Yogya is a calm city compared to Jakarta/ Surabaya, and won the nickname ‘student city’ as many locals opt to study in Yogya. Food and expenses in general is expected to be lower here. There are quite a number of attractions ( I missed some!) but I think it is best to go with some friends if you are hiring a car for the whole day.
This happened about 5 years back but it was such an unforgettable trip for 2 reasons:
- My housemate who was supposed to travel along did not manage to board the plane (I heard of this news when I was already in Semarang, oh well) so I had to travel alone without mentally preparing for it.
- I was an inexperienced solo traveler hence I mismanaged my budget. On the last day I ended up not having any Rupiah with me to pay cab from hotel to airport, but I got on the cab anyway because I had to reach the airport. Unfortunately I reached early at 6am and money changer was not open till 8 am (OMG I wanted to scream if this was an airport?!). My flight was early so in desperation I went from stall to stall to get some Rupiah while getting the driver to drive round and round as there was no parking at lobby. After alot of cold sweat and begging, a lady at the convenience store decided to accept my dollar (with a low exchange rate). Ugh, at least I could pay but I was still sweating because I thought I did not have enough for airport tax.
I was previously in Semarang for the first time for a friend’s wedding. Then I journeyed from Semarang to Yogyakarta by a pre-booked couch, which stopped at its terminal. I had to request the agency to send me to my destination and waited some time as I was afraid to take public cab (now that I think back, that fear was self-imposed and unnecessary). Long story short, I managed to check into the hotel and that same evening felt much better so I took a tricycle ride for Gudeg (traditional rice dish in sweet sauce) and sightseeing.
I passed the busy Malioboro street (where people go to shop) and ended up at Alun-alun for some ginger dessert. To describe it, I saw alot of neon-colored rides along the main park where people go to date I guess, sooo many couples. (it was also very dark so I did not dare wander too far in case I could not find my tricycle uncle!)
The next morning I went to Taman Sari (used to be the royalties’ bath house) too early and had an exploration of the place – I remembered it was just me and some earlybirds.
Then I went on to visit a famous temple near Prambanan – it is a later discovery called Ratuboko temple. Read on here in Wikipedia if you’d like to learn more about this site – here I honestly liked the cafe best. The view was awesome where I had my nasi goreng aka fried rice and was sheltered from the burning heat!!
There are quite alot of temples/ candi, one of the most well-known in the world being the Borobudur Temple so it was a tough choice when the driver asked where I wanted to visit. I went like: “whatever is nearest from here with a good view”. The driver mentioned a few temples and I randomly said , OK, Candi Ijo sounds good. Up the hill we went on a scenic drive and I remember reaching there at 2pm when it was still hot. The temple was really small, but it really was up the hill. I think researchers are still working on discovering things around this site. I did not see alot of tourists, maybe just 2 others who came after me. Besides seeing some local kids, then and there I felt like the only person.
I did not spend too long there. Soon I was off to see some souvenir shop/ silver maker and to do some shopping. I remember getting a Batik-style clutch I’d bring to weddings, love the pattern!
The hand-drawn Batik place was interesting to me too. That effort…
I came back late that day feeling accomplished and had time to count my left-over cash. That’s when I realized I did not have enough Rupiah for cab the next day and started panicking when I found out reception will not help me exchange!
Anyway, lessons learnt for me: always hide extra cash in case of need, and always remember where I hide those
Some note on expenses:
- 3 star hotel for 1 night: $40 (pre-booked)
- 8-hour car rental with driver: $45 (pre-booked)
- Food I ate cost $3 a meal on average, except those in Ratuboko for $5
- Hand-drawn batik is pricey, you can get it between $50-$100++