The locals call it Jogja, not Yogyakarta, so I will as well.
We had planned a tour that wasn’t going to start until 2:30 p.m. and that was a wise move. We were tired from the travel day before and it was nice to relax and catch up with some people, get laundry sorted, etc. We needed a bit of a rest. Or at least I did.
We decided to have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. There was a wide assortment of foods and everything we had was delicious. It was definitely pricey, for Indonesia, but it’s nice to splurge every once in awhile. There was a woman in traditional dress offering tonic sort of drinks, as well. Very interesting, and actually tasted quite good.
After some relaxation time it was time to start our tour with jogjakartadriver . I had set up reservations for two full day tours via WhatsApp with Danar, the owner, a few weeks before the trip. The day before the first tour I got an email with Ibot’s name and picture. He arrived early and messaged to let us know he was there. I love timeliness! There’s a lot of waiting in a lot of traveling destinations, so it’s very much appreciated when things run on time. The motorcycle traffic here is nutty, like Bali, and as Ibot is from Jakarta (where the traffic is even worse), he’s an excellent driver.
Our first scheduled stop was Prambanan. This was one of the places I saw in some ‘Top 20 things to see in Indonesia’ when planning the trip, and one of the reasons we decided to come to Jogja in the first place. Ibot walked us to the front and explained a couple things, then said where we could meet him afterward.
After we paid a hefty 320K (approximately $23.68) per person, we went through security and entered the grounds and there it was. Holy cow. Already worth the money. It was spectacular.
After walking around the main temples, we decided to rent bikes ($0.74 for 30 minutes…) and check out some of the smaller temples/sites.
It was so impressive. Oddly there is archery there, as well as some horses and these alien-like ostriches.
We also stopped at a couple nearby temples, which weren’t quite as impressive, but still definitely worth checking out.
We then asked for Ibot’s suggestions for dinner. He asked if we wanted Western or Indonesian, which would be a common theme any time we asked for his favorites. We always chose Indonesian as there’s only a few days left, might as well enjoy the authentic stuff while we can.
It was definitely a local place as the menus were not in English and the server didn’t really speak much English. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a signal to try to figure out what some of the food was, so we stuck with fried rice and noodles, which was the only thing we knew on the menu. It was tasty. Sal got an iced drink and I was certain he’d end up sick, but I was thankfully wrong again. All fine! This is a weird video but I wanted to show what it’s like when the call to prayer happens, which it did during dinner.
After dinner Ibot took us to the Ramayana Ballet ballet, which I had read about on TripAdvisor. One of the main reasons I wanted to go was that the stage was outdoors, with Prambanan as a backdrop. Truly stunning.
I thought this might be touristy, however there were two huge school groups there that took up the right and left of the stage. They were welcomed in announcements, apparently…sorta funny and captured on video. You don’t need to know the language to understand mocking.
We had VIP seats, which were more expensive, but were the only non-stone seats in the place, I think. Worth it. They were also center stage, which was nice. For a ballet, there really wasn’t all that much dancing. Every once in awhile you’d get a group doing some sort of dance, not necessarily in sync. There was a lot of walking or shuffling around the stage by the main characters. And the music… Here is a video I took of the band they had outside of the theater before the show.
The show itself had similar stuff. They have the basic scene explanations in both English and Indonesian throughout the show on stage right and left. Some things, besides the lack of dancing, that made this different from ballets back home: 1) a man shot an arrow at other players on stage a few times, and some would catch it. Seemed slightly dangerous, 2) at the end of the first act there was actual fire. Sort of surprising.
Here is a video of the end of the first act.
Even with the fire we couldn’t seem to stay awake. We both kept fighting nodding off during the first act. I think it’s something about the music. And the lack of dancing. Ha! After the first they announced there would be a *two minute* intermission, then the second part would start. Did I mention the first part was 90 minutes long? Good grief! We left.
It was worth it to see with the backdrop. I cannot recommend going to Prambanan strongly enough. It’s remarkably impressive.