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Published: November 17th 2015
My last day in Pangandaran was more fun than I thought. It didn't rain much past early morning and the lady who ran the guesthouse said I didn't have to check out at noon - I could stay until my bus left at 6:30. So I decided to rent a motorbike.
It was a daily rental so I scootered around the whole town. I was very noticeable. I wasn't wearing anything crazy revealing and it was a hot day so many people were also in shorts and tshirts (which is a bit unusual since Java is fairly Muslim and most women wear head coverings of some kind) - but I stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone stared at me, some people actually took photos of me. Many people were just friendly and wanted to say hello, especially the kids. It was just a bit stranger than anywhere I had been yet as I am not used to that kind of attention. After a bit of a drive I returned to the guesthouse to reapply sunscreen then went to a nice stretch of the beach just outside of town that was totally deserted. It was a bit overcast and windy
otherwise I probably wouldn't have lasted long but I laid out on the beach for a while before heading back into town. I went to the beach bar for lunch - it wasn't busy so I had a nice table under the trees right off the beach. Fresh mango "juice" - basically just fresh mangoes blended with some water - because apparently it's mango season right now!
After lunch I scootered around a bit more before I realized I was very sunburnt (I just can't win!) so headed back to the hostel. I took a lovely cold shower then hung out in the shaded courtyard of the hostel reading my book. I checked out and then jumped on the night bus to Yogyakarta.
The night bus was the most terrifying thing I've done yet. A smaller sized shuttle bus crammed with locals hurtling significantly faster than necessary down a windy pitch dark road - passing vehicles on blind corners and slamming on brakes and swerving suddenly to avoid all manner of obstacles. I swear I had a pre-written note to my loved ones so if I died in a horrible accident they would get my final words...
I did make it - a full 3 hours earlier than I had expected (perhaps the speed was a factor?). The hostel I was supposed to stay at was all closed up so I wandered the streets of Yogyakarta at 2 in the morning until I found a guesthouse that was open and had a room for me. I crashed around 3 am and was up at 8 to explore the City.
Yogyakarta is a fairly big city - about 350k people. So not as big as the other big cities I had seen so far, but bigger than Pangandaran.I wandered around the City for the morning in rather high temperatures sweating buckets. I saw a few palace type places and some nice architecture before I threw in the towel and went back to the guesthouse to cool off in their pool. I booked in with some other tourists to see two very famous temples (both are listed as Unesco world heritage sites) the next day and then had a relaxing night as I had to be up at 3am for the temple trip.
Our first stop was for sunrise on a high hill overlooking the Borobudur temple
grounds. Unfortunately it was cloudy and unremarkable so it wasn't exactly worth the early morning - but it did mean we were first at the temple gates when they opened at 6 - so we were the first ones in to see Borobudur the Buddhist temple that we had spotted through the early morning mist and cloud.
It's hard to describe how beautiful it was so I will just post several photos. Needless to say it was a great morning and I even sat with some Indonesian English students and played a 'local' game with them while they practiced their English with me. The game was basically Pick up Sticks but played slightly differently. I admit I kind of preferred their version! I also left there having been the target of many tourist photos - not "western" tourists but the Indonesians who loved the fact that I was taller than the Indonesian men and wanted photographic proof.
Our next stop was the Hindu temple of Prambanan. It's a whole complex of temple spaces that were incredibly and beautifully built. Sadly a terrible earthquake in 2006 toppled many of the structures and they are still, ten years later, trying
to piece them all back together. What structures were still standing however, were magnificent! Again best described in photos.
I got horrifically sunburnt - again - as this hot humid weather makes me sweat like crazy and apparently even sweat proof sunscreen is not strong enough! This will come as no surprise to my fellow family members who suffer from a similar affliction.
It was a very long day and I was back in Yogyakarta by mid-afternoon and went to a local restaurant. I essentially told the waitress I wanted some Indonesian food but didn't know what to order and asked her to pick for me. What I received was so good! A curry chicken with roasted vegetables (eggplant, onions, peppers) and some amazing green beans in a coconut/lemongrass sugaring (that's the only way I can describe it). Totally random, and unexpectedly delicious!
Tomorrow I'm jumping a train to go to Mount Bromo to see the once-active volcano and a sulfur mountain before ferrying to Bali!
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