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Published: January 27th 2008
Our train was 2 hours late leaving Jakarta, if we'd have known we could have had an extra hour in bed! The train journey was ok, we got water and a meal included but half way through the journey it started raining and of all the seats the leaky carriage roof could have leaked on it had to be Donna's, so she spent half the journey sat forward on the edge of her seat, making Neil feel incredibly uncomfortable and uneasy! So we arrived into Yogyakarta (or Yogya as the locals call it) to rain...pouring rain. We looked like drowned rats when we arrived into the hostel and had the manager scurrying after us with a mop!
Yogya isn't the luckiest of cities having experienced earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami's in recent years owing in part, to it's close proximity to some very active volcanoes and there was even a recent air crash where a plane skidded off the short runway.
Yogya has a nice feel to it with several nice touristy shops, interesting historical sights particularly the nearby temples and the Sultans Palace. Unfortunately the Palace never seemed to be open when we visited, it was either closed for
prayer or some performance but wandering the streets of Yogya was still interesting with friendly people, good food and lots of street vendors.
The two temples nearby are Borobudur, (only discovered in 1815 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles after being buried under volcanic ash for around 10 centuries!) which is a stunning tiered Buddhist temple which is meant to be the Buddhist vision of the cosmos starting at the bottom with the everyday world, spiralling up to nirvana, or Buddhist heaven. Borobudur sits at the foot of Mount Merapi one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes and Prambonan an equally impressive Hindu temple is a little further away. Borobudur was definitely a great place to walk around and very moody if visited early in the morning when the mists are rising and the stupas are outlined against the surrounding volcanoes as the sun begins to rise. It was well worth the 5am start (not often you hear this from us). It was weird seeing so many volcanoes ringing Borobudur and we were surprised to learn that Mount Merapi has a huge population living on or near it and it even has a 3% population growth per year...who would want to
live at the foot of a really active volcano?
We have one minor grumble about Yogyakarta and that is what we named the Batik pests. These are people that seem to hound you everywhere in the tourits areas of Yogya and ask if you want to come and see their 'genuine' Batik art. Of course the art isn't genuine, the sellers are persistent and rapidly become an annoyance. One 'artist' (!) concluded that we should be buying lots of this crappy Batik art because we obviously have the money. This opinion was based on the fact Donna was wearing a plastic Bench watch, some silver earrings and a ring...all the while he was smoking like a chimney and had drunk 7 bottles of beer!
More importantly we arranged our next move - a gruelling trip through Java which was to visit the stunning, volcanic, unearthly-like landscape near Gunung Bromo.
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