Saturday, August 4, 2012

Yogyakarta (Indonesia): Temples, Arts, Food & Culture

Prambanan Temple, Indonesia's biggest Hindu Temple.
Yogyakarta is home to the world-famous Borobudur Temple.  Yet Yogya (pronounced jog-ja) has a lot more to see and experience than Borobudur.

Prior to my visit to Yogyakarta, I came across several articles citing Yogyakarta as the education, arts and culture capital of indonesia. After having visited Jakarta and Bali (the other two most popular cities in Indonesia), I must say I agree with this citation.  What do I love most about my Yogya visit? Temples, Batik Art and quaint local coffee shops.
Places of Interest
1. Malioboro St
Malioboro is Yogya's main and busiest street.  It's nothing fancy - don't expect skyscrapers and manicured street trees. But it's worth a visit if you would like to experience a typical commercial street in a small city in a developing country- bustling with activity, lined with side street vendors, and of course, filled with tourists.  It's not a long street, so I walked the whole stretch of Malioboro from Tugu Station to Sultan's square, and went inside some shops that sell handicrafts, batik, puppet masks and all sorts of souvenir items.  There are ATM machines inside some malls, where you'll also find international fastfood chains.
Intersection at Tugu station where I started my walk along Malioboro St.
2. Prawirotaman St (or Jalan Prawirotaman)
This is my favorite hangout in Yogya. This is the best place to go after a day's walk along the busy Malioboro St, far from the madding crowd.  I visited this place several times to have lunch, afternoon coffee and dinner.  From among the restaurants and coffee shops I visited, I particularly liked the following:
a. Cafe Via Via
Cafe Via Via has great food at reasonable prices and has a nice, artsy and quaint ambience.  I immediately felt cosy when I entered this place.  The wall clocks that show the time in each of the Cafe Via Via around the world somehow made me feel at home.  Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fodd are served here.
Facade of Cafe Via Via
Inside Cafe Via Via
Artwork on a post inside Cafe Via Via
Healthy great tasting salasd at Cafe Via Via

 b. Ministry of Coffee
True to its name, Ministry of Coffee has very good coffee.  Its high-ceilinged dining area adds to its charm.  The second floor has a reading area.  Ministry of Coffee also offers accommodation.

Facade of Ministry of Coffee Cafe

Inside Ministry of Coffee: dining area as viewed from the second floor.
Ministry of Coffee 2nd level
c. Hani's Bar and Retaurant
Aside from good and healthy food, a relaxing ambience is what you'll find in Hani's,thanks to its spacious lounge sofas.

Inside Hani's

Inside Hani's
Hani's Homemade Lasagne
3. Borobudur and Prambanan Temples
Upon learning that Yogya's public transport system to and from the tourist sites is not as good as those of developed countries, I joined a private day tour group to visit Borobudur and Prambanan.    I booked with Ari Tour and Travel and joined a day tour group of around 10 people.  I paid only 290k rupiah.  The inclusive breakfast is lousy, so i recommend you ask your hotel to pack you breakfast.

 Ari Tour and Travel: Jl. Sosrowijayan No.26, Yogyakarta Tel. 0274 7494616, 7434497, 371579, 7437122

There are numerous tour operators in the side streets of Malioboro St. Just stroll along Malioboro and ask where Sosrowijayan St. is. A less hassle alternative is to book the tour with your hotel, though the cost is almost double that of the tour operators in the side streets of Malioboro.

Since Borobudur is best experienced at sunrise, the day tours usually begin at 5am.

Borobudur buddhist temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  For more information on Borobudur, click on the link below.

Approaching Borobudur
Entrance of Borobudur

The top-most level of Borobudur.
Indonesian students doing interviews wth tourists
I flew in to Yogya from Jakarta thru AirAsia.  Located southeast of Jakarta, Yogya is approximately 50 minutes by plane from Jakarta.  I arrived at Yogya just after lunch.  I checked in at Hotel Santika, which is just walking distance to Yogya's busiest street of Malioboro.  I wanted to stay in Phoenix Hotel (see for good deals) but was fully booked so I settled for Hotel Santika, which is just two buildings away from Phoenix.  But having seen Phoenix’s lobby and grounds, I prefer Phoenix Hotel. Hyatt would have been great but it’s too far away from the “action”.

But I must say that I was satisfied with my stay in Santika.  Service was good, from the airport pick up till check out.  Book the premium room, not the standard  one.

Hotel Santika pool

Hotel Santika guest room
An extra attraction at Hotel Santika is the Batik-making demonstration at its lobby the whole day, daily.

To be written)

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