Early mornings, climbing up mountains, falling down mountains, being let loose on the scooter and temple spotting. Yogyakarta is a hub of Culture !!

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June 21st 2013
Published: June 22nd 2013
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Day 271 (Wed 5thJune)

Another early start, which is not a favourite of mine, to head to the train station to move from Bandung to Yogyakarta. The trip took 8 hours although the train was pretty comfortable. I am suffering a trapped nerve though today which seems to have happened in my neck overnight. Considering I was on the left of the train it made looking out the window pretty tricky. Through a mixture of Ibuprofen and Tiger Balm I was able to see, which was good because the view is fantastic. The trains don’t go through tunnels here for the hills, instead going around them giving great views of the valleys and other hills which is lost going through a tunnel. I arrived in Yogyakarta around 3pm and wandered until I found somewhere to stay for the night. It was a pretty tacky homestay place but I was tired and needed a lie down. It wasn’t great but I’ve been in worse for sure.

I went out for a bit of a walk late afternoon to see what was going on. I was stopped on the first corner by a guy who ‘liked my shirt.’ We got talking and apparently there was a free display in town as it was a public holiday the following day and art is big here. I went in to have a look and within a minute realised it was just an attempt to sell me paintings, I made my excuses soon after and left. The work was good wax paintings and the like but I’ve no interest in buying anything especially after being blindsided. I walked maybe 50m and another guy said the same thing to me so I told him I’d seen one and to do one. It left me wondering whether there was a public holiday or whether it was a lie to get people in. They also say the work is done by art students in the city with no confidence to sell the stuff themselves. I also don’t believe this and think all the work is the shop owners and he is just trying to make money. I left anyways. I didn’t do too much in the evening except sort out a scooter for the following 2 days to explore the countryside and the tourist sites without having to go on tours which I generally hate.

Day 272 (Thurs 6th June)

I headed out just after 8am to go to the Sultan’s palace, basically the only thing inside the town to see. I got there and went in, then realised I was in the wrong place, being the museum part of it, which was pointless and boring, nothing really in there. I went to go to the palace and was caught by a ‘guide’ from the palace, he mentioned about seeing the water palace first, being where the original Sultan’s lived. I saw his tour badge and went with him, thinking it was his job to show people around. He walked me to the palace which is a dilapidating building. There is not much their except and underground mosque area where people were praying, it was quite cool to walk down the tunnel to it.

After this I thought of going to the main palace, the guide diverted to his house, funnily enough an art studio and started to say he’d help me, so I should help him and wages were low at the palace. Now the last bit is most likely true but I am never going to buy from someone who is only doing something to make money. If people had art studios and I walked in maybe I would but being lied to and led to places I didn’t want to go is no way to sell. I walked out and he followed and came with me and asked for a tip. I told him I wasn’t interested in paying him as his job was as a guide. I got fed up and left anyways skipping the palace for not wanting to meet more guides. I went back and got the scooter.

I headed out to Prambanan temple, probably the second most visited site in Yogyakarta after Borobudur which is for later. Prambanan is about 17km from Yogya and a nice ride out to it, through dual carriageway traffic where people weave and move all over the place. Certainly have to be paying attention and alert. I’ve never driven at home but no way can it be harder than South East Asia, should be a doddle passing a test there. It didn’t take me too long to get there as I like to go fast. I parked up and headed in to the temple after paying the expensive $17 to get in. I also had to wear a sarong for some reason but all white folk did so didn’t look a complete prat.

I wandered to the temple which is a huge Hindu temple, possibly the biggest Hindu temple in South East Asia depending on what you read. There are 3 main temples, a further 3 smaller ones and 2 yet again smaller ones in the main compound. There used to be 240 here in total but the smaller ones don’t exist anymore. It was built when Hinduism ruled Indonesia, then abandoned after a volcanic eruption. The main shrines are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; creator, keeper and destroyer.

The temple itself is quite impressive but it only takes maybe 15-20 minutes to have a look around it. So for that, the entrance fee for me is totally inflated. I am wondering if this is maybe due to volcanic issues in the region. It probably needs restoring more often than most. Still it’s too pricey.

