Indonesia was another country I have always wanted to go to. More specifically I wanted to see Bali. When I was travelling back in the 90’s, I ran into many people that had been to Bali and loved it. They raved about the relaxed atmosphere, great parties and incredible surfing. I had wanted to go back then, but it just didn’t fit into my plans.
Well… we fit it in this time.
Apart from going to Bali, Emma also really wanted to go the Yogyakarta. She had done a country study in school and wanted to see the different temples. I hadn’t heard much about Yogya (as it is affectionately called by the locals) before, but we thought that we’d give it a try. It turned out to be a highlight of the trip.
I also wanted to see Sumatra, but that was going to be too much. We had to leave that for another day.
Yogya was the most relaxing south-east asian city we had been to at the point (Ubud in Bali would eventually win that crown). The people were really friendly. We especially enjoyed our driver Chandra. He was very friendly and personable. He really cared about Yogya and it showed.
We met him on the second day and ended up doing all our tours with him. He even brought us to his favourite road-side dive that had incredible food… although we would never have walked in the door without him (pretty dodgy looking place).
However, the main reason that we came to Yogya was for Emma’s temples and they did not disappoint.
The first was Borobudur. It is a massive Buddhist temple complex outside of the city. It was in a beautiful setting, sitting in the middle of a rain-forested valley. The views were amazing.
It was the artwork, however, that impressed Emma the most. The carvings were pretty intact and you could read the stories written on the walls.
Emma was a bit of an attraction as well, since many of the local Indonesian girls needed to have their picture taken with her. Many thought that she was in university, since she was so tall.
After Borobudur, we visited Parambanan which it a large Hindu temple complex. While much of the site is in ruins, it is still pretty impressive. More importantly for us, the remaining temples were laid out in such a way that we learned a lot about Hindu deities.
Considering that I had never really heard of Yogya before, it was an incredible surprise. It is definitely a good reason to visit the island of Java.
The rest of the highlights were in Bali, but were not the places that I had expected. We were in Bali at the wrong time for surfing and the beach. The beaches were covered in garbage that is push ashore by the prevailing winds at this time of year. This was a huge disappointment for me. I had heard that garbage can be a problem, but I didn’t expect this. Every time they cleared the beach, the tide just brought in more. You could only swim in the ebb tide, or you would be covered in garbage.
Thankfully there is Ubud. There is no beach up in the mountains, but Ubud has its own relaxed charm. The weather is a little cooler and that are lots of nice cafes and restaurants. It was a great place to relax after all our travels.
And, of course, there is the monkey forest. Just make sure that you don’t leave anything out to tempt the monkeys. One dropped on me to steal our sun cream. So if you see a pale faced monkey there, you now know why.
The Private Villa
While Ubud was nice we didn’t go for the ultra-posh accommodation. Sonja and I just couldn’t agree on the right place. We did, however, find the right place in Seminyak. We rented a private villa for a week with its own pool and posh surroundings. I didn’t want to leave the place. Within the walls of our villa the world just melted away.
If the villa could have been anywhere. It didn’t need to be in Bali. I just know that it was just what I needed to recharge.