So after leaving Pangandaran, I ignored the advice of the Lonely Planet and headed to a train station that was said to be an inconvenient place to get to Yogyakarta from. But I had a map and it looked close. Lucky for me, my judgement was correct — my journey to Yogyakarta was 4 hours quicker than a guy I had met earlier in the day who was travelling in the same direction.
The Journey to Yogyakarta
Normally I don’t write about journeys between A and B — mainly because people like to hear about destinations and that is fair enough. But the train journey across Java is brilliant and is worth mentioning here. It really is part of the Javan experience to sit on the train outside of the toilet and just chat with all the people that wander past — or go to the toilet. And the scenery is to die for. Take a look at my short short short video if you’re interested in what it looks like.
Compared to anywhere else in Java, Yogyakarta is absolutely packed with tourists. But even then, it’s not like many Asian destinations where white people outnumber local people. Yogya is an easy city to get around, a great place to eat nice food and undertake hassle-free tourist activities. There are a bunch of backpacker hotels located near the train station which I recommend as being the best area to stay. The other backpacker area is slightly more upmarket, but further out of town. That problem is countered by the fact that there are nice cafes around there. I headed over there 4 times during my Yogya stay and a fave of mine was…Via Via. Basically some hippy Western joint with ethical principles or some such thing. I forget. But the food was nice, the staff knew what they were doing and there was a good cause behind it.
So why do people go to Yogyakarta anyway? Well, there’s a few temples around that are pretty famous and spectacular and stuff. I didn’t see them this time, but have done before. Number one on the hit list is always Borobodur. Number 2 is always Prambanan. There are plenty of others, but it’s not always easy to get to them unless you’re on some sort of comprehensive tour, hire a car and driver or ride a push bike there. And that is possible if you’re a cycling fiend.
The other cool thing to see in Yogya is Gunung Merapi. If you’ve never seen a volcano before, this is a sight to behold. The volcano towers ominously above the surrounding landscape and erupts with frightening regularity often killing many.
In the town itself there are bunch of things to see such as the Sultan’s Palace, some old swimming pools and a the bird market. Forget the bird market. There is absolutely no touristic value there. The swimming pools are good and I didn’t get into the Sultan’s Palace.
In fact, I didn’t do a whole lot when I was in Yogya. I just hung around and chatted with fellow travellers, rode a bike for many kilometres, ate good food and got a lift to a restaurant in Bedhot’s fantastic VW. And absolutely fantastic vehicle.
Out of all the cities in Java, Yogya is the one that most foreigners will feel comfortable in but it is still a very local city, not a tourist city. That really just says that other cities in Java are not tourist cities in the slightest and you will feel uncomfortable — which is good for some, not for others.
Yogya has it all…temples, swimming pools and good food. Give it a go!