Hello dear people. This is my first post in a few weeks because I finally was able to get my pictures on my computer! Without further ado, I give you…Yogyakarta! (Ironically and unintentionally, this is posted exactly one month after I went)
To all my non-Indonesians, Yogyakarta is known as one of the cultural centers in Indonesia. It has been inhabited since the 8th century A.D. and occupied by several kingdoms (Medang Kingdom, the Majapahit Empire, the Mataram Sultanate, the Yogyakarta Sultanate). It has a plethora of candi, or temples (from the Medang Kingdom), batik/batik art, Javanese music, wayang (shadow puppets), etc.
It was definitely on my bucket list of places to go in Indonesia, so when my host mom told me we’d be going at the end of October, it was pretty much the best thing ever.
She and I took the train from Bogor overnight (which was kind of cold; if you take this is the future, bring a jacket, socks, and a blanket. Sometimes Indonesians go overboard on the A/C) and arrived at 4 in the morning.
After getting to our hotel and showering, we went and visited a palace of sorts. There was some sort of ceremony going on, so naturally we had to take pictures with the people dressed up.
After waiting at the hotel a little, my host mom’s friend came with Sabrina, who flew to Yogya. We ate a breakfast of the traditional gudeg, which is unripe jackfruit boiled with palm sugar and coconut milk.
Then we drove to Prambanan. Prambanan is a Hindu temple that was constructed in 850 AD. It is the largest Hindu temple of ancient Java and really close to Yogyakarta.
Most people come to Yogyakarta to see Borobudur (which you will see later), so the crowds weren’t as big as the ones at Borobudur (as I would later discover).
It was awesome. Like really really.
Now, I said that the crowds weren’t as big. I didn’t say that they weren’t there. The crowd was made up of foreigners and Indonesians.
Going to a place with plenty of other foreigners, I thought that the probability of Indonesians taking pictures with me at Prambanan was lower.
We took plenty of photos with random people. I didn’t see them take pictures with any other bules. I’ve come up with two explanations for this:
- Having been here for 3 months, Sabrina and I are obviously celebrities. Our beauty is so incomparable that Indonesians can’t even fathom taking pictures with anyone else.
- All the other bules are 60 something wrinkled fat white people.
I’m pretty sure it’s the first one, though.
It was hot, but definitely worth the visit!
After, we had lunch at a mall. After that, we took becak back to the hotel and rested. After, we took becak to Tamansari, a complex that used to be the Sultanate’s royal garden.
After that, we visited a batik painting shop, which was amazing. Take a look.
We started Day 2 in Yogya off right by going to Borobudur.
Borobudur is a UNESCO Heritage site. It is also from the 9th century and was built (approx.) 50 years before Prambanan. It is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It is made up of nine stack platforms with a central dome. It has 2, 672 relief panels (wall carvings depicting a story, basically) and 504 Buddha statues. It is one of Indonesia’s biggest tourist sites.
Like Prambanan, it was ridiculously hot. My host mom rented me a touristy sunbrella, though, so that helped out.
Later that night, we made it to the infamous Malioboro St.
After shopping a little, we took a carriage ride to the Southern Park, where there are the two giant banyan trees.
The myth that surrounds this place is that if you can walk through these two trees, you are telling the truth. Apparently it was used after business deals.
I was the only person to try it. My first time, I didn’t even make it to the trees. I had completely turned around before I made it to the trees. In my defense, Sabrina and my host mom were laughing at me.
“Am I doing something wrong?” I’d ask.
“No, you’re doing well.” They’d say and laugh.
Allow me to translate.
Dork, you’ve managed to turn yourself around and you’re going the way you came. I can’t believe how messed up you are.
When you are being laughed at, you have no idea how much it messes with your self judgement.
Don’t let other people influence you, y’all. Make your own decisions.
The second time, we started closer. I determined that the only way I wouldn’t lead myself astray was to run. So I asked my host mom if that was allowed. She said absentmindedly (since she wanted me to hurry up and get started) that I could, so I went at it.
Once she saw what I was doing, of course, she laughed and told me to stop.
If there is one thing I learned from this experience, it’s that sometimes you just have to run in life when you’re unsure. Don’t give yourself time to doubt yourself or let others doubt you.
And guess what?
I made it.
So I guess I’m truthful liar.
Next, we took a turn in the Sparkle Cars.
Sparkle Cars are basically the frame of a bug. They are propelled by the passengers’ pedaling efforts. They are completely covered in lights and booming bad American pop.
There were probably 50 said Sparkle Cars, and when I saw them, I knew immediately that it was in my destiny to commander one.
Fortunately for me, my host mom had the same idea. She found us a particularly lovely parrot one booming dangdut (Indonesian+Arabic pop blended) and we went at it.
No shame, bro. Ride your Sparkle Car with power. Realize your destiny and fulfill it.
Day 3 was very unique, at least for me. We’ve all been tourists before, but have we all been Active Volcano Tourists (AVT)?
Let me tell you how.
Drive for an hour outside Yogya to a very hot mountain village-ish place.
Drive up to the Merapi something something Museum, which just happens to be closed on Mondays, which coincidentally happens to be the day you’ve decided to visit it.
Drive through the partially open gate anyway, because you want to find a Jeep (you’ll see why later) and you will find one at this deserted museum or else.
At this point, you will actually find a rentable jeep-and-driver and will spontaneously rent it.
You will take said jeep and begin to drive roundabout Little Hot Mountain Village.
Abruptly, the road will turn into a not road and you will be violently jostled around by the lack of pavement.
After 10 minutes of Hanging On For Dear Life (highly recommended by the Active Volcano Tourist Travelbook), you will find yourself at a nice little lookout point. This will also be the closest you will get to Merapi, the active volcano in front of you.
Take some pictures.
Aw, that’s real nice.
And because, why not? You’ve made it to the Merapi Lookout; take a celebratory Random Giant Rock Photo.
Hop back into the jeep and continue Hanging On For Dear Life, because honey, you have a return journey to make.
But surprise! As an AVT, you have a surprise stop at a house-turned-museum. This is one of the houses that survived the 2010 Merapi eruption. It houses a plethora of everyday items-turned-remnants.
Bid farewell to makeshift museum and drive back.
But before you return to the original museum, your rented jeep will take a surprise turn through a river (not pictured, as I was trying to protect my camera). Not across a river, friends, but down the river. Through the river.
You will find that this wet part of the journey will be really fun. What makes up part of the fun is that you had completely not anticipated it.
AND THEN, as an AVT, you will return to the museum and drive back to Yogya.
And that’s how you can be an AVT. You’re welcome.
Our last stop in Yogya before we left was the Kraton, or the Sultan’s palace. Yogya is the only place in Indonesia that has a sultan still. I’m not sure how much power he has, but he still has some (that or he’s a figurehead).
The Kraton was built in 1775 (or somewhere around that time) by the Dutch. It was a quick trip, as it wasn’t too big, but it was cool to see nonetheless.
Yogya was absolutely wonderful. I am so grateful to my host mom for taking me and then taking me to all the above places.