Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, but that’s about all it has going for it. As a generic big city, it has neither character, nor interesting places to visit. It does, however, have a lot of traffic.
And so, I only spent three days in Jakarta, trying to take a break before flying off to my next destination.
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Borobudur, a Buddhist temple built a bit more than a millenia ago in central Java near Yogyakarta, is a UNESCO world heritage site and a massive tourist attraction, so of course I had to go take a look.
Much like Prambanan, Borobudur was forgotten and “lost” from records a couple of centuries after it was built, and remained hidden in the jungle growth for centuries, until it was re-discovered along with Prambanan by an explorer commissioned by Sir Raffles (is there anything he can’t do?). And now, like Prambanan, archaeologists are working to restore the temple.
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Prambanan, a Hindu temple built a bit more than a millennium ago in central Java, is a UNESCO world heritage site near Yogyakarta and a massive tourist attraction, so of course I had to go take a look.
In a weird twist of history, a couple of centuries after it was built, Candi (temple) Prambanan was forgotten and “lost” from records. Since the temple was not very sturdy (it’s basically a large pile of rocks), it was also flattened by a nearby earthquake. And so, the temple remained hidden and unknown for many years until rediscovered by an explorer commissioned by Sir Raffles (the founder of Singapore). Since then, archaeologists have been working on rebuilding the temples, to mixed success.
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Jogja (Yogyakarta) is the cultural and arts (and crafts) center of Indonesia, so I went and took a look at the batik factories, the silver shops, the wayung kulit, and the Ramayana ballet.
Continue reading Travelogue: Arts and Culture in Jogja (Yogyakarta)
Yogyakarta (Jogjakarta / Jogja) is a town that can’t seem to decide what to call itself, so I’ll go with Jogja. It’s the cultural capital of Java, so I decided to visit for a couple of days, and see what the fuss is all about.
Unlike Bali and Lombok, which are flooded with western tourists, Jogja is more of a vacation place for local Indonesians. While you would occasionally see some western tourists around, especially on Jalan (road) Sosrowijayan, the main strip for hotels and homestays, it’s primarily locals that you see. And as a result, the streets aren’t filled with people trying to prey on western tourists. Which I really appreciated.
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After spending a couple days recovering from my Mount Rinjani climb in Mataram (the capital of Lombok), I decided that I was done with Bali and Lombok, and so decided to go to Java – by bus. It took me 30 hours of travel.
I’m not sure why I didn’t just fly over. It would have been faster, stress-free, and more comfortable. The only answer I can think of, is that I wanted the experience. And so, 30 hours of travel.
From the Mataram bus station, I catch a 20 hour bus to Surabaya, a city in Java. First, of course, I am forced to wait 5 hours, as the bus is obscenely late. At least the bus station waiting area is comfortable.
Finally, the bus arrives, and we’re off!
Continue reading Interlude: 30 Hours of Travel