A Journey Across Java: Jakarta and Yogyakarta

Greetings from the beautiful island of Java, Indonesia! 💜41704960314_4421bae9b0_cThe island of Java lies between Sumatra and Bali.27580248407_6ed98c2276_bThis island is the economic heart of the country, and home to more than half the country’s population. Java’s largest city and capital, Jakarta, is a sprawling metropolis of over 10 million people! 😲

national monument of Jakarta

Exploring Jakarta 

With so many people, Jakarta is notorious for its terrible traffic. During rush hour, they even apply a “three to one” rule, where no one car can have less than three passengers. Luckily, their metro system is super cheap and efficient, and I had no problems exploring the city without the stress. 😀

Most places prohibit the smelly fruit, durian.

Cost: 50 cents for a round-trip ticket

One of the first places on my sightseeing list was Kota, Jakarta’s Old Town. You may notice that it looks an awful lot like Europe. That’s because Indonesia was actually under Dutch colonial rule from the 17th century up until WWII.41678722184_a87f1b7b42_cThe highlight of Kota is Fatahillah Square, where you can hop of one of these colorful bikes and go for a leisurely ride.41678722154_3e1c772706_c27531520087_4da923e52b_cThey even throw in these adorable floppy hats to protect you from the strong rays of the sun. Smart and stylish! 😉27560892117_e8cbcc50ea_cKota is also dotted with many quaint cafes.41678722134_ce8c6c4930_cFun fact: The Dutch introduced commercial cultivation of tea and coffee plants on Java. That’s why its name is synonymous with coffee. Nothing like a cup of java on Java. 😉☕27578482727_0c3776bfea_cThe square also has a puppet museum and theatre. Wayang, meaning ‘puppetry’ in Indonesian, has been a popular form of storytelling since the 16th century. I wanted to see a performance during my visit, but unfortunately things were closed for Ramadan.27531520117_dd566a5f1c_cNow aside from the old town, Jakarta has a very interesting foodie scene.41678722104_5a8cb62cbc_cDuring my time in Jakarta, I decided to check out Bakmi GM.27560892047_84b7304d07_cThey are a chain restaurant, which serves mainly thick, wheat noodles with a chicken and mushroom sauce. The dish came with some bakso, which is a ground beef meatball.27531670657_490a5f9229_cThis restaurant was also conveniently located in train station where I left for my next destination: Yogyakarta.

Exploring Yogyakarta

In contrast to the actual capital of Indonesia, Yogyakarta, or ‘Jogja’ as its often referred to, is seen as the cultural capital of the country.28557560888_0433d9cd5d_cThe region has traditions of Javanese dance, ballet, fabric production, and wood carving, among many other rich cultural customs.

Javanese masked man

While in Yogyakarta, one of the first things I did was attend a Batik fabric-making class.42352387992_5b848e14ca_cBatik is a form of wax-resistant dying that is applied to many of gorgeous fabrics on Java.

Batik souvenir shop in Yogyakarta

I took my course at Batik Winotosastro.41678740594_e9a38411a1_cBatik Winotosastro has a full staff on hand, whom commit to producing only handmade waxed fabrics.41678740684_db4f7758c8_c40594189640_bc647688af_cThey currently sell products in Japan, Italy, France and the USA. They also have an on-site store.

Batik wallets, shirts, and scarves all for sale at a reasonable price

My small fabric cost 3.50 USD and took two hours to design. I began by choosing a pattern and drawing it on the cloth with a pencil.

pre-made flower design (DIY also an option)

41678740704_7b9dc3d21a_cFrom there I used a canting, a pen-like tool used to apply hot wax, to trace over my original drawing.

the canting must be held at 45 degrees so that the wax does not drip out of the top

After, I chose one of the gorgeous hand-carved wooden stencils, and applied a border around my design, again using the hot wax.

stenciling stations

42352399722_d2f2cf8d72_cThese stencils are seriously a work of art on their own! ❤40594189740_79cb64fefa_c42352399622_5d3bc1188b_cNext, my fabric was ready to be dyed.42352399672_0cf321fc19_cI could choose between blue, turquoise or red, and I thought the deep red color really popped.42352399752_a9178400ba_c
42352399782_a9c578a36e_cTo remove the hot wax from the fabric, they dip the cloth in a pot of boiling water and tapioca.

