Yogyakarta and Borobudur on the island of Java, Indonesia – November 2014

This was our last stop on our 4 week journey through Indonesia and it was the only area we visited on the island of Java. Everyone calls Yogyakarta ‘Jogja’ for short and it’s the center for education, Javanese fine arts, and culture. It’s a very traditional city that has held on to its culture and traditional ways. There were a few things to see in Yogyakarta but we were a bit underwhelmed with the city itself. There are a lot of scams here, particularly around the Kraton so we kind of had to watch out for the ‘nice friendly’ people that wanted to approach us. The treasures outside of the city though are definitely worth seeing – Prambanan and Borobudur.

Our first day, we visited the Kraton which is the palace of the Sultan. It was okay but there really wasn’t much to see inside, just a few buildings and a horse cart. What we found interesting about it was that it’s actually a walled city inside of a city. There are around 25,000 people that live here and they have their own markets, shops, and schools. We spent a bit of time walking around and listened to the gamelan performance which was pretty good.

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Our second day we visited the Taman Sari (Water Castle) which we thought was a better site than the Kraton. It was built for the Sultan and his entourage as a place of rest, relaxation, and pleasure. After our visit here we walked around, checked out some local batik shops, the Pasar Beringharjo (local market), and then tried to figure out the buses for our trip the next day.

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The next day we hopped on a local bus to Prambanan Temple built in the 9th century. Shortly after we arrived it started to rain but luckily we had our umbrellas with us, so we just continued on. We loved Prambanan Temple, it was an amazing site. It’s the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is definitely worth visiting.

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There were many students here visiting and they quickly spotted us and wanted to visit in English. They asked where we were from and if we liked their country. They were genuinely very happy when we told them how much fun we were having in Indonesia. All of them took pictures of us and we took a few too.

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The same evening we attended the Ramayana Ballet that was held near the temples. The scene was beautiful with the temples all lit up in the background.

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In Yogyakarta we stayed in a very old Javanese home (Ndalem Gamelan) that has been converted into a guesthouse. This place was gorgeous and full of Javanese antiques. During our stay we were served traditional Javanese breakfasts which were really quite good.

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After a few days in Yogyakarta we moved on to Borobudur. We decided to just hire a car to take us there as that seemed like the easiest and it was pretty reasonable. Also at the time I was coming down with a flu bug so busing it just didn’t seem like fun.

When we arrived at the hotel we were blown away at how beautiful it was. This peaceful place was set between coffee and chili pepper fields and it was surrounded by Buddhas and gorgeous scenery. We immediately felt like this place was really special. I guess if I had to be sick this was one thing that made me feel instantly better.

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They had bikes that we could use at the guesthouse so we took a little bike ride through the neighbouring village. As we passed by locals they would smile and wave at us, everyone here seemed so friendly and welcoming. When we arrived back at the guesthouse they offered to go get our Borobudur entry tickets for us so we wouldn’t have to wait in line, we thought that was awesome.

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That night they served us a very traditional Indonesian dinner and the food was so delicious, we loved everything they made for us. Actually we never ate anywhere else but at our guesthouse because the food was so consistently good.

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The next morning we were up early and ready to explore Borobudur. One of the fellows from the guesthouse had our tickets and biked along with us to the site, he had us park our bikes at a little shop (assuming friends of theirs) across from the temple. Then he had words with the fellow at the ticket counter, handed them the tickets, and in we went ahead of a crowd of people – that’s great service from a little guesthouse.

Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist Temple and it was built in the 9th century. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s really impressive. We spent hours here just looking around, climbing the temple, and just taking it all in.

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We met more students here and they convinced Gordon that jumping rope at the temple would be fun (he’s such a good sport)!

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We only had a few days in Borobudur but we really could have stayed a bit longer, maybe next time!

We made our way back to Yogyakarta for a night and then caught our flight out of Indonesia to Kota Kinabalu on Borneo.

Where we stayed in Yogyakarta: Ndalem Gamelan 

Where we stayed in Borobudur: Rumah Dharma 

Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel

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