Java itinerary

Old Sep 13th, 2006, 08:53 AM
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Java itinerary

What would our Fodorites think of the following itinerary in Java, with a bit of KL and Singapore upfront, as I would at any rate have to fly into KL.
day 1. KL
day 2. to Melacca and spend day there + overnight in Melacca
day 3. Melacca to Singapore by bus
day 4. Singapore
day 5. Singapore
day 6. flight to Solo and transfer to Yogya
day 7. Borobodur
day 8. Dieng plateau
day 9. Prambanan and city tour in Yogya
day 10. transfer to Surabaya by plane (?) and on to Malang area
day 11. Bromo and afterwards some temples around Malang
day 12. Panataran
day 13. from Malang area to Bondowoso area or somewhere with access to Kawah Ijen
day 14. Kawah Ijen, and back to Surabaya
day 15. flight from Surabaya to KL
day 16. KL in the day and in the evening from KL back to the reality of home
Is this doable and is the timing balanced? Are there any important things we should really do and have left out here, and to the contrary are there things here which should not really be considered a priority in a two week framework?
August a good season?
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 04:38 PM
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cram, your itinerary is ambitious but doable. Some suggestions:

1. Go directly from Solo airport to the Borobudur area and spend one or two nights there. (It's about 2 hours from either Solo or Yogya airport.)

You'll want to visit Borobudur more than once at different times of day. A few of the nearby hotels have access to the monument pre-dawn which is an incredible experience.

Definitely fly to Surabaya.

Malang is quite some distance from Bromo. Again, if you're interested in the Bromo sunrise thing (highly recommended) then stay near Bromo. Malang is a charming and interesting town, but the area around Bromo is stunning.

Let me know what your budget is for accommodations and I'll give you some recommendations. The Majapahit in Surabaya is an experience you shouldn't miss.

I've never been to the far eastern part of Java or Kawah Ijen so I'll look forward to your report.

August is generally dry and a good time to travel in Java. It's hot as blazes 24/7 so don't overdo. Even if you think you're heat tolerant, you don't want to be tromping around temples midday.
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 05:17 PM
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I can only comment on the part around Jogja. If it were me, I'd want another day in that area. But you have other ambitions as well, and I think you have enough time to see the main sights.

Do try to attend a performance of the Ramayana ballet while you are in the area. There are nightly performances near Prambanam.

Ther are some very interesting temples east of Yogja. If you have time, they are worth a visit. Just the drive through the rural areas, farmland and villages is well worth it.

It sounds like a wonderful trip! Enjoy!
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 09:27 PM
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Thks for these very useful reactions.
- For accommodation budget I would say something like 100-130 usd would be our average thought, but frankly no real idea, as never been to Indonesia before.
- Direct to Borobodur for 2 nights sounds indeed like a better idea. For the rest of the stay in the area: preference for Solo or Yogya as a base?
- Temples East of Yogya: you mean Gunung Lawu area? Is that not closer to Solo? Or do you mean sthing else?
- Have doubts about Panataran. Worth the trip? Should I rather do sthing else?
- the performance at Prambanan is noted. Thks. Won't be missed.
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 09:40 PM
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And of course, if there is a possibility to get some decent accommodation for less than the amount just mentioned, I am interested.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 05:50 AM
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I'd stay in Jogja rather than Solo. No question.

I'll have to dig out my old journal to find the names of some of the other temples we visited.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 11:06 AM
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Thks, Kathie. I thought so from other entries, about Solo/Yogya. And thks for looking it up on these temples. To the East I can only find those close to Solo, near Gunung Lawu (Sukuh, Ceto). While we are in temples: does Patanaran to the West of Yogya ring a bell with you? And is a day trip to Plateau Dieng feasible, for instance leaving in the morning from a hotel close to Borobodur and returning in the evening to Yogya?
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 11:45 AM
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cram, I'm at work right now, so I don't have access to my travel journals. I will try to remembr to check on the various other temples tonight.

