This is a city that is located in Java and it is commonly referred to as Jogjakarta or Jogja. The area is ruled by a Sultan and the communities here are still very traditional. You will be overwhelmed by the culture in this area. Highlights of my trip:
1: Visit to Borobodur:
The Borobodur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site having been built in the 9th century as a buddhist temple. It has been well maintained and I highly advise a visit as it is not only a beautiful masterpiece, the carvings on the wall tell stories about their culture.
I highly advise one to arrive early, so as to enjoy the place before it is thronged by people. At the entrance, everyone is given a sarong to wear across their waist as a form of respect. I only discovered that it was a buddhist temple when we walked to the top and I looked inside these bell looking structures, only to find buddha sculptures stored within.
I seemed to cause a furore of excitement as it seems black Africans are not a common feature there and thus they were intrigued by me. People stared, others came over to say hi, while others asked to take pictures with me. I highly advise you take time to try interprate the stories shared by the carvings on the walls, so much about their lifestyle is on those walls.
Kindly also wear comfortable shoes as there are about 100 staircase steps to climb to get to the top.
2) Sample the transportation options
a) Horse and carriage:
Ever dream of riding a horse and carriage yet never had enough money for it? Well, you should ride one in Yogyakarta/Jogjakarta. They are a common means of transport which thus translates to them not being expensive.
b) Bicycle carriage:
These are unique means of transport as the driver/cyclist rides behind you, as you lead the way. It feels weird but is fun and you get to enjoy a great view without any obstruction.
c)Ride a motorcycle:
Almost everyone in this area owns a motorcycle, it is the popular means of travel. Make sure you take a ride but be ready to battle with motorbike traffic.
3)Sample their delicacies:
They have a wide array of food options which will leave your taste buds happy. The popular meals were sate which is skewered meat, goreng variations like nasi goreng which is fried rice and mie goreng which is fried noodles.
I told you this region is very traditional and thus I especially liked when they served my meal on banana leaves.
You have not been to Jogja if you haven’t gone to a Karaoke Bar and actually sang your heart out. To make it even more comfortable for the “scared ones”, you and your friends can hire a booth/room, get served food and drinks exclusively as you belt out tunes/or not in the privacy of your own Karaoke bar.
5. Batik Culture
All around Jogjakarta, there is batik, in their dressing, in their fashion, in their decoration,everywhere. I need to highlight, their batik is like nothing you have seen before, it is unique, it is outstanding that at the shops I was in complete confusion on what to buy and what to leave. You should not leave Jogjakarta without several batik pieces, I didn’t. Be careful however of some people/scammers who will offer to show you “unique”, “original”, batik pieces at a hefty prices, which in most cases are fake.
Indonesians are really friendly people. I made friends with Sari and this lady would take me around Jogja everyday after work, I am forever grateful
I ended up gaining a sort of celebrity status as it seemed that most people had never interacted let alone seen a black African. I thus posed for many pictures with strangers and thus if you come across my pictures, share my greetings with the owner.
7) Visit the Sultans Palace
This place is indeed a beautiful, wonderful place, one of my favourite places in Jogjakarta. Jogjakarta is ruled by a Sultan and he opens up part of the palace to the public. The palace acts as a cultural center that hosts several events like puppet shows and gamelan -Java and Bali music made up of over 20 people and percussion instruments. The museum also shares stories of their culture and history and what was even more intriguing was watching the locals. The locals revere the Sultan and his family and thus walk bare feet around the palace, the men wear sarongs, batik shirts and traditional hats while the women wear sarongs, batik blouses and similar looking head covers.
This is one show/dance I would advise everyone to watch. You have not watched a better love story than the Ramayana dance. Ramayana Ballet is an old Indian love story, filled with music, dance, deception, betrayal, entertainment, anxiety all whilst no word is spoken. At duration’s, a narrator sings while accompanied by gamelan music to explain the story line, but, you will better understand watching than listening, as she sings in Java language. I watched it at Purawisata Open Air Theater, where they have nightly shows and I assure you, you will not want to blink an eye as the story-line will have you captivated to the end.
The scenery in Jogja is interesting from the buildings, to the hills, to the vegetation. I was particularly drawn to these huge trees that seemed to have roots hanging on trees.
Yogyakarta is indeed an amazing place, from being ruled by a Sultan, to having part of the palace open to the public, to showcasing their culture in their art and lifestyle. I cant believe I attended a puppet show and watched the Ramayana ballet dance, and was totally captivated by them though they were all in a foreign language.. Yogyakarta, thank you, I haven’t had enough, I will be back.
For more on my Indonesia escapades, check out:
Indonesia 101: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/indonesia-101/