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Yogyakarta - Feb 10

Yogyakarta - Feb 10

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Published by Loh Jian Hui

A 1,300 word article about my trip to Yogyakarta, one of the cultural capitals of Indonesia, over Chinese New Year 2010.

A 1,300 word article about my trip to Yogyakarta, one of the cultural capitals of Indonesia, over Chinese New Year 2010.

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Published by: Loh Jian Hui on May 06, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Yogyakarta - the perfect Chinese New Year getaway

The idea of visiting Yogyakarta was hatched as the perfect excuse for
escaping the cliches and hackneyed rituals of the Chinese New Year, and was
conceived half a year before the dreaded season descended amidst the din of
lion dances, popping firecrackers, Chinese New Year "music", mahjong and

interrogation by relatives.
The choice of accommodation was the iconic, venerable Hotel Phoenix, a 100
year old house converted into a posh designer hotel in 2004.

The venerable Hotel Phoenix (pronounced "Phone-nick" locally by the taxi
drivers) was given a major refurbishment and re-opened on 14 May 2004 by
the present Governor of Yogyakarta Hamengku Buwono X.

The hotel is a veritable feast for the eyes, with artifacts, ornaments and
interior design detailing in every corner to titillate and delight the visual
senses. A glance in any direction will land on some ornate vase, woodcarving
on the wall, sculptural work, floral arrangement, mosaical motif or designer

Reflection in Venetian mirror.

It is the local version of Singapore's Raffles hotel, at a quarter of the price. To me, the symbol of the Phoenix is metaphorically apt to signify the rebirth and renewal of the hotel - in preserving the old and re-inventing itself to keep up with the modern.

The hotel emblem as seen in the corner bevel of a Venetian mirror.
Yogya is most famously known for its World Heritage Sites of Buddhist
Borobodur and Hindu Prambanan. While traditionally Javanese, and majority

Islam, the ruling visual aesthetic as seen in architecture and household
artefacts (statues, ornaments, furniture) is also influenced by the presence of
these places, e.g. the stone friezes of scenes from the Ramayana and
Buddhist beliefs.

One of the many friezes on the walls of Borobodur which tells of scenes from
ancient Buddhist texts.

Borobodur and Prambanen are both about an hour's drive from the city
centre and can be covered in one day. They were both built
contemporaneously and share similar dimensions and building materials.
They are a powerful reminder that different religions, although related and
sharing a common history, and polytheistic, can co-exist peacefully.

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