Gems of Jogjakarta

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For a graduation trip, seven young hopefuls went on a cultural adventure to Jogjakarta, a city nestled in Java – a land notorious for its violent volcanic history.

By Esther Yeo

When seven young hopefuls were deciding on a graduation trip during summer, Jogjakarta was definitely not the first place that came to people’s mind. Our puzzled families would go, “Yokarta? Where’s that?”

Jogjakarta is home to Mount Merapi, an active volcano that has erupted twice in the last ten years. There were possible risks of another eruption, still, off we went on a nine day hunt for hidden gems in Jogjakarta.

Intrigued by the city’s mysterious allure, our travel there gave us a chance to unravel soulful encounters and explore some of nature’s wonders, which left us wanting more.

Waking up at 3am to watch the sunrise at Borobudur was no laughing matter. Fighting the grogginess, we woke up from our deep slumber just to catch a tour ride to the base of the famous Buddhist temple, Borobudur. After a short trek, we found ourselves jostling for space on the temple compounds.

There, we sat and waited for the first magical light to break through the clouds. It was a majestic sight to behold!

We discovered an ancient Hindu temple in Prambanan. It left us in awe thanks to a guide who shared so much about the world heritage site’s historical myths. While we were speaking, archaeologists were still working hard on restoring the sprawling temple grounds. To date, only 19 out of over 200 temples have been restored.

Besides filling our souls with visits to the world’s greatest temples, we abseiled down into a dark Jomblang cave.

Beware, for the muddy paths in the deep cave are not for the faint-hearted. Regardless of your outfit, bring a pair of knee-high socks to protect your feet and calves from abrasions.

The moment we lowered into the vertical cave, we paused to take in the sights and sounds of the lush forest. Look up and you’ll be able to watch the clouds part for rays of sunlight to stream through the cave’s opening.

Pantai Wedi Ombo, or Wediombo beach, is one of the secret beaches in Jogjakarta worth hunting for. Hidden from the coastline, we asked locals for directions and trudged along for about 15 minutes before we located the lagoon by the sea.

Surrounded by neatly stacked coral rocks, the waves gently swept back and forth in the lagoon, while the violent ones crashed into the rocks which kept us safe from the deep ocean.

Much to our delight, we swam and took a relaxing dip in the salty waters as the sun disappeared into the horizon.

Jogjakarta has plenty of food and accommodation options to offer. For the entire duration, we were housed in a quaint Airbnb villa. Situated on the lower slopes of Mount Merapi and in the middle of rice fields, it provided us with a quiet that cannot be found in urban Singapore.

Surrounded by an oasis of calm and peace, the villa was the perfect place to wind down after an adventurous day hunting for gems. It also came with generous servings of breakfast every morning!

Food-wise, we made a unanimous decision that Bakso (beef balls) with soup and noodles was the best of Jogjakarta’s signature dishes. For 12,000 rupiah (SGD 1.20), each bowl came with steaming hot beef balls, springy Indonesian noodles and a hearty broth. Never mind that the soup was laden with MSG, the Bakso itself was so scrumptious we couldn’t resist having seconds.

So the next time you plan a trip for shopping in Bangkok, why not discover the hidden gems of Jogjakarta instead?

Images by Esther Yeo

All trip plans including tours and accommodation were done through research and peer recommendations. In no way was this post sponsored or the writer linked to any of the mentioned entities prior to the trip.


  • July 18, 2016, 10:45 AM  

    Looks awesome! I’ve been wanting to head to Jogja for the longest time but haven’t had anyone to go with – it seems like a fun destination for a group of people. Images are beautiful btw!

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