Last October, 2016, I accompanied my sister in the 4th Literary Studies Conference which was held from October 19-20 in Sanata Dharma University, Yogjakarta, Indonesia.
As there was no direct fight to Jogja via Air Asia, we flew to Jakarta first. Our general itinerary was this:
October 16 – Manila – Jakarta
October 18 – Jakarta – Yogjakarta
October 21 – Yogjakarta – Jakarta
October 22 – Jakarta – Manila
What we loved about Indonesia
1. It’s very clean, we didn’t see a single cockroach. I’m not saying they don’t exist in Indonesia, we just didn’t see one during our trip. I even showed a picture of it to some locals and they said they didn’t know what it was. hahaha! (but they exist.)
2. There are usually two bidets in every bathroom — one for peeing, another for pooping (except for the squat toilet in Jogja Airport because I couldn’t hold it any longer *bucketlist*).
3. Spiced and spicy food. They love chili too much!
4. The people are hygienic — very hygienic that you wouldn’t think twice on eating street food.
5. Jogja is littered with street art! (most of them, I saw during ojek trips)
When in Jakarta
1. Rent a mobile wifi from Java Mifi.
Unless you have a data plan, there won’t always be available wifi around Indonesia. We rented a mobile wifi from Java Mifi for $6/day, limited to 500MB (now they offer the same price for unlimited data). So for 4 days, we had 2GB of total quota that we weren’t even able to consume. There was a deposit of $50 which was credited back to my account after our trip. They delivered it to our hotel in Jakarta then picked it up at the airport when we left for Manila.
2. Download an Uber app.
It’s better to use Uber than airport taxis in Jakarta Airport. However, if you don’t have a local sim card, chances are they won’t pick you up because drivers would usually call the passengers first. In our experience, we didn’t have a local sim card because they didn’t sell cheap ones at the airport. That’s why our Uber drivers couldn’t contact us.
We took a taxi and the driver charged us 300,000 IDR!!! He said that toll gates were included etc, but that’s still way too expensive. We had no choice because we were already too tired and it was almost 2am. Fast forward to our Uber ride to the airport on October 18, we were only charged 110,000 IDR plus toll gate fees (~20,000 IDR), way cheaper than taxis.
Some drivers don’t know how to speak English and that’s okay. Just get another booking. There are many Uber units around Jakarta City. Here’s some of our funny Uber experiences:
We asked a local to talk to our driver in Bahasa so that he could pick us from Fatahillah Square. In the end, he canceled on us because we “were not cooperative”. We just laughed it off and requested for another booking.
Uber # 2
Uber driver: Apology from Uber, pray first, just wait for another shuttle
Rayji: okay, pls cancel the trip.
Driver: no, you cancel.
He canceled the trip. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
3. If you don’t have a roaming sim card, buy a local sim card.
So that you can change your number in the Uber app and let the drivers call you. They’re very cheap, around 10,000 IDR each. Nanosims weren’t popular yet but they had a cutter for that.
Where to Go
1. Jakarta Cathedral (St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral)
This Neo-Gothic styled Cathedral took 10 years to make. We visited on a Monday so only a few people were there.
2. Istiqlal Mosque
Also known as Masjid Istiqlal, it is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia. Entrance was free. However, there was a mandatory donation being collected upon orientation. We gave the guy 10 HKD and he wasn’t too happy about it. He said it was cheap. We were asking how much we should give but he reiterated that it was up to us! This was the frustrating part of the visit because they should have just charged us with a standard entrance fee instead.
3. Fatahillah Square
This was formerly known as Batavia City Square. There are a lot of museums (which are closed during mondays) and activities to do here. It has a carnivalesque atmosphere wherein you can see different street performers in every corner.
4. Grand Indonesia Mall
This was where we bought all the pasalubongs and souvenirs. We bought a lot of mie goreng noodles although they cost almost the same here in the Philippines. haha!
What to Eat
1. Nasi Goreng – literally translates to ‘fried rice’, typically spiced with sweet soy sauce and chili and usually served with scrambled eggs
2. Bubur – ‘congee’
3. Mie Goreng – spicy fried noodles
4. Udang Cah Jamur – Shrimp and mushroom
We bought these from an eatery across our hotel. They costed around 40,000 IDR (~160 pesos) in total! Cheap yet very delicious!
When in Yogjakarta
1. Download the Go-Jek app.
Ojek or motorbike taxi is a common form of transportation in Jogja, might be more common than the taxis in Jakarta. So, instead of haggling for the fare everytime, use the app instead so that you’ll know the fares upfront. Plus, the drivers provide hairnet and face mask for hygienic purposes.
