We left Ubud Bali and boarded what we thought was an 11 hour bus ferry and bus ride to Yogyakarta. We heard many locals tell us nope you will not arrive until the morning. We booked with 12go the Gunung Harta Bali bus company. We arrived an hour before noon. We ended up leaving about an hour later due to traffic. We left Ubud about an 45 minutes later we stop at a bus hub. We wait there for about an hour or so.
The whole trip is all locals with no English spoken. We get on the bus and hour later and are driving for about another hour and a half before boarding the ferry. This is where it gets fun about a few hundred Muslim school children were on the ferry. They were giggling and asking us so many questions as we were the only tourists. We had so much fun laughing and taking thousands of photos with them. Of course while helping them practice their English.
We get off the ferry and boarded our same bus. I do not remember how long we were on it for but then we stopped for about 45 minutes for dinner. Local food and it was pretty tasty. A few more hours on the bus it is well past the 22:00 arrival time and we realize we are not arriving and prepare to sleep. We arrive without any notice around 6:00 am in Yogyakarta. Total cost was about 38$USD for two people and 18 hours. Air Asia would have been 120$USD for two people with 30 KG of luggage and would have taken a little over an hour.
At the bus station we find the local bus to take to our accommodation. There are many local buses to take you anywhere you need to go for very cheap. About 35 minutes later we are at our accommodation.
Happy Buddha Hostel: Jl. Prawirotaman 1 MG III/537C, Mergangsan, 55153 Yogyakarta, Indonesia https://bit.ly/2FP3ccy
- This was a hostel with private room accommodations as well. The shared rooms were a type of cabin bungalow feel. The common areas have many comfy spaces for hanging out.
- The location is set in a local neighborhood. However the bar street, restaurants and food areas are close by maybe a 10 minute walk.
- Bikes were available to rent near by we rented a mountain bike for the week I think it came out to 16$USD for two people. We used this to go everywhere.
- The staff was incredible. They were kind and helped you in any way that you needed. Someone was always there to assist you or even hang out and talk with you.
- A crepe pancake was served daily with nice coffee. Cup water refills are free to fill up your water bottle there is a small cost. Beer is available as well for charge. Beer is not sold in the stores in Yogyakarta. You must go to a bar to find beer and it is a little expensive. We found two stores however that did sell it one was close to the accommodation.
- Cost was about 17$USD per night.
- Mosque is nearby. Many people complain about being woken up by call to prayer, but it’s Indonesia. I got used to it quickly and knew what time of the day it was based off the call.
- Sounds perfect right, well the wifi was slow and did not work well. The router was close by and we tried to even connect to it but no go. The staff frequently streamed shows and music on the computer. In addition to it being very stormy.We had to load up a sim and use that. It worked but again not recommended. Ray taught in the common area which was quiet but had many mosquitoes and was very hot. I taught in the room. We had no troubles teaching.
What To Do In Yogyakarta, Indonesia:
- Many people do not know about Yogyakarta which is great because it is mostly untouched by tourists. Most of the tourists you will see are other Indonesians. However if you do know about Yogyakarta you will want to visit Borobudur and Prambanan. The cost to visit Borobudur is 20$USD and
Prambanan costs 20$USD as well. Most people take a tour and see both in one day but we just rode bikes and did them on different days. It was a long bike ride, but was good exercise and gave time for meeting locals. As a fair warning give yourself a lot of time. Thousands of locals will want to practice English with you and take selfies. It will be blazing hot, but I took photos and spoke with everyone. It made myself and them feel so good inside. Most have never seen or spoken to a foreigner.
- Other temples: Kalasan,Sewu and Mendut. There were so many more but because we were biking and limited on time we only saw these ones.
- Bike around the city. Woah we rented a bike for the week and man did we make use of it biking a total of 80 miles in total. We tried so much good local food for cheap and met thousands of locals, took thousands of selfies and helped thousands of kids and adults practice English. Not to mention hundreds of beautiful sites. It’s going to be be hot and it’s going to be tiring talking with every person and taking photos but really it they are so excited and might be their only time to talk or meet with locals. Stick it out, be nice and suck it up.
- Bars,restaurants and other sites: Kmeals Bar, Soto 183,Mall Malioboro(food,shopping, video games), again stop at all the local street food you will see.
On temple days plan to spend a little more. Overall though Yoga is very cheap. Having a bike already bought, you could easily spend only 25-30$ USD for two people per day.