I left and headed towards Bodobudur temple, which is near the town of Magelang and about 45km from Prambanan. The road is dual carriageway all the way there
Mount MerapiMount MerapiMount Merapi

Start of path
and it’s good fun to ride. The only issue being half way it decided to start raining. I was totally unprepared for this and had no waterproofs. My day bag is not really big enough so all I had with me was a towel and spare t shirt and shorts. I carried on heading towards the temple in the hope the rain might stop. I got there and it was still raining. I figured it would be pointless to go into the temple grounds as my pictures would be awful and being wet through I doubt I’d enjoy it. I instead headed towards Magelang to find somewhere to stay.

This was not as easy as I’d hoped. I was thinking there would probably be lots of little guesthouses and the like but not the case. After kerb crawling along the main road trying to see what all the buildings were in the rain I found a hotel. Thinking it would be expensive I headed in anyways as I was now completely freezing from riding for an hour or so in the rain. The price was the same I’d been paying so I took a room and got changed into dry clothes. I had a brief nap before heading out for a roam in the evening. There was no tourists in town, just me it seemed and none of the local food places could speak any English so I returned to eat in the hotel instead. Knowing I had a 5am wake up tomorrow I watched a film and headed to bed. This wasn’t quite to be however as I’d forgotten my adaptor and half way through the film the battery ran out. I was in bed by 9pm.

Day 273 (Fri 7th June)

I woke at 5am to look out the window and see the mountains of Merapi and Merbabu start to appear in the day light. When it got light enough for me to ride the scooter I left the hotel, around 5:30am. I rode the 30km to the bottom of the mountain through some very small towns and some very sketchy roads. I started going up what I thought was the path, realised it just went into some farmer’s plots so headed back, rode around a few streets and found what was looking more positive as a tourist path.

Mount MerapiMount MerapiMount Merapi

End of path, or lack thereof
headed up, it being very steep and also with it being so early I was quite tired. The path was just a mud area and flattened down grass. As I got further up the path started narrowing and everything around it got higher. I got to a point where I was completely stuck, there was ridge of both sides with decent drops. I backtracked abit and went a different way. The path seemed to hold firm most the way but after maybe 2 hours it seemed to stop. I was now wading through waist high grass going up the side of a volcano with visibility down to a few metres as the mist set in. I could see one side of me the volcanic rocks on the side of the hill showing I wasn’t too far from the top. The only problem being I couldn’t seem to get out of the area I was in. I then stepped on a branch, it snapped and I fell down a hole. I was now absolutely soaked also as the grass was wet from the mist. I decided I couldn’t get any further this way so stopped. I hung around for 10 minutes hoping the mist would clear but this wasn’t the case so thinking I’d have no view anyways I left and headed back for the scooter. I don’t like to not achieve what I want but I simply couldn’t go any further this way without being at serious risk to myself. I made it back to my scooter and headed for Borobudur, second time lucky, after fetching my stuff from the hotel and quickly changing into something dry once again.

Obviously on the way to Borobudur it started raining again much to my dislike. I got soaked in what was a 10 minute downpour. The temple and surrounds itself were dry so I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time it seems. I paid my yet again expensive $19 to get in and had a look around. I got the sarong they make you wear again but today I didn’t mind it so much as it helped dry my shorts off somewhat. I’ve always liked Buddhist temples and monuments and this was no exception. It is pretty impressive with lots of stupas and monuments. It’s built on many various levels, all which seemed to be symmetrical. There were views from it of the surrounding mountains, not that I could see Merapi as the cloud still lingered over it, justifying my decision to head back down it earlier.

After taking enough photo’s that my camera had run out of battery I left. On leaving these temples it always seems to direct you straight into an area of hundreds of little local vendors shops and not actually towards the exit. It’s a bit of a pain and I hate having all the people trying to sell me everything from little souvenirs to furniture. What exactly is a backpacker supposed to do with it?

I got back on my scooter and returned to Yogyakarta. It actually stayed dry for the trip which was nice. I went back to the guesthouse I stayed at 2 nights ago, checked in and decided to relax for the evening as I was pretty tired.

I got a trip for the next day sorted and then I watched the Indonesian national team on the tv get beat by Holland whilst listening to the Senior TT race from back home. Unfortunately this went on far longer than anticipated and I didn’t get the
Mount MerapiMount MerapiMount Merapi

Time to turn back
early night I wanted, heading to sleep around 1am.

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