Friday, May 31, 2013

Trowulan, the Pride of Jawa

Going to Trowulan was not on my initial itinerary during my Jawa Trip last year, but it was slotted in after much tantalizing promotion from a local of Jombang who lives just an hour away from Trowulan. My travel-mate named "rugged mom" was 5 months pregnant and we just went to Bromo and toured around Surabaya. We had the whole Sunday free and was open to anything.

So it was set, my friend and I will board a bus to Trowulan from Surabaya and then we'll rent a car (since there'll be the three of us, including my local Jombang friend who'll be our tour guide). It seemed a perfect plan at that moment.

But things didn't go as planned.

My pregnant travel-mate at that time suddenly had the urge to go to Malang and I had to go to Trowulan by myself. I almost panicked at the thought! Haha.

To note, the trip to Trowulan gave me many "first experiences" which later helped me adapt and become more comfortable in later trips. Around 11 am I headed to Purabaya Bus Station situated at the outskirts of Surabaya with Rugged Mom. We managed to board an all women bus to reach there. That was something! Hehe.

Later at Purabaya, we parted ways. She to Malang and me to Trowulan. There really wasn't a bus that will bring me directly to Trowulan. I had to take a bus to Mojokerto/Jombang and stop some where in between. Hoping I'd know where to go down, I kept positive despite deep down I was actually terrified! My seat mate, a guy, was really chatty. He even thought I was Arabic! Say what?  He must have never met an Arabic girl  before.

I went down at a place called "Perambatan Trowulan" where my guide, Alid will pick me up with his motorbike. First experience number one! Riding on the back of a motorbike with a boy!! *gasps* My conservative family would have never allowed this. Errr... =P (On later solo backpacking trips, I continued to ride on motorbikes in Cambodia and other Indoneisa trips as it was the cheapest transportation method.)

Bajang Ratu, the elegant Paduraksa style gate at Trowulan
What is there about Trowulan that I was willing to go there alone? Well, it was the former capital city of the once famous empire of Majapahit with the Hindu/Buddism influence. Covering around 100 square kilometers, it boasts of some monumental remains yet to be compiled onto some plan but still indefinite. The site comprises of temples, tombs and a bathing place, which Alid has brought me to visit that day. If it was a complete complex, I'm sure it would have been as magnificent as Angkor Wat of Cambodia.

But before exploring all of that, we had to eat first. Hehe. So he brought to his favorite place to eat his favorite dish, the Sambal Wader served with rice. Thus making my second 'first experience', which is having some-one outside of Malaysia paying for my meals. =P

Sambal Wader, Alid's favorite food in Trowulan. 
After lunch we went to visit  Bajang Ratu, the elegant Paduraksa style gate at Trowulan as seen in picture number one. Bajang Ratu in Javanese literally means 'dwarf or defect monarch' because according to folk believes, the second Majapahit king named Jayanegara once fell from the gate as a child, causing defects to his body. Thus the gate to the kingdom was named that way. I later noticed that the same architecture design will be found in many Hindu/Buddha ruins around South East Asia! (Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand!)

I wasn't really a narcissist but since Alid was around and always willing to help take photos, I managed to take the picture below with of group of skinny, Javanese girls while visiting the Brahu temple (our third stop for that day.). Oh my, why are they so thin? I'm so envious!

Skinny Javanese girls jumping with fat me. T__T
Brahu temple is the sole surviving structure of what was once a cluster of historic buildings
After Brahu temple, we went to the bathing place locally known as Candi Tikus. It was dry season and the pool was dried up too. Candi Tikus means 'rat temple', which was named that because during the discovery in 1914, the site appeared during the excavation was an active rat-breeding enclosure. Too bad, the complex is no longer complete. If it was, there'll be terraced foundations upon which would have rested a concentric arrangement of 'turrets' surrounding the highest peak of the building, supposedly to mimic Mount Mahameru. (And so what I've read on wikipedia. Hehe)
The dried up Candi Tikus. It reminded me of Tirta Empul in Bali! 
After climbing in and out of Candi Tikus, we headed to a Buddhist center called Maha Vihara Mojopahit. I get to visit Indonesia's largest sleeping Buddha, also notably known as the THIRD largest sleeping buddha in the world after the one in Bangkok and Nepal.

But what intrigued me the most was the miniature Borobudur found at this center.

Miniature Borobudur. Damn, I have yet t o visit the real thing in Yogyakarta! 
I think we made a pit stop to some royal cemetery but I'll blog about that later. Haha. So let's go to the last stop for the day. The Wringin Lawang, the gate at Trowulan which in Javanese also means 'The Banyan Tree Gate'. Some historians believed that it was the gate to the residence of the famous Mahapahit leader, Gajah Mada.

Wringin Lawang, this typical Majapahit structure is known to be gateways to important compounds of an empire.
While we were there, we watched as camera crew were busy shooting a children's musical program. I got to portrait one girl with her thick make-up on. She had very big eyes! 

A pretty Javanese girl being prepped by her parents for a musical clip at Wringin Lawang.
We had to wait for the crew to clear the area before we could actually take a clear picture in front of the gate. The camera-man didn't really had the whole Wringin Lawang structure in the picture which made Alid a bit furious. Haha. But I liked the picture anyway. ^__^

Say hello to my Trowulan tour guide, Mr Alid from Jombang. The first guy that I've ever rode a motorbike with. 
It was almost 4 pm when we decided to end the tour. I had to hail a bus from the highway to get back to Surabaya. Alid was very helpful in hailing a bus for me despite him having long-sightedness which resulted in him hailing the wrong bus. Hahaha. He still refuses to wear spectacles. Ishhh.

So guys, if ever you're interested to know the history of Majapahit in Indonesia and visit their ruins, do give Alid a call. He'll gladly show you around! Thanks Alid by the way for the tour! 

Footnote : In October 2009 Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia submitted Trowulan as UNESCO World Heritage list..


Alid Abdul said... [Reply]

Oh myyy I look so handsome hoho

Jard The Great said... [Reply]

@ alid abdul... I'm waiting for you to look like Taylor Luatner before I admit u look handsome. hahahahaha