Indonesia, Java, Travel


Dec. 6th, 2017

We arrived in Yogyakarta a bit later than expected because our flight from Banywangi was delayed by some serious weather.  However, we did make it and as soon as we got out of the airport we got in a taxi headed to Venezia Garden Hostel.  When we arrived we were shown to our room by a friendly and helpful young man who’s English was really good.  We had a cozy room right next to the pool, which was pretty nice.  We were starving and had heard of a good vegetarian restaurant called Milas Vegetarian not too far away, so we booked it there asap.  We were blown away by the place it was like the secret garden.  The food selection was amazing and they were willing to make the dishes we wanted vegan.  They also had some vegan ice cream and the hibiscus flavour was the best.  We made plans to come again, even though it was a bit on the pricey side for what we had.  Satisfied and full we headed back to the hostel and to bed.

Dec. 7th, 2017

We woke up to a bright sunny morning in Yogyakarta. I instantly liked where we were at and was happy we would be here for at least a few days before moving on. We weren’t quite sure what to do on our first day so we went for a walk and along the way we decided to book a tour to someplace called Prambanan Temple. We booked a combo ticket to include a performance called the Ramayana Ballet at the same location. In the summer months the performance is held outdoors, which would have been amazing given the setting of the temples. However, now that it was considered rainy season it would be held indoors. We booked the tour through an agent called Kresna Tour, a location for which we found on Prawirotaman Street.

After we finished booking the tour to Prambanan we went back to our hostel and called ViaVia to ask about cooking classes. We told them we were vegan and that we wanted to cook vegan dishes, which they were happy to accommodate. We booked for the very next day and opted for the morning session, as that allowed us to go with the instructor to the local market to buy all the ingredients, and the afternoon session did not. There was a small price difference in the prices, but we were happy to pay more to get the experience of walking through the market with the instructor.

We were picked up for our tour at around 2:00pm. There were already 2 other ladies in the van who were from the Netherlands and traveling around Indonesia for 5 weeks making their way east. Whilst we were on the tour we were dropped first at the temple site at around 2:30pm and were told to meet by the exit gate at around 5:45pm. That gave us over 3 hours to wander around the grounds. It turned out to be a bit too much time for us, but we kept ourselves busy by doing a thorough inspection of every temple including the 3 buddhist ones nobody seemed to notice or care about.

The main temples were Hindu, and were also the most impressive looking. There were 5 Hindu temples to be exact, and we were lucky to have a trainee guide show us around the main one, which also happened to be the largest. She told us about Shiva, his son Ganesh (the popular many armed Elephant), and his wife Druga.

Path leading up to Prambanan Hindu temples


Sophie standing in an ancient temple doorway

After we finished walking around the Hindu temples, we were feeling a bit peckish so went off in search of a snack. We quickly found a little cafe serving something called Srabi, which were small rice pancakes. We chose some that had banana inside and they were just what we needed, delicious! We had two each which got us through the next 2 hours of meandering around the lonely Buddhist temples.

Candi Lumbung Buddhist temple


Candi Sewu Buddhist temple

While we were walking we noticed a man with a bow and arrow sitting alone in the woods shooting arrows into a target about 20 metres feet away from him.  We went to go watch for a while and after a couple minutes he offered to let Sophie try.  I was nervous that Sophie would be holding a weapon so I stood as far back as I could.  She said she had some experience with it since her dad used to shoot regularly when she was a kid.  The first one she shot went a whole 2 feet and the man who was showing her started laughing hysterically.  However, she improved by 1000% with her second one, which probably made it about 20 feet.  I didn’t like how fast she was picking it up!  She said it would have been easier if she had been standing…

Sophie showing this man how to shoot an arrow ;p

When it was time to go, we met our driver outside the gate and the rest of the people continuing with the rest of the program of having dinner and then watching the Ramayana Ballet performance.  We started by heading somewhere nearby to have dinner at a local restaurant.  We managed to get some vegan dishes made for us, and it was very good food.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the place.  We sat with the other people in our group and got to know them a little bit over dinner.  There was an adventurous couple from Colorado that had recently done a trek in Nepal and were telling us how cold and difficult it was hiking at altitude.  They said their next stop was living in a camper van for a week in the Australian outback.  That’s one thing I love about traveling, hearing stories from other travelers and getting new ideas you never even thought of.

