Sunday, 1 November 2015

Temple Trekking in Java

Following my previous post with my Top 10 things to do in South East Asia, I decided that I would write about some of the time I spent exploring the temples around Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia. 

Looking out from the top of Borobundur


Yogyakarta is a convenient stop on the way from Jakarta to Bali and is a really good base to visit some of the top attractions in Java from the temples of Prambanan and Borobudur to the Merapi volcano. Here are some basic facts about the area. 

What language is spoken there?
Indonesian but it is very easy to get around as most people speak English and signs and menus are in both languages.

What is the currency?
Indonesian Rupiah. At the moment, it's around 20,000 Rupiah to the pound

How do I get around?
The best way to get around and possibly the easiest is local taxis which are relatively cheap. You can also get Tuk-Tuks and horse-drawn carts to take you around the city. 

Local culture
Java like most of Indonesia is an Islamic area, so women need to be aware of what they wear - be respectful, cover shoulders and knees.

Where did we stay?
Tulips Guest House - the room was average but comfortable for the price but the highlight of the place was definitely the private pool and the small enclosed restaurant.


We organised a tour with one of the travel companies around the town to see both of the temples in one day as we were only there for 2 days. It was easy to organise and there are plenty of different packages you can opt for or you could take a taxi to take you directly to the temples. 

Borobudur


We chose the sunrise tour of Borobudur which meant getting up around 5am which I admit was a bit of a struggle and I question whether it was worth it. 

You have to pay to go up to the viewing point over the temple with the silhouette of the volcano Merapi looming in the background. Before we chose to go, I had heard that the experience of hit or miss depending on the weather. 

It was pretty misty when we went and you could just about see the top of the temple emerging from the morning fog. 

Sunrise over Borobundur

The good thing about getting up so early to see the sunrise meant that we got to Borobudur before the crowds! We also happened to be there during Ramadam so it was even quieter than normal!

I'd recommend getting one of the staff to take you round and explain the significance of the depictions around the walls and the tiers. The temple is a UNESCO world heritage site which has undergone much restoration work, especially as a result of earthquakes in the area and eruptions from the nearby active volcano Merapi. The temple is a Buddhist stupa despite being in a primarily Islamic area. 

As part of our package we had breakfast included after exploring the temple - this was just toast and fruit so if you've worked up more of an appetite when climbing the steps of the temple, you may need to get something else from the little food stalls at the bottom of the temple. 


Having too much fun!


Prambanan


Next stop the Hindu temple of Prambanan. Similar to Borobudur, the temple was seriously damaged by earthquake but has been restored really well. 

By the time we got to the temple it was approaching mid-day and the temperature was getting pretty uncomfortable so perhaps it would've been better to go a bit earlier in the day. There lots of steep steps like Borobudur so make sure you wear comfortable shoes - you also get a discount if you buy a combo ticket for both temples. 

In retrospect I would probably have wanted to visit this temple at sunset as I've heard the views are spectacular. 


Prambanan Temple


Have you been to Yogyakarta? Been to either of the temples or to Merapi? Please leave your comments in the section below!



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