The swimming pool at Cakra Homestay
The swimming pool at Cakra Homestay

Following the footsteps of my friends who came to Solo (Surakarta), Indonesia more than a year ago, I decided to stay at the same place they lodged there, Cakra Homestay which came well recommended. I took an ojek (a motorcycle taxi) from the train station to take me to Cakra Homestay. It wasn’t hard to find on a quiet block in the neighborhood  When the doors opened, I admired the 200-year old home brimming with Indonesian style and architecture.

The music room
The music room

A Home of Javanese Culture

I was warmly welcomed by the staff there even if I was a walk-in guest. I thought the whole area was big with nice manicured gardens, beautiful Javanese architecture from the woodwork, roofs and hallway lamps. There’s a central tower where one can climb and enjoy a high vantage view of the neighborhood and admire the age-old characters of the ceilings found at the homestay. Sitting and reading area can also be enjoyed.

Haunting vocals adds an enchanting layer to the music
Haunting vocals adds an enchanting layer to the music

Bare Rooms

All is not good news though. While I liked the gardens and exterior architecture, the room I got was bare and dull. It was spacious but lacks any character aside from the bed and en-suite mandi (bathroom). They could have spruce it up a bit with a little decor but there was none. Only one set of electric outlet was working inside the room. Also the prices have certainly gone up. From Lonely Planet’s listing of IDR 75,000 for the same room, it has gone double to IDR 150,000 which I thought was quite expensive already by my own. The price includes breakfast but it was very poor with a couple of toasted bread with jam and butter and tea.

Beating the Kendhang
Beating the Kendhang

Gamelan Rehearsals

It was still a good decision to stay for a night there though. The staffs were very enthusiastic about Javanese Culture that they would be happy to share their thoughts and ideas with you. And in the evening, they would have gamelan rehearsals at the music room. I sat down with them one evening even if I was sleepy from a day’s walk just to hear them ensemble play. Once the progression of instruments starts, the haunting vocals would soar through the music and capture the listener to its almost hypnotic pull. It was wonderful and eerie at the same time. A song would last for 5-10 minutes but its mesmerizing quality lingered even in my dreams that night.

If there was any good reason to check-in at Cakra Homestay, it’s immersing into the word of Javanese Culture.

The rebab string instrument
The rebab string instrument
The Bonang Paneros gongs
The Bonang Paneros gongs
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Ferdz
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.