Java, Indonesia: 6 days, 3 cities
Hey, Damo here!
Java is hectic. It's the most populous island on earth, and is home to >50% of the Indonesian population. Java is riddled with history, and was the core of the Dutch East Indies before the Indonesian revolution in 1945. It's located between Bali to the east and Sumatra to the west, with over 141 million inhabitants living on the island. With 6 days our aim was to get a better feel for Indonesian culture - 6 weeks in Bali and the surrounding islands was great, but very westernised.
We chose 3 cities to visit: Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta. Here are our highlights:
Jakarta - Indonesia's capital city cops a lot of flack, and to be honest, I can understand why; pollution, traffic, crowds, noise and more motorbikes than you could ever imagine. However, we managed to find a few hidden gems that has made Jakarta a city that we would definitely consider returning to!
1. MONAS - The National Monument in Jakarta is a 132m tall tower in the centre of Merdeka Square that symbolises the fight for Indonesia. The view from atop the national monoment is pretty special and the attached museum is also a great way to get a understanding of the historic importance of Jakarta.
2. Skye Bar - The highest rooftop bar in Jakarta. This was one of the nicest place we visited in Jakarta, with incredible views, flashy cocktails, and a generally great vibe.
3. Surabaya Street - This 500m long market street in Menteng is famous for its antique shopping. I'm not generally a fan of shopping, but this place was insane! Some of the coolest relics from all around the world can be found in these tiny shops along Surabaya street. This is a place I would definitely come back to if I was decorating a house or something!
4. Cafe hopping - We found a handful of really cool cafes close to where we were staying on Jalan Chempaka. You will really have to look hard to find them, from the outside they don't look like much. Once you step inside you will discover that this is the place that all the cool locals hang out. Great coffee, cool decor - a perfect spot to kill time reading a book or doing some travel research.
5. Kota Tua - The location of the original downtown Jakarta. Known also as Jakarta Old Town or Batavia Square, is recognisable by it's colonial architecture. Completely contrasting to the rest of Jakarta, these old buildings are comprised of cafes, small shops, and street vendors. On the weekends the town square is full with local children, and has a great vibe. Be sure to hire one of the colourful bikes and take a spin around.
Bandung: 4 hours southeast from Jakarta by train and you're in Banding, the capital of West Java. Bandung is Indonesias 3rd largest city, with over 2.6 millions people, yet somehow is seems much quieter. The cooler temperatures due to the elevation make it an easier city for tourism. The main reason we stopped off in Bandung was to catch up with some friends. They own and run a Batik clothing company ( Rumah Batik, Komar). We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the Batik factory, which was an unforgettable experience. The time and precision that goes into these national fashion pieces is amazing. We really enjoyed our time with Putrih and Nafaul, who also showed us some incredible local restaurants.
Yogyakarta: A comfortable 8 hour train trip from Bandung has you arriving in Yogyakarta ("Jojga"), Central Java. A famous university town in Indonesia, which also happens to have some great tourism destinations.
1. Borobodur: no Trip to Java is complete without visiting the famed Borobodur, the worlds largest Buddhist temple. This incredible structure is best seen at sunrise. We took a private taxi a 4am to ensure we reached the peak before sunrise. Sadly, it was a cloudy day, however it didn't take away from the sheer size and incredible architecture of Borobodur. The photos below don't quite do it justice - this is one for your bucket list.
2. Taman Sari: These baths are located within the grounds of the Kraton and once played host to a royal garden for the sultan of Yogjakarta. Today the historic site resembles the Roman Baths in the UK, and is one of the tourist hot-spots in Jojga. This place was definitely our second favourite spot in Jojga - don't forget your camera!
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