Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jogy: smarter than the average Indonesian city

Our first two stops in Indonesia had not been the best introduction to the country, but thankfully things quickly got much better after we arrived in Jogyakarta, approximately half way along Java.

Jogyakarta (or Jogy as it is affectionately known amongst travellers) is a really pleasant, relaxed, friendly and arty city. For reasons which should become clear after the next couple of blog posts it is a hugely popular place for tourists, and as such it has become a bit of a traveller enclave full of restaurants selling good western food and beer alongside the ever-present fried rice, fried noodles and satay. It also has a thriving street art scene, although for some reason I didn't find the time to take photos of the best work we saw.

The volume of tourists means that Jogyakarta isn't really, on the face of it, a proper Indonesian experience, in much the same way as Goa isn't a proper Indian experience and Pokhara isn't a proper Nepalese experience. However the extremely busy market along the main road is equally popular with tourists and locals alike, and we had a pleasant wander around some backstreets away from the tourist areas where the locals seemed a little perplexed as to what we were doing there, but extremely friendly.

The only real sight to see in Jogyakarta itself is Kraton, the walled old city which is a fairly interesting area to wander around. On the second attempt (after arriving too late first time around) we went into the Sultan's Palace which was a bit underwhelming compared to some of the palaces we have previously seen due to its understated Javanese architecture, but interesting enough. Unlike most palaces we have previously visited, Jogyakarta's royal palace is still occupied by the Sultan which makes it a bit unique (and explains the short opening hours).

However, the reason for Jogyakarta's popularity with tourists is not the sights in the city itself but its proximity to some really remarkable sights which are worthy of separate blog posts if for no other reason than the number of photos.
Translates as "You crossed a smile Jogyakarta" according to Google Translate.

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