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Indonesia was new to us all and we were not sure what to expect when we landed in Yogyakarta after our short stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Situated on the island of Java, Yogyakarta is more commonly referred to as Jogja by the locals, and is the base to visit the Hindu temple of Prambanan and the Buddhist temple of Borobudur. The airport is small and you are in a line for immigration very shortly after leaving the plane. Baggage collection didn’t take too long either and before long we were in the very small arrivals area organising a taxi to our guesthouse – Tima Lima Homestay.
The staff at the homestay were very welcoming and showed us to our room for the week, a lovely sized space right next to the swimming pool. We were provided with a map of the area with suggested restaurants and left to it. It was already evening and dark so we took the short walk to the Taj Indian restaurant for dinner before heading to bed after a travel day.
After a very large breakfast brought to the outside porch of our room we changed into our swimwear and tried the pool out. It was a hit with everyone! Grabbing the map that was provided the day before we set out into the streets of Jogja for the first time to find an Indonesian restaurant for lunch and then a SIM card for the phone. We found the pavements hard work as most of them were broken, or not there at all. Despite following the map well, we completely missed the restaurant we intended to go to and found a Thai restaurant instead!! It became apparent that the map provided was very over simplified as we wandered the streets in the heat to find the shops that sold SIM cards. Eventually we found the street and had to laugh as there were about 50 shops, all next to each other and all selling the same thing – phones and SIM cards. With SIM cards sorted we headed back to the guesthouse and out of the heat.
After a good night’s sleep, we were up early and arranged a taxi to take us to Prambanan Temple, wait for us there and then drop us off back in town. The temple is supposed to be the most beautiful Hindu temple in the world. After paying the inflated foreigner entry fee we walked towards the temple. The closer we got the more we appreciated the beauty of the temple. It is one of the largest Hindu temples in South East Asia. It has one big central temple which is surrounded by lots of other smaller temples. The kids really enjoyed exploring around the temple and were even happier when they found a play park not too far away too!
After waiting patiently for us, our taxi driver took us back into town to the ViaVia Café. We had heard good things about ViaVia so wanted to try it out. The café was the other side of town from the guesthouse – a good half an hour drive. That being said it was well worth it. The food and service were outstanding and they even had a very healthy kid’s menu. ViaVia would become our favourite place to eat during the week.
Following a chill out day we hired a car and driver. The plan was to take us to Borobudur Temple, and then on to the Lava Tour at Mt. Merapi. Mt. Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and we were looking forward to the tour. After an hour we arrived at Borobudur. Again there was a much inflated price for foreign visitors but we paid the fee and entered. It was a longer walk to the temple than Prambanan had been and it was a scorching hot day. We were all tired and sweaty by the time we arrived at the base of the temple and we had yet to climb the stairs to access it’s nine stacked layers. The temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and is decorated with 504 Buddha statues. While it was very unique we had been spoilt by the beauty of Prambanan a couple of days before. This combined with the heat of the day meant that we probably didn’t appreciate Borobudur as much as we did with Prambanan.
An hour and a half in the car towards Mt. Merapi and we were almost at the starting point of the Lava Tour. The kids had been grumpy and irritable and the thought of doing another 2 hours on a 4×4 jeep with them in this mood wasn’t appealing. We decided to abort at this stage and just requested a drive back to Jogja (ViaVia Café!) and then rest in the afternoon.
The majority of the next day was spent either in the pool (where our daughter swam on her own for the first time!) or in the room educating. Dad had booked train tickets online, but was aware you had to print them out at the station. To avoid the stress of doing this before the train left on the day of travel he decided to go to the train station to print the tickets a couple of days early. Indonesia has motorbike taxis called Ojek and Dad decided that this would be a better way of travelling solo than a taxi. An easy way to get a ride is to use the Go-Jek app. You enter your pickup and drop off locations and the fare is set. No need for haggling. Shortly after ordering the phone rang and the driver chatted away in Indonesian. No idea what was said Dad just waited. A smiley man arrived and gave Dad a crash helmet and off they went. The driver insisted in chatting along the way, all in Indonesian, so Dad just smiled and nodded!! Dropped off at the station after the Ojek experience it turns out we couldn’t print the tickets until 12 hours before the train. It was a wasted journey but a great experience on the Ojek!!
After dinner we took a short taxi ride to Alun Alun Kidul. This square park, situated at the back of the Sultan’s Palace comes alive in the evenings with crazy neon cycle cars blaring out music. The kids really loved this. We walked around taking in the mad sight of these cars being pedalled around the square with regular traffic like scooters and cars also going by. We let the kids choose the car. Our daughter stepped in quick and before we knew it we were in a Hello Kitty neon lit car with Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ blaring out of the speakers. Off we set peddling the car and laughing as we went. Mum started off in the back but soon realised there was not enough room to pedal so moved to the front. After one lap of the square we walked around and took in more of the sights before heading back to the guesthouse.
For our last day in Jogja we took the kids to Taman Pintar Science Centre. It didn’t look too great at first with a few dodgy dinosaur displays, however it was deceptively big and had a lot of science information and interactive displays that the kids (and adults) could enjoy. One of the highlights was Mum’s hair standing up at the static electricity station!! We spent all of the morning here before a final meal at ViaVia café and a last dip in the guesthouse swimming pool. We would be up very early the next morning for a train ride to Surabaya.