INDONESIA

Visiting Prambanan Park

By on 1st April 2016

Yogyakarta tourist offices organise whole day trips both to Borobudur, which is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world and to Prambanan Park, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. However it is also possible to visit both temple complexes on the same day. This is especially possible if you have your own transportation, but tour operators also cater for those who wish to see both sites in one day.

This is what we opted for. We travelled to Borobudur in the early morning hours, spent around 2 hours there in total and then got back in our minibus and travelled towards Prambanan.

Here is a map to demonstrate where these temples are in relation to Yogyakarta:

 

Visiting Prambanan Park
map sourced from http://www.besttravelpictures.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Borobudur-Maps.jpg

 

 

As you can see the two temples are in opposite directions from Yogyakarta. So once we finished visiting Borobudur the minibus then started travelling towards the centre of Yogyakarta. It takes about an hour when there is no traffic, but with the mid-morning traffic it took about two hours to get from Borobudur across to Prambanan and then about another 20 minutes to Prambanan. The worst thing as that there was no air-con on the bus, it was really cramped on board and there were no curtains on the windows. The bus was like a tin can soaking up the sweltering heat and no-one had any water with them!! It was hellish.

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

 

The first thing everyone did when we finally stopped at the car park of Prambanan Park was to seek out the one and only facility where we could get some water: a vending machine by the ticket office.

Prambanan was a nice surprise to us. With the emphasis is usually on Borobudur, visitors may give this temple a miss, however I think it is definitely worth the visit. It very much reminded me of the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, but it was a lovely manageable site. Dozens of temple spires broke up the brilliant blue of the sky, tourist were everywhere, but mainly actual tourists, not locals, which gave us a bit of a breather from the past few days whereby we ourselves have become tourist attractions (more on that in the next post).

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

 

We walked around and explored the sites, up and down steep steps, in and out of shrines and covices, got to talking to another visiting couple, which was very nice. We visited a couple of the museums nearby and then had a bit of lunch in the nearest restaurant before heading back to our minibus and then to Yogyakarta.

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

Visiting Prambanan Park

 

All in all it was a long day what with visiting two of the most important religious sites in the whole of Indonesia in one super hot day, but it had to be done. It was well worth making to journey to Yogyakarta for this – I could highly recommend it. If you are in the area you can also hike up the nearby Mount Merapi – the most active volcano in Indonesia. You can actually see the volcano from Prambanan. I think all three – Borobudur, Prambanan and Merapi – could be done in one day if you are super organised and maybe if you hire a driver and car.

Next stop on our itinerary is Jakarta, until then,

Andrea x

 

Continue Reading

FEATURED | INDONESIA

Borobudur – the world’s largest Buddhist temple

By on 23rd March 2016

The day after discovering Yogyakarta town we were signed up for an organised tour of the temple of Borobudur – the whole reason we were here in Yogyakarta. I read a lot about this place, the Rough Guide to South-East Asia on a budget listed it as one of the top things to see and do in the whole of South-East Asia, so there was no way we were going to miss it.

The day started super-early; we were getting picked up from our B&B at 5am. Most tour opearators also offer organised trips to the temples at sunrise, which means you would have to be in the temple by about 6am. That would have meant a 2 am start for us. We didn’t go for this option, instead we opted for being at the temple between 7 and 8 am. However if you don’t mind early starts I would definitely recommend going on the earlier tour to catch the sunrise. We caught some of the early morning mist lifting, but I can see what we may have missed in those first two hours of sunlight.

Our minibus picked us up on time and then proceeded to collect 6 more passengers from town. The journey time to the temple in total was about 2 hours including collecting everyone and driving out of town for about an hour and 15 minutes.

