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Indonesia is one country that I have always wanted to explore several times during my travel across the world. The country has a unique mix of ancient temples, history, never ending beautiful islands – me being a water buffalo it is a perfect country to live in -, delicious food, cheap shopping and well, my list will never end. After the Jordan and Macau trips in 2016 which were two different countries and where the cultural experiences were poles apart, I was ready to explore South East Asia. I was enticed to see what Indonesia could offer me on this trip that was organized by Skyscanner and Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia. 10 days passed so quickly in Indonesia that when I wrote this post, I could still feel the sea breeze right through me. During this trip, I explored two provinces Yogyakarta and Bali. Yogyakarta has been known to enthrall people for its mesmerizing sunrise at Borobudur Temple to sprawling beach line to natural sights to cultural experiences.  I was new to this province and I didn’t know the correct way to pronounce it. I often called it “Yogya”  but that is not how it was pronounced. It is locally known as Jogjakarta (or simply “Jog-ja”). I spent only four days here, but I must say I will come back some day as this is one of Indonesia’s most visited cities in spite of it being relatively small.

If you do not have a plan in place and depending on how much time you have in Indonesia, then make a quick trip to Yogyakarta and don’t miss out on these things which would leave you mesmerized.

1.Eating a Gelato in the scorching heatgelato-icecram-yogyakarta

graffiti-in-yogykarta

Credit: That’s Emily holding her icecream

Now that is something no blog on the internet will not tell you because you can eat this anywhere. However, the special thing about eating Gelato here is that, while strolling on the roads of Jog-ya, you will see young girls wearing hijab and rejoicing their ice-creams by the window. Nowhere in the world will you be able to capture this moment but just here in Indonesia, as the country has more than 70% Muslim population. The ambiance of the restaurant, Tempo Del Gelato, is pretty enough to spend a hot afternoon here reading a book.  Tempting flavors of Gelato in the heat will cool you down. I had coconut with chocolate banana and I couldn’t stop eating away.

Tip: Take a picture of the gelato ice cream against the lovely graffitis of Yogyakarta. They will look stunning.

Price: Two scoop of Gelato Icecream is for IDR 20000
Place: Tempo Del GelatoJl. Prawirotaman No. 43
Website:www.Tempo-Gelato-Yogyakarta.com

2.Magical sunrise at Borobudur Templeedited-sunrise-borodur-temple 20160926_065646

Waking up at 2.30am to take a journey to see the sunrise here is definitely worthwhile. I would say it would have been by best sunrise across all travels that I have ever done. It was really spectacular! A walk and climb to the top of the temple around 4.30am and to wait for the sun to rise are moments you should not miss. There probably were thousands of tourists taking the Nat-Geo shots from fancy gadgets that they had. But try to move away from the tourist spot and trust me you will see a better sunrise. A beautifully carved masterpiece built with no adhesives, Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. While I opened my eyes to see the sunrise I found inner peace, tranquility, and bliss within and paused for a moment of my life. Borobudur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of over 500 statues of Buddha 3000 and 3000 Buddhist reliefs. It has a total of nine platforms of which the top three are round and the next six are square. These levels represent the three steps in evolution as per Buddhist beliefs. The reliefs are equally stunning as the top of the temple. I was spellbound at this magnificent site.

Tip: If you want the best shot then move away from the crowd and go on to the right side of the sunrise spot. You will get your magical shot

Price: IDR 400,000
Website: www.borobudurpark.com

3.Graffiti Discovery across Streetsgraffiti-in-yogyakarta-2

graffiti-in-yogyakartaI would say I am the big sucker for Graffiti in each country. When I plan my own trip, the first things I search for is ‘Does the country have a graffiti culture?’ I might not understand them but I love to see a splash of colors on the street which bring so much perspective and depth to the city’s culture. If you are traveling by car, you can’t help noticing splashes of colors in certain spots of the streets. Most of the street art here is under the project – Open Street Art Graffiti Jog-ja. You will find graffiti in more than 10 streets of Yogyakarta city. Many travelers or local residents think street art is vandalism, but I consider it to be pure legitimate art. If I had more time I would have discovered most of the graffiti and written a walking tour for my readers. Let’s hope I can travel to Indonesia again someday to finish my writing on escapades in the streets with graffiti.

