A February 2006 trip
to Jogjakarta by beautysan
Quote: I had the opportunity to visit Jogjakarta before the terrible earthquake. Borobudur was indeed magnificent, especially during sunrise. Prambanan temple was very photogenic and attractive too. It's well worth the trouble to fly to Jogjakarta just for these 2 gems of central Jawa.
Prambanan temple came in a close second to the 'to-do' in Jogjakarta. It is so photogenic it almost looked like Angkor Wat.
Jogja city is not very interesting. I would skip it completely the next time I come to Jogja.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 27, 2006
Jl. Prawirotaman MG.III/597-A
62 81 727 1047
Jalan Badrawati, Borobudur
Magelang, Indonesia 56553
62 293 788680
Hotel | "Manohara Sunrise Tour"
Manohara Hotel is the only hotel located within the Borobudur Archaeological Park. They take full advantage of their strategic location indeed by charging an exorbitant amount (IDR 221 500) for the Borobudur sunrise tour that starts at 4:30am. The tour includes entrance fee to Borobudur, an American breakfast, and a torch light. Manohara hotel claims that guests of the hotel has unlimited access to the temple. However, take note that guests still have to pay IDR 1025000 (about half the price of public rate) to get into Borobudur temple before its official opening time by joining the sunrise tour.
The tour was a real rip-off because the only thing they provided was the privileged access to Borobudur before it opens to the public, with no tour guide nor explanations of the temple whatsoever. Only a doorman who brought us in a van to the entrance, open up the gate and let us in. The tour ended there. Period. After that, you are free to explore Borobudur at your leisure and return to the hotel for breakfast on your own. It's the shortest tour I ever joined! However, the sunrise experience on top of Borobudur was incredible. If only Manohara could charge a more reasonable price for the sunrise tour or improve the tour by providing a guide, I would highly recommend this tour.
We flew to Jogjakarta from Bali with the purpose of only seeing Prambanan temple and Borobudur temple - the best of Jogjakarta. Upon arrival at the airport, I happily headed towards the tourist information counter. Although they are government tourist information centre (or at least they claimed to be), they seemed to be more interested in recommending you the packages they provide or hook you up with drivers that would bring you around if you opted not to take any of their packages. We took the driver they recommended anyway and engaged him for half a day on the first day, and another half day on the second day. We went straight to Prambanan temple from the airport.
As expected, Prambanan temple was magnificent. Built in the 10th century, this is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia and was listed as UNESCO world heritage site. Standing proudly in the main square of this archaeological park are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and another three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them. Prambanan is very photogenic and the photos actually turned out to be as good as Angkor Wat, another Hindu temple complex in Cambodia. There is another smaller temple within the compound of Prambanan Archaeological Park - Sewu temple. Surprisingly, it is a Buddhist temple. The fact that this temple was built so near to Prambanan Temple, a Hindu temple, indicated that the Hindus and Buddhists lived in harmony. Sewu temple is about 15 minutes walk from the main square. Along the way, there are 2 more temples which are poorly maintained and almost in ruins but they are also open for viewing. Sewu temple is worth checking out as it is less crowded but not less atmospheric as its big brother Prambanan.
After the visit, our driver drove us back to Delta Homestay and promised to return the next morning at 5am. We then took a becak (rickshaw) from our homestay to see the Keraton - the sultan's palace, Taman Sari - the water castle, and the Ngasem bird market. None of these were exceptionally interesting. Perhaps they look quite similar with what our home country Malaysia has. After that, we went to Jalan Malioboro for some shopping. Nothing in this street seemed to intrigue us. Sorry to say, it looks like Malaysia in the late 1980s (except for the fast food chains). It was so boring we had to play cards in McDonald's to kill time. I really regretted not arranging the driver to bring us to Mount Merapi instead.
My conclusion is, Jogjakarta really has nothing much to offer except for the magnificent Prambanan temple complex, and the excursion to Borobudur.
We have pre-booked the driver to come fetch us from Delta Homestay at 4am. He only turned up around 4.30am. We reached Borobudur Archaeological Park around 5.15am and went straight into Manohara Hotel to register for their 'exclusive' sunrise tour (see my other entry on the tour). Borobudur Temple was one of the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It was built by Sailendra dynasty between 750 and 842 AD; 300 years before Cambodia’s Angkor Wat! The overall height of Borobudur was 42 meters and consists of 10 levels, signifying the accumulation of virtue in the ten stages of Bodhisattva.
We arrived at the foot of Borobudur at 5.30am, just in time for the lovely sunrise. Wasting no time, we climbed straight up to the top level of Borobudur. With the sounds of distant roosters crowing to announce the crack of dawn, dotted with occasional barking of dogs; the horizon changed its colour from orange to yellow to pink and then blue, while the valley perpetually shrouded in the mystic morning fog, the Borobudur sunrise was a perfect symphony of sound and sight. Best of all, you could enjoy the tranquility of this place with the companionship of only a few photography enthusiasts who are crazy enough to pay the exorbitant costs (by Asian standard) just for the sunrise. We even had our picnic breakfast on top of Borobudur, how romantic! The feeling on top of Borobudur was like achieving nirvana, it was totally indescribable. You have to experience it yourself! After the official opening time at 6.30am, crowds of students/tourists started to flood the temple. The sun started to rise higher and the morning fog has vanished. The mystical feeling is gone, despite the monument still look as magnificent as ever. I do highly recommend this sight, especially the sunrise at Borobudur. It was an unforgettable experience.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia