Terima Kasih, Jogjakarta, Indonesia
August 18-19, 2013
- Arrival at Tugu Station, Jogjakarta (JOG). Despite the 20-minute delay, the six-hour train ride from Jakarta to JOG was rather comfortable and peaceful. Blankets were provided during the travel and besides the ticket inspections during the first ten minutes, there were no other interruptions during the travel. I found this the perfect opportunity to catch some decent sleep to recharge for the possibly long day ahead.
Upon arrival, I followed the flow of alighting passengers towards the exit since I couldn’t understand the signages posted in Bahasa, only to find out that everyone was going towards the backdoor of the station. Wrong way.
Tips: Keluar means Exit in English.
- Couchsurfing in Jogja: A couple of text exchanges later, I found myself searching for the Malioboro bus stop, the closest to Tugu Station. And after one transit and few bus stops, I got off at Amikom, and waited for Sandi, my host. I’m pretty sure that this yoga instructor, slash, digital photographer, slash, rockstar, is probably the best host in JOG. He reads Murakami, too, so there’s another giveway! But because he had to go to work that day, he gave me a map with written instructions on how to go to Prambanan by bus and back to the city center, which was rather pretty easy. The Jogja bus trans is an organized mode of transportation in this former capital city of Indonesia. And somehow, commuting, like any other new place that you go to, makes you feel the city’s distinct identity.
TIP: Jogja bus trans costs only Rp3,000 (0.30USD) regardless of your destination.
- I passed as a local in Prambanan! I’ve read about how pricey the entrance tickets to both Prambanan and Borobudur temple complexes are — Prambanan for Rp120,000 (12 USD), and Borobudur for 190,000 (19USD); and both just Rp30,000 (3USD) for locals. Ridiculous pricing system, if you ask me. So being a tourist who looks like a local, I had a trick up my sleeve. I went to the counter, handed the lady Rp30,000, and gave her a sign with my point finger that I wanted ONE ticket. Despite the bulky DLSR hanging on my neck, which already gave me away as a tourist, IMO, the lady handed me my ticket.
It took me around two hours to go around the Prambanan complex. There were weird performances at the park that seemed to be a dance ritual of some sort. I found that a little disturbing. There was also a small enclosure park for deers, which again, I found weird.
- The Colorful Malioboro. After Prambanan, I went back to the city center and went to, as Sandi put it, the famous Malioboro street. I haven’t heard of Malioboro though until I started researching for things to do in Jogja. And true enough, my bus arrived at late in the afternoon, and I slowly realized why Malioboro was THE popular place in the city.
Late in the afternoon, Sandi met with me while I was trying to look for Jogjan souvenirs. As we walked along the streets, he explained to me that the artworks in the many corners of Malioboro, and the other side streets, are actually vandals, and that these are illegal in Jogja. Ridiculous, I thought, because these street arts are actually really beautiful. As a form of compromise, Sandi said that their government would give these artists a free wall to do their artworks on. But being the deviant these visual gods are, they choose to install their pop arts in the more visible walls of the city.
Aside from the colorful streets, Malioboro also is packed with street performers and street vendors selling trinkets, clothes, and (a lot of) satay. There were also a couple of guys on the side street holding huge pythons, I almost screamed like a little girl when I realized that they were actually pythons.
- The Game! Early evening, despite our pangs of hunger, Sandi brought me to this open field by the King’s Palace where people would gather and play a (superstitious) game. The idea of the game was that, a blindfolded person must walk between the two huge trees in the open field. If they do that, they can make a wish and it will come true.
This sounded easy to me. But really, many of the blindfolded hopefuls just walked in circles without finishing the mission, not even reaching any of the trees. I wanted to try it, but it felt a little silly, and because I’m a kill joy, I didn’t.
- Off to Borobudur, but now as a tourist. It was Sunday, but being the rockstar that my CS host is, he had to go for a yoga instruction workshop, leaving me alone again in Jogja (which was okay with me really). So after a few more instructions, I found myself in another public bus, early morning, heading to Borobudur. When I reached the ticket counter, I thought of doing my trick again, but unfortunately, the ladies selling tickets forced me to talk so i had to say, “One ticket.”
Tip: Learn basic Indonesian terms, especially the simple numbers, one two, three…
Borobudur was clean and quiet in the morning, but the more it gets sunnier, the more people go up the temple, and you lose your chance of getting good photos (you know what I mean). I finished walking around the complex for around to hours and after that, headed back home.
- Bus to Bali. Perhaps my biggest mistake during this trip was taking the bus to Bali. I heard about the 16-hour bus ride from Jogja to Ubung station in Bali, and I thought I can handle it, since I’ve had almost the same experience during my Siem Reap to Bangkok cross country trip earlier this year. BUT NO! Bus ride is not recommended. NO!
Anyway, due to my lack of options, because the flight was already four times more expensive during that time, I had no other option but to take the bus. Sandi and her mom were really helpful in getting me to the bus terminal since I forgot to book a day ahead, which is strongly recommended if you are stubborn and really want to take the bus.
TIP: Book a flight from JOG-DPS instead. You’ll get lower chances of getting scammed in bus prices, the flight is just one hour short compared to THE ACTUAL 20-HOUR BUS RIDE so it is much more comfortable, and you’ll have more time to enjoy in your next destination.
I only spent (barely) a day and a half in Jogjakarta but perhaps one would agree that it is one of, if not, the art capital on Indonesia. With its beautiful colors, and richly textured street arts, Jogja left me the impression that their culture is more intact compared to the culture in Jakarta. People are more conservative, but as a tourist, I think the place still has the laid-back, tourist-friendly feel.