Java Day 4 – Majestic Borobudur temple

Borobudur temple is the largest Buddhist monument in the world that you can’t miss when visiting Java! We really enjoyed exploring Borobudur temple (even more than Prambanan). We wished we could spend there more time but we had to catch a train to Surabaya on the same day.

Borobudur temple

Borobudur temple

Today we have an early start. Straight after breakfast we pack up, leave bags in the hotel storage and catch a bus to Jombor bus terminal (3 000 IDR ~ 0.25 US$ each) and from there another bus (20 000 IDR ~ 1.7 US$ each) to Borobudur. The journey isn’t the most comfortable as the bus doesn’t have an A/C and we can really feel the pollution. I guess by now we’re a bit more used to that after being in Asia for a couple of weeks but still exhaust smell bothers us…

Horse cart near Borobudur temple

Borobudur Temple isn’t too far from the bus stop but to save time and for experience we get a horse-drawn cart and it’s a nice way to move around, slower but more pleasant than the bus we’ve been on…

At the top of majestic Borobudur temple

At the top of majestic Borobudur temple

Borobudur Temple is very impressive massive step pyramid structure made of stone blocks with beautiful, numerous intricate carvings and Buddha statues. It’s hard to believe that few centuries ago the whole complex was covered by local volcanic ashes and it has been overgrown by jungle!

One of the numerous craving in the Borobudur temple

We’re truly impressed and definitely like it more than Prambanan complex. It’s a place where you could easily take thousands of photos! We regret a bit we can’t stay longer (we need to catch train to Surabaya in the afternoon) – we could definitely spend a whole day in here! Also sunrise or sunset visits must be unforgettable experience.
Entrance ticket to Borobudur cost 20 US$ for adult foreigner ($10 student) but it doesn’t seem a lot for what you see. Another must do thing in Java!

View from the top of Borobudur temple

Luckily timing worked out well for buses, and we got back to Yogyakarta for around 14:00 to collect our bags from the hotel, head for the train station and buy tickets for the business class train to Surabaya for 16:15 (85 000 IDR ~ 7 US$) – it takes 1 hour longer than the 15:15 train, but it’s half the price, and gives us time for a nice lunch at the nearby tourist-geared area of Malioboro. As soon as we get tickets the weather gets bad – it’s throwing down with really heavy rain so we need to wait – we don’t want everything we own to get soaked. As the weather improves we walk to Supermans and enjoy a tasty meal – BBQ chicken, fish and chips, banana lassie… and first avocado and chocolate juice ever – delicious must-try drink in Asia!

Superman's restaurant in Yogyakarta

Superman’s restaurant in Yogyakarta

Finally, we board our train – business class for less than 7 US$… and it doesn’t remind business class in Western world neither in terms of price nor conditions. Overall it’s a good value for money – there is enough space to relax and sort out through photos and write up our blog. Apart from kids jumping on nearby sits and some people sleeping on the floor obstructing the walkway it’s a quite comfy and quiet journey. Seems like a right choice compared to the alternatives available.

Business class train Yogyakarta - Surabaya

Business class train Yogyakarta – Surabaya

Most travelers decide to choose the easiest but less comfy way to reach volcanoes – organised trips to Bromo and Ijen – where you’re stuck on smelly bus for 11 hours (from Yogyakarta to Cemoro Lawang) journey + more travel to reach Ijen and taken to places of interest without any thinking needed. Our option required a bit more research but the comfy journey on the train already paid off and saved us some time. After reaching Surabaya, we’re planning to catch another train in the morning to Probolinggo and from there bus to Cemoro Lawang, which in total (travel time) should take less than 11 hours in much more exciting and comfy way!

Our hotel in Surabaya – Hotel 88 Embong Kenongo (30 US$ per night) – is nice and not too far from the train station but still it’s about 20 minutes walk with everything we own on this trip. We were imagining that Surabaya is this nasty, horrible place we must avoid after reading very negative things in Lonely Planet guide… It must have been out of date as what we can see is a very developed city – feels like financial capital with sky scrapers, fountains, well maintained and lit roads and pavements… The only thing we struggle to find open after 22 at night are restaurants and we’re hungry! We decide to walk until we find something that’s open (after researching places online). It’s kind of late, we’re the only white people out passing by groups of people drinking and smoking on streets… we start to feel a bit strange and wonder whether it’s safe… but finally we reach really nice restaurant that’s open!

After lovely meal (a bit small and more pricey than in Yogyakarta) we have a chat with a local guy who has just left the restaurant and we ask if it’s safe enough to walk on our own at night back to the hotel. He says we shouldn’t and offers to give us a lift in his car to our hotel – we insist on paying but he doesn’t want anything… we’re surprised again how helpful and nice people are on Java!

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