We took the 8:25 am train to the central Java city of Yogyakarta (aka Yogya pronounced Jogja) from Malang. It’s a 7 hour train so we sprung ($12 ea) for the executive car, this means assigned seats, air con, power and food for purchase.
Booking Info: We booked the train in advance at tiket.com. This is the only way to book online or you have to get it from the station. We got an error message upon booking so we emailed the company, they got back to us within 24 hours and we had to send them a copy of a passport and the last 4 digits of our credit card. Then they “white listed” us and emailed us back to inform us that we could go back online and complete the booking.
Yogya is a big city, the third biggest in Java. We arrived at the train station which was definitely a step up from Malang. We quickly exited, avoiding anyone who approached us for a taxi. We looked up prior to arriving, the best way to get a taxi (i.e. is it metered or do you have to negotiate). We knew from our findings that hailing a metered taxi was something we could do.
Traveler Tip: Look up the city you are planning to travel to on wikitravel. There is a section called “getting in”, you should always read this before arriving anywhere to better understand what to expect.
We got dropped off at our hotel, which was nice enough but had a funky smell that we could only describe as a “root” smell, imagine pulling a carrot out of the ground and smelling it. We got used to it. The hotel was outside the more popular tourist section so we could get a good taste of the local culture.
We came to Yogya for one reason… To explore Borobudur Temple at sunrise, a big bucket list item for us. Our taxi driver had offered to take us roundtrip for 300,000 rupia ($25) and we had his phone number to make arrangements after we did our own research. We asked our hotel and checked online and the prices they could offer were slightly more.
We decided that our taxi drivers deal was the best but would be better if we could find other tourists to split the ride with us. We (Nate) asked the hotel manager if anyone at the hotel was interested in going and to our luck, an American woman who just arrived from Seattle was. Nate knocked on her door and the deal was made. We chatted with Megan, a nurse from Seattle on her solo birthday vacation, and invited her to join us for dinner.
The three of us tried a well reviewed restaurant called Mediterranea, it’s not Indonesian but it was fantastic!
After the bad meals in Malang, the non existent breakfast and our train ride lunch, this meal made up for it ten fold. I was immediately impressed with Yogya.
We called it an early night knowing our driver would be picking us up at 4 am. The time came quickly and we jumped into the car with our familiar taxi driver. It took us just under an hour to get to the temple. If you want to go at sunrise, you have to pay more for the ticket which is sold through the hotel that is inside the temple gates. It’s about ten dollars more than the regular entrance, and they include flashlights, coffee/tea and snack, and a souvenir, it was very well organized.
We walked with our flashlights through the pathway up to the temple. We climbed about 150 steep steps to the top and found a place to perch for an hour before the sunrise.
Borobudur Temple was built over 1000 years ago but was only rediscovered 150 years ago after being completely covered by volcanic ash and overgrowth. It was restored and now is an amazing piece of history and an active Buddhist holy site.
We toured the grounds for about an hour after sunrise and headed back to the car.
Our taxi driver took us on a random road back, we think he was running his errands because he stopped a few times! He also threw his plastic bottle and trash out the window as if it was nothing, which we found more appalling than his loud belching. Needles to say, we were happy to get out of his taxi and eat some breakfast at our hotel!
We napped and worked the rest of the day, being a bit lazy. We dragged ourselves out of the room to explore The Malioboro Night Market to catch some local culture and a street food appetizer before dinner.
We were propositioned by a group of nervous and giddy teenagers. They had a school project to interview tourist and practice their English. They video taped the exchange and read from a script, it was really fun.
After hailing a cab, we made our way to Via Via, a highly recommended tourist spot that serves excellent local and foreign foods. It is as much of a community as it is a restaurant. They offer a store, bakery, cooking classes, travel agency, and on this particular night, live jazz music. We sat and enjoyed live music, several of their dishes, and the company of interesting fellow travelers for hours. When we left, we couldn’t find a cab, so we bargained with a motorized rickshaw driver to take us ten minutes back to our hotel for just under two dollars.
We fell asleep quickly, exhausted from a long day because the next morning was another early one to catch our flight out of Indonesia (before our 30 day visa free entry expired). Off we went, on our way to the Lion City.
Check out our video as well here!