Yogyakarta is a critically endangered species in Indonesia. With close to a million people it is a big city but unlike most in Indonesia it is relatively pleasant.
The biggest shock upon arriving was that so much of the tourist accommodation was full. So far in Indonesia tourists have been few and far between. Yogya however was bustling at the seams. I eventually bumped into an owner of a place hidden within the alleyways and gladly accepted. It was a great little find with a very sociable crowd.
Yogya has a little tourist enclave but it is very tastefully done. It almost reminded me a little of New Delhi in that the guest houses sit within the community as a whole unlike in Thailand where they dominate over them. Normal life continues around them. That said it was still a place where I got to go all a bit Western.
On arrival I crossed over the main road and went to MacDonalds. I make no excuses, no fast food since Sri Lanka, it was a craving I could not deny. By the next morning I had handed over my washing and been for a shave and hair cut. Entering back out onto the streets I felt hideously exposed. I always feel very vulnerable when not sporting a well seasoned traveller look. Hawkers and scammers who would normally pass me by seem to latch on thinking that I’ve just arrived in their country.
Yogya is seen as Java’s artistic and intellectual heritage. I visited the Kraton, the home of the sultans of Yogya. It was a nice stroll through the complex but nothing remarkable. Thorough enjoyment was hindered by the lack of any noticeable information. Far more interesting was the enclaves that surrounded it containing twenty five thousand people, a thousand of which are directly employed by the sultan on all sorts of things such as puppet and batik making. It was very easy to get lost in the maze of streets and simple houses.
I then took in the Taman Sari, the private water park of Sulatans of old. It felt very Mediterranean and was a pleasant if short walk around. The bird market that was supposed to be nearby seemed to have finished which was disappointing but a few shops remained with various birds chirping from within their cages. It’s very common for houses to have at least one bird inside their house in Java.
The following day I was tempted to head to the temples of Prambanan but tiredness from the non-stop journeying meant I took it relatively easy knowing I had another night journey to complete come the evening. Instead I did a very unlike Rob thing and wondered around the markets and shopping malls.
A couple of souvenirs later and I was ready to get a bus to Surabaya. With the influx of tourism to Yogya, it has decided it needs tourist busses to get people to destinations because of course tourists cannot be expected to travel on the very friendly and fairly efficient local busses. With a little Indian side to Yogya there are a number of scams in the city and that extends to the tourist busses. I was having no part in that and so concocted a right old plan that would get me to the volcano of Bromo in no more than three changes. Oh and around another thirteen hours on busses. Joy.