"American? Obama!"

Yogyakarta Travel Blog

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Oldest Buddhist temple in the world.

Ok, ok.  So I'm about two months behind on my blog.  I've been in Australia for 6 weeks now and am writing about arriving in Indonesia.  For all my loyal followers who have had to wait, I apologize.

I fly to Indonesia and bask in the luxury that is airplane travel.  An indoor waiting area?  Free water fountains (not that I trust them anyways)? Free soft drink AND peanuts?  Bathrooms available?  A quiet trip?  My OWN guaranteed seat?  Woah, this is the life.  It's amazing the things you take for granted after traveling on a budget, especially through SE Asia.  Upon arrival I immediately pass the line of waiting taxi drivers eager to take a lone white girl wherever she might go, because, of course, "there is no bus" or "bus not safe.

Me and the temple.
"  Sure buddy, I'll take my chances.  For the cost of $2 I got a comfortable public bus for the 45 minute trip into Jakarta.  Now, Jakarta is unlike many of the other cities I had visited since arriving in SE Asia.  I felt like I had entered China again where white people might as well have been aliens, or at the very least, prostitutes.  Lots of stares.

I decided to head straight for the one road, whose name of course I forget, portioned off from the rest of the city for backpackers, and prompty proceeded to slip on the slick sidewalk and fall on my ass.  As I fell I heard a motorbike driver passing by yell a quick "oh shit" equivolant in Indonesian.

Some stone cavings.
  The weight of my backpack caused me to flail about on my back, much like a flipped-over turtle, until some nice Indonesian guy offered me a hand.  My hand was wet and dirty and bleeding, but he pretended not to notice and instead offered to guide me to my destination.  This is about the end of nice people in Indonesia.  But I'll get back to that.  I wandered around the hardly adequate backpacker street trying to find a hotel that had a room.  For such a large captial city it seemed that everywhere was booked.  I passed another backpacker doing the same thing a few times and after awhile we decided to combine forces and look for one room to split the costs.  His name was David from Israel.  It's funny that the first traveler I meet in Indonesia is from Israel, because they are strictly not allowed in the country.
Poor guy.
  Anyways, we meet another girl, Hee from Korea and the three of us eventually find a room.  Phew.

That night at dinner, Vanessa (a Swedish girl I met at an internet cafe) and I were sitting at a table when who walks in but Jula, from Ko Phangan.  She was with a few other travelers so the lot of us sat together and Jula and I caught up.  The next day was Indonesia's Independence Day so we planned to meet in the morning to walk to the ceremony/parade.  Once we got there we soon realized there was no parade, only a short ceremony with some flag raising, but there were oodles of uniformed people walking about and singing so we were at least a bit entertained.  The highlight of the show, however, seemed to be us.  Lots of people staring, taking "secret" pictures and a few requesting pictures taken with our cameras that we would them email to them.

Jula.
  Yeah.. about that.  I personally found the situation amusing and was able to brush it off as harmless.  The rest of them, especially Vanessa, however, did not like the attention at all and got quite upset.  Oh well.   The following day Jula and I went up some big tower monument thing where we were then accosted by a group of 15 or so uniformed men, apparently on vacation from Bali.  They wanted pictures, and lots of them.  After about 10 pictures we said no more, but then one of the guys started to video tape us.  Jula got pretty annoyed, and I admit that was pretty bad, so we left.   I also perfectly timed my trip to Indonesia to coincide with Ramadan, a month long fast for the largely Muslim population.
Good luck to touch its hands!
  That meant most restaurants weren't open and the ones that were had curtins covering their windows so as not to flaunt eating customers.  I actually felt quite guilty eating when most of the people working at the restaurants couldn't eat and had to watch us.  That must suck.

 

That night Jula and I left for Yogyakarta, the former home of our own dear President Barack Obama, yes sir.  Lots of Indonesians, after hearing I'm from America, go "Obama!" and give me a thumbs up.   After being picked up an hour late by our minibus, we then proceeded to circle the city very slowly stuck in traffic for the next 4 hours, with no air conditioning and the bus breaking down not once, but twice. The 12 hour ride ended up being 16 hours.

More stupa temple thingys.
   Sounds like Asia to me.  But we made it!  Yogyakarta was a nice change from Jakarta.  Smaller, less people, and more to see and do there.  We signed up for a tour of some ancient temple ruins, of course, and while the ruins were nice, it reminded us both of Angkor Wat.  Been there, done that.  We met a (mostly) nice Canadian couple who kept talking about "spluring" on hotels occasionally.. aka every night.  What they spent in one night we spent in a week.  But hey, everybody travels differently.  Back in Yogya, as the locals call it, we bumped into Hee at our hotel and walked around the most unimpressive Royal Palace I think I have ever seen.  The coolest thing was seeing the fake guards carrying knives tucked into their back sashes or whatever.
Cool tree with hanging branches.
  The rest was pretty empty. 

 

Perhaps one of the most annoying, er, cultural, experiences in Yogya was being woken up at 4:30am every morning with the Muslim call to worship.  This consisted of a loudspeaker, apparently located outside our door, blaring chants in a tone deaf manner for at least 10 hours.  Ok, maybe it was more like 15-30 minutes, but it might as well have been longer.  Yay Ramadan!  The most exciting thing to happen, however, was the earthquake that happened while we were there.  Now Jula and I didn't feel a thing, but amused ourselves in wondering why the minimart employees across the street from our restaurant came running out suddenly all worked up over something.  It wasn't until we saw Hee again that she explained about the earthquake and the "dozens of Japanese tourists who started screaming and running out" of the mall she was in.  My first earthquake and I missed it.  Shucks.

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Oldest Buddhist temple in the worl…
Oldest Buddhist temple in the wor…
Me and the temple.
Me and the temple.
Some stone cavings.
Some stone cavings.
Poor guy.
Poor guy.
Jula.
Jula.
Good luck to touch its hands!
Good luck to touch its hands!
More stupa temple thingys.
More stupa temple thingys.
Cool tree with hanging branches.
Cool tree with hanging branches.
Lots of kids were swinging on them.
Lots of kids were swinging on them.
Angkor Wat anyone?
Angkor Wat anyone?
Deja vu.
Deja vu.
Grand Palace musical room.
Grand Palace musical room.
Yay weird statue.
Yay weird statue.
They wanted to be cool like me.
They wanted to be cool like me.
Hi He!
Hi He!
Guards with knifes on their back…
"Guards" with knifes on their bac…
Not much of a throne, eh?
Not much of a throne, eh?
Random giant rolling pin as decora…
Random giant rolling pin as decor…
Ice Cream flavored Oreos?!  If onl…
Ice Cream flavored Oreos?! If on…
Yogyakarta
photo by: siscalustiawati