We arrived into Yogyakarta in the middle of the night. Dropped off just outside the winding alley’s of Sosrowijayan, a place full of guest houses, homestays and hostels, we scurried around knocking on doors checking for availability, until eventually – success! The three of us made ourselves at home in a one bedroom studio costing about £5 a night, before quickly falling asleep.
The next morning we woke to the sounds of life outside our window – opening the curtains we were greeted by the exciting buzz of a new destination. Sosrowijayan is in the centre of Yogyakarta and is the place to stay if you’re living on a backpackers budget or if you’re looking to soak up some culture. The place has a somewhat ‘hippy’ vibe to it with the walls of the alley’s painted with surreal artistry, quirky shops donning their hand crafted shop signs, bamboo trees, water features and Buddha’s all take their place within this little haven whilst the smells and noises of a bustling city full of tuk-tuk’s and people lay just within ear shot. It was the perfect place to stay for a few days of exploring the local areas.
Borobudur is a large Buddhist Temple, thought to have been built around 750AD (there is no written record of the actual date), that lay hidden under forest and volcanic ash for centuries before being rediscovered in 1814 by a Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.
I’ve never really been a ‘Temples’ kind of a girl and can find the idea of walking around them quite tedious and boring! Contradictory to my last couple of posts I’m usually quite lazy when it comes to sightseeing, opting more to seek out the nearest shanty looking bar for a taste of the countries local beer and some people watching! But from time to time something will catch my eye, standing out from rest, that will peak my tourist interest – and there was certainly something special about the pictures I had seen of this place.
We had been advised that the best time of day to visit this archaeological wonder is for the rising of the sun and so in the early hours of the following morning we found ourselves at the top of Borobudur Temple looking out over some pretty impressive views!
The temple is completely surrounded by forest and volcanoes in the distance making for a picture perfect and majestic setting!
The feelings of calm and serenity are somewhat squashed when after your descent to start your walk back to your car you are bombarded with hoards of salesmen following you and trying to sell all sorts of random memorabilia. In fairness some of the items were quite cool and their persistence paid off – I ended up buying a large painting, a bow and arrow and a blowpipe (the latter two items causing a bit of an issue later on in this trip at the Malaysia/Singapore boarder crossing). Don’t be put off by these salesmen though, they are all very friendly and as long as you have the right attitude you can end up having a bit of banter and a laugh with them.
Not too far away and a nice little drive past some pretty scenery is Prambanan – Built in the 9th Century it is the largest Hindu Temple in South East Asia.
Set over a large area and with individual temples rising high above eye level these figures can be seen from quite far away and can look quite beautiful when lit up at night. The grounds are a lot more open and spread out here, you could bring a picnic and enjoy a day out, or as we did, you can simply take a nice stroll around and capture a few pictures for your ‘memories’ photo album.
I’m still not really quite sure how it happened but that evening we had somehow managed to get roped into seeing an outdoors showing of a traditional Indonesian Ballet. Which was great for the first hour – but 3 or so hours into it you start to feel slightly agitated! Jumpy leg syndrome well and truly kicking in! In the background, however, we could see the tallest peaks of Prambanan lit up from not only the lights that shine on them but from the brilliant full moon that lay in perfect position directly above!
All templed out and ready for some chill time we decided that on our last day we would just hang out in Sosrowijayan. I really did like this place and felt quite happy and relaxed here. It’s one of the few places that I would love to one day return to.
I mentioned earlier that the alleyway walls had paintings on them and it turned out that the guy who painted them is quite a well known artist and tattooist in the area. Here are a couple of his images:
So…yeah – I’m guna get this dude to tattoo me!
And so on our last day that’s just what I did – hungover to hell (yeah the Arak got me again!!) – I head to his parlour to get the job done. I decide on having the ‘Om’ symbol surrounded by a hand in the style of the tattooist’s art work and I decide that I shall have this done on my neck! I’m not going to lie, it’s probably not my favourite tattoo I’ve ever had done but I love that a small part of my time in Indonesia will always be permanently attached to me.
So I hope that from my last couple of posts you have more of an insight as to what amazing things Java has to offer as a travel destination. From beaches to volcanoes and from temples to bustling towns and cities this island really has it all. And, at least from when I was there, it is still fairly unspoilt from tourism. So if you are ever thinking of a trip to Indonesia try not to bypass this island – you might just be pleasantly surprised!