A Quick Trip to Java
Yogyakarta, a town on the island of Java in Indonesia, is a place most backpackers I had talked to had never even heard of. As most tourists opt to head straight down to Bali, the Indonesia hot spot on every backpackers list, I made Yogya (as it’s more commonly known), a priority for my trip. There was one reason, and one reason only, why I was there – Borobudur and Prambanan, some of the world’s oldest temple complexes.
When I arrived in Yogya, I made my way via public bus (on the Trans-Jogja line) in search of my hostel. The bus ticket only cost me 3,000 Rupiah – about $0.30 USD – and it was quite the journey. All other people I had talked to after my bus expedition (a small adventure being the only tourist) informed me that they had all taken taxis from the airport. My potentially long and extremely confusing bus trip could’ve been a disaster but I was lucky enough to have the bus attendants (and several other riders) ask me where I was headed, ensuring that I made it to the right spot. You have to love nice people, right?
Once I arrived at the hostel, EDU Hostel, I quickly learned that there isn’t much to do in Yogyakarta. I had already booked 3 nights, but I knew pretty quickly that I’d be leaving early. (This has happened more than once; you’d think I’d learn not to book too much in advance! Oops!) I asked the other backpackers staying in the hostel about the lowdown on Borobudur and Prambanan (since everyone in the place was there for these two massive beauties), and the consensus was that the hostel-organized tour would let me knock out both temples in one day. I was sold. I was only in Yogya for a few hours and I wanted to get out and on my way. I secured the tour (with two other backpackers) for the next day and spent my day relaxing and “catching up on life” (as I like to call it) after another long day of traveling.
The next morning a driver picked us up at 5:00 am, where we would have an early morning at Borobudur before heading to Prambanan. After about an hour drive, we were there. The sight is quite amazing, and so worth my decision not to head straight to Bali. As the sun rises over Java, so does the mist. Borobudur is set amongst volcanoes, and the view from the top of the temple rivals some of the best views in the world. The mist fills the surrounding land and the place seems to be truly magical. We spent about two hours walking around the temple and taking in the history, culture and all that good stuff. I sat, reflected and took pictures. I took time to take in how lucky I was to be in this beautiful country, at this incredible temple, at 27 years old. I was realizing how truly fortunate I was being on this once in a lifetime journey, which was taking me to places I had never even dreamed of, or known existed.
After a local breakfast, and another hour or so in the van we arrived at Prambanan. Set in a clearing, in a large green field, as we pulled up in the parking lot, our excitement grew as you could see the five massive structures standing tall. My immediate reaction was “This is it?!”. It’s not that I wasn’t impressed (because it is beautiful), but as big as I maybe had thought? Definitely not. I’d say, unless you’re a diehard temple fan, skip it, and spend more time at the oh-so-breathtaking Borobudur.
The next morning I headed out (with another traveler), bound for Bali via Mount Bromo, the biggest volcano in Java. We were due to arrive late at night and would then wake up early to see the sunrise. At a very budget friendly $35 for the entire trip (including overnight at a hotel in Probolingo and complete transportation to Denpasar), this was a steal that I couldn’t pass up. 11 hours (in a sweltering, non-air conditioned van) later we arrived at our hotel.
The sunrise was beautiful and completely worth the trip, and then another 13 hours later (once again in a non-air conditioned van where we were stuffed in like sardines) we arrived in Bali. It was a loooong and very hot trip, but you can’t beat the price (or the experience). As far as Java goes: see it! If you like a little off the beaten path you’ll surely enjoy the temples, the volcanoes and the (cheap!) laid back lifestyle that is Java.
Note: I highly recommend doing the two-night tour, which includes Mount Igen, a crater a few hours from Bromo. I wish I would’ve taken the time seen it as I’ve heard it’s breathtaking, but maybe next time!