We both loved Yoga or Joja so much. It was such a breath of fresh air to be around an abundance of kind locals after Bali. Everyone is so enthralled to see you and embraces you. It is truly a hidden gem for its nature, scenery, people, history and food. I could easily never go anywhere else, but here we are packing up again and heading off to Singapore. You will be surprised that Singapore on a budget isn’t difficult. You just have to know where to go. More on that in Thursday’s post.
The next place in Java I will talk about it Jakarta, Indonesia. Most people do not go to Jakarta. While I can’t speak on their reasons, Jakarta is in interesting place. Completely different for Joja and similar but very different from Singapore.
So here we are fresh off the plane from Singapore. Sad to leave Singapore a week was not enough. I could have spent months there. The amazing hawker stands, our accommodation had insane wifi speeds, tons of sites to see, bewilding building, and light shows.
We arrive in Jakarta around 6:40pm after about an hour AirAsia flight. The cost with 20KG of baggage and picked seats was 129$ USD for two people. Not bad. As said before in other posts we solely use AirAsia. Their prices are super affordable and the staff is outstanding, flights are have also been(knocking on wood) on time. Our Airbnb host Reza picks us up and off to our next accommodation.
Reza’s House: Cosmo Terrace Tower apartment Thamrin City https://bit.ly/2G5XnJo
- First off Reza is an outstanding host. He will pick you up and arrange drop offs to the airport even late at night. If you message him he responds quickly. He really cares about his guests.
- Set in a local neighborhood. With a local mall underneath. The grocery store is in the mall and you will have to ask for beer behind the counter. In Jakarta only very few restaurants and grocery stores will sell beer. I would not recommend shopping here for anything other than groceries as it is high priced for tourists. The area is a little rough around the edges as with most of Jakarta. Super nice high rises like Reza’s then slums right next to it. The inequality of Jakarta is extremely sad.
- The apartment: Set in a high rise building, there is a pool,gym, rooftop,patio,tv,drinking water,cooking ability,fridge washer. Everything you need seriously. You are high up so all the mosques around will echo up. It can sound a bit overwhelming I would suggest earplugs. Close by maybe 15 min walk to Grand Indonesia mall. About hour walk to city centre. Take the commuter rail! Cheap,fast and efficient.
- Wifi did not work. Speeds upload and download in the 2’s. Our sim card would not even pick up wifi speeds in the house. This was as you can imagine a huge issue. For such a fancy place and for 32$USD per night you would think the wifi would at least work a bit. Reset it many times,but just did not work.
- Due to this we had to run around crazy and find a coworking. We used WeWork.
WeWork Menara Astra: https://we.co/2IgdIfW
- There are 3 Wework locations in Jakarta. Menara Astra was about an hour walk from our home or 40 mins but commuter rail.
- No shorts will be allowed. To get in you have to go through tons of security as with everywhere in Jakarta that is nice. Again complete imbalance of rich and poor.
- 360 views, 3 floors, abundance of Skype Rooms,meeting rooms, open spaces and the best part FREE BINTANG!
- A little too fancy for us. They wanted to know our company business card and all that of the sort.As with every WeWork the music is blasting at all hours. Which meant no matter what Skyperoom I used you could still hear it.
- All WeWorks are very expensive. However being in a bind it worked.
What To Do In Jakarta, Indonesia:
Jakarta as I said before is interesting. We did not find locals to be as kind as in other places. They often would tell us it’s over there and nothing would be there. The division of wealthy and poor is prevalent every step you turn. Huge high rise buildings with top notch security, fancy malls then slums and children playing in heavily polluted waters. Garbage everywhere and many locals just toss garbage into the river. Zero care for the environment. Which then washes up onto other areas of Indonesia including Bali.The horrible traffic walking even though we did it was a joke. So much traffic and fumes from cars. Commuter rail is hands down the best way to travel.
We took the Commuter rail to Bogor and could not believe what we saw. Rare and even extinct animals caged up for sale. Garbage everywhere and children playing in the river which was bubbling from methane and full of trash. With all the money that is coming in from these fancy companies(every start up or business you can think of is there), high rise buildings and malls you would think they would give back to their community.
It is not the peoples fault what are they supposed to do? If they are not given any resources? Any education on how to preserve their land. I am not against seeing places which have slums. I understand this is how a lot of the world is. It just outrages me that they keep building and forget about the other half of Jakarta. Even locals will say why would you come here. If locals are saying that it breaks my heart not even they care enough.