We did the Dieng Plateau as a daytrip from Jogja pretty easily, so you should be fine.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 11:51 AM
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No worry, Kathie, take your time. Plenty of time. Here it is 11:50 pm, in the Emirates. Glad to hear that Dieng is possible in a day trip from Yogya. Some had suggested to me it wasn't and I did not feel like dropping the visit.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 04:46 PM
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cram, you can pay just about anything for a hotel/resort/guest house in Indonesia and price isn't always an indication of quality. For the most part your room will be clean and your hosts will be exceedingly friendly and helpful. The differences are mostly in Western-focused conveniences like internet, cable tv, reliable aircon, hotwater 24/7, room service and widespread English comprehension. If these things don't matter much to you then you'll find charm and economy at many Indonesian style guest houses. I'd go over to Lonely Planet for more recommendations.

Central Java has few tourists these days and East Java even fewer. You should be able to name your price.

At Borobudur I'd recommend the Manohara which is about 100 yards from the monument. If you like contemporary architecture, you can pop over to the Amanjiwo for lunch or tea-time.

The Losari Coffee Plantation which is about an hour's+ drive is a lovely getaway.

I'm not particularly fond of Solo although the Kraton (palace and court) is quite distinguished. It's not as visitor friendly as Yogya.

I usually stay at the Hyatt in Yogya even though it's a big chain hotel. The Hyatt has spacious green grounds with a big (saltwater?) pool and after experiencing hot, dusty, crowded Yogya I like the relief.

There are plenty of more authentic places, however. Try to get a recent recommendation as Yogya was VERY badly hit by the earthquake and lot of businesses will not recover.

In Malang the Tugu is a must:eccentric and full of charm.

I would try to stay at the Majapahit in Surabaya, even if for one night. It's a jewel of Indonesia's colonial heritage and they've done a fabulous job on the renovation.

There are some lovely resorts in the Bromo area. When I went there I "commuted" from Malang which was a mistake (2:00 a.m. departure)but the next time I'll choose one of nearby places. The scenery is breathtaking.

[You do know that Bromo's been acting up lately? Hopefully, it will get over this spell of aggressive behavior before your visit]

One last comment, Java, as you may be aware, is the center of mysticism and black magic. If you ask around you'll be able to find someone to take you to a ceremony or performance that involves trance dancing or traditional rites. It's quite powerful.

For more refined entertainment the dance performances at the Yogya Kraton are superb.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 07:28 PM
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cram, here's some info from my journal. Note that my trip there was in 1992. We stayed in Jogja and hired a guide who took us to all the places we wanted to go. The day we went to Borobudor, we started out very early. We did stop at a Buddhist temple along the way (sorry, no name recorded) and arrived at Borobudor about 8 am. We were glad we had umbrellas to keep the broiling sun off of us as we climbed Borobudor, Beny (our guide) reciting stories of the Buddha that are told in the stone reliefs as we walked all of the levels. The pause at the top was lovely with a slight cooling breeze as we sat among the Buddhas. We then proceeded to the Dieng Plateau. "The drive to the Dieng Plateau was several hours. We drove through an area that was restricted - no large trucks or buses to enable the villages to retain their traditional lifestyle. This may have been the best part of our visit to the Dieng Plateau. The mix of technologies was fascinating: horse-drawn carts are common transportation (the horses are fitted with rain ponchos with ears on them) as are bicycle-driven carts, bicycles, motor bikes ad van-sized public transport - always so crowded that at least one person is hanging out the door. The terracing and intensive cultivation of teh land was very similar to bali, but with a broader range of crops as we changed elevations. As we moved higher rice changed to corn, cabbages, tea, coffee, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cloves, cassava, jack fruit, papaya. selak, bananas and coconuts. The temples on the plateau are not impressive, especially after Borobudor. They remind me of some of the small temples we saw in Bali. But the lush, cool green and the mist wafting through was lovely. This area is the caldera of a volcano with boiling sulfurous water holes and the occasional geyser. They consider the volcano "not active" because it has not erupted in many years.' If you go, cram, I'd love to hear your impressions.

