Yogyakarta

We have taken a very chilled approach to Yogyakarta and made the most of being in the same place for more than 2 nights! Yogyakarta feels like the Ubud of Java and is where it is all going on, we have instantly noticed that Java is a lot less touristy and we are getting a lot more attention here. By attention I mean people stopping in the streets to stare and asking us for photographs because we are white, I remember it happening a lot in India but it always feels quite strange. We actually asked a tour guide why they do it and she said that the Indonesians are really intrigued by us because we look different, have white skin and pointy noses!

When we arrived in Yogyakarta we were taken straight to our hotel which is like stepping into a quiet oasis after being on the busy hot streets. It has a nice little poolside restaurant so you don’t have to leave at all if you don’t want too. By the time we had unpacked and eaten etc. it was around 3 o’clock so we didn’t want to venture too far, we ended up wandering the streets near to where we are staying and finding a lovely little restaurant that we went and had a drink at, when I say drink I mean 2 bottles of wine and a three course meal! It was nice to just sit and relax drinking nice wine (something there is a lack of in Indonesia).

The next day we spend the morning researching things to do and trips we could go on, we booked a trip to Borobudur and Prambanan temples for the Monday, and then looked at where we could go and see a Javanese show. We wandered to the ticket office and booked dinner and the show and then grabbed a Becak (like a backwards rickshaw that had like a sofa on the front and you get cycled around) to the cool market area with all the bars, basically where it’s all happening called Maliboro road. We had a wander round looking at all the markets and then realised we had walked 15 minutes walking in the wrong direction (it was so annoying in the heat). We turned around and headed back and found a cafe for lunch (it was about 3ish by now). After we had spent 3 hours in the cafe (there is a trend here) we got another Becak – this time it was motorised not pedal so much more fun as you feel like you are going so fast, to the ballet. After the buffet dinner we were taken into the theatre for the show.

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The show (a traditional ballet called Ramayana) wasn’t really our thing but we are really glad we did it, I could really appreciate the amazing costumes and the performance. It was so hard to follow what was going on in the story though, it was a love story and involved a man cutting off his private parts and a fight between giants and monkeys. It was a very beautiful performance though and it was great to see this side of the Javanese culture. There was a huge tropical thunderstorm in the night which was really cool to watch it rained that much that the pool depth rose by 4inches!

The next day we spent the morning wandering round the very hot streets looking at the buildings and Dutch fort that is here, I can’t tell you how hot it is though it was unbearable. We ended up in another cafe (haha) and Chris decided it would be a good idea to try a drink called ‘Devils drink’ which was snakes blood mixed with honey. It arrived and in the bottom was a snakes heart and also snakes marrow, it looked disgusting and his face was a picture (he later admitted that he’s been reading too many Spider Shepard books by Stephen Leather about a really tough SAS guy who got his name from eating a spider. It’s my fault I got him into the books).

Anyway we got back to the hotel and spent the afternoon by the pool, before getting another Becak up to Maliboro road again to see it at night.

The next day wasn’t much different we have been so full on with our traveling that we have tired ourselves out, we made the executive decision very early on that we would have a pool day, which was so nice! We had a lot of nice food that day too including the best falafel salad ever. That night for some reason we thought it would be an amazing idea to get drunk even though we had to be up at 3am for a trip- I stopped drinking pretty early but my lovely boyfriend was a tad rough the next morning.

At 3am we were up for our tour or Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, we were picked up by our tour company which was probably the most unorganised tour I have ever been on, it was so funny. We headed to Borobudur for sunrise and honestly the driver was mental, swerving, driving very fast, cutting red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road. We got to Borobudur and were quickly hustled into the hotel entrance as we had opted to pay more and actually see the sunrise from inside the temple.

Not a lot is known about Borobudur’s history, it is a Buddist temple that was built sometime between AD750 and AD850 and 60000 cubic metres of stone (2million stone blocks) were used to build it. As there was a decline in Buddhism in the country Borobudur was left abandoned until the early 20th century where the Dutch started to restored the temple but the hill on which it sat started to subside. A Unesco funded restoration took place between 1973 and 1983 to restore and stabilise.

The temple is beautiful it’s very hard to explain but it is 118m by 118m and has six square terraces which are topped by three circular ones, with four stairways leading to the top. The three circular terraces contain large stone bells that surround one amazing large bell in the centre. There was a scale model at Borobudur so I took a picture to make it visual for you (see always thinking about my readers).

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So now you have had the history lesson we were there for 4.30 waiting for sunrise which was again not the impressive but the crowds were a lot quieter and we got to see the amazing temple as the light increased, and then about an hour later a gorgeous sun broke through the haze! We were given a breakfast and told to meet at 8.30 but at 9.30 we set off due to the crazy unorganised tour, who tried to tell us we weren’t even on their tour! They didn’t believe us until we knew their names!

