After a 14 hour train journey from Banyuwangi, I arrived in Yogyakarta and managed to talk the cargo guards into letting me unload my bike straight away, instead of waiting 4 hours for them to unload it. I managed to make the train journey productive, at least in part, by making some progress writing my first travel stories book and editing my diving footage from the Gili islands, which I’ll try to upload as soon as I have a decent internet connection. I met my host Jessica at the train station and cycled to her place, following her car through the city. Yogyakarta is a university city with lots of students, which means lots of cheap places to eat. I’ve had some great local food each day I’ve been here, some nicer than others. My first day in Yogyakarta we walked through the city centre, visiting markets and some of the landmarks. While we were in one street market we saw a bowl of fried bats, apparently eating the heart of the bat help with asthma.
I think I was lucky that Jessica’s mother was staying with her, because she has been cooking me lots of really nice food and trying to fatten me up. Her mother came to stay with her and help her clean her house after the Kalud volcano erupted last month, most of the ash has gone from the city, but in some places you can still find ash at the sides of the roads. One of the main attractions around Yogyakarta is Borobudur temple. A 9th century Buddhist temple which is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, covered with carvings on each level and decorated with hundreds of buddha statues. It took us an hour or so to walk around each level, slowly circling towards the top of the temple. We arrived just before sunset, but had to leave before sunset as there is a special, more expensive, ticket price to see the sunset at the temple. The ticket was already really expensive ($20), but I think it was worth it as I’ll only visit it once, the views out over the forest to the mountains were really awesome.
Each day we have driven into the city to eat some local food, we went back to one particular place a few times to have durian ice cream. It’s kinda expensive, but that is because durian is kinda expensive compared to other fruit. But one large durian ice cream costs about $2. One of the best experiences was tubing in Goa Pindul, an area of river which flows through a cave system, for $10 you can take a three part package deal which includes a tour of a cave, which involves crawling through some tight passages, tubing through a cave to see the rock formations inside, and my favourite part was tubing down a river through some really beautiful scenery and stopping at a waterfall for some swimming and jumping off of rocks into the plunge pool. Another interesting experience was the cabaret show on Friday night, which featured a group of ladyboys lip-syncing to some pop songs and dancing around on stage. I was really surprised to see that in a country which has such a large amount of muslims, especially when you take into account the fact that I saw a large group of muslim women protesting in the city, asking for an end to democracy in Indonesia and calling for the formation of an Islamic republic. I’ve already arranged my train journey to the capital city, Jakarta, I’m not sure how long I’ll stay there as I still need to cycle to Sumatra and make it to Singapore before my visa ends.