We make plans to go to Solo, also known as Surakarta. Maybe they should call it ‘Solokarta’?
Before we leave Jogjakarta, we visit the Taru Martani cigar factory on the recommendation of our guesthouse owner.
Taru Martani apparently means ‘the leaf that gives life’. Very poetic.
Incoming tobacco is weighed.
Most of the employees are women.
The rolled cigars are pressed.
Afterwards, we spend a comfortable hour or so on the train to Solo/Surakarta.
Like most Indonesian cities, Solo/Surakarta is pretty grim. But these alleyway communities are a pleasant contrast.
People in Java like birds.
One morning, we help our guesthouse owner feed live crickets to his.
A popular method of transport are local trishaws called ‘becaks’.
We visit a few markets.
Stroll around town.
Even the ugliest of Indonesian cities have some nice areas.
It’s not uncommon to see chickens in the core of the city.
We walk around the outside of Vastenburg Fortress, the remains of a Dutch fort.
Its modern ownership is hotly contested. Goats wander around the interior.
One day, we hire a car and driver to visit Sukuh, a temple about 40 KMs from town.
A bit of a splurge, but getting here by public transport is problematic.
We get a great view of the valley. And it’s cool.
At one time, all of Java was Hindu-Buddhist, like Bali still is.
Because we already have the transport, we visit nearby Cetho temple. This turns out to be a fantastic drive around Mount Lawu. There are views of tea plantations.
Alpine vistas of mountaintop communities.
And green fields of vegetables.
Cetho is a relatively minor site, but the scenic route here makes it worthwhile.
Sight or Insight of the Day – Surakarta
We visit the House of Danar Hadi museum. This is a stunning collection of batik work belonging to a local family of batik merchants.
We can’t take photos inside, but you can see some samples – and the beautiful displays – here.
One place we can take photos is the batik workshop.