Yogyakarta, Java

Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Asia, Indonesia, Travel | 0 comments

Yogyakarta, Java

Jogja is a very interesting city, it’s known as the Indonesian education centre with thousands of young people flocking here to attend one of the many universities.  The city offers a rich traditional culture of classical Javanese art, batik, ballet, drama, music and poetry.

We stayed at the Ministry of Coffee (yes, partly because we love coffee so were attracted to the name!), the rooms were nice and clean, the staff were friendly and it is located within walking distance of several good restaurants.

They have a cute little library upstairs, although note the wifi is only really available in the restaurant and not in the rooms.  There are several day spas around, we got massages and pedicures which were desperately need after our Mt Rinjani trek.

There is a hidden away little vegetarian place Milas which is set in a lovely little garden and serves great food.  My favourite place to eat was nearby Via Via, which serves a selection of Indonesian and western dishes with daily specials, the food is fresh and tasty and the service is good.

Attached to the cafe is a fair trade shop selling lots of cute handmade items that make great gifts, as well as a bakery that will satisfy any sweet tooth.  Inside the shop is also a travel desk offering transport, tours and courses.  We used them to book a driver to take us to Borobudur and Prambanan.  We planned an early morning trip to Borobudur but the driver was almost an hour late, we told Via Via so they gave us a discount on a walking tour that we had booked.

Yogja

The walking tour was a private tour with just the two of us and a university student who took us around the city.  This was a great way understand more about the city, our guide was very knowledgeable and explained a lot about the local environment and culture.

She explained to us that although it is a big city, there is a very strong sense of community.  Each community area has a night watch area where the men will stay, and if they need to they will ring the bell to let the residents know something is wrong.

If you have a male visitor you need to tell the elder men in the community so they know who the strange man is.  There is also a community area where each day the children do their homework together, and all of the parents look out for each others kids.

It is also quite impressive when you realise that there is in fact six religions living together in harmony (Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucianism).  This is only possible because of respect for each other, each religion is allowed to thrive and treated as valid.  For example, if you look at a calendar it will have all of the different religious holidays included on it, and there are places of worship for all religions.

We walked along a river and saw locals making shoes, and also watched people out with their homing pigeons.  Towards the end of our tour our guide stopped to buy a chicken head to eat, and was surprised we didn’t want one, her eyes lit up as she told us “I love it when the brain is all mushy!”

Must see are the two large and ancient temples Prambanan (a Hindu temple) and Borobudur (a Buddhist temple), both of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Borobudur is the largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth, and is strikingly beautiful covered in intricate wall reliefs.  It is made even more breathtaking by the stunning backdrop of the volcano Mt Merapi.

Many Indonesians come from all over the place to visit Borobudur, and there were several young school groups who were completely star struck not by Borobudur, but by our blonde hair!  I’ve never taken so many photos.

Prambanan is also beautiful, although I personally preferred Borobudur.  While Borobudur is like a large building you can navigate around, Prambanan is a collection of several tall jagged towers.

 

Prambanan

Prambanan

 

Borobudur

Borobudur

 

Exploring Borobudur

Exploring Borobudur, before getting mobbed by the children!

 

The reliefs on Borobudur

The reliefs on Borobudur

 

From Java head over to Bali for spiritual serenity, Lombok for a volcano hike, or Flores for exceptional diving.

 

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