When we got to the temple we all walked up to the ticket office where there was already a queue forming mostly of local children on school-trips. Everyone was handed a blue sarong to wear, even those who were wearing long trousers (like I was, I came prepared, but still had to wear the sarong. I didn’t mind, it was a cute sarong, but Adam also had to wear it. He wasn’t amused at first, but got used to it :-))

The temple of Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, an important UNESCO World Heritage site, a jewel in Java’s and indeed in Indonesia’s crown. The temple was built in the 9th century and has been standing for 1200 years. The whole temple is built in the shape of a stupa. It has three levels and at the top level there is a main stupa surrounded by 72 smaller stupas, each hiding a Buddha.

It truly is a beautiful place; surrounded by volcanoes and limestone cliffs, a place where a man-made structure and the beauty of nature forms a perfect whole.

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

 

Borobudur

 

As we were walking around the site more and more visitors kept arriving and making their way up the steep steps towards the top tier of the temple. By the time we got up there there were tourists and local school children everywhere. The children were very sweet, they kept talking to us and smiling at us shyly, we even caught a few trying to take stealth photographs of us. One group of children aged between 12 and 16 started talking to us and asking us questions about where we were from and if we were enjoying the temple. We found out that they were actually undertaking their English language exam at that exact moment; their teacher was sanding behind them watching them intently. Part of their examination was that they had to speak in English in real life situation. Their English was great and they were very sweet, kept walking around with us and taking their tun to ask us questions. We also asked them about their school, their lessons, etc to make sure they also got to talk. Nut in the end we had to make our apologies and leave them as we had to start climbing down and get back to our minibus, where we were meeting the rest of our group.

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

Borobudur

 

 

 

Borobudur

 

 

I decided to dedicate the second part of the trip to the Prambanan Park a separate blog post, just because I think Borobudur deserves its own space 🙂

Until then,

Andrea x

 

Continue Reading

INDONESIA

Off the well-trodden track in Yogyakarta

By on 27th December 2015
Yogyakarta

Our beautiful week in Gili Trawangan had quickly come to an end. We were so sad to leave this paradise, but after 6 days of just chilling out, soaking up the sun, watching beautiful sunsets and just generally living island life we had to pack up and move on. We booked our return journey to Bali on one of the Samayan fast boats and off we went.
The journey back to Bali was slightly more comfortable. As soon as we arrived in Padanag Bai we were led to a minibus with 6 other travellers all heading to the airport in Denpasar. It took about an hour and a half to get there and then we just had to wait for our flight from Bali to Yogyakarta.

We decided to move unto Java, which is the biggest out of the 14000 islands in the Indonesian Archipelago, and we had Yogyakarta and Jakarta on our itinerary before leaving Indonesia. There is so much to Indonesia, it is a wonderfully diverse country, but we were getting a bit strapped for cash and so had to miss out on a trip to Flores and the Komodo islands. We were also thinking whether to visit Borneo and Sumatra, but on this trip we just couldn’t make the timescale and our budget work. Indonesia is a huge country with thousands of island and even though there are islands that are more geared towards visitors than others it still takes an awful lot of organisation to make sure you see everything in the 1 month your visa allows you to spend in the country. Indonesia is definitely a country to re-visit for me. I desperately want to go to Flores (as well as re-visit Bali and the Gilis of course…!)

In the meantime it made sense for us to slowly start moving up in the general direction of Thailand since that was going to be our final destination on our trip. So we flew to Yogyakarta which is located right in the middle of Java.

Yogyakarta isn’t exactly a tourism hotspot. You would be forgiven for wondering why exactly we headed there. Well, the simplest answer if I want to be perfectly honest is that the guidebook we had with us (Rough Guides to South-East Asia on a Budget) listed it as one of the unmissable places in the whole of Indonesia due to its amazing Buddhist temple complex, Borobudur. I saw a photograph of Borobudur and I was mesmerized by it, so I was really looking forward to visiting there. It was also nice to be going against the tourist crowds – with Bali and the Gilis being so touristy it felt nice to be back in true backpacker-mode and seeking out places that weren’t necessarily on the usual traveller route. I’m sure plenty of tourists do visit Yogyakarta (also known as Jogja by locals), but when we were there we only saw a handful of backpackers, if that…

We booked our accommodation just outside the centre of Yogyakarta, which afforded us our cheapest accommodation on this trip so far: £10 per night for the two of us in a private room with bathroom and a balcony overlooking a lush jungle terrace. Ok I make it sound nicer than it actually was, but we had quite a nice time there. We had breakfast on the terrace every morning where we were serenaded by a local guy playing local music and singing along beautifully. There were also many many birds in ornate birdcages accompanying him with their birdsongs (which was lovely, except it made Adam a bit uncomfortable seeing those beautiful birds all locked up).

