- Accommodation: Venezia Homestay (300,000 rupiah/night for A/C room with private bathroom). I highly recommend Venezia. The brother and sister duo that run the place, Rizal and Ritha, are really nice and helpful and they make you feel at home. The rooms are spacious, comfy and clean. We splurged and got an A/C room because it was so hot out, but the air con wasn’t very powerful, more like one burst of cool air every minute. Still, it was better than nothing. Venezia is located in the Prawirotaman area of the city, not too far from the main drag where there are lots of other hotels and restaurants.
- Bu Ageng: Just down the street from Venezia, typical Indonesian fare. I didn’t love my meal (I think I got coconut beef, which is apparently the local specialty) but Rosie said her Nasi Goreng was good (the classic Indonesian fried rice dish typically served with beef, chicken or shrimp). And it was really cheap, about 50,000 rupiah total.
- Zango: Absolutely loved this place. You go down this little nondescript alley near Venezia and all of the sudden you come across this amazing French/Italian restaurant. Apparently there is a small French ex-pat community in Yogyakarta. Anyways, the décor inside was very chic and the wood-fired oven pizzas were amazing. They also had great smoothies. Definitely more expensive (184,000 rupiah total) but we ordered so much food and it was totally worth it in my opinion, especially since we had purposely been skipping lunch most days to save money. It started pouring rain while we were there so we stayed for awhile and used their wifi until it passed.
- ViaVia: A western restaurant on Prawirotaman Street. It’s touristy and full of westerners but if you’re craving comfort food this is a good spot. Rosie had Nasi Goreng and I had pesto penne. It was pretty inexpensive too.
Yogyakarta, Yogya, Jogja – all the same city, just different ways of saying it! After a long, uncomfortable mini-van ride we arrived late to Yogyakarta. The next day we decided to explore the city. We visited the Kraton, which is the Sultan’s palace located in the old quarter. We were very underwhelmed by the building, so I’m not positive if we were in the right spot as it was difficult to find. We then walked up Maliboro street, the main thoroughfare in town. It has tons of vendors selling batik, which is the local specialty craft of Yogyakarta. We were roped into a batik shop and even though I said up front that we weren’t interested in buying anything, the guy insisted on going through the whole demonstration. Then at the end he expected us to buy something and things got awkward when I said we didn’t have any room in our bags and weren’t interested. He kept saying, “Oh I see, you don’t like them. You don’t think they’re pretty.” Even though I tried to explain they were very beautiful but we just couldn’t purchase anything, he was still offended. So if you really don’t want to buy anything, it’s best to not enter the shops but just browse from afar.
The next day we booked a Borobudur/Prambanan tour through Venezia for 70,000 rupiah per person not including the entrance fees, which were actually pretty expensive for Asia, $15 and $12 respectively. The van picked us up at 5am to do the sunrise tour at Borobudur, which is considered to be one of the most impressive Buddhist temples throughout Southeast Asia. It’s a very grand temple and is remarkably well preserved given that it was built in the 9th century AD and Indonesia is prone to natural disasters. It was definitely worth it to go early since it wasn’t crowded yet and the grounds looked beautiful with the morning mist. The view from the top is a great place to watch the sunrise and you can even see volcanoes in the distance.
Next we went to Prambanan, a Hindu temple (as opposed to Borobudur which is a Buddhist temple). Since I read that a lot of it was destroyed by the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake I was expecting a mass of ruins, but I was pleasantly surprised. The main parts of the temple are intact and it remains a pretty impressive structure. There is also a ballet that is performed outside the temple on certain nights. It is supposed to be amazing so I’ll have to go the next time I’m in Yogya!
We had a great time in Indonesia and there’s so much more to explore here – from Sumatra to Lombok to Borneo – I know I will definitely be back!