For our 2 week trip to Indonesia, Elena and I decided to focus on 5 areas: Yogyakarta for temples, Flores for landscapes, Komodo for diving and dragons, Bali for spirituality and Gili for beach. Indonesia is one of the largest and most populated countries in the world, and being comprised of 17,000 islands, you can imagine that there are a lot of spots worth visiting, but it’s hard to get to all of them at once.
We met at Yogyakarta airport, since I had decided to do a 1 day layover in Spain to visit my friends and family 🙂 It was pretty late, so we quickly hoped on a taxi and got to the hostel we had booked online. It was rather crappy but well located near the main street Jalan Malioboro.
The next morning, got up early and after stuffing ourselves with a free breakfast prepared by the hostel family, we walked to Malioboro, exchanged some US dollars into Indonesian rupiahs. On that same street, we got on a public bus to Prambanan, I believe it was called 1A. It’s very easy and cheap, not sure why people go on a tourist tour. Prambanan is the most impressive group of Hindu temples in Indonesia. They’re fairly well preserved (and works are ongoing), and it is really cool to wonder around, get into some and observe details… while reading the history of the place, or overhearing from some group guide 😉 The ticket is fairly expensive, but you can get a 50% student discount! We might have even gotten it with our old UCLA IDs…
After eating something quick from the shacks by the access road, we decided to head back to the city, and attempt Borobudur on the same day. It was quite an odyssey, but still doable on public transit… we might not have taken the best bus combination to get to the Jombor terminal. From there, there are regular 90 min buses to Borobudur terminal, and finally a walk or a short becak (Indonesian tuk tuk) trip. Borobudur is a massive Buddhist complex from the 8th century, one of the true jewels of this world. The views of the stupas and the surrounding mountains at sunset are hard to describe.
We got kicked out of there once it got dark and headed back to Yogya. Before going to bed, we ate some simple dishes at a half-touristy restaurants in Malioboro. Our first impressions of Indonesian food were not favorable, and the next days wouldn’t change our opinion… Nothing to do with the yumminess of Thailand or Singapore!
On our second day in Yogyakarta, we felt really good after everything we had accomplished on the first day, so decided to take it easy. In the morning, we wandered around the historical downtown, the Kraton (Sultan’s Palace) and the Taman Sari (Water Castle), where a local decided to be our free guide to practice English. Although it wasn’t anything out of this world, it was nice and felt off-the-beaten path. From there, we took a very long walk to reach the Birds Market, stopping to eat some fresh fruits. The market was pretty interesting to see, as they had not only beautiful birds, but also bats, reptiles, etc.
By then, it had started to rain, so we decided to take a becak back. By the time we got there, it was pouring cats and dogs, so we took refuge in the hostel. In the evening, we still had time to get a massage and do some shopping in the “shopping malls” between Malioboro and Kraton.
From the plane, we got to see one more wonder of the Yogya area: the Merapi, an imposing volcano that we might hike on a later visit.