Upon arrival at Yogyakarta airport, my Aman experience started. I was to stay at the Amanjiwo resort and was met by the Aman representative, Pak Didit, who introduced himself and ushered me to wait in the comfort of the airport lounge while he went off to collect my luggage. Our first stop was the Unesco World Heritage Site of Prambanan, a Hindu Temple complex which sits in a compound to the North East of the city of Yogyakarta in Central Java and as we left the airport he told me some of its history. Built in the 9th century, this is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva) and each of these three heavenly roles is represented by one of the three largest buildings in the Temple complex.
After visiting Prambanan we set off to the resort and, after a 75-minute journey, we entered the estate of Amanjiwo, a beautiful setting framed by emerald-green rice plains and the peaks of the Menorah Hills of rural Central Java. As we approached the lobby, my guide stopped the car, and to my surprise there it was in all its glory, one of the world’s most famous structures, the majestic temple of Borobudur. The Amanjiwo resort lies within view of the mystical stupas of the temple itself, also a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the Buddhist monument directly informs the design of Amanjiwo, a temple-like hideaway with a stupa-like roof, colonnades and walls built of local blush-beige paras stone.
There are thirty-six independent suites which radiate in two crescents from Amanjiwo’s central rotunda. Each accommodation unit is elegantly designed for privacy and decorated with sungkai-wood screens and furniture of coconut-wood and rattan with antique batik cushions and Javanese glass artworks. All units feature terrazzo floors, high ceilings, domed roofs and garden terraces with a thatched bale for outdoor lounging.
Dinner that night was a unique experience well worth a mention. I dined at Pak Bilal’s house which is next to Candi Pawon – the traditional Javanese home of a coconut sugar maker which serves home cooked food made over a charcoal burner which gave an insight into how the locals live.
After a tiring day, I decided to schedule a spa session for that afternoon. I opted for the Pijat massage which, I have to say, was one of the best I had, the masseur seemed to know instinctively where my problem spots were and was able to quickly ease away the knots in my tired muscles. I drifted in and out of sleep during the 75-minute treatment, my tired body appreciating every press and stroke.
That night, I enjoyed yet another “curated” dining experience, this time it was the ‘Ramayana’ served in the Dalem Jiwo Suite (the Presidential Suite). I was greeted with a short tour around the suite, finally leading me to the central rotunda and a dining table overlooking a private 15-metre pool. I had champagne and feasted on the Royal family’s favourite dishes while traditional dancers performed scenes from the Ramayana legend to the accompaniment of a Javanese Gamelan. After dinner I retreated to my room well fed and well massaged and, needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.
On to the 3rd and final day of my stay, I set off to see the
Temple at Selogriyo, a hidden gem not well known to tourists.
A 45-minute drive took me to Magelang where I was greeted
with beautiful sweeping views across terraced rice fields. We
stopped for a picnic along the way, taking in the breathtaking
views of the rice terraces set against the background of Mount
Sumbing (which is still an active volcano) before making the
easy hike up to the Candi Selogriyo.
I had come to the end of my stay, and I left Amanjiwo with a heavy heart. I had travelled alone but to stay in such a beautifully designed and appointed resort and attended to by such caring and thoughtful staff, I felt that I was leaving old friends – as they say – parting is such sweet sorrow.
Ds. Majaksingi, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java,
Tel. +62 293 788 333