We met a Dutch couple in our hostel on the first day and they suggested a self-directed temple tour: motorbiking out to Borobudur and Prambanan. We wanted to be at Borobudur around sunrise because it's supposed to be really beautiful, so after dinner we went to bed early and set the alarms for 4am.
We awoke surprisingly easily and off we went. Sander, the Dutch guy, said that at night he read that Borobudur's price almost doubles for sunrise (400,000 IDR), then goes back to the normal price of 280,000 IDR after sunrise. We decided to go to a higher hill to watch the morning start. We got there a bit late, but it was beautiful nontheless (and the sunrise was pretty cloudy so we didn't miss a whole lot by being 15 minutes late).
The other tip that Sander had gotten was to make a fake student ID and present it when buying a ticket. It would get you a 50% discount bringing the attraction's price down to a much more reasonable 140,000 IDR. He and his girlfriend had already prepared them, but also said that they'd used them before to secure a discount for a whole group, so we didn't feel it necessary to make our own.
When we got to the entrance, we found out that making one for Karin and myself might have been smart.. they required one ID per person. With us was one other German guy who also hadn't made an ID, and he tried using his Deutsche Bahn 25 card, but the woman Googled the card and determined its true purpose 😂. The fake IDs worked for the Dutchies, but rest of us didn't have the desire or the cash to pay the 800,000 IDR for a non-student combo ticket, so we just bought the single Borobudur ticket after trying to fruitlessly bargain with the people at the desk.
In we went, alongside three schools of children who arrived while we worked out the ticket situation. We tried to walk as fast as possible to maybe get up there before the kids, but we didn't make it. Luckily one side of the temple was free of kids climbing all around so we hastily took some photos during that window of time.
There were many school groups there and every. single. kid. wanted a photo with us. We tried to solve it by taking big group photos but that just encouraged them even more. They were very enthusiastic so it was fun to receive so much attention for about 20 minutes.
After a while we got a bit weary of posing for so many photos. Many kids became even more ambitious as we left the temple and went through the museum then finally through the "exit" which must be the world's largest gift shop, a 20-minute walk through various market stands. We actually had to start telling them no and being assertive about it after the 5th group of kids "secretly" snapped a photo of themselves with us in the background.
This was the first day we ever felt like we were being harassed by the locals. It made me feel good about our general habit of asking anyone if we can take their photo, and not being too eager to take photos of locals just doing their job, whether it's farm work, running a food stand, or whatever. How annoying it must be to deal with that every day!
Once we got through the gift shop gauntlet, we had a quick bite and rode back to Yogya to take a well-earned afternoon nap.