Everyone likes a pattern, so please enjoy the second installment of us running away somewhere in Indonesia for a birthday ^^ You can also find the last birthday getaway at Bali for a (birthday) weekend.
Pregame & getting there
Having had to bite down a bit harder and a bit longer for work this year, Yogyakarta was a fantastic respite for a few days (: To start, Friday nights you can find us at Rosemary Gastro Pub, on the ground floor of the Standard Chartered building in Semanggi, Jakarita. We had the good fortune to meet the local owner-circle the first evening we went there and, since then, Fridays have been a done deal. The resident band, Classmate Journal, always delivers a fantastic atmosphere between their first set and the following ‘open jam’ set where anyone can replace a band member and play/sing a song or two themselves.
For the morning that follows: thankfully Yogyakarta is very convenient to access, even from outside the country via direct Malaysia and Singapore flights. The airport is located within each reach from town and it’s a pretty simple affair to get into the action via taxi or bus.
Taking a short flight from Jakarta (both airports have flights) and we’re already touching down before we got into our nap. The classic airport crowd awaits – money changers, tour guides, taxi drivers, etc. With zero plans made besides a backpack and a flight ticket, we get some answers from the friendly tourist desk regarding transport into town. The bus station is right outside the main building, where friendly faces help you pay for the cheapest method to get around. The bus system is also in fair shape, so the ride isn’t bad.
Getting off at Malioboro, and without knowing how, we’re suddenly sitting outside the Fort Vredeburg Museum with one of the many student groups whom have to record English interviews/conversations for their projects. The best question they ask? “What should we do about beggars and homeless people on the street?” – not that there are many at all. Afterwards you find yourself hoping they’re really considering such questions for themselves as well.
Fast-forward some and, being joined by a friendly lady from the bus, we’re taking a peek at the many hostels and hotels in the area. Eventually, with a bed rented for the night, we dust off the Couch Surfing application on our phone and connect with some people to go join for dinner. The building they’re in is also the most bizarre place I’ve ever seen +_+ And it’s one of many stores owned by the scary looking lady (statue) who awaits you when you enter.
After ending the meal on the street and having a beer at another hostel, we’re back at our designated pallet for the night with an early plan to visit temples the next day.
It’s 3:30am and we’re up for Borobudur. The sunrise entrance ticket costs IDR 450’000, excluding the transport there. A little steep, but you don’t get to try catch the sunrise from the biggest Buddhist Temple around very frequently.
Napping in the minivan there (~1 hour), we’re soon deposited with what feels like a lot of other hopefuls at the Manohara Resort. If you have the money and the wish you can even sleep here at the resort that guards the entrance to the temple complex. Regardless, with the sticker and torch provided, we set off on the short stroll to the temple itself. Once there the crowd thins somewhat due to the design of the temple. People can disappear between the levels and buttresses and it becomes a bit more quiet and isolated in the misty predawn air.
After sunrise (mist obscured the moment of sunny truth) we still spend about 1-2 hours at the temple, then head back down for a small breakfast and rest before the return trip to Yogyakarta.
Once back, Couch Surfing-magic-montage and soon we’re sharing a taxi with two brand new friends to some far-off restaurant. Ideas of human trafficking come to mind, but soon we arrive and the feast before us calm all fears. The food is fantastic, the pricing is great and the building and its atmosphere, with families and a few couples, is relaxed and welcoming.
With stomachs full and eyes drooping, we share the taxi back as well. The silence doesn’t last long though, as the radio sparks some carpool karaoke ^^ Back at central Yogyakarta we change directions and head for the Prambanan Temple complex. After all, it is the tradition to visit both temple sites in one day 😉
Arriving late afternoon, and with the clouds turning dark and changing from drizzle to deluge, we ignore it all and listen to the knowledgeable and quirky tour guide who offered his mature services to us at the entrance gates. Long story short, only those with serious passion would be working on the immensely slow and complex project of reconstructing this amazing site. The standing buildings alone are enough to enjoy, but knowing that the rest is also meant to be slowly reconstructed with ~80% original stone makes you wonder who will be the ones to finally see the whole completed once more. We also run into some other tourists from the morning at Borobudur (: high-fives all around.
In the evening it is massage time! There is a hotel close to the first night’s hostel that has some nice looking massage options, but only for patrons. So we become one, booking a room with the silver-haired receptionists. They did not influence my decisi… k fine it was a lot of fun to chat to them X’D Twins Basil! Maybe that is why we picked the deluxe twin therapists massage, poof money gone!
Nothing like waking up on Monday morning and not going to work. We do a tiny bit in the hotel in the morning, but before lunch we are out and heading off to the local Palace and Tamansari area close to it. And the joke is on us – the Palace closes early due to Ramadan (note – Ramadan is pretty sweet in itself, especially breaking fast in the evenings). Good fortune shines again though as a local sir guides us to the Batik exhibition shop close by tto the palace. Very interesting to see Batik made by hand and learn about the process. he finished works look amazing!
Next we walk a few blocks to Tamansari. Once at the entrance you can again pick your flavour of friendly elderly men for a guided tour & history of this expansive site. The true size of the place isn’t so clear, as some of it is underground and some above ground. Also everything above ground that isn’t a historic building has now become residential housing with many little winding streets running through it all. The neighbourhoods have a happy atmosphere as you stroll through them, from the children playing to the ladies chatting and the one man washing a newly made Batik piece. Also there are few tourists, local or international, so you can enjoy the area with more leisure.
We don’t know how much more there was meant to be after the Leuwak Coffee shop as we end our guided tour there, sitting down for some vegetarian food and, ofcourse, the infamous coffee. The family that runs the shop are really friendly and willing to share about their coffee, the process to create it and a few other tidbits of Yogyakarta. They even have one resident Leuwak at the shop, he is a little overweight though XD
And then, Couch Surfing some more. Finding another host for the evening we meet up to deposit our things and head for pizza with one of the ladies from day 1 (and her friend). Pizza isn’t especially local, but the restaurant is really nice. The open plan space into the garden with fairy-lights and candles doesn’t hurt either. In the end unfortunately the host isn’t able to put us up as planned, but travel friends can be true friends also! One of the new friends from the previous day gives us a spot at their place for the night. Thank you Melissa ❤
Getting out is as simple as getting in. In the morning a Grab-Bike is outside waiting to teleport us back to the airport, where a nice and on-time flight gets us into the air and back to Jakarta within an hour.
Yogyakarta has more to offer than you can squeeze into such a short trip, but once more we come back incredibly satisfied with one of Indonesia’s travel getaways. The refresh of Couch Surfing culture is also a welcome experience, it is such a valuable tool to enrich and enable your travel dreams ❤