Java, Indonesia - Yogya Jogja The Soul of Java... / by Mark Boyd

Breakfast at The Happy Buddha was fantastic.  We ate, drank coffee then I hopped on the scooter and headed to the hospital.  Hospital was a waste of £15.00 and two hours of my life. I was given more muscle relaxants and some oral painkillers. I headed back to The Buddha. Ildi and I explored Jogja on the scooter.... We headed to 'The Palace'.  I love a bit of art, I love crafts and also enjoy some great architecture.  The Palace was okay.... When I lose interest in something silliness occurs... Immaturity takes over my mind.... And this little statue looked like he was in need of a smart phone.  No one sits alone these days without staring at their smart phone screen, checking Facebook, Instagram, emails or reading my blog ;-)

Ildi was also was keen on checking out Borobudur, the Buddha temple an hour and a half away. I was put off by the extortionate, over inflated tourist price for looking at this single temple. Even the images I'd already seen weren't that mind blowing and weren't really luring me in.

We headed up the road for something to eat, enroute I spotted some hard working bicycle taxis..... Exhausting work!

 Sleeping Beauty!

Sleeping Beauty!

 We found a tremendous little local Warung that made a fantastic dish called..... Oh no.... I've forgotten what it's called.... Hmmmmm.... But it was the best!  All sorts of fresh veg, rice, shrimp paste, chilli all the good stuff, and super cheap too.... Oh yes, now I see the picture below... The dish was called Lotek!

 This family, Mother and two daughters have been running this little Lotek Warung for over 20 years in Jogja!  And they still make food with passion, love and the freshest of ingredients.  Yum!!!

This family, Mother and two daughters have been running this little Lotek Warung for over 20 years in Jogja!  And they still make food with passion, love and the freshest of ingredients.  Yum!!!

The following morning we heard that Borobudur offers a student discount of 50% .... Hmmmmmm. We looked at one another, thinking the same thing. I headed to the nearest internet cafe armed with my laptop. One hour later we were both attendees of Oxford University studying Asian Political & Cultural Studies.  £8.00 was a much more acceptable entrance fee for something that I wasn't overly bothered about seeing.  The IDs were rubbish, but I didn't want to produce anything too professional as then it seemed like genuine fraud!  Ha ha!

That evening we headed towards the main street where all the street food and crafts were being sold. It was raining, but we still decided to head to see the crazy neon pedal powered cars. Locals and tourists alike head over during the early hours of darkness to pedal these neon illuminated vehicles around the square.

Once we'd witnessed this strange gathering of pedal powered car enthusiasts, we dipped out of the rain and in to a bar for a couple of hours and chatted about life. Once the rain had gone off we headed for street food. We dined on deep fried catfish and rice. The meal was small.... but tasty!

The following morning after another great Happy Buddha breakfast we jumped on the scooter and headed to the temple of Borobudur. During the journey the heavens refused to remain closed.... In the end we simply donned our ponchos and went for it.

On arrival we approached the ticket counter and were pointed away from 'locals' section where tickets cost a tenth of the price. We headed to the 'foreigners' section. Ildi feined an enquiry about the ticket options on offer then looked at the wall where it stated students receive a discount. We then stood in front of the counter stating what a pity it was that we hadn't brought our student ids with us, and only having photocopies. We passed them across the counter. The girl looked at them and walked off with them in her hand. We both watched with anticipation expecting her to show her friends and start laughing at my efforts. Instead she photocopied them and passed them back to Ildi with our discounted student tickets. We glanced at each other forcing back the big grins of success. Once through we obviously celebrated with high fives and laughter. What children!

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So Borobudur..... Impressive? Yes..... But as impressive as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, not even close or Bagan in Myanmar.... No not at all... Not in my opinion anyway.... Or in Ildi's either for that matter.

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It was one temple.... Just one temple. For a non-guaranteed sunrise at the weekend tourists have to cough up a hefty £20.00 . So for Ildi and myself a Saturday or Sunday sunrise would have cost £40.00. Our air conditioned, ensuite room with wifi and chill out areas, with inclusive freshly made fantastic breakfasts cost us £9.00 each night/day..... See what I mean? So let's say your tourist attraction in the UK cost four times the price of your Bed & Breakfast double room you'd be looking at paying maybe £200.00 or more to go an walk around Stone Henge or Buckingham Palace. Crazy eh? It just doesn't make sense. Was it worth seeing? Yes. Would it have been worth paying £20.00 each to see? Honestly? I don't think so.

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As we walked around the temple we were both constantly stopped by couples and groups of Indonesian tourists wanting to have their pictures taken with us. Ildi decided that I was the most photographed tourist of the morning.

It's a weird thing being invited in to the photograph's of total strangers, but it's something that happens all over Asia.

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So the time had come for some immaturity.... and there were lots of stone Buddha's with missing heads.... As we didn't want to offend anyone we waited until there was no one around of course... Stealth images.... 

This was Ildi's idea.... I take no responsibility whatsoever.... Hardly any.... Well not much.....

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Assuming the pose....

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We then tried a 'Where's Wally' style shot..... I had to crop it unfortunately as 'Ildi Buddha' was barely visible....

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As we explored which Buddha statue we could play with next I got a terrible itch....  But here on Borobudur if you're going to comply with the rules itches must remain itchy.... Totally unfair and extremely irritating.

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The ride back to Jogja took an hour and a half, Ildi mentioned the 'Animal Market', so we headed there via some tiny cobbled backstreets.  Basically we got lost.  Then we found ourselves again.  The animal market wasn't a particularly nice place....

Something for the dog lovers?

Maybe a funky coloured chicken?

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Or maybe a selection of caged wild birds?

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There was everything from caged puppies, kittens, guinea pigs and birds to rare reptiles, amphibians, fish and even owls in tiny cages.... The conditions were pretty horrible.  We explored for 15 minutes before seeing more than enough.

My plan was to continue travelling West across Java via rail and then on in to Sumatra, but a couple of days ago Ildi highlighted a post on the Indonesia Backpackers Group on Facebook. A Javanese guy called Ricky was trying to get a group together for a 10 day surf safari around the Mentawai Islands off the South coast of Sumatra..... I've contacted him, and everything is ready to rock and roll. Ildi has been a great travel companion, funny, sarcastic and as you can see in the pictures a very beautiful lady as well! She's got it all! I will miss her. We said our goodbyes and I jumped on the back of my GoJek rider's motorcycle. Forty minutes on the back of a scooter carrying a large backpack is always a good physical challenge for the core, back and legs.... I arrived at Jogja airport and within 15 minutes was checked in.... I couldn't believe how fast it happened! Next stop Padang on Sumatra!