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Trip Report Kathie’s Return to Jogja

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“Return to Jogja” is our favorite cd of Indonesian music, purchased on a trip to Bali more than 10 years ago. It struck me as a good title for this trip report.

My visit to central Java was one of my favorite trips. I have such vivid memories of that trip, that it seemd like it couldn’t have been that long ago. But in checking my travel journals, I found that I was last there 20 years ago, in 1992. I loved Borobudur, Prambanan and the other temples we visited, the Ramayana Ballet and the best crafts shopping I’ve encountered. I had tried to plan a return trip several times in recent years, but the logistics were complicated.

This year it was time to make those logistics work and go back to that amazing place. Driving this trip was not only my own wish to return, but also that Cheryl had never seen Borobudur.

Planning
I wanted to add a new destination to this trip, so settled on Malang, in eastern Java mostly for the Hindu temples in that area. The most complicated thing to plan turned out to be getting from Yogyakarta to Malang. I had incorrectly assumed there would be flights from either Yogya or Solo to Malang. I spent lots of time researching flights, as there are a zillion small airlines in Indonesia. And the largest airline, Garuda, has a website that doesn’t apparently work outside of Indonesia. Once I had determined that there were no non-stop flights (there were flights connecting through either Jakarta or Denpasar, but they would take literally all day), I next researched flights to Surabaya… each new idea revealed how difficult it is to get from point A to point B. Early on, I had decided not to take the train, as it leaves at 1 am or so. But it eventually became clear that the train was perhaps our best option.

The other glitch in planning I encountered concerned our flights from Singapore to Java and from Java back to Singapore. After deciding that we wanted to fly into Solo and out of Surabaya on Silk Air, I found I could not book an open-jaw flight on the Silk Air website. Booking one-way flights turned out to be ridiculously expensive (over S$600 each person each way). Years ago, I had tried to book an open-jaw flight on Silk Air on the Singapore website, but found I could not – I had to have at least one Singapore Air flight in order to book on the Singapore website. Fortunately, when I tried this year, I was able to make the booking on the Singapore Air website and get a good price for our tickets. We paid S$322 each, roundtrip, from Singapore into Yogya and out of Surabaya.

The rest of the planning was fun: choosing must-sees in central Java, choosing the Phoenix in as our base in Yogya, finding the Tugu in Malang and their great Tracing the Kingdom package, choosing the Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya as a way to make our connection back to Singapore easy and to add to my collection of Sarkie Bros. hotel stays. The last planning item was to choose a Singapore hotel, not an easy choice, but a fun dilemma to have. In the process of our planning, we contacted Wiedy Antara, a guide and travel agent in Yogya much recommended by Stan Kase here. Wiedy was able to get us discounts at two of our three hotels, he set up a car and driver, arranged train tickets and rolled all of that plus admission and guide fees into one bill, which I paid in US cash upon arrival in Solo.

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