We were rather concerned when they called our flight for Yogyakarta at Bandung Airport. There was a heavy tropical storm and we could see our Wings small turbo prop plane about two hundred meters away – not far but the walk was completely uncovered and far enough to get absolutely soaked! To our surprise, the Wings’ staff came to our rescue, providing golf size umbrellas for every passenger – as we stepped through the door, we were provided with an open umbrella and a big Indonesian smile! The smile and friendliness was typical of what we had experienced throughout Java, with genuinely lovely people.
After Bali, Yogykarta (called Jogya for short) is probably Indonesia‘s top tourist destination. For us, the highlights were the two UNESCO approved archaeological heritage sites,World famous for their Indonesian art and architecture dating back to the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries:
- Borobudur – the eight/ninth century Bhuddist temple complex, which is the World’s largest temple, and
- Prambanan, which boasts the tallest Hindu temple complex in the World, built in the tenth century.
Both of these sites have the most beautiful stone carvings, with a large proportion being original. They also boast original stone pillars.
We allocated a full day to see both the UNESCO sites, which are outside of Jogja, in diametrically opposite directions. We shared a mini-bus and driver with a young Dutch couple and a mother and daughter from Shanghai, China. When we got to the magnificent Borobudur site, we shared an English-speaking guide with the Chinese mother and daughter. It was slow progress because the daughter translated for her mother and they took lots of photos, as the Chinese do; they seem to just click away at everything and anything. We were relaxed and had a great day, despite the rain. Large numbers of school children were keen to ask us questions as part of their English course and then they wanted a photo with us. We soon roped our new Chinese friends into the action and they enjoyed the socializing as well., even if they were not of much help with the school English project! We have seen many UNESCO approved sites but what was special about this site was UNESCO was responsible for the effective dismantling of the structure and its rebuilding – a million pieces of volcanic stone were identified, numbered, stored and re-positioned. Had the building not been rebuilt, it would have collapsed with water damage to the foundations. Open this link for UNESCO’s description. Or to see some stunning photos, open this link.
After a break and an Indonesian lunch, we visited Prambanan, which was equally impressive and a photographer’s delight. We explored the large site, admired the architecture and took lots of photos. Once again, we became a magnet for Indonesian school children, with the now familiar questions:
- Excuse me, may I ask you some questions? (sounds like,” eshuse ” me)
- Where are you from? (where you from?)
- How long have you been in Indonesia? (how much time you in Indonesia?)
- What do you like about Indonesia? (what you like in Indonesia?)
- What’s your favorite Indonesian food?(what you like to eat in Indonesia?)
- Will you join me in a photo? (please, I can take a photo with you?)
These children were so happy with their answers and photos – we were a soft touch that day and just did not have the heart to say “no thank you”, despite being intimately familiar with the list of questions, we let them think that it was a first for us.
The second full day, we visited the Sultan’s Palace in Yogakarta but that was a bit disappointing. It is not the interior that is visited by tourists, just the outside, including the courtyards, but no royal furniture nor treasures can be viewed, as there is still a sultan in residence. Afterwards, we saw an excellent demonstration of batik art.
For the rest of our time, we just relaxed. Next, in complete contrast, we are off to Bali for six nights. We don’t quite know what to expect, as we have heard such mixed reports, but we are sure that the beaches will be beautiful and it will hopefully be a really good place to “chill out”. Watch out for our next update…