Since the attractions I wished to visit are far away from the city, I found few tour agencies online, contacted and at last finalized two different drivers for my Day 3 and 4 itinerary in Yogyakarta. Like its accommodation, the drivers we booked didn’t accept any deposits. Just few back-and-forth messages and their English was limited. So I was preparing myself to be let down. Instead, they turned up at our hotel on time to pick us up! We had our breakfast at a nice restaurant with lake view outside of the city. We already expected to be brought to a place with meals more expensive than we would normally pay for by our driver. But the ambiance and food really made up for it!
Our destination for the day was Dieng Plateau in Central Java, which is more than 2000m above sea level. The journey took up almost 3-4 hours but I honestly didn’t keep track as I was busy looking at the stunning scenery outside the car window. We passed by the city, to the outskirts, further up to Magelang then Wonosobo, finally we reached Dieng. We passed by universities, Javanese mosques and houses, pottery factories, paddy fields, villages, markets, fruit and vegetable farms. I almost couldn’t believe that I was in Central Java – a place sounded so far away yet so near, so mysterious yet so similar.
Our first stop was Kawah Sikidang – a volcanic crater. Obviously having never seen anything like that, I was so excited to go near the smoky pond, discover the crater holes with bubbling hot water and smell the sulphur odor. While The Boyfriend couldn’t be bothered with the natural wonder!!
Next, we moved to Arjuna Complexes where Hindu Temples are clustered. The weather in Dieng couldn’t be any perfect – misty and we could feel the gentle breeze (but it got really cold after a while). Visitors, many of them young Indonesians or families, just sat or lied on the ground enjoy the lush greenery after taking photos. Surprisingly, The Boyfriend was a bigger archaeology enthusiast between us. He went inside the temples through the mouth-shaped doorways, studied the stones and structures, pondered about their purpose and sighed when the religious site was tainted with people dressed up as Teletubbies, Hello Kitty and Donald Duck posing for visitors to take photos lol.
Our last stop was Telaga Warna (the Colorful Lake) – my most anticipated attraction. But they were asking foreigners to pay 20 times more than locals which was outrageous. We didn’t encounter this when we were at the crater and the temples. We did pay for the parking fees and the entrance fees, but the amount was reasonable so we didn’t feel ripped off albeit paying more. We tried to tell them we were from Jakarta, but we obviously didn’t act and talk like ones and we didn’t have the local passport to show. After much debate and with the guys pointing and laughing at us, we decided to walk away.
The journey back was a tiring one. 3-4 hours on the road yet I felt like forever. The driver was starting to get more impatient thus, drive even more recklessly. The sky fell dark real soon. The road condition was really bad but the effect was only felt when my mind and eyes were no longer lingering at the sights past our windows. I initially thought that the driver fee was exorbitant and that we should have saved some money by opting for public buses. By the end of the day, I think the money spent was well-worth it. The driver had been a really great guy and its people like him that made our trip special when we looked back.