Two years ago I came across a slide show of Indonesia on National Geographic’s website and was captivated by the beauty and diversity of the country, yesterday I arrived into Jakarta feeling like a child at Christmas, wanting so badly to grab the person next to me and say ” WE ARE IN INDONESIA!” Obviously I controlled myself as I decided this wouldn’t go down well but the excitement didn’t die down, there were a few bumps, having to get immigration to take me to the ATM because I didn’t have quite the right amount of Cash, the night train was booked so I had to stay in Jakarta, the one city which every guide book just says to get out of. Thankfully the hostel close to the station had one last bed in the dorm. I was easily the only single women walking down the road at night, everyone else being a man, accompanied or in pairs so I felt a little like a glowing beacon in the night. I got there in the end though with lots of direction stops, and chats along the way. I even got asked to sing with a walking minstrel at one point.
My next destination was to Yogyakarta the next morning on a 9hour train ride. The views were amazing! We passed rice fields dotted with the colour straw hats of the workers, thick lush jungles, mosques, small villages, mountains and volcanoes filled the skyline.
I immediately liked Yogya! The main road from the train station is lined with old fashioned lanterns, horse drawn carriages, rick shaw drivers, food stalls and clothing shops. We would later come up and visit an art gallery for Batik. The artist came out and showed us his work and how it was done. Three weeks for one canvas! I was very impressed! The canvas is a piece of cloth and it is done the exact same way one would make a Ukrainian Easter Egg. Draw your picture then cover the part you want to stay white with wax, dye it with the next shade of colour and repeat working your way from light to dark. Then you wash it in warm water removing all the wax and revealing the collage of colours. The work was incredible!
Our day in Yogya slightly revolved around searching for or riding on public transport. I think I have seen most of the city by bus now. In the morning we headed out to see Borboador. I didn’t see the sunrise there which is what most of the tours aim for but having the freedom to wander through the temple at our own pace was worth it and it definitely saved money. We took a public bus 3000rp to Jambon bus station and then another which took us to the a large market just outside the temples for 15000rp. The tuk tuk drivers will try to tell you it is 4k to the temple, it is not, we wandered through the market, got some jack fruit, asked for walking directions and met a young boy who offered to walk us to the temples, the back route – no strings attached. It is through the market, to the left and then just go straight. The temple while 250000rp to get in but you do get free tea or coffee on arrival and the grounds are huge. The temple is massive with awkward steps – good for long legs and small feet. It is beautiful from the top and within each of the Stupa’s which surround the top level of the temple is a seated Buddha. The temple is also where all the local school children go to learn English on school trips. It was a taste of celebrity life and kudos to people who deal with that everyday. It took us three hours to get through the temple due to photos and interviews by children, adults, teachers and the professional photographers who are at the start of the temple. Although we did photo bomb one of their photos they were so excited by it that they wanted to take actual photos with us.
My first impression of Indonesia is that is a beautiful country, the people are incredibly friendly, always smiling and 99% of them are willing to help you. However it is a much more intense country than the previous two countries I visited and I am glad I was given and took the advice as a first time solo traveller to hit Thailand before I came here. I think it would be a lot to take in and manage fresh off the plane. Despite the intensity, I don’t regret for a second coming across that slideshow on National Geographic, I just hope my pictures can capture a percentage of the beauty of all the places I see along the way.