The next destination I visited on my trip to Indonesia sent me back to the island of Java which is the same island where Jakarta is. The city of Jogjakarta, also called Yogyakarta is another popular place to visit in Indonesia. It’s about an 8 hour to 12 hour drive from Jakarta depending on who you ask, and is rich with ancient temples from several religious. The city itself seemed pleasantly small compared to Jakarta and other bigger cities I stopped by on this trip. Somehow the city still had traffic problems, but no where on the scale of Jakarta. Jogjakarta itself as a city didn’t have anything special about it, but it was still enjoyable to explore its main street which is lined with restaurants and some unique shops. On the upper right is a guy on a pedaling away while transporting who knows how much weight of goods. The upper left is probably the main mall of the city, and I was a bit disappointed to see a large McDonald’s on the second floor and a Pizza Hut on the third floor instead of local businesses. The top floor had a large arcade, as seen in the two pictures I took below. Since the prices were so low it was easy to spend over an hour here. I forgot how much fun arcades were since they are difficult to find in the United States.
Other stores that were popular in Yogyakarta and really all over Indonesia are coffee shops. I’m not sure of the drink on the upper left, but I took a picture of it since it displays a rhinoceros which are native to the island of Java and Sumatra. I did make an attempt to visit them, but the offer I got was extremely expensive and as they are rare I probably wouldn’t have seen them anyway, so the photo of the drink will have to do until I return. The coffee you see on the upper right however, is something I was able to try on this trip. Supposedly it’s the most expensive coffee in the world, because it is produced from a jungle lemur like creature known as a civet. The civet actually eats the coffee beans and is unable to completely digest them, so it basically craps out a new and improved luxurious coffee bean that is in high demand around the world. I saw a cup of this coffee in Australia, a small single cup was seriously $45! Here in Indonesia it was only $8 a cup and even though I’m neither a fan of coffee or of things that have been excreted, I decided to give one a try. The flavor was definitely different, and wasn’t like typical coffee but also nothing I’d want to pay $45 for the next time I see it in the western world.
Just outside of Yogyakarta is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mt. Merapi. This active stratovolcano is usually smoking at least 300 days of the year, and erupts regularly sending screaming villagers running down the mountain who are unable to give up the tempting real estate at the volcano’s base. Since I was visiting in the rainy season, the clouds stole my chance of seeing any smoke or even better a dramatic lava run. The canyon on the upper left was just before the volcano and the next photo on the right showing the volcano slope rising into the clouds was the best I could do for Mt. Merapi. Several signs here warn of the dangers of the volcano, I believe the lower right one is actually warning of not getting too close to the canyon though. I have no idea what the idea is behind this strange evil doll in the tree, it could be some sort of sacrifice or maybe more fear tactics to keep people away from this area. The lower left fruit looks scary but I was encouraged to eat it. It’s covered in scales and white in the inside, for some reason the first bite isn’t so good, but each consecutive bite somehow gets better. The bowl that the fruit is in is actually made out of volcanic rock from Mt. Merapi. You’ll see lots of items for sale in Yogyakarta made out of volcanic rock, such as carved statues, cooking pots, and other souvenirs.
From Mt. Merapi I headed to my next destination of Borobudur temple. On the way we passed our first temple seen above that was in a field with kids playing soccer. Not much farther from here was the largest Buddhist temple in the world, the Borobudur Temple built about 1200 years ago in 825AD. Unfortunately it was nearly dark by the time I got to the temple, so the picture I took on the lower left was a bit rushed and came out blurry. On the lower right you can see people climbing the stairs to the top of the temple.
The top of the tower is surrounded by 72 stupas, each one encasing a Buddha statue such as the one exposed on the upper right. The temple was estimated to have been abandoned in the 14th century when Buddhism was declining in the area and Islam became Java’s main religion. When recently discovered by the west in the 19th century, Borobudur was mostly in ruins, but the past few decades have provided funding and lots of restoration. The temple once again is a place of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists. The two photos below show some of the carvings created out of the stone walls of Borobudur giving a glimpse of the beliefs and culture of the people that lived here over a thousand years ago.
Almost rivaling Borobudur and also located in central Java is the Prambanan Temple. These Hindu temples were also built in the middle of the 9th century, only a quarter century younger than Borobudur. Not much seems to be known about Prambanan temple regarding its history, but it’s believed to have been built by the Mataram Kingdom and abandoned less than 200 years after its creation as the kingdom moved eastward within Java. Within the temple grounds here are some impressive 237 structures, some of only a few meters while the tallest rises to over 100 stories.
The tallest and most impressive temple at Prambanan is the Shiva temple located on the left, it rises to over 45 meters in height, or almost 150 feet. This temple is dedicated to Shiva the destroyer, with the other two main temples dedicated to Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Keeper. The dragon on the upper right guards the entrance to one of the main temples, were inside at the top of the stairs are statues such as Brahma statue on the lower left.
Like Borobudur, there were many stone carvings at Prambanan. I found these to be much clearer and more detailed than the other temple.
One last interesting stop that I made in Yogyakarta was the silver shop. Pure silver is made into jewelry and art and is sold for a much lower price than you’d expect in the western world. It’s possible to meet the people working the silver who will be glad to explain their work and show off their skills. The building where the silver shop is located has an entire floor of nothing but silver items for sale. Most are jewelry such as rings and small trinkets, but they also range to some impressive and very expensive works of art like a model of the Prambanan temple or the sailing ship above.