If you are interested in antiques, there was a place in Jogja that has incredible items - old puppets, stone carvings, many traditional crafts: Septo Hordjo.

The Hindu temple we visited easy of Solo was Suhuk, a fertility temple set atop a mountainside. "While it is famous for its sexually explicit carvings, it is charming for its remote, idyllic setting with teh mountain mists billowing through."

I have detailed descriptions of Prambanam, which was still being reconstructed after the quake in the late 1800s. Seeing the photos that Laurieco took was amazing to me. When I saw them, the 200 Hindu temples had been scrambled like so many zigsaw puzzles. Only a few temples had been put togther when I saw them, and many were mere tumbled blocks of stone with disconnected carvings.

I loved central Java, and had planned to return two years ago, but eventually had to change our trip due to logistical problems. One of these years, I will return.

I hope this old info is useful to you.
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 09:17 PM
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Thks Kathie for your very interesting write-up of 92, which leaves me with two questions for you:
- how much time you need for Borobodur really? We had taken out a full day for it in our schedule. Too much? I see you went on to the Dieng Plateau
- you sound slightly sceptic about the Dieng Plateau in your report. Is it worth the long transfer, or can time be spent better on alternatives?
Questions of course open for all Fodorites. Thks.
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Old Sep 16th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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We spent a couple of hours at Borobudor in the morning, then drove to the Dieng Plateau. Ideally, I would have liked another stop there in the evening, near sunset. If you spend one night right by Borobudor, it should give you plenty of time there. Taking the trip to the Dieng Plateau the same day will save you a couple of hours of driving time over our drive time from Jojga.

When I return to Java, I plan to take the drive to the Dieng Plateau again. The drive itself was worth it, seeing the village life, etc. I wanted to make sure you understood that it wasn't so much the Hindu temples themselves that are the attraction, but the whole experience.

Do hire a car and driver while you are in Jojga - there are many places to see, and you'll want the easy mobility.

Do spend some time in Jojga. Jogja has some of the best craft shopping in the world. I enjoyed visiting the kraton there and in Solo. If you are interested in high quality batik, we visited the place in Solo that made batik (tulis) for the kraton. Each length toook 3 months to make. It was amazing!
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Old Sep 16th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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I've told my wife about the batik, which is a guarantee it will not be forgotten. I had scheduled a day for Borobodur and another one for Dieng. From what you write, this could then be rescheduled for instance as
day 6. flight to Solo and direct transfer to a hotel close to Borobodur (recomm?)
day 7/ sunrise visit to Borobodur + early morning. Then to Dieng. Then back to Borobodur for late afternoon re-visit.
day 8. something else: more time in Yogya and then Prambanan + ballet
dag 9. on the road to Solo, wander a bit around there and take in Sukuh
day 10. as in initial programme.
I have also thought that at the end of our Java visit at Kawah Ijen, it would probably be shorter and more practical not to return to Surabaya, but to take a ferry to Bali and take the flight back to KL from Denpansar (without adding an ambition of visiting or doing anything in Bali as such).
Thks. You are indeed great help in shaping up my programme nicely.
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Old Sep 16th, 2006, 01:22 PM
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cram, that sounds like a good plan. Have a wonderful trip! I'll look forward to your report.
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Old Sep 16th, 2006, 03:33 PM
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cram, You can see Borobudur and its museum in about 3 hours. I think, however, that it's really nice to be able to visit it at different times of the day as the light and colors change. The mountains are most visible in the morning, but sometimes luck is against you and they don't emerge. That's why having two sunrise opportunities is good.

I'd suggest that you get a copy of the book Tales of the Golden Buddhas and learn about the stories behind the carvings. I also take a few photo copied pages along with me. Knowledgeable guides are amply available.

