Java - Yogyakarta & The Prambanan Temple

After Nusa Lembongan we weren’t sure where to go as we wanted to go to Java in the next few days and we didn’t have time to explore any where new. So we ended up going back to Capsule Hostel in Seminyak as we knew we liked it there and they had good wifi so we could organise going to Java from there. 

So again the next few days were spent eating, drinking and lounging on the beach – it’s a hard life this backpacking thing! It was Jordan’s birthday on Wednesday 28th September so we spent the day soaking up some sun and then went for a nice dinner at Char Char Bar and Grill along the main road in Seminyak. The food was delicious and they had a special offer of three courses and a glass of wine for a great price – something like £12 – so it was win win. Jordan isn’t a fan of birthdays so obviously Natalie had to embarrass him with a special dessert and the staff singing ‘Happy Birthday’.

The next few days also allowed us to book our flight to Yogyakarta in Java where we wanted to climb Mount Ijen – a fellow traveller had recommended it as you can see the volcano’s blue flame – and visit Mount Bromo as well. So on 1st October we flew into Yogyakarta and got a taxi to our giant hostel EDU. The hostel was so quiet and empty with only a few rooms being used. And due to the main religion being Muslim in Yogyakarta, we both had to sleep in separate dorms on separate floors as men and women are not allowed to sleep in the same room unless they are married. This caused dilemmas over who had the toothpaste and shampoo and we both had to get escorted to each other’s dorms to get the things that we needed or to pass on messages to each other. It was frustrating but we could understand why the hostel was laid out like that. The first day we arrived in Yogyakarta we were both shattered so spent the majority of the day in bed (separately of course!) only venturing out to eat and organise what we were doing over the next few days. We booked a two day trip to Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen which included accommodation, breakfast and entry fees to the volcanoes – or so we thought! That evening we got a taxi to a road called Jalan Prawirotaman a girl in Natalie’s dorm recommended to go to which was more backpackery (yes that is a word – well, in the traveller dictionary anyway!) with more variety of restaurants and bars compared with the one street food place across the road from us that had rather dodgy looking meat. She recommended a place called ViaVia that was not only a restaurant, but a guest house, a gift shop, a bakery and a travel agents. The food was pretty good and the cakes were very scrummy. There were so many bakeries down Jalan Prawirotaman for some reason but we definitely think ViaVia looked the best. 

The next day we wanted to visit the Sultan’s Palace and the Prambanan Temple. There were several ways to do this. You could book an early morning tour to the Prambanan Temple to watch the sunrise, you could get a local bus, or you could rent a moped and drive there yourself. As Jordan was getting more and more confident with driving mopeds, we decided to do the latter, only to realise that not very many tourists actually drive their own mopeds in Yogyakarta, as the drivers are even worse than in Bali! In fact, we saw only one other couple driving on their own moped. Everyone else must have done the pre-organised and much more expensive tours. But we didn’t let this phase us. Firstly, we drove the short distance to the Sultan’s Palace. Now don’t get your hopes up when you hear the word ‘Palace’, unlike us when we were expecting the building to resemble something similar to the amazing Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. The building was a huge let down. There were a few pretty aspects to it but it was mainly a very boring grey brick structure, with a few treasures inside glass cases. If you’ve got a limited time in Yogyakarta you could definitely skip this.

That was the morning sorted, then after some lunch at ViaVia (again) we drove the hour long journey along the crazy motorway to the Prambanan Temple. This was much more impressive and reminded us a little of Angkor Wat at Siem Reap in Cambodia. The main temple was beautiful stone towers piercing the perfectly blue sky. God it was hot in the sarongs we had to wear to cover our dignity. But the temple was exquisite. Sadly the other two smaller temples were having a lot of restoration work done to them so it really was just the main Prambanan Temple that was worth seeing.

So after a long day walking around in the sun, it was time to face the dreaded motorway again and start the long journey home. (It was rush hour by the time we left and it took us nearly 30 minutes longer to get back than it had to get there!). That evening we drove from our hostel to the backpacker road Jalan Prawirotaman to get some dinner (we chose another restaurant this time) and then went to Alun Alun Utara square where you can drive pedalo cars with neon lights on. That was really fun and Jordan actually let Natalie get behind the wheel for once!