|Took a 6am flight to Yogyakarta. Were met at the airport by a taxi at 6:30am (Java is an hour behind Bali) and headed straight for the world heritage Hindu temples of Prambanan. After spending nearly 4 months in India and visiting many temples, we almost skipped these. So glad we didn't! This temple complex, built in the the 9th century was stunning. Built from black, volcanic stones, these temples featured very detailed carvings in a style more similar to Cambodia's Angkor Wat than to the Indian temples we visited. Really impressive and pleasant so early in the morning (hardly any crowds save some very energetic schoolkids).
After visiting Prambanan, we headed to the Buddhist world heritage temples of Borobudur, apparently the largest Buddhist structure in the world? Also built in the 9th century of similar stones, the carvings were equally impressive with hundreds of Buddha images and dozens of stupas throughout. It is a very unique structure, more like a pyramid than other temples we've seen and built on a hilltop with a commanding view over the surrounding countryside. It was apparently covered in volcanic ash for seven hundred years after being abandoned in the 12th century and was only rediscovered in the early 1800s. Perhaps that's why the reliefs are so well-preserved.
The outskirts of Yogyakarta, a major city with a population of over 700 thousand people, is beautiful. We were surprised to see beautiful, terraced rice fields with oxen pulling plows and farmers harvesting rice by hand so near to a large city. There's also a very scenic (and somewhat threatening-looking) active volcano, Gunung Merapi, towering over the ricefields.
We only spent a few days here, but have found the city to be busy, but very modern with hip restaurants and hotels everywhere. This is a place we could have easily enjoyed visiting for a few more days.