We walked into Yogyakarta centre on our first day with two objectives: to have a wonder around the city and to book our trip to Borobodour.

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

 

First we headed towards the Kraton, which is the political and cultural centre of the city. It is also called the Sultan’s Palace and it is effectively a walled city within the city with its own shops, mosques, schools and art centres.

Now you would think having been on the road for almost three months in South-East Asia we would have learnt a trick or two about scamsters. Well let me tell you – our naivety and trusting nature is unwavering. We already fell for a practiced speech of a less-than honest fraudster in Bangkok and instead of learning from our mistakes we fell for it again in Yogya!! The difference was that we didn’t even realize what was happening after way after it had happened.

Basically we never made it to the Kraton. On the way there we got approached by a young man, who was perfectly pleasant and he seemed like he genuinely just wanted to help. However when he told us the Palace was shut and he asked us if we had a map, he’ll show us where to go instead, I have to say I got really suspicious and did not want to give him our map. However Adam did not suspect a thing; as if he had total amnesia about our Bangkok adventure and he happily obliged, handed over our map and chatted away with this guy. I kind of felt a bit cynical and told myself to stop being silly and to be more open and nice to kind locals…

He tried to persuade us to go to a local art-centre instead where local art students exhibit their beautiful and unique Indonesian batik art. And because it’s just students we don’t have to buy anything, we can just just look, he reassured us.

This guy’s scheme was way more sophisticated than the Bangkok guy’s was – he could tell I had my suspicions. When we said our goodbyes Adam and I quickly started walking in the opposite direction to the one he suggested. 5 minutes later we were approached by another guy, a very jolly looking fella, who started talking to us as we were walking along. Just normal chit-chat, where are you from, where are you going, etc. He then told us he is going to the hospital and he will take us to this batik shop as it is on his way. I immediately knew what was up, but Adam just kept chit-chatting, he was so nice, not suspecting a thing, just thinking what a lovely man this was. He was lovely, no question about that, but somehow, even though we tried not to, we still ended up at the batik house. He walked us all the way to the front door. Conveniently, it was right on his way to the hospital!! Hmmmm….

We went in the shop, and I have to admit it was really nice in there. The art was stunning and we had a little look into how it was all made. In the end we loved the displayed batik pieces it so much that Adam decided to buy me a couple of them for my birthday 🙂 And because they are basically textile we could easily wrap them up and carry them with us in our backpacks and not only that but we will actually have something to put on our walls once we get home!! 🙂

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

Adam did not suspect anything until a bit later I just kind of muttered to him that ‘you do realize we just got scammed again’. He didn’t want to believe me, but when it finally dropped he was gobsmacked! Oh dear, we really are so naive and easily-led.

So the moral of the story, children, is this: don’t fall for this if you’re in Yogyakarta or indeed if you are in Bangkok. Learn from our mistakes! 😀

After our detour to the batik shop we headed to the Khao San road of Yogya, Jalan Sosrowijayan. I did mention already that this city is a bit less known for travellers, didn’t I? Anyway the street was almost deserted. Still, we had some nice lunch and drinks on a terrace above the street, had some of the traditional local Nasi.

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

 

We then went to one of the tourist office guys and signed up for our trip to Boroboudur next day. This is after all why we were here, Indonesia’s most important cultural sites, 4am start, bring it on!

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

 

Yogyakarta

Continue Reading