Java | Yogya Buses = Fun, Prambanan = Pretty

We had a dodgy time getting here, but Yogyakarta (pronounced, and often spelled, “Jogjakarta”) is undeniably charming, as expected. The Indonesian people are incredibly nice and helpful, always telling us when to get off buses and pointing the right direction. Despite extreme exhaustion and intense heat, we decided to venture to the Prambanan temples, which were well worth the adventure.

Prambanan is really easy to get to from our hotel on Jl Sosro – we just took the Trans Jogja bus number 1A direct to our destination, which we caught just off of Jl Sosro and Jl Malioboro for $0.30 each. The bus stops are on little platforms, where you enter in one end, pay, then cross the little barrier and wait on the platform for the next elevated bus, which stops just inches away. Happily, they are both air conditioned and highly entertaining, offering plenty of city viewing and people watching opportunities. Prambanan is on a rather big plot of land, so we were drenched in sweat trying to explore all of it. Strangely, everyone there wanted pictures of us/with us, despite being completely unshowered and filthy. Some people would even sneak up on us and by the time we figured out what was going on, they had already snapped several photos. We loved the temples and took oodles of pictures ourselves. In Indonesia, they let you climb into the temples or clamber over the stones to pose, which we are not used to seeing. (You cannot even go near the Acropolis in Athens!) I turned one corner and found a Japanese family high up on the outer wall – naturally, they proceeded to take photos of Josh. As with Taiwan, we got interviewed by several groups of school kids, who seem to be on assignment. In addition to the main Prambanan temple, there are more temples scattered up north in the park. Namely, the Sewu Temble is impressive and , save for some locals in the corner, practically ignored. We were the only observers, and could therefore wander as we pleased, gathering countless photos unobstructed by passersby. Sometimes, we took a rest in the chambers to escape the 100-degree-plus heat, though this offered little salvation. On the walk back, we popped in a local eatery, where, after being handed menus, stared at them blankly. Our waiter laughed and helped us order, eventually bringing us delicious fried chicken, rice, and fresh veggies. Also, sampled yummy wafer-like treat, which turned out to be the Indonesian equivalent to cotton candy. Somehow, we successfully found our bus back, enjoying the chaos of Yogya on our way back…

Then, off to Borobudur, which can be reached via Bus No 5 off of Jl Gandekan, then bus changed at Jambor station, where you can negotiate a ride all of the remaining way. The buses are total madness, with people crammed in every which way, carrying bags and baskets, playing guitar, smoking, etc. There are one to two porters, who are sometimes picked up along the way. They grab people’s bags, yell, “yo!,” smack the sides of the bus to let the driver know to start back up, collect money, and just generally keep order. On one bus, a porter had to reach under the bus and jam a dirty stick under the wheel whenever we stopped on a hill, to prevent us rolling backwards. When the bus started again, he would pull it back out and somehow manage to remain in the vehicle. Most of the time, however, the bus barely stopped, still magically adding people along the way, all of whom seemed to be either professional Olympians or simply bred to be agile jumpers.

Tip: In Yogya, stay at Bladok Losmen, which offers simple and nice rooms, an easy and good restaurant, and a refreshing pool. Also, dine at Bedhot Resto, which has a laid-back atmosphere, and is just off Jl Sosrow along Gang II. All the taxis know Sosrow. And take the bus! Also, the food in this city is superb – just amazing everywhere, particularly in the places that speak zero English.

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