Good temples, good food, rubbish palace
Trip Start Oct 31, 2009
52Trip End Feb 25, 2010
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Yogyakarta is the historic capital of Java, but is mostly a bustling modern city, and none the worse for that. First stop the royal palace, possibly we've been spoiled by the amazing palaces of India but it was it has to be said something of a disappointment, a few faded shed like buildings with corrugated iron roofs, and simple decoration. Maybe the Javanese sultans screwed less tax out of their subjects less than India maharajahs. The old town round the palace is very pleasant to walk round - we even get a free drink when we pop into a cafe, which apparently was new and not open. The owner takes customers appearing before he's even open as a sign of good luck, two free fresh orange juices.
Much more spectacular than the palace are the Prambanan temples just outside Yogya - well preserved 9th century Hindu and Buddhist temples. The main Hindu temples look quite Indian, though with many almost stupa like towers. The biggest Buddhist temple with its doomed stupa roof has an almost basilica like silhouette. Great temples and fitting for our last big human monuments of the trip.
Groups of Indonesian school girls are there working on a school project which involves stopping foreigners and practicing their English - we're stopped by 3 groups, and asked our names, where we come from, how long we've been in Indonesia and so on. They write their answers dutifully in a school book, and ask us to pose with them for photos, sign their school books and grade their English from A to D. We give As for the one's who do most of the talking, Bs for the others.
Back in Yogya we take full advantage of the street food - the main streets are lined with simple carts selling all manner of food, the simplest are the satay vendors, just people sat on mats by tiny charcoal grills. They can't lose, its hot so lots of people are out, and they waft the aroma of grilling meat into the air setting mouths watering.
Our final night in Yogya we go to an Indonesian shadow puppet show.... briefly, maybe we're philistines, but like the traditional dancing in Kandy we found it dull. Back out to the street food.
For our three nights in Yogya we have a wedding gift treat hotel - the very slick and luxurious Sheraton. Upgraded to a suite bigger than our old flat we enjoy hot showers, fluffy towels and a comfortable bed. Also, at least in the morning before the cloud descends, great views from the hotel of Gunung Merapi an active volcano looming large smoke pouring out of the top.