur


Right after what was essentially a quick look-see of Prambanan, we were whisked to Borobudur. Suffice to say, this ancient site is was magnificent to behold. Built in the 9th century, this Buddhist temple withstood the tests time and theft. We were there at a time of a public holiday, which explains the huge crowds.












The Girlfriend at Borobudur

Me at Borobudur

22 July 2009

Yogyakarta - Prambanan


Yogyakarta is probably better known for the ancient temples or candis found in the region. Since I am at that word, I would share that I made quite a little boo-boo while in conversation with one of the hotel staff: I had pronounced candi as how an African might say "candy" only to be corrected subtly that it should be pronounced chan-di. So don't anyhow-ly pronounce, yah?

After the accidental adventure at Mount Merapi, we opted for the more common attractions that draw tourists to Yogyakarta. First of which we visited is Prambanan, a Hindu temple built in the 9th century.

While it withstood the earthquake in 2006, some of the structures are at risk of collapsing and were sealed off.

We didn't have a lot of time at Prambanan as we needed to rush to Borobudur in time to catch the sunset. But I managed to get a few quick shots of this ancient relic.




























Proof of Presence

Proof of presence.

8 July 2009

Yogyakarta - Mount Merapi

I was in Yogyakarta a few weekends back.

The girlfriend and I had planned the trip but not the itinerary. We had only a rough plan to visit the candi in the area, notably Borobudur and Prambanan. Everything else, we would decide when we find the local tour operators. We ended up on an unforgettable, accidental adventure from which I would dub the girlfriend, "Merapi Super Woman."

We sort of squandered day one walking through Malioboro not buying any of the handicrafts on sale as we couldn't think of any use for them. By chance, we ventured into an alley teeming with backpackers' lodges and tour operators. The complex network of alleys within alleys beckoned adventurous spirits to weave through them and discover for themselves the secrets of Yogyakarta and Central Java, one tour operator at a time, one faded poster at a time, one quaint eatery at a time.

Night falls by 6pm in Yogyakarta. Not wanting to search aimlessly for tours to go for, We sought advice from an independent tour operator found in the alleys. He recommended that we could go up Mount Merapi, an active volcano to catch the beautiful sunrise. We took his word that it would be "a relatively easy 4-hour walk" the mountain and that a windbreaker would be sufficient to fend of the sub-ten degrees temperatures and signed up for the "guided walk."

The "guided walk" would start off at night so that we could reach the summit in time for the sunrise. We returned to our hotel to rest till the tour operator came by to pick us up at 10pm. The journey took over 2 hours to reach Selo, a settlement at the foot of Mount Merapi.

The chill of the night took us by surprise and we quickly donned the rented windbreakers to fend off the cold. We were allowed to rest a little, but I just could not miss looking up to the skies above...

Full of stars

Before long, the guides led us on the "walk" which tuned out to be quite an expedition. The gradients were consistently steep, the trails were narrow and flanked by even steeper slopes, and did I mention that we were equipped with torchlights to walk in the dark?

So it wasn't exactly a walk as the tour operator said. And it took us longer to reach the near the top as we struggled throughout the journey up. The group we were in split up and left us behind so that the rest could move up the mountain faster. To keep ourselves warm in the chill, we kept moving up slowly till reached the ridge line where we had a clear view of the day breaking at the horizon...


A rather surreal view, at least for this city dweller.


The sunrise soon came and I scrambled to set my camera up to automatically take pictures at regular intervals. My fingers were all numb from the cold and figured it would be a better idea to just leave it out in the open to do its automatic thing while I hide behind some rocks to shield myself from the wind chill...


Then I had a little fun shooting some portraits...



Soon after, everything got brighter. This was the ridge line we stayed at. Ahead was the clear trail up to the crater...


The view on the west...


The "little" mountains to the east...


Close up of the mountains to the west...


The visibly tired girlfriend with the view of the west...


And just when you thought going up Merapi was tough, the road down was worse. The girlfriend, though tired, was sporting enough to have this grumpy photo of hers taken...


By the time we reached the bottom where we started out, our thighs were sore and our toes, bruised. We were treated to a surprisingly pleasant breakfast of a banana pancake/crepe thingy that the rest house whipped up before we were sent back to Yogyakarta city. Along the way, the driver even made 2 brief stops for the shutterbugs to take a clear shot of Mount Merapi for remembrance's sake...


So now the girlfriend and I can say that we were accidental mountaineers who have climbed an active volcano. Have you?