Water Castle (Taman Sari) And Underground Mosque
After having bad experience on my first day in Indonesia, it was a good thing that I met a very helpful and kind Becak driver. He was fair when we negotiated the price , and since I didn’t really know were to go he agreed to take me to the tourist destinations and back to my hotel. Getting around Jogja is fairly easy, you can take the bus, an Ojek (motorcycle Taxis) or a Becak (we call it “de padjak” in the Philippines) and there are also Taxi cabs. Our first destination, Taman Sari also known as Taman Sari Water Castle it was the former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta. Currently its being considered to be a world heritage site.
Yogyakarta is known by many names, Yogya, Jogya, Jogja, Djokdja, Yojo Ngayogyakarta. It is also known as the educational city and the center of Javanese culture, Yogyakarta is a famous tourist destination Indonesia aside from Bali.
Taman Sari consisted of four distinct areas: a large artificial lake with islands and pavilions located in the west, a bathing complex in the centre, a complex of pavilions and pools in the south, and a smaller lake in the east. Today only the central bathing complex is well-preserved, while the other areas have been largely occupied by the Kampung Taman settlement. (source: Wikipedia)
After paying for the entrance fee, I went inside and saw a huge pool with Hindu and Islamic designs. Although their religion is Islam there was a heavy influence of Hinduism. I was approached by a person and since I didn’t need a guide (my instincts tells me its a scam) I tried to getaway from him but he was persistent, he toured me around and gave great information on the use of the buildings,the purpose and rituals performed in the past. He was very knowledgeable of the history of the place. Since he seems nice I slowly trusted him but I was preparing a tip or a kind of compensation once I exit the place.
We continued are tour to what seems to be a residential area mixed with ancient ruins, It was explained to me that this was a settlement for the former servants of the Sultan. We entered a tunnel that leads to an underground Mosque. Gumuling Well (Sumur Gumuling) is a one-storey circular structure that forms an artificial island, there is pool at middle and an elevated platform where four staircases meet. Before entering, you would have to donate a small amount at the entrance.
OK so I asked my guide to shoot this, and looking at the pic. I was also being photographed by another tourist at the foot of the platform, I’m really curious how that turned out. We exited the Mosque then I was lead back to the settlement, around the area was batik shops and galleries, the residents of the area are known for their batik art. We went inside a gallery owned by his brother in-law, at this point I already know whats gonna happen next…this is the “scam” I smelled earlier well its more like a “tourist trap”. I felt cornered as I was being forced to purchase a painting, I must admit the craftsmanship is excellent It’s just that their way of getting buyers didn’t sit well with me. In addition the pricing is questionable, it seems too expensive.
To get away from this situation, I used my acting skills, I acted that I really like the staff they were selling but I have no cash (for real). I slowly moved near the exit (instinctively) then they sort of block my way by showing the painting. The owner even volunteered to take me to an ATM to withdraw since I told them I didn’t bring any cash. As I was moving to the exit, the owner blocked me by showing the work.He explained that the painting looks good when there is light behind. After about 5 min. they gave up, the guide and I exited and I was ready run away to the nearest exit, but he remained nice and led me to the exit and even provided direction to Malioboro street. I was relieved that he was not aggressive and was nice to me.
lesson learned always trust your instincts, try to trust people but be very vigilant. Another tip, “Always find the nearest exit”, that can be used in any situation in life. I looked for my Bekak driver to take me on my next destination….