Why we like Yogyakarta
A brief account of our visit to Yogyakarta, most commonly known as Jogja. Some fellow travellers we come across tell us that they don’t like Jogja because they feel molested by all this come-and-see or come-and-buy business. But for us this is just a minor, negligible aspect of a richer experience: Jogja is a totally freakytracks-style amazing place.
Everything starts in Jakarta and Jakarta is fun: we booked a hotel at the 7th floor of a parking lot in Glodok area. Of this place (Fave Hotel) we remember the colourful carpet, the friendly stuff, and heaps of love-making people in the rooms next to ours. The next morning Jakarta surprises us with an intense sunshine (see picture below), so – with no hesitation at all – we decide to head to Gambir Station and catch a train to Yogyakarta. Nobody stops us.
The train is the ARGO DWIPANGGA, leaving at 8:15AM and arriving in Jogja at 3:24PM. The train is of the EKSEKUTIF kind, meaning that the temperature on board is around -2 C°. A nice lady pops up every now and then taking orders for lunch and coffee – yes, a hot cup of coffee is exactly what you like when your nails are turning blue.
In Jogja we end up in (guess guess) Prawirotaman – and we won’t regret the choice (well, we’ll never understand all these people dining with their Lonely Planet guides open on the table: improvise, for Buddha’s sake!). Cities can be hectic, so we were looking for a place comfortable enough to call it home, even only for 1 week or so. We find such a traveller nest at the notorious Via Via, namely by renting the Rumah Ayam, a peaceful studio in a traditional house consisting of a room with bathroom, a delightful patio, and a functional kitchen. Highly recommended indeed.
We fall in love with Jogja since the very beginning. We aren’t interested in buying any batik, and this makes our life much more easier. The city strikes us for its vivacity as well as for its tranquil neighborhoods just a few steps away from the congested roads. I try to keep up my running schedule by starting my training at 6AM thinking that 6AM is a pollution and people-free time to enjoy an urban run. Wrong – emphysemically wrong. The next time I wake up at 5, but it’s still too late. No running in Jogja for me.
Food is an Indonesian treasure. Be it a soup consumed in a warung or a beautifully presented delicacy eaten in a restaurant, our first approach with the local gastronomy doesn’t disappoint us at all. Moreover, we discover that broccoli juice is a nice product to take picture of.
Some people think that two days are enough to visit Jogja, and they often include in their plan also the temples of Borubudur and Prambanan (one Spanish couple we met were convinced to be able to visit both Borobudur and Prambanan on the same day). Do not make this mistake! To be fully appreciated, Jogja requires at least one week: short visits and Indonesian cities hardly mix together, and Jogja deserves your most acute curiosity.
Yes, you have to visit the Kraton, the Palace of the Sultans. And of course do not skip the Taman Sari, the decaying but romantic Water Castle. Ah, and the Purawisata ballet, go for it even if it seems a little bit expensive (avoid dining there though). But above all, do visit the less-visited museum of Jogja: the Vredeburg Fortress Museum (known also as Benteng Vredeburg Museum) near Malioboro. This is a good place to learn something about the fight that made Indonesia an independent country (in the museum you can also join the guerrilla and fight against the Dutch! Very entertaining).