Sunday, August 12, 2007

Trip to Solo, Indonesia

Being an award winner of the Selangor Youth Award is truly rewarding. Little did I know, after such astounding experience in SSEAYP 2003, I still have a chance to experience something similar this year!

This trip to Solo, Indonesia - specifically to Sragen village - is fully sponsored by the Selangor government. More than 30 participants join the trip, including the Selangor Exco YB Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil.

The father of Selangor Menteri Besar came from Sragen, so when we went to Sragen, we were treated like grandchildren getting back to hometown. Slightly pampered, I would say, we were treated like VIPs.

The flight via AirAsia took only about 2 hours to reach Solo airport. As our flight was very early, we reached there at about 8 am. Upon reaching the airport we were greeted by Sragen government officers. We did not have to fill up our departure card. Just 20 minutes wait in the VIP room, we then have our passports returned and directed to a bus.

Eeeoooo eeeooo eoooo went the siren of the police car. Then the van that carried Datuk Abdul Rahman, followed by our bus. Behind us, an ambulance trailed. On our bus there were government officers from Sragen to make sure we were comfortably served. Bapak Bambang guided us to sceneries we saw along the way to Novotel Hotel.

After breakfast in the hotel we then visited Bupati Sragen (government representative of the district), Bapak Untung Wiyono. As we entered the visitors' hall, a poster greeted us with a smiling face said "Local people buys local products". Upon entering the first few steps of the hall, we found the same person on the poster standing right in front of us, that was Bupati Bapak Untung.

We were given a short feast of various delicacies from Solo - ranging from crackers, fried eel, sweet delicacies and dumplings. (Wow I didn't know is that difficult to describe food!) Then we were given a short briefing about Sragen and how Bapak Untung ruled the area. Exchanging of gifts entailed and then to lunch. During lunch we were entertained by singers. Bapak Untung, a chief police, a chief army and Datuk Abdul Rahman each sang songs to entertain the crowd.

That day, we were sent to visit Batik centre, organic rice mill, Sragen training centre for youths and sight-seeing. Each of the places we went, we were eating and eating and eating as food was served. When we reached the hotel to refresh ourselves, we were all very full. After having a bath we then were escorted again to a village for dinner. On the bus, the government officials who accompanied us even prepared some sweet delicacies for us just in case we were hungry on the way to dinner.

Dinner was served. Porcupine satay was among the dishes - yes this is the first time I am taking porcupine. Songs and music accompanied us the whole evening with youths from both countries taking turns to sing.

Back to the hotel, we were all tired and slept like pigs.

The next morning, we were brought to visit more places - from rattan furniture centre and pomelo farm to a man-made dam. We were taken around the dam on boats. Along the way towards a floating restaurant, there were many parts meant to rear fishes. We ate fish (obviously) as our main dish that afternoon.

Then, in the evening we were on our way to Yogjakarta. In Yogja we had Ayam Goreng Ibu Suharti for dinner. Then it was free and easy. I went to the pub downstairs in the hotel to enjoy songs from the live band.

The next morning was shopping spree and after lunch we were sent back to Solo. In Solo, we have a night's rest and then flew back to KL, bringing along with us crackers, batik and souvenirs from Solo and Yogjakarta. Datuk Abdul Rahman brought back more than 80kgs of souvenirs from our many gifts exchange sessions in Solo.

The trip is very meaningful to me as I have learnt new things, met new friends and gained new knowledge.

Solo will be a place where I will visit again - hopefully for homestay for a few months to learn the culture there and the delicious food there.

Add some pictures here later, but here is a photo of my room mate and I, with Renny from Solo. Notice the background..... a bed filled with goodies to bring home!!!

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