Yogyakarta, Java

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Jul 15, 2008

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Feb. 28, 2007 Wednesday
This morning Chris and Endang took us to the station for our train to Yogyakarta, and we've agreed to meet them again on Friday evening in Jakarta. We're glad we took the day train because the views were great with volcanic peaks coming into view one after the other. Java is known from its surplus of active volcanoes. We could see puffs of white clouds coming from their peaks. It was a pretty comfortable ride, although the plates of food the porters hawked to us as they walked through the carriage didn't look appetizing. This is a better train than the one we took to Surabaya and there's no roaches running around this time.

We got to Yogyakarta before noon and checked into the Bladok Losmen, [GPS 07 47.498S 110 21.764E] at Rp170,000/nite, not their most expensive room, but very nice by our standards; no A/C but a high vaulted rattan ceiling with a fan, and a refrigerator, which is useful. There is also a pool feed by a mock waterfall nestled in a small court yard with high walls decorated so that, if you're in the right position and squint, you feel like you're in an Indiana Jones set. Yogyakarta is the artistic center of Java and also Indonesia's college town. There are numerous major universities here and countless smaller ones. Among the arts are the traditional puppets and batiks. You're pretty much forced to buy some of these, because people will come up to you offering to help you find where you want to go, but end up taking you to a batik studio where it just happens they or their relatives are students and have their art on display, which you don't have to buy if you are so insensitive that you really don't care about helping out the poor students Other than this type of sales pressure there's a nice peaceful feeling in Yogya (pronounced Jogja); at least it is peaceful when we arrived which was mid-week and off season. It's a much different atmosphere than the jet set in Kuta.

Mar. 1, 2007 Thrusday
We took a day trip to see Boraburdur [GPS 07 36.478S 110 12.264E], one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a world heritage site. It's a Buddhist temple from the 9th century. It's very impressive and favorably compared to Ankar Wat in Cambodia. From there we went to Prambanen [GPS 07 45.156S 110 29.259E], which was an elaborate Hindu complex, but now tottering and unsafe after an earthquake in May. It was built about 50 years after Boraburdur to compete with the Buddhists. There are three other Buddhist temples in the area in walking distance. We want to cram as much into the few days we'll spend here so in the afternoon we took in a free puppet show. It's free because they know that after you see the elaborate performance of the traditional puppet play you'll feel guilty and just have to buy some of the puppets the "students" have been working their hearts out on. Or, you can buy some of the silver jewelry in the connected store. We buy some of each. After 9 PM the stores on Jalan Malioboro close up and the street vendors break down their stalls from the sidewalk. When they all clear out food vendors spread grass mates and low tables on the sidewalks. It's a rustic version of sidewalk cafes. We went down and watched the whole process so that at about 10 PM Arvid could try the jack fruit and coconut curry, a regional specialty called gudeg. Later that night we ended up with a group of workers from Save The Children International shooting pool and drinking Bintang beer until 2 AM out on Jalan By Pass on the edge of town.
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