bubbling water and tapioca

Currently they use both chemical and natural dyes. They also recycle the hot wax after it’s been removed. 😀

hardened wax that will be reused

To finish the fabric, a woman at the factory, Ima, ironed my cloth for a quick dry.

ironing the fabric between two sheets of newspaper for a quick dry

Then another woman sewed up the edges to give it a more polished finished.

old fashioned sewing machine ❤

I was very pleased with the end result! 😀42352387972_3729a88535_cAfter my class, I headed to the historic city center to see the Kraton, or Sultan’s Palace. 27560758437_ea85c05af8_cWhat’s unique about Yogyakarta is that it’s the only part of Indonesia that is governed by a monarchy. The sultan or king actually lives in this walled palace, along with 25,000 other people. Considering it’s still a fully-functioning palace, it’s not incredibly opulent or museum-like, but still fascinating nonetheless.28557297328_895042375e_cWalking around the old town, I also noticed lots of unique street art.

wall mural in Yogyakarta

40622572170_a24f5c2248_c40622572220_505ff6fc93_c28557297308_75ce9327eb_c41678740534_69bd9c87d6_c28557297288_b0378a7eb6_cGraffiti is a big part of this artsy city, and it’s actually encouraged by the government. I found the art to reflect a lot of Indonesian culture, and also appears slightly political, rebellious, and controversial. Love it!27531670557_987be0df98_c
41726401944_3d7c984614_cI ended the afternoon by visiting the Cemeti Institute for Art and Society.

gallery at Cemeti Institute

They had a nice gallery on display, and I spoke with the woman who worked there about this unique herbal medicine on Java called Jamu. Apparently, there are Jamu doctors on the street here who will mix you up a Jamu ‘cocktail’ based on your ailments. Typical ingredients often include turmeric, ginger, tamarind, lime and honey. Unfortunately, I was told that the best Jamu woman here doesn’t normally work during Ramadan, so I couldn’t try the drink. Still seems like a nice combo to fight off a nasty cold!

Jamu display at the art gallery

On the other hand, I was able to try a traditional regional dish called gudeg.


Anyway, the next day I went on an early morning trip to Borobudur Temple.41704960314_4421bae9b0_c (1)Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world! 😍42378177002_e9f604bdc3_c41525561755_e3e402dcab_c42427978261_98b7f9fab6_c
This ninth century structure was built on nine stacked platforms, with over 2,000 sculptural panels and over 500 Buddha statues! 😲
41525561705_65a9edc31c_cCan you see the protected Buddha?40620404930_4fc5e76c1b_cEven more interesting, an aerial view of the temple resembles a mandala, which is the religious symbol for the universe.28557562888_055bf5e894_cI didn’t have a drone, but I did find this image on Google. So cool!

40641029420_04d267b0d4_b Now it’s a bit of a hike to get to the top, but the view is definitely worth the climb! 😀28557562778_52e94484dd_c
28557562938_a58a8189e1_c40620404960_5fd9e91f8c_c41704877374_7808f87985_c41704877754_02b3662dfe_cI was even more delighted to realize that I visited Borobudur on Vesak, or Buddha Day. This religious holiday celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha.40620323480_4898d769bf_cDuring my visit, Buddhist monks had come from all over the world to visit the temple and pray.

Buddhist monk from Thailand

40620323490_014df5aef6_c40620404940_633c6f876c_c41528135095_1c91e2dcc4_cTheir harmonious chanting echoed through the countryside. Here’s a short video clip of my visit!

