Day 4 – The long road to Prambanan

Prambanan is a collection of Hindu temples ruins. In 2005, there was an earthquake which pretty much messed up the place. Restoration works are in progress and many of the temples are off-limits and cordoned off to the publick.

Sun Sep14’09 – The long road to Prambanan.
The plan was to take the city bus to Prambanan early in the morning. Come back by lunch and spend the rest of the day shopping in Djogja. But even the best laid plans get derailed. As we walked to the bus station, some fellow who claimed to be owner of the souvenir shop offered to show us a batik painting exhibition. “This is the same exhibition shown when I was in Singapore in Hotel Raffler (sic) last week.” “Only up for next two days.” “There will be a cultural show later at 2pm in Prambanan to signify religious tolerance during the Muslim fasting month, so why not see the batik exhibition since there is time.”

We being the naïve idiots followed him into a back alley house where works “from 25 artists chosen out of 100 applicants” are on display. Granted, the pieces are really quite well done, but what irks me was when the exhibition owner did the hard sell on us and started to ask us to “see which ones we like”. And also put the paintings on strategic locations to catch the light (in the process also blocking our way out the door…). We excused ourselves, their attitude turned nonchalant, and left.

Since the cultural show was at 2pm, we went down Malioboro and checked out the Beringharjo market. Bought a batik shirt, (bargain!) and made our way down to the Kraton. The entrance fee (5000 Rp) covered a tour with guide around the Kraton area and a visit to a fine art gallery that is open until 2pm on weekends… We refused the guide (cos we need to do this quick) and did a loop around the Kraton. Unofficial “guides” without badges will also offer to show you around, be prepared to tip for their services.

Leaving the Kraton, the same guide said we should take the chance to visit the fine art gallery since it was part of the ticket price. And the gallery is near the bus station to Prambanan whereas from where we were, the bus station is “far, far away”. So, we again took a detour by becak to the gallery. This gallery is also in a dodgy back alley, so we left without even entering and made our way to the main road, where supposedly the bus to Prambanan lies. Asking for directions, we walked 10 minutes and lo behold, we appeared out on the same bus stop along Malioboro where we started at the beginning of the day!


Finally. We took the TransDjogja city service to Prambanan. The afternoon weather was way too hot to do much traipsing through the ruins. After the main area with Civa, Vishnu, Brahma structures and their three mounts, we caught the Audio Visual (pretty ok, not as informative as the Borobudur one) before heading back. By the way, we checked at the information counter: there was no cultural show at 2pm that day…

Evening dinner was at Bedhot along Jalan Soroswijaya’s small side roads; your normal tourist-targeted Jack Johnson playing eateries. The food was good though.


Getting There
Take the TransDjogja city bus service 1A from Malioboro road (bus stations outside Hotel Mutiara or the market) to Prambanan bus terminal at 3000 Rp. The bus station is easy to recognize by the blue sign and the raised platform. 1A also passes by the airport (Bandara Adisujipto station). At the Prambanan station, take the horse-carts or walk out to the main road, turn right and walk for 800m (aim for the mosque minaret). The main entrance to Prambanan (11 USD) is just there.

Day 3: Dieng Plateau – Of sheep and strawberries in high places

Saturday 12Sep’09. To Dieng Plateau.
From Borobudur, take a bus at the terminal to Magelang (10,000 Rp) which stops at Muntilan for a pick-up. At Magelang, take a bus (14,000 Rp) to Wonosobo. This drops you off at the Wonosobo terminal, just outside of town. Join the crowd taking the bemo to town (2,000 Rp) and you’ll get dropped where the minibuses to Dieng are. The Dieng buses pack up the passengers before moving off (8,000 Rp).

The bus drops you off at the T-junction in Dieng, just off Hotel Bu Juno (where we stayed). Food is pretty good, the menu is decent enough at the hotel restaurant. Bring some warm clothing, or buy them at the shop across the road. At 2095m, Dieng is no joke. Here is Sep, the early morning temperature is 14degrees. In July or Aug, it can go as low as a few degrees. If you take the motorbike tour around, wear a windbreaker and cover up. Otherwise be prepared to shiver throughout as you ride into the cold air.

The sights themselves are fantastic. Of note is the summit, at 2300m, dawn to catch the sunrise. Arjuna complex is made up of 5 Hindu temple ruins. Where there used to be over 200, now only 5 remains in the complex. It was surreal, because ducks, geese and sheep came out to graze with their handlers and cut through the temple ruins while we were there. The grounds itself is very well kept. Kawah Sikidang (Deer crater) is a boiling sulphuric pool, so named because the location of the boiling pool changes over three possible spots in the area, like a deer hopping from place to place. Then there is the Telaga Warna (coloured lake), in which we could see clear turquoise water with tiers of farming landscape in the background. The other candi visited was Candi Bima, a standalone temple in which walking around clockwise 7 times supposedly brings good luck.


From the Bu Jono hotel, Pak Didik arranges motorbike tours around the area. A dawn sunrise summit is 50,000Rp, including the nearby sites would be 100,000Rp, and going out further to see everything would be 150,000 Rp. Come back to the hotel by lunch and take the public bus back out. Or take the tour bus at 12.30pm (70,000 Rp) direct to Yogyakarta.

Day 2: Borobudur

Fri Sep11’09. Current prices are 575,000 Rp for a room with double bed (625,000 Rp for twin beds). Since Manohara’s back gate leads straight into Borobudur, you get unlimited entries into the temple grounds. Otherwise it is 11 USD per entry. Special sunrise entries 230,000 Rp can be booked from the Manohara hotel reception.

Candi Mendut is famous for a Buddha seated not cross-legged but with legs unfolded and feet touching the ground. The murals around the Candi depicts animal stories where the animals show selfishness, greed etc.

Pilgrims to Borobudur back then circle each of the 7 tiers clockwise twice (total around 5km). Borobudur has 4 tiers depicting normal life. The 1st tier tells the story of Buddha, the second I think tells of stories of animal reincarnations of Buddha. After the 4th tier, the 5th opens up into Nirvana, no longer squares and angular, but circular, with three tiers and a total of 72 Buddhas each covered by a dome. The final biggest stupa at the top is empty. Emptiness is perfection, maybe, no one knows the reason. Get a guide to explain the murals, or go and watch the audio visual at the Manohara for 5,000 Rp.

Day 1: Yogyakarta


Thurs 10/09/09. Ok. This is as live a post as can be. I am in the Princess Manohara hotel just outside the Borobudur temple grounds.

Started off from Sg and flew into the local airport. 4th time in Indonesia this year. After Bali, Sumba, Flores, Banda Aceh, Bandung, and now Yogyakarta. 2009 is Visit Indonesia Year for me. It’s pretty relaxed so far. From the airport we cabbed (50,000Rp) to the Jimbor bus terminal. Took a 1.5hr bus (15,000 Rp) from there with a stopover at Muntilan before reaching Borobudur.

Next: More on borobudur. I’ve to go and see more now. 😉