Fist surprise in Yogya was to meet Mick at the train station, who actually got on the train. He found a helpful security guard, who not only assisted him buying the ticket but also withheld the train for a couple of minutes, so he could actually travel. Java is just a cool place.
I decided to walk to my hostel, so with this I actually visit one of the streets local love a lot, and recommend foreigners to check out. Malioboro is just a simple wide street, full of gift shops, batik shops,bazaar and street food. There was a batik-festival, when I arrived, so I could enjoy the show of colorfully dressed groups performing music and dances. And of course I could not resist some lovely treats, so I tried some bites of the local street food.
Yogya is really a friendly city. No wonder, that this is the place I stayed for the longest period of time during my stay in Indonesia. It proved to be a good place to deep dive into Indonesian cuisine – as you already know it from the previous posts – and it is close to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, that I planned to visit for a while.
I was even dreaming with this place. It is such an inspiration, It is a magnificent buddhist temple with a unique atmosphere. As if you would cross a relax-gate, and somehow everything calms down inside. I arrived for sunrise to one of the nearby hills, but didn’t have a special one. Not that I missed it, actually I just enjoyed the site of the peace and the thrill of knowing that I’m heading there. There were just a few tourists in the temple. It is low season already, plus it was rainy in the last couple of days that discouraged some people fro visiting early. Those who expected to have blue sky without clouds were disappointed. I simply love this place. I was walking in circles around the main stupa, observed the carved figures and many buddhas in amazement, had a peek into the small stupas hiding further buddha statues. I was carried away by the energy if this place. I have no words to present this place, so let the photos do it.
This is the ancient hindu kingdom’s most important temple, and the largest hindu temple of Java. When you leave the parking lot towards the site, it takes a moment to let in the view. It is powerful and so big, that it is hard to take a good photo with my small camera. It must’ve been gorgeous once, before the earthquake 11 years ago, when the little building surrounding the great temples were still intact. Now it is just a hill of old stones lying around the temples from all directions, and I see not much chance, that it will be renovated ever.
The locals visit the temple and actively use the park around it. During my visit there was a festival there, school groups and families having picnic and some genuinely terrible singers occupying the stage to perform in front of hundreds of people.
To the question of which temple I liked better, I have no answer. They are simply incomparable. They generated different feelings and I connected to the in a different way.
Things to see in town
I visited the Sultan’s Palace, but my eyes got trained on European palaces, so I didn’t find it particularly beautiful. But this is where I had the chance to see a traditional shadow puppet show, that I was interested in. I did not understand a word of it, but I was told that most of the locals cannot follow it either. The storytelling is not in Bahasa Indonesia, that is the standardised national language of the country, but goes on the third level of Javanese, that is really sophisticated and not used in everyday life. I was waiting for the visual drama, the big fight between the good and evil, as it supposed to be, but there was no. Still, I liked to look behind the curtain to see the beautiful details of the colorful puppets, that you can see only as a shadow during the performance. Or the musicians with the many different local musical instruments.
The Water Palace is nice. The pools of the sultan look really good in sunny weather, but beside of that there is a lot to see: walk around in the small streets of the village surrounding the palace, discover the circular building below ground, that most probably was used as a mosque, discover that every second house has a special role here, and to guess which building has the entrance to the tunnels below the palace is pretty much fun.
Batik has a great tradition here. The locals wear it it seems the tourists like it as well. It is a classic tourist scam, that nice local stops you to tell you about recent batik exhibition aor about a new museum that you shouldn’t miss and he is guiding you there. And of course it is not and exhibition, and they persuade you to buy some batik. Instead, I visited a nearby batik factory, where they were really happy to guide me through the full batik process, showing me every process step in practice. They didn’t seem to be disappointed that I left only with the experience I gained, and didn’t buy anything extra.
Yogya is nice place, most of the people stay a little longer than they planned. In the hostel we had a weird ‘competition’ with Timo, the Swiss guy who also travels for a couple of months, that who extends its stay in the hostel with more days. It was a fun group of people staying there, I enjoyed their company, and the crew was cool as well. (Good Karma Hostel, that I warmly recommend.) On my last day while I was walking back to the hostel, I realized how much I feel at home here, in this city. It is a good feeling, when you are traveling.
Some technical details
- Borobudur entrance fee via an agency: 325.000 IDR, at the gate: 337.500 IDR
- Prambanan entrance fee via an agency: 325.000 IDR, at the gate: 337.500 IDR
- Kombóombines entrance fee for the two temples via an agency: 520.000 IDR, at the gate: 540.000 IDR – it is only valid for two consecutive days
- Student ticket for both temples is available only at the gates: 202.500 IDR/temple, or combined ticket for 337.500 IDR
- The price of the tickets is defined in USD, so I guess if the exchange rate changes radically the prices in rupee change as well (adult 25 USD, student 15 USD)
- Sunrise is nice in Borobudur, while you enjoy sunset in Prambanan more. Being in Borobudur at sunrise is only possible for an additional fee, but you also have to pay 25-30.000 rupees to enter the viewpoints on the nearby hills.
Useful info for students
The international student card is accepted in Borobudur, but randomly the ask some students to prove that they are students in other ways as well (local student card, log into the portal of your university, any official note from your uni). Without the extra proof they don’t issue a student ticket. There’s no such process in Prambanan. So if you plan to buy a combined student ticket, I suggest to do it in Prambanan.
If you want to enjoy sunrise in Borobudur, there’s no public transportation to take you there so early. Transfer prices start around 100.000 rupees. You can rent a scooter for 60.000 rupee per day, but with a bit of planning, you can also visit the temples during the day with local buses.