Tip: Do not forget to go in the small alleys of the streets. You will see amazing graffiti there as well.

Price: Free
Location: Main city area
Website: http://jogjagraffiti.blogspot.in/

4.Cheap Shopping at Pasar Beringharjoshopping-at-yogyakartashopping-in-yogyakarta

If you ask anybody who knows me well, they will say I travel to shop only. Indonesia would be my second favorite country to shop after Thailand. Pasar Bringharjo market is the perfect place where I can say ’Shop till you drop’.  Local batik, souvenirs, small handbags, artifacts, jewelry, dream catchers etc. you will get them in $1. Sometimes even less than $1, if you are good like me in barging and buying bulk. From street shopping to established shops, Malioboro street has it all. Remember to indulge yourself as a local and bargain at ¾ of the price here. Jogja is very famous for its traditional necklaces. I picked some jewelry, a Batik Shirt, dream catchers, batik skirt, a dress, tea, traditional soap, and artifacts. Actually, these are the things I can remember now; I am sure I ended up picking up a lot more.

Tip. Remember to tell staff to gift pack the souvenirs. It looks great with the colorful bags they have.

Price: Approx. the cost for Batik Shirt is IDR 50,000
Location: Pasar Beringharjo, MaliBoro Street

5.Bling Bling Cars at Alun Alun20160927_215232

20160927_220824My first level of excitement was really high when I heard that we would be going to see and ride the bling bling cars. Most of the research on the internet that I did about bling bling cars showed me how much locals enjoyed this. But hell ya, I like being a tourist sometimes and this was really fun at night. Locals call this ride as ‘Becak Hias’, which means that it is a mode of transportation with three wheels. I’ll be completely honest here! I was behaving just like a child when I first saw them. It surprised me how creative they could get with the vehicle. They are paddle cars. A group of people paddles these cars just like one paddle on a bicycle and they are about the same size as a smart car or VW Beetle. The car had neon lights around then, with some loud music soothing the mood! Damn, when I saw the small TV showcasing the music video I decided to bring this to Mumbai and raise some eyebrows. I cycled around listening to ‘Love me like you do’. This was a hilarious experience of the trip.

Tip: Remember to take videos while driving this car!

Price: Approx IDR 30,000 for one loop (Around four can sit in the car to paddle)
Location: Alun Aun Selatan Kraton

6.DIY Idea at Batik Workshop20160926_092822

20160926_092951YogjyaKarta is famous for Batik and if you miss seeing how Batik work is done, then I must say you missed a lot. Personally, I really like batik and I’ve always wanted to try to make some for myself. Back home in India, one can learn Batik works in Gujarat and Rajasthan. But somehow I missed learning there. Batik means Wax Written where the design is added in the form of wax on the cloth and then the fabric is soaked in the dye. The part of the fabric that was covered in wax will stay white. I picked my own design for the batik cloth along with the names to be added. They also give a batik cloth which one can get designed for one to keep. This was a fun workshop and I interacted a lot with the locals. Btw, let me tell you, Indonesian locals are very friendly and warm.

Tip:Remember to shop for small purse and scarf as souvenirs from Indonesia

Price: A small purse of Batik is around IDR 5000.
Where: Batik Plentong
Website: http://batikplentong.com/

Hope you enjoyed my quick list of things to do in Yogyakarta. I would say don’t miss the above ones at all. Are you planning a trip to Indonesia soon? Do you think you will add Yogyakarta to your list? If not, I would say add it to your list and try doing all of these places.

How to reach Yogyakarta:

-You can fly directly to Yogyakarta airport from major countries. There are many flights to Yogyakarta across the world.
– You can book via Skyscanner which can help with various options to the route you require. They you can pick any airport from your home country to Yogyakarta.  I had searched for few flights from Singapore to Yogyakarta here . There are numerous flights from Singapore to Indonesia since it is the closest country. Also you can fly check the prices from India to Bali here and then can head to Yogyakarta.
– Most of the countries have visa on arrival which is absolutely free when you show your return ticket.

PS: I was invited by Skyscanner for a bloggers’ trip. As usual all thoughts, ideas, and opinions are my own.

For more updates on my travel adventures, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat: @rutaagayire