One of my biggest tips for travelling is to take a travel diary. Write in it every night and jot down the little things that happened that day, so in two years time, you can write to the WordPress world about how your girlfriend spiked your food with the worlds hottest chilli before becoming celebrities at the local independence festival. So kick back, get your reading specs on and take in what our first 48 hours were like in Yogyakarta!
Our hostel seemed a mystery to our taxi driver. Every two minutes he’d pull over and speak to one of his boys, trying to find where he was going. The allusive sat-nav would’ve been handy here but nevertheless, he endeavoured. Upon arrival, we had a power nap and headed out, combining our knowledge and Asian cooking skills to create a coconut milk, banana-porridge sensation! Who needs a cooking class eh?
Yogyakarta, known for its culture and traditional arts, centres around the Sultan palace, which is where we headed. Slightly disappointing that there were no sultanas here, we wandered around without being overwhelmed, prior to leaving for the Water Castle, or Taman Sari. After over a month of temples and palaces, we had got close to our wits end and so can’t really review it, as we were lacklustre to put it mildly!
Here we had our first glimpse of the social class of Indonesian’s. The first bloke we got chatting to ran a Batik painting school for children. Whether this was code for “I’m about to scam you out of your western dollar,” we can’t be sure. The good thing is we’re stingy and didn’t purchase anything, instead having a good ol’ go at Batik painting ourselves and realising out artistic side is minimal at best. Batik painting is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to cloth.
We had hit celebrity status in Indonesia, with everywhere we turn, locals were stopping us for pictures. Yono, a local t-shirt maker in the region, told us how to get us to the water castle before showing us his clothing range. It wasn’t up our street, to be polite, so we wandered on.
The Taman sari is a site of the former Sultanate of Yogyakarta with four distinct areas, including a bathing complex and a complex of pools and pavilions. We looked around for a free entrance and scampered our way through the underground tunnels, connecting various areas of this tentative World Heritage Site. Step up another local, who reminisced of his misdemeanours, narrating his magic mushroom history before informing us of a local festival that we HAD to go to.
Prior to the festival, we walked back and sampled coffee derived from animal poo and 100% bamboo t-shirts. Prankster pig was on hand to spike my dinner with the devil’s chilli. Little did she know I can play the anaphylactic shock card, fooling her into believing my nut allergy had hit me again! A sinister couple, we know.
The festival was great and had local music on which the locals loved. It was particularly enjoyable as I’m sure we were the only Westerners there. The food was great, the coffee was woeful but the memories were exceptional. My diary says there was a suicidal cockroach which I can’t remember but I’m extremely amused by…
It may have well merged with day one, seeing as though the day started at 3:45AM! It was a sunrise hike to the woodland close to Borobudur Temple, prior to seeing the temple itself.
The weather dictates a lot and it certainly dictated the quality of the sunrise. Cloud coverage blocked a plethora of colour, although the hills and mountains made up for it. We utilised the slo-mo feature on our cameras for the first time (little tip: vibrate your lips together for a funny video!) before heading back slightly aggrieved we’d had to pay a whopping 30,000 rupiah, which equated to about £1.50! DISGUSTING! All of which included a breakfast… Daylight robbery comes to mind.
On the coach there we met a group of German girls who agreed to get a guide with us around the site.
Borobudur temple is filled with history and culture which you’d assume it would, being the largest temple in the world. It’s divided into three parts:
- Life curbing desire
- Human form curbing desire
Accompany this with 6 styles of Buddha, 8 commandments, and 72 stupas, you have one hell of a site to journey around! All this was done before lunch!
Now my favourite part of the day turned out to be lunch. This was in no way reason to the 20,000 rupiah (£1!!) lunch buffet we found, with the most delightful staff and watermelon juice.
We thought we’d cram in more culture today, so we headed off to the Prambanan temple which was arguably more spectacular than Borobudur. We only got forty five minutes to explore and wasted a good ten of that trying to get student discount, as per the generous people at Borobudur. Fortunately, we managed to get proof on our phone and reception accepted our student status. Wheeler dealers, or just extremely cheap? You decide!
We ear-wigged to various English speaking guides, which educated us with knowledge such as;
- This is the largest site in Indonesia dedicated to Shiva. (It’s a Hindu site)
- Built during Sailendra’s dynasty in the 8th century, there are over 500 temples in this archaeological site
- There are temples dedicated to the great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma) and three temples to the animals that serve them
We did end up getting a tour guide due to confusion with the driver who got his times completely wrong. Not to worry, it made it so much more informative. We even got time to hang out with some reindeer too!
We had dinner at a local restaurant where I sampled the regional delicacy of fish head but was allowed some extra chicken for my troubles!
Our last stop was a ballet which clearly wasn’t my cup of tea as I blissfully fell asleep watching it. From what I’m told by pig, it was a really beautiful show and is highly recommended!
More to come from Indo and definitely a place we want to go back to!