What I Ate: Sate Ayam or Chicken Satay

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Part of an occasional series about food I have eaten in South East Asia.

Sate AyamSate ayam, or chicken satay, cooked over glowing embers, giving it a slightly smokey flavour. With a generous drizzle of peanut sauce. Sitting on a bed of lontong. Lontong is rice wrapped up tightly in a banana leaf in a tube shape, and boiled until the rice grains are no longer visible, then allowed to cool, before being opened and cut into chunky slices to eat.

 

Sate ayam is usually sold in the evening here in Central Java, both at street food stalls with mats for diners to sit on, and by sellers who push their boat-shaped trolleys around the streets hawking their fare. Many sate sellers are from the island Madura, just northeast of Java, and Sate Ayam Madura is therefore well-known.

Hotel Review: Solo Paragon – Breathtaking Views from the Tallest Building in Solo

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Solo Paragon is by far the tallest building in the city of Solo (Surakarta), Central Java. The views from the hotel rooms out across the city and to the mountains in the background are simply breathtaking. If you love a great view, stay at Paragon. At the time of writing it is also Solo’s newest international hotel.

View from the room

We stayed for one night in a deluxe room on the fifteenth floor; this is the type of room with a separate seating area with a sofa and chair, and a TV that swivels so you can watch from the sofa or in bed. We were impressed by the size and spacious feeling of the room, as well as the many windows from which to admire the view.

The bathroom was on the small side, with a gloomy shower cubicle, the type where the sprayer is fixed to the wall. There was no bath tub. As darkness fell, we discovered that the hotel room itself wasn’t particularly well lit, with an assortment of lamps but no main lights.

The air conditioning worked well and we liked that you can also open the windows. There was a minibar, and tea/coffee making facilities, but only one teabag and one coffee sachet, in a room clearly designed for two people.

Seating area in deluxe room

Everything was very clean and functioned well. The TV had some international channels such as National Geographic, MGM and StarSport, as well as local channels. The bed was comfortable and we slept soundly.

We were not overly impressed by the service, having queued for a long time to check in, while watching a reception staff member standing around doing very little. The hotel interior is not always well signposted. We went to the mall which is attached to the hotel, and struggled to find the way there. The hotel room was also lacking in information about hotel facilities; there was no brochure for the spa or information about the fitness centre facilities, but there were advertisements for hotel rooms and accommodation packages displayed in the room.

The hotel has a swimming pool, fitness centre and spa, of which we tried the pool. It was definitely on the small side and a uniform depth of 1.2m, with a shallower kids’ pool, but it was pleasant and peaceful.

Swimming pool

In my opinion, Solo Paragon is worth it for the amazing views across the city. However, if views aren’t your thing, check out the other hotels in Solo; there are many to choose from. See my previous articles for other ideas: Lor In Resort, other hotels.

Hotel Puri Asri, Magelang: A Beautiful Landscaped Resort Hotel with a Mountain Backdrop

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Puri Asri Hotel RoomThis four star hotel is laid out on a large terraced hillside leading down to a river. The area has been well landscaped with pools, ponds and a swimming pool alongside other activities such as games and play areas. A steep road leads down through the hotel site, from the reception at the top, passing the restaurant, various sets of bungalow-like rooms and the swimming pool. If travelling by car you can park a few metres from your room.

I stayed for one night in a room behind the fishing pond, looking out over the river and across to the fields on the other bank, with the volcano Merapi behind, visible only at dawn. The scenery was stunningly beautiful, and the hotel was not busy on a weekday night.

The room was excellent, with a comfortable bed, air-conditioning, bathtub with shower and a large widescreen TV. The TV channels were however very limited, with only several of the Indonesian channels available and HBO dubbed into Indonesian. Bed linen and towels (two large, two small) were all clean. Bubble bath and shampoo were provided as was free mineral water. Tea and coffee making facilities were available; there was a minibar and a laundry service. The non-smoking room had a wardrobe with hanging space as well as various drawers. In addition to the bed and bedside tables, there was a desk and chair, a suitcase stand, two chairs and a coffee table. Outside on the veranda was a table with two chairs where I sat and took in the gorgeous surroundings.

I had a wonderfully peaceful night’s sleep with no disturbances or noise from neighbouring rooms whatsoever. With an early start I was up at sunrise, just before the swans that live around the fish pond began their rather loud morning call. Breakfast, served 6am to 9am up the steep road in the hotel restaurant, was an impressive buffet with something for everyone. As well as Indonesian food such as rice dishes and bubur, there was a salad bar, bread and cakes, waffles, and hot dishes such as chicken sausages, chips and baked beans.

The hotel is well-equipped with the Putri Ayu Spa, which offers a range of pampering treatments, and a fitness centre and sauna, in addition to the large outdoor swimming pool. Progo Xventoure operates from the hotel and offers a variety of outbound activities including climbing and high ropes, as well as rafting on the river.

Due to the city of Magelang being less well known with international visitors, I was pleasantly surprised to find a hotel which caters so well to non-Indonesians. Although it mainly serves Indonesian clientele, including those attending conferences and seminars as well as family groups, information throughout the hotel was provided in English as well as Indonesian. Families are welcomed at the hotel, which has play areas for children built along the river.

In addition to enjoying the resort itself, visitors can take the twenty minute drive to Borobudur, Indonesia’s most famous Buddhist temple. The hotel is a one hour drive from Adi Sucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta. Day trips to the Prambanan temple complex and the city of Yogyakarta are also possible from Puri Asri.

Overall, I very much enjoyed my stay at Puri Asri and would love to return and spend longer there. There are many facilities, such as the spa and river rafting, that I did not have a chance to try, and one could spend some time exploring the beautiful surroundings along the riverside.