Now not only in Borobudur stunning, but it’s surroundings are absolutely breathtaking!

view from the top of Borobudur

42378148632_78d6163fc1_cFrom the top of the temple, you have views of an endless green countryside, as well as, the stunning peak of Mount Merapi.42427978231_093a23b3d1_cIn the early morning, there was also this low-lying fog that made for a slightly mystical atmosphere. Absolutely breathtaking!42378177242_bb0d4aa067_c
42378197552_fa786a4584_cBorobudur Tour: To get to Borobudur from Yogyakarta, I booked a tour with my hotel for 7 USD. The guide picked me up at my hotel at 4:45 am and returned me to my hotel by 11 am. The tour only included transport, which was about a 3-hour round trip drive. The tour did not include the entrance fee, which was a hefty 25 USD for adults, or 15 USD for students.41528134915_1b3d9fd1f7_c
41528135485_ae2d1b38b7_cI will say though, the facilities were well-maintained and there’s an on-site museum, which makes me feel like at least my money was put to good use.

entrance to the temple

40620405000_9541596562_c28557562848_4cdbd24a9e_cThe rest of the afternoon I wandered around the town and went to a local pet market. Yogyakarta is very touristic and a joy to walk around.

small street in Yogyakarta lined with traditional homes with clay roof tiles

28557297488_e48c25d9d9_c28557561018_ca5801090c_c27560758627_f1b34f82e4_cAt the pet market though, they had these very disturbing, dyed chicks, that made me quite upset. Talk about animal cruelty!😠

these poor chicks look like Easter eggs

As such, I went back to my hotel to lay by the pool and cuddle with the hotel cat. 🐱 💜

I wanted to do a few more things during my visit here, but unfortunately, due to Ramadan and the national holiday, many places were closed. I still enjoyed my time here, and I left with a very positive experience in this cultural hub. Anyway, up next I’m venturing further west on Java to attempt climbing a few volcanoes. Stay tuned to hear all about it! Until then! 😀

Getting there: To get to Jakarta from Medan, I flew with AirAsia. The flight cost 50 USD and took 2.5 hours. To get from the city center from the airport, I took a Damri Bus for 3 USD. To get from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, I took a train, which I booked through tiket.com. The  booking site was super easy to use, and check-in at the train station was all digital.

no snakes on this train 😛

The train station also had lots of familiar food options. Indonesia has tons of A&W chains, with a very unique menu to boot. 27560892027_1efc3bde16_cSadly though, my beloved 7-Eleven went bankrupt in Indonesia, so the main convenience store here is Indomaret.42380769692_a31ddfa4fa_cTheir options are seriously lacking in comparison, but this avocado chocolate drink was actually on-point! I gave the bird’s nest one a pass. Hah! 😛28557657468_7777dedb3e_cAnyway, the overnight train to Yogyakarta cost 20 USD and took 8 hours. The train was clean, air conditioned, and had charging ports. It felt years apart from my experience in India, which looked literally like a prison on wheels. Hah!42450141751_009afa387a_b


While in Jakarta, I stayed at Six Degrees Hostel. They had a nice kitchen, air conditioned rooms, a cool movie theater room, and a rooftop bar.41726831974_27f3e64f21_cCost: 8 USD/ night

While in Yogyakarta, I stayed at Venezia Garden Homestay. While they had a nice pool and a green garden, I thought the kitchen and bathrooms were very dirty.41528134375_ab3c348aca_cCost: 7 USD/ night

10 thoughts on “A Journey Across Java: Jakarta and Yogyakarta

      1. Thanks I am planning to go to Srilanka. Was previously scheduled to go to Malaysia, but have already visited it in the past. So decided to change.

        Indonesia was in my list, than I drop the plan.

        If you have a chance,

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Planning is one of my favorite parts! Although, just winging it when you arrive is good too! Whatever your style! 😉 Enjoy the adventure!


  1. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Jakarta and Jogjakarta! We are from Indonesia, based on Bali.
    Yes, Jakarta is well known for the traffic, and you did a great job to choose metro for sight-seeing.
    About the dyed-chick, I don’t know how to say it but yeah, it was disturbing, and sadly it wasn’t the only one. People dyed it for business because children like to buy it. We hate it too. Thanks for concerning the animal cruelty issue.

    We hope you enjoy your visit when you come to Bali 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for the positive feedback! Yes, I had a great experience on Java. I’d love to return and see more of the island as well. I’m now on Bali, and having a lovely time so far. Thanks for checking out the post! Take care and safe travels! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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