When we were finished dinner, our driver took us back to Prambanan for the Ramayana Ballet performance.  It was really good, especially because the program described the story of Ramayana, and all through the show a projector screen off to the side of the stage would update everyone as to where they were in the story.

Performers during the ballet


White monkey character Hanuman


Rama and his wife Sita

When the performance was over we loaded into the van and headed back to our hostel.

Dec. 8th, 2017

This morning we had our vegan cooking class at ViaVia. We were able to get vegan options because we were the first ones booked in for today and thus got to choose the menu for the class. However, when we arrived there were 2 other people there who I suppose had booked after us, and they were not vegan.  They were cool and didn’t mind doing the vegan dishes with us, but they were add in whatever meats they wanted along the way for their own dishes keeping everything separate. They were really nice ladies from the US and Belgium traveling around just like us and we all had a good time together. Our instructor Made was amazing, full of information, and funny too! We chose the menu out of her very own cook book called Recipes from the Ring of Fire.

Part of the class was visiting the local market – which was only a 5 minute walk away – and selecting our ingredients to make our meals. The market was vast and amazing with everything on display. The photos don’t do it justice as literally anything you could possibly want to cook was here.

Just a drop in the bucket of what is available at the market on Parangritis Street


Fresh veggies for all!

When we got back to ViaVia, we went up to the kitchen and had some tea and coffee before we started cooking. We chatted with everyone and got to know a little bit about them, which was nice. We found out that Made was raised a Hindu and her husband was raised a Muslim, and when they got married they both converted to Christianity! We thought that was pretty brave, but she said it made sense for them and both their families were supportive. Our classmates we learned had met while travelling, one was from North California, USA, and the other from Ghent, Belgium. They were both travelling around Indonesia as well and had varied plans about where to go next.

When we got started with the cooking it went by so fast it was super fun. It was a little different than the last class we attended 3 years ago in Thailand, but just as enjoyable. We got to make so many different things it was really amazing. I think in total we made about 5 different dishes, even though at the beginning we only chose 2. It was from talking and walking around the market that everyone started asking about different things, so Made gladly said she would show us how to make them. Our contribution was asking about the Srabi we had tried at Prambanan, which we ended up making with Jackfruit and having for dessert. When we all sat down together to eat the enormous feast it was so nice and delicious I could have stayed there eating all day. We did our best to eat everything, and yet there were still leftovers. Highly recommended to anyone in Yogyakarta!

Cooking up a storm!


This smells sooo good!


Best part of cooking….is eating!

After the cooking class I went in search of a barbershop so I could rid my face of the beard I had grown over the last month of travelling. We walked for what Sophie said was 3 hours (her proof is 23,000 steps that day) until we found one that was open, clean, and not a massive queue. After 10 minutes, I hopped out of the chair feeling smooth as a baby.

Later in the evening Sophie got a text from one of the ladies we had the cooking class with asking if we wanted to come with her and a friend to Borobudur Temple for sunrise. We said sure and set our alarm clocks for 3 am.

Dec. 9th, 2017

We woke up and walked to Sae Sae Hostel where we would catch the taxi with our new friends to Borobodur. It was so early there was nobody on the streets, which was a nice change from having to dodge motorbikes and bakso carts every 5 seconds.

After about 45 minutes of driving we arrived to the gates at Borobodur eager to run up and catch the sunrise. However, our driver didn’t tell us or didn’t know that for the sunrise we had to go to a different entrance. We walked the 10 minutes down the road to the other entrance, paid the exorbitant 450,000 IDR (around $35 USD) and walked up the steps of the temple. By the time we got up the sun had already risen! Moral of the story: do your own research and don’t rely on information from other travellers. We were still able to get some awesome photos though.