Next up we were off to Prambanan temple which is a Hindu temple and it is so spectacular. This temple was built between the 8th and 10th century AD when Java was ruled by Buddist Sailendras in the south and Hindu Sanjayas in the north. Prambanan also made the Unesco list in 1991, it is currently being restored today as in 2006 it suffered a lot of damage in an earthquake.

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The main spire of Prambanan is 47m high and the carvings are very detailed and intricate, the temple consists of eight main and eight minor temples in the main complex and it honestly was so impressive. I cannot decided which one I preferred. It was such a hot day though we were really struggling I think it’s one of the hottest we have had. After this we were taken back to the hotel, it was around 2.30pm so we just chilled for the rest of the day, we had to be up again at 6.30 for our next 8 hour train to the capital Jakarta!

Also another very successful train ride I managed to write my blog and watch 7 episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians!

Lucy 😘

 

Getting from Bali to Java

I am writing this blog as a ‘how we got from Bali to Java’ for family and friends and a ‘how to get from Bali to Java’ for those who need the tips! It took us 20 hours in total to get here so we were a little bit tired when we arrived! We booked an online ticket in advance which was a combined bus, ferry and train ticket from Ubung bus station in Denpasar, Bali to Surabaya Gubeng train station in Java. We did this on tiket.com which is really easy all in English and they take a small admin fee, they have a link with Kereta Api the Indonesian train service. You can book online through Kereta Api but it’s more difficult as they don’t take most credit cards and it’s all in Indonesian. We can really vouch for tiket.com and it is well worth saving the hassle.

Our ticket was given to us as one and all it had was a booking reference and start and end times so no defined times for the ferry train etc. All we knew is that our bus left Ubung station at 14.30 and we had to exchange our ticket an hour before. Ubung Terminal is very overwhelming with people trying to sell you tickets to lots of different places so be wary of that, once we told them we already had a ticket they directed us to gate 20 and said our bus leaves at 3 (not half 2) and the company was Damri. So we sat in the terminal at Gate 20 for an hour and a half hoping for the best. Now what we weren’t told is that you don’t actually need to be there an hour before for the bus just the train! At 14.50 a pretty old looking bus with Damri written on pulled up called our our names and we jumped on, to be honest the bus was ok even if the seats were a bit cramped.

They put our big bags at the back and then small bags with us. The bus set off at 3 and the guy told us it should take about 3 hours to the ferry. As I mentioned before the bus seemed a bit old and was making some pretty funny noises! About an hour in the bus started to smell and there was a loud bang as we were going downhill and the bus veered to the left – turns out the suspension went and we had to wait an hour for a healthier much nicer bus. We were just unlucky and I wouldn’t let it put me off using them again to be honest.

Even without the stop the bus ride was more like 4 hours it was quite comfortable as we didn’t have anyone sat behind us so we could recline our chairs and the scenery was lovely! As we got to the ferry terminal the bus driver just sorted everything out, we just stayed on the bus until we were parked onboard. The ferry wasn’t the nicest and the toilets were horrible but for an hour crossing it was fine and it got us from Bali to Java! There was an inside section where they were playing Indonesian karaoke with aircon so we sat in there until an announcement in Indonesian told us to go back to the bus (or so we gathered).

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Back on the bus and the next stop was Banyuwangi station (nearest to the ferry) for the final train to Surabaya. We had an hour and a half wait here in the station. We had to exchange our ticket at the manned desk and were given a print out which we thought was our ticket, but it wasn’t. We weren’t told but you then had to go to the computer, scan the barcode and then get your proper ticket. It was very easy to read the departures in the hall and when our train arrived the staff were very helpful letting us through scanning our tickets (have your passport handy). We also didn’t know Kereta Api actually have a bag size limit we have got away with it so far as our rucksacks just go on our back and we walk through, but we did see a few people with suitcases get stopped though! We have three other trains to get yet though so I will let you know how we get on.

On the train we had opted for business class which wasn’t much more expensive, and a bit comfier. It was hard to sleep on these though but we eventually sorted ourself out so that Chris leant against the window and I leant on him! This train left at 10pm (remember Java time is back an hour from Bali) and arrived at 4.26am so it took 6.5 hours. Remember to take snacks unless you want stale bread or a pot noodle!

Once we got to Surabaya we were actually carrying on another 2 hours to Malang on the train for our trip to Bromo so the journey wasn’t over for us! We actually had 1st class executive seats on this train and I would say if you have the little bit extra spare, do it! The seats recline it’s quiet and a much happier journey, we have just changed our other two upcoming 7 hour train rides to executive!

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We had a 5 hour sleep when we get to the hotelat 9am and we have to be up at 1am to get to Bromo for sunrise. I have written this at the hotel after a lovely meal out at Tugu Hotel (it’s 6pm), up in 7 hours might get some more sleep!

Hope this blog has been funny/ helpful.

Lucy