If you like Batik there is a shop near Borobudur called Mendut (near the temple of the same name) the owners of which are very involved in the performing arts of the area. They sell excellent reproductions of old batik patterns and can tell you the stories behind them. They also support local artists, especially in topical glass/mirror paintings.

Manohara is the best place to stay near Borobudur.

I don't remember exactly how long it is to drive from Borobudur to Dieng, but I would guess about 3 hours, maybe more. I don't think you can do sunrise at Borobudur, Dieng, and then get back to Borobudur for another go.

Kawah Ijen to the ferry to Bali to Denpasar is also quite an undertaking. The ferry is definitely an experience (!). Driving time from Gilimanuk North Bali to Denpasar airport is at least 4 hours. I'd stay with a departure from Surabaya as the coastal road is relatively accessible. (At least it is to Probolinggo, which is as far as I've gone.)

My advice for Java in general is don't overplan. Things go wrong. People don't show up. Cars break down (a lot). It rains. I've lived here for 12 years and I'm addicted to the way of life, but even I have to admit that it can be extremely frustrating.

Driving times are also longer than the map might indicate as roads have a habit of becoming inaccessible. Java people are quite regional and once out of their own (literal) comfort zone won't know how to get to where you want to go. Map reading is not a widely held skill.

So, I think you should plot out days 10-15 more carefully or maybe plan less.

If you want to do Malang then make that one day. Same with Bromo, but stay in the area.

I don't know the driving time from either the Bromo area or Malang to Kawah Ijen but I'd guess it's at least 3 hours. If you intend to trek to the caldera you'll need another day. Consider staying in Bondowoso.

The whole East Java area is profoundly beautiful and there are temples everywhere, so I don't think the travel will be a hardship; it will just go slowly.



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Old Sep 20th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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So, as my former planning was based on a flight that did not exist (Solo-Surabaya), I've turned things a bit upside down. Does this sound feasible?
Home base is Dubai, UAE.
I guess that the transfer Yogya to Malang with a visit to Parataran can be made in a full day and that Malang to Bondowoso is something like 6-7 hours. The plan is somehow based on these assumptions.

th Dubai - Singapore (+1 - 05:40)
fr Singapore
sa Singapore (am) flight early pm to Solo (arr 15:25), to Borobodur, evening in Borobodur
su Borobodur - Dieng Plateau - Borobodur (stay overnight there)
mo Yogyakarta, Prambanan ( = incl. evening Ramayana ballet)
tu to Solo, Guwung Lawu + temples (Tawang Mangu for the night?)
we Yogyakarta area, an extra day for Yogya or Solo (?)
th Yogyakarta - Panataran - Malang
fr Malang, temples in area around Malang
sa Malang - Bondowoso
su Kawah Ijen, to Probolinggo area (for access to Bromo next day)
mo Bromo
tu Bromo - Surabaya (18:10) - KL (21:45)
we Kuala Lumpur
th Kuala Lumpur
fr express bus KL to Melacca, visit Melacca
sa Melacca - Singapore . Spend part of the day in Singapore after arrival and in the evening (23:35) to Dubai(+1 - 02:45)
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Old Sep 30th, 2006, 12:44 PM
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I understand the late May earthquake did some damage to Prambanan and to some of the sites in Yogya - especially the water palace and around the silver village / batik area. Not sure when you are going - Ramandan is coming up shortly. The motel like hotel at Borobordur is cheap and gets you on site for the sunrise. The Hyatt is beautiful but might be expensive for tourists. I was a resident of Indonesia so had great rates. Check that Mt. Merapi has calmed down - it was erupting in May and is just north of Yogya. Solo has a great private batik museum. Since Prambanan is on the road between Solo and Yogya you can visit enroute.

Also Mt Semeru at Mt Bromo has also been quite active. Out near Trowulan by Surabaya are both a bronze casting village and a glass bead making village. The beads are great replica trade beads and are sold all over Indonesia as antique beads.
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