My ojek rides ranged from 8,000 – 15,000 IDR (36 – 60 PHP), cheaper and faster than taxi rides.
2. Bring your student I.D. so you can avail of the discounted ticket to Borobudur and Prambanan Temples. Buy the 2-in-1 tickets for both temples. It’s cheaper and you can get them from both.
3. Buy the Borobudur-Prambanan package as it’s cheaper than two separate tickets. Catch the sunrise at Borobudur (not the sunrise tour). It opens at 6am for public tourists.
4. You can wear dresses or shorts in the temples because they give out sarongs anyway. Men wear sarongs, too, if their shorts are above the knee.
Where to go
1. Candi Borobudur
This is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple and is also the world’s largest. The whole structure of Candi Borobudur is held only by lego-like blocks. Our guide told us that it took at least three years just to transport them- by hand, by horse, elephants, and other means. I suggest you hire one to tell you more about the place. It’s really worth it because they also know good spots to take photos. The guide fee costed 100,000 IDR, around 400 PHP.
We bought different volcanic ash souvenirs from a vendor by the exit. At first, he was giving it for 150,000 IDR (600 PHP) because we were obviously tourist-looking but my divisoria-trained self managed to get them for 25,000 IDR apiece. That’s 100 PHP! I didn’t know if that’s a good bargain but I was really satisfied. They’re really dense and beautiful.
2. Candi Prambanan
This, on the other hand, is an 8th century Hindu temple, the largest in Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva).
3. Jalan Malioboro (Malioboro Street)
This is the major shopping street, the Divisoria of Yogjakarta. They sell different kinds of souvenirs here–from keychains to shirts, food, fabric, etc. This was where I bought most of our pasalubongs (shirts, keychain, bakpia). Shirts ranged from 10,000 IDR (40 PHP) to 30,000 IDR (120 PHP). This chicken keychain, I got for 10,000 IDR (40 PHP) the first time. When I came back for more, the other vendor was giving it for 25,000 IDR (100 PHP). I didn’t buy it.
4. Gembira Loka Zoo
Tbh, my plan was just to quickly check this out because I was heading to a public beach. I even had a swimsuit on. But the place was huge! I didn’t think I would spend almost 2 hours inside, looking at animals I never saw before. They also let you come close with birds inside the dome. So ayun, I didn’t get to see the beach. The ticket costed 20,000 IDR, btw.
What to eat
1. Sate Ayam – chicken satay! This is one of the best street food in Indonesia, cheaply at 7,000 IDR for 5 sticks, ~5 php/stick. Parang isaw lang dito.
2. Martabak Manis – very delicious Indonesia Pancake, filled with (lots of) butter, peanut, chocolate sprinkles, cheese, and condensed milk. We bought the Pandan-flavoured Martabak Manis, 17,000 IDR. Who knew chocolate and cheese would go so well?
3. Roti Bakar – ‘Toasted Bread’, almost similar with the filling of Martabak Manis. The idea is to cut a whole loaf into thirds and fill them with butter, cheese, chocolate sprinkles, and condensed milk. I guess they love that combination talaga and it works. It’s really good. Cheaper than the pancake, this costed 15,000 IDR.
4. Pangsit Ayam – chicken noodles, recognized as a Chinese-Indonesian dish. I think this costed around 17,000 – 20,000 IDR at Yammie Pathuk.
5. Kopi Joss – Charcoal coffee! You might cringe at the idea of drinking coffee with charcoal but wait til you’ve tasted it. So you have a perfectly nice (maybe room temp) coffee then plunged with burning charcoal. “Tssss,” as the temperature of the charcoal lowers. That’s how they got the “Joss”. Kopi Joss. hahaha. A cup costed 5,000 IDR, so cheap that we came back for more. This can be found in Jalan Malioboro. They also sell street food like squidballs, etc, relatively more expensive than what we have here.
7. Bakpia Pathok – like our hopia, these are Indonesian Chinese-influenced sweet rolls, stuffed with mung beans.
8. Gudeg – a traditional Javanese cuisine from Jogja, made from an unripe jack fruit, boiled for several hours with palm sugar and coconut milk. It tasted like adobo to me.
Generally speaking, Indonesia had been fun. We enjoyed Jogja more than Jakarta because of the provincial aesthetic and way of living. We were able to visit two Unesco Heritage sites and eat delicious local food. Plus, everything was cheap. I’d like to go back to see the beaches next time, especially in the district of Gunung Kidul.