After we’d spent our Wednesday visiting what used to be Batavia, we traded chaotic Jakarta for slightly more organised Jogjakarta. Our hostel here turns out be situated near everything. The train station is only a 13 minute walk, though it’s still quite the walk when carrying two backpacks with a combined weight of 17+ kilo. The main street with huge mall is only 5 min from here, and in that same street one can find a bus stop as well.
Opposite of Jakarta, Yogyakarta has a ton of great places to visit. Everyone around here has amazing stories to tell about places we shouldn’t miss out on, and tours that could take us there. Thus, we decide to quickly book a tour to Borobudur for the next morning. Borobudur is a Buddhistic complex that belongs to the list of most beautiful temples and is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tour starts at 5 AM to make sure we can see the compound in all ease. At the entrance we buy our tickets which are way cheaper when you’re a student. Since we’d been told upfront that a studentcard gets you a lot of discount we’d prepared ourselves well: Julia brought her studentcard from Tilburg University, I had made my own. My last studentcard showed a picture of 2015 and naturally I didn’t have a card for University yet. At the register, I test my not so legitimate card; zero problems, I get my tickets without any questions. However, Julia, who was in the line besides me was experiencing some trouble. Since her legitimate card didn’t have an expiry date on it, she was asked to login on the website of her university. Conclusion: save yourself some trouble make your own, instead of bringing a real one without a date.
De temple of Borobudur has 9 floors; 6 squared and the rounded. On the top floor is a large Stoepa which symbolises nirvana. The temple is absolutely beautiful and the perfect place wake up. We decide to take a seat on a small bench to take it all in and stare at all the beauty that’s in front of us. As I am eating a delicious pear which I was peeling with a pocketknife Julia askes me: How were you even allowed to bring that in? She is absolutely right, because at the entrance we had to pass a metal detector which of course set off with every single person since everyone was carrying their phones and cameras. After only taking a quick look into the bags, basically everyone could bring all of their stuff in.
We experience the same the following way as we walk into the temple complex of Prambanan. We walk through the metal detectors and smile at the guards. With a blinking red light and a clearly disapproving sound on the background, the guards greet us and smilingly show us the right way to the temples. Just like Borobudur, the Prambanan compound is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, however, it is not even nearly as famous and in a far worse condition. This Hindu-Javan’s temple complex was left behind quickly after it had been completed, moreover was shook by an earthquake in 2006. Up till now, they have only been able to restore three out of 244 temples. Nevertheless, I seem to enjoy this complex even more than the one in Prambanan. It might be because of sundown which gives the temples a beautiful glow, or just the countless details in the stones. Anyway, it is gorgeous and we decide to stay until closing time. At night we visit the Ramayana ballet in the open-air theatre next to the temples. Even though we had read about the plot upfront, the story was difficult to understand. Here’s a short summary:
The princes gets kidnapped. The nose of the sister is cut of and some guy gets killed for it (whose sister this is, remains a mystery). Two monkey-kings are fighting. The kidnapper tries to marry the princes but she refuses. The king of the giants gets exiled. The other giants guard the princes. A white monkey apears to safe the princes but he fails and lights the entire village on fire. The prince frees the princes (from the already burned down village?!). De prince doesn’t want to be with the princes because he thinks she is no longer pure, so he asked her to set herself on fire.
Yeah, and I thought people in our time were having complicated relationships. Anyway, the costumes were really awesome and there was life music. I loved the overall experience! After the show we took a Grab (Uber) back to the hostel, since the public busses were no longer driving. Yes that’s right, we took the public bus towards Prambanan and it was pretty easy. The trip took us an hour but only costed like 23 cents. Take note dear European companies, the busses even came and left in time!
Here are some more things that I learned about and discovered here in Yogyakarta:
– The people of Java are really bad in taking pictures subtly. If you refuse to take a picture with them, they will proceed to take a selfie with a lot of “background”. Making that the background is 95% of their picture, and oh surprise, we’re in the background.
– Metal detectors do detect metal, but there’s no need to act upon that information
– Taking pictures without other people on it is difficult but Jogjakarta is a great place to improve that skill.