You will get overcharged everywhere you go from food stalls to clothing stalls.They are out to make money off tourists and can you blame them? There are hardly any tourists so when there is why not get the most you can. Most stall owners live in their tiny stalls with rats everywhere and often have a few children. The children all over Jakarta looked very sad and stressed. It broke my heart. If you look on Google Maps for tourists sites most have been torn down. No one can explain why. It was a challenging place and most of the time we often spent in our coworking or malls at it was just the only place that provided some peace. As outside you have so many challenges.
Poor us right with our fancy co-working and apartment having to see the challenges of Jakarta. No poor locals that live here and have to deal with the challenges everyday. Poor locals who watch these fancy buildings being built while they have to live in small stalls. I can only hope that there will be a better future for all the local people in Jakarta. That businesses and the government will think how can we help the locals before building another high rise. How can we get more children in school and better services so they are not forced to beg. The world will never be perfect there will always be inequality. However if an abundance of buildings,start ups and malls are being built there is money to help the local people. Close the gap just a little.
With that said every experience I am beyond thankful for. We did meet some perplexing and creative individuals at the co-working. Happy school children on a field trip filled Fatahillah Square. Nice families wanting to talk with us on the commuter rail. We enjoyed seeing so many areas of Jakarta on the commuter rail. Of course the malls are something you can not beat, offering pretty affordable food. So let’s finally get into how we spent our week there.
- First we headed to Thamrin City Mall. There we went to the grocery store and got some beers and food. Remember nowhere will sell beer no corner store, only bars and grocery stores.
- We already had our Telkomsel sim card which we could easily fill up at store or on app.
- We walked down to Grand Indonesia. There we enjoyed the rooftop bar Skye which was very spendy but worth it for the outstanding views. Listened to live music and had some frothy pints at Paulaner Bräuhaus. The food court can not be beat offering so much food that is exceptionally mouth-watering.
- Bellagio Mall: Also has an abundance of succulent food.
- Other things we did: Fatahillah Square an old Dutch town. Borgo which is supposed to be a green part of the city, however with the exploration of caged animals, garbage tossed everywhere it was only an extension of Jakarta. Frankly anything but a green city. That being said there is a street market for food which was pretty palatable for local eats.As well as a garden which we didn’t go into it. We tried to see the National Monument but it was somehow like everything a hassle and for some reason closed. National Mosque which people were not as nice there as other mosques we have visited. Many women and children begging outside as well. The Catholic Cathedral is dazzling. The Batavia docks an over 500 year old port where there was still many old boats in use. There was supposed to be many other things there but again gone no reason. Chinatown which wasn’t really a Chinatown nothing was there. Finally bar street which also did not have many bars and large numbers of children in costumes. Bazaar costumes huge with two children inside. No one again could explain what they were. walking into bars and restaurants aggressively begging. Security everywhere to keep them out.
Well a lot of what we did in Jakarta wasn’t too expensive. Commuter rail was cheap, and even the places in the malls were affordable. Rooftop bars will cost more of course, but i’d say 40-45$USD for two per day.
If I had to do it again, I would have probably just went to Jakarta for a few days. I could have easily seen it all in two – three days and did not need a week. You only get 30 days visa free into Indonesia. We had Ubud and Yogyakarta then left to Singapore for a week. Came back in and did Jakarta and Canggu. If I could to it again I would have did a week in Ubud and three weeks in Yogyakarta. Singapore for a month. 3 days in Jakarta, a week in Solusi, week in Sumatra, week in Lombok and then finish the month off in Canggu.
In spite of that I was happy to see Jakarta. After visiting Bali and Singapore it just really humbles you to realize that you are not living in a bubble. Large inequalities exist in this world and you as a tourist need to do your part to help close these gaps. Volunteering and working with local NGO’s whenever possible. Bringing awareness to places that have these big companies that are not helping the local community thrive. Most of all visit because not visiting leaves the community with even more of a gap. Less money coming in less possibilities to close the gap.
When traveling everything is not roses and happy people. People are not always going to help you or be happy to see you. That is just life. You are not always going to have perfect little towns or communities. That is the part about traveling I love the most seeing the parts less traveled, helping where I can and bringing awareness. Hopefully bringing a smile to a sad face. To inspire and bring hope to children and adults that feel hopeless. To show them travelers do care about the locals and want to experience the local way not just fancy things. Most of all to have a platform to share how we are all going through struggles and are all in this together. So let’s all work together to make everywhere we visit a little better. Even with just one hello or smile, because one hello or smile could make the day to someone who is struggling. Talking to the people you see and showing you care because you never know when you can make a difference. As travelers we have a huge impact on the world and especially local people and children. Show them you care.
Thank you for reading another post. Share your comments below about your favorite places to visit in Indonesia.