A Journey Across Java: Jakarta and Yogyakarta

Greetings from the beautiful island of Java, Indonesia! 💜DSC_5113 (2)The island of Java lies between Sumatra and Bali.mappThis 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! 😲

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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. 😀

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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.DSC_4889The highlight of Kota is Fatahillah Square, where you can hop of one of these colorful bikes and go for a leisurely ride.DSC_4885DSC_4892They even throw in these adorable floppy hats to protect you from the strong rays of the sun. Smart and stylish! 😉IMG_8775Kota is also dotted with many quaint cafes.DSC_4881Fun 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. 😉☕UntitledThe 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.DSC_4894Now aside from the old town, Jakarta has a very interesting foodie scene. DSC_4877During my time in Jakarta, I decided to check out Bakmi GM.bakmigThey 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.3527542_0oJOL51PqshUO6yy6Ojc0v_03exQAIgOQMRsE0p73HAThis 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.DSC_4985The region has traditions of Javanese dance, ballet, fabric production, and wood carving, among many other rich cultural customs.

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Javanese masked man

While in Yogyakarta, one of the first things I did was attend a Batik fabric-making class.DSC_4944Batik is a form of wax-resistant dying that is applied to many of gorgeous fabrics on Java.

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Batik souvenir shop in Yogyakarta

I took my course at Batik Winotosastro.DSC_4904Batik Winotosastro has a full staff on hand, whom commit to producing only handmade waxed fabrics.DSC_4907DSC_4916They currently sell products in Japan, Italy, France and the USA. They also have an on-site store.

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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.

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pre-made flower design (DIY also an option)

DSC_4910From there I used a canting, a pen-like tool used to apply hot wax, to trace over my original drawing.

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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.

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stenciling stations

DSC_4924These stencils are seriously a work of art on their own! ❤DSC_4921DSC_4923Next, my fabric was ready to be dyed.DSC_4926 I could choose between blue, turquoise or red, and I thought the deep red color really popped.DSC_4927DSC_4928To remove the hot wax from the fabric, they dip the cloth in a pot of boiling water and tapioca.

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bubbling water and tapioca

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

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hardened wax that will be reused

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

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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.

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old fashioned sewing machine ❤

I was very pleased with the end result! 😀DSC_4937After my class, I headed to the historic city center to see the Kraton, or Sultan’s Palace. DSC_4974What’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.DSC_4967Walking around the old town, I also noticed lots of unique street art.

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wall mural in Yogyakarta

DSC_4955DSC_4956DSC_4960DSC_4950DSC_4962DSC_4963DSC_4965DSC_4902DSC_4964Graffiti 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!DSC_4961DSC_4946DSC_4969DSC_4988DSC_4959DSC_5135I ended the afternoon by visiting the Cemeti Institute for Art and Society.

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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!

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Jamu display at the art gallery

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

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gudeg restaurant in Yogyakarta

Gudeg is unripe jackfruit that is stewed for hours in coconut milk. It’s shredded like meat, and served with chicken, hard boiled egg, chili and various spices.🤤It’s only about 3 USD for a full meal too. Score! 29937868_0kL7tGSgpCFW7iqkzruU49-VVCNlojSkrUSz1E1-jkoAnyway, the next day I went on an early morning trip to Borobudur Temple.DSC_5113 (2) Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world! 😍DSC_5033DSC_5046This ninth century structure was built on nine stacked platforms, with over 2,000 sculptural panels and over 500 Buddha statues! 😲DSC_5019DSC_5070DSC_5022DSC_5012DSC_5024DSC_5078These stupas actually protect Buddha relics, which are hidden on the inside.DSC_5026DSC_5039DSC_5044Can you see the protected Buddha?DSC_5123Even more interesting, an aerial view of the temple resembles a mandala, which is the religious symbol for the universe.DSC_5006I didn’t have a drone, but I did find this image on Google. So cool!

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courtesy of Google images

Now it’s a bit of a hike to get to the top, but the view is definitely worth the climb! 😀DSC_5004DSC_5007DSC_5126DSC_5009DSC_5017I 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.DSC_5104During my visit, Buddhist monks had come from all over the world to visit the temple and pray.

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Buddhist monk from Thailand

DSC_5105DSC_5124DSC_5003Their 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!

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view from the top of Borobudur

DSC_5025From the top of the temple, you have views of an endless green countryside, as well as, the stunning peak of Mount Merapi.DSC_5018In the early morning, there was also this low-lying fog that made for a slightly mystical atmosphere. Absolutely breathtaking!DSC_5041DSC_5056Borobudur 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.DSC_4993Don’t forget your ID! 😀DSC_4998_LII 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.

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entrance to the temple

DSC_5131DSC_5128DSC_5005The 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.

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

DSC_4971DSC_4990DSC_4980At the pet market though, they had these very disturbing, dyed chicks, that made me quite upset. Talk about animal cruelty!😠

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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.

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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. awSadly though, my beloved 7-Eleven went bankrupt in Indonesia, so the main convenience store here is Indomaret.IMG_8771Their 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! 😛drinfAnyway, 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!Untitled

Accommodation: 

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.10Cost: 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.DSC_4991Cost: 7 USD/ night

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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!

        Like

  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 1 person

    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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