Borobodur was beautiful and we learned what we could about it while we were there, such as there are a total of 72 Buddha statues in the same seated position all with different hand gestures. There were several levels to the temple, each one wrapping all the way around and featuring walls with intricate rock carvings.

Path leading to Borobudur temple


Majestic Mount Merapi in the distance


Inside of every stupa is a buddha!


The beautiful stupas of Borobudur temple

After about an hour of exploring the temple we headed out, but not before Sophie got mobbed by some school kids (as well as a middle aged couple!) wanting a photo together with her. We headed to another temple called the Chicken Church or Gereja Ayam. It was called that because it was in the shape of a chicken! We found out some man had been inspired by some higher power to build it for all religious worship.

The Chicken Church
Colourful paintings within the chicken church

When we got back to our hostel it was still pretty early so we went to go have a look for the Sultan’s Palace and Water Castle, which were supposed to be popular cultural sites for visitors. When we found them, we were a bit underwhelmed, but I think we were expecting something more grandiose. I respect the historical and cultural significance of the sites, but as something visual you go to see there wasn’t a lot that was pleasing to the eye.

Dec. 10th, 2017

Today we walked to the Melia Purosani Hotel to use the gym because it felt like we hadn’t been to one in ages! Even though we had done loads of walking over the last couple of weeks we were used to a regular regime of “working out”. Luckily, this grand hotel offered the use of their gym and pool for only 90,000 IDR (around $7 USD) per person. It was a 30 minute walk from our hotel, which served as a good warmup, then proceeded to get our sweat and swim on. We were there for a few hours and felt much better for it.

We were hungry on our way back so we went to eat at one of our favourite restaurants in Yogyakarta called Simple Plant. I think by this time we had already eaten there at least 5 times and I was happy to eat every dinner there! Unfortunately, they don’t serve breakfast or lunch or else I would have wanted to eat there for those meals too! There was just something about it I loved. It was clean, simple, and all-vegan. I highly recommend it to anyone, vegan or not, looking for some delicious food, the Mushroom Tongseng was off the chain!

Dec. 11th, 2017

Today, we decided, was going to be a relaxing day where we did nothing except for watch a film at the Empire XXI cinema. We were happily surprised that at a super nice theater it only cost 30,000 IDR (around $2.50 USD) per person to watch a film. We saw Murder on the Orient Express and we really enjoyed it. I had read the book ages ago and I was hoping the movie could do it justice, and I think it did. We went to see it during the day because when we plan to see one at night we usually get tired and decide not to go out. It sounds like we are old farts, but it is true…daytime movies are the way to go.

Dec. 12th, 2017

Today we would be saying goodbye to our beloved Yogyakarta. We had stayed 6 nights here, the longest time in any place thus far on our trip. I found it to be very livable, and with such amazing sites to visit in the surrounding areas, I think it should not be missed by anyone traveling to Indonesia.

We packed up all our stuff in the morning and started in the direction of the airport. We stopped at the Phoenix Hotel along the way for a couple hours to get another gym fix. We were going to be attending the Wonderfruit Festival soon and wanted to be in top form for it!

We had decided to fly because I had found tickets on for 335,000 IDR (around $26 USD) per person, which included 1 check-in luggage up to 20kg each. I though it was quite the bargain and would save us 8 hours on a train or bus, which from looking online would have cost us around 250,000 IDR (around $20 USD) per person. I have always respected the saying “Time is money” so anytime there is a massive time savings vs. a massive money savings I carefully take everything into consideration. I have read many a blog of people going with the cheapest money option only to then say it took them 10 times as long to get to a place.  I appreciate the beautiful landscapes one can see from the window of a train or bus, but it does get old after awhile. Moral of the story: Always research every single mode of transportation to get from one place to another, and definitely factor in time into the equation.

More on our travels as we continue to our next destination and blog post: Jakarta.

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