I recommend the hotel at which we stayed: it is a short walk from the main street Jalan Malioboro and away from the really touristy hotel area. It’s only been a hotel for 2 months: previously it was a family home and it has 5 huge double rooms with ensuite and an 8 bed dormitory. There is a huge central area on the ground floor with a lofty ceiling and a staircase winding up one wall to the first floor. Everything is tiled in cream tiles. It has a balcony at the front and back on the first floor and outdoor areas on the ground floor and the whole area is bounded 2 storey high faux rock walls at the sides and back.
The drawbacks are a combined shower and toilet for the 8 people in the dorm, a computer screen so old you can’t read the text and intermittent WiFi.
After arriving late on Thursday 28th I went out to explore first thing the next day. At the corner of the street off which the hotel lane runs and Jl Malioboro I noticed some shelters set up and a stage with 5 young guys playing anglung and drums. I went over to listen and was invited by one of the organisers to sit under a shelter. I spent the next hour there taking part in a celebration of the youth of Jogyakarta. There were speeches, some singing and we all stood and sang the Indonesian national anthem and then a song specially composed for the event. At the end I was invited to have some peanuts, bananas and some very weird vegetable that I couldn’t place.A great start to my stay.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around the shops and the tourist attractions of the old dutch fort, the Sultan’s pleasure place and the Sultan’s palace. I arrived back in Jl Malioboro in time to watch a street parade of young people’s marching bands. The kids were in really fancy costumes and played really well. It was dawning on me that Jogja in June – July is like Melbourne in summer: there’s a festival event very day. The city is full of signs advertising each festival so I took photos of as many as I could.
Lydia arrived during the day so that evening we went to the main tourist hotel area and ate at the “Superman Restaurant.” t reminded me of the restaurants in Bali.
Saturday Lydia and I took the local bus to Prambanan, an ancient Hindu temple. The bus system is very efficient. There are elevated stops where you wait for the bus and the attendant there made sure we got on the correct bus and asked the bus attendant to put us off at the correct stops which they did. I cost us Rp 3.000 for each way and took about an hour.
When we arrived at the Prambanan bus terminal the becak guys tried to get us to take a ride to the temple but in true traveller spirit we insisted on walking and it was an easy 5 – 10 minutes away so we felt we had triumphed.
We spent about 4 hours at the site which includes a children’s playground with pony rides and a delightful restaurant where we had lunch. Be warned though that foreigners have to pay more than 3 times the price for locals. For that we got a free cup of coffee and a clean toilet. Lydia was a hit with the Indonesian tourists and was repeatedly asked to be in a photograph with them. It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours in the country and that day there was music all day from a group or singers. More music!
In the evening I went to a special young people’s arts and crafts market where the goods were original and totally different to the mass produced souveniers in the stalls and shops. There was a stage and music by young people and I videoed a young man singing very funny songs about men and women. On the way back to the hotel I ran across another event. This time it was groups of people, mostly young, from different areas around Jogja doing traditional songs and dancing. More videoing. It was really interesting. There I was sitting amongst all the locals and Indonesian tourists taking videos just like them. So many had cameras and video cameras that I did not feel at all conspicuous.
Jan Lansdowne July 2012