Monday 10 November 2008


We arrived in Jakarta on a Thursday evening, to be greeted by a queue of everyone who had been on our plane, waiting for a visa. That took a while...Then we were introduced to the full force of Jakarta via the many terrifying taxi drivers, begging us to take their taxi into town. The first question, when we had finally negotiated a price, was "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?"

We successfully reached the Novotel Batavia (aka the Omnia Batavia) and managed a couple of beers before crashing. We got up early the next morning, in the hope of buying tickets for the many flights we needed. Back to the airport for a hi speed tour of all the airlines' desks, including many that we read were grounded a little while ago since they posed a threat to safety. Eventually, in possession of a fistful of old skool hand-written tickets, we flew to Jogja.

We spent a few days in Yogyakarta, pronounced Jogjakarta, and more usually known as Jogja. It's a lovely city whose main attractions are the Kraton, and day trips to Borobudur and Prambanan. The differences between the enormous sprawl of Jakarta and the "real world" of Jogja were marked. At first sight, it kind of reminded us of some of the Caribbean towns we've seen, like Roseau in Dominica. There are no chain stores, the roads are in terrible condition, and next to the potholed carriageway you'll find a foot-wide open sewer. The other side of the sewer are the shops - often disproportinately large, with a desk drawer for a cash till. It seems like plenty of people while the day away sitting under trees, chatting and smoking kretek (clove) cigarettes. Jogja is overrun with becacks, little bicycle taxi jobbies. Becak riders spend a lot of the day sleeping in their becaks, which seems entirely understandable when you think that for several hours a day they are ferrying lazy tourists around a bumpy city by pedal power alone.

There's quite a knack to riding a becak. The becak riders' community has somewhat altered the normally accepted rules of the road. It's so bloomin' hot in Jogja that once you have got up some momentum, the last thing you want to do is stop for some pesky little inconvenience such as a red light, or a load of traffic. So roads just gain and lose lanes as the traffic situation alters. If you are turning right onto a big road, but there's lots of traffic crossing your path, don't bother crossing to the other carriageway - just create another lane, and carry on along there until there's a pause in the traffic, and you can push across to the "correct" carriageway. Hard to explain, I hope a video will clarify!

The Kraton is a huge old palace, which is home to the Sultans of Jogja. There's a central palace compound surrounded by a larger walled city, where more than 25,000 people live. At the middle of the compund is the palace itself, currently home to Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X - more on him later. When we went in, a group of artists was performing a leather puppet show, accompanied by traditional gamelan music.

It's a curious place - there is a museum section, but the exhibits range from a pair of gloves, to a photo, to an old coat and so on. They all belonged to previous sultans, but they were terribly unprotected - most of the textiles looked like they were gradually rotting away. However, ther are sections of the Kraton which have been restored. Rather like Topkapi in Istanbul, or the Red Fort in Delhi, the compound comprises many open sided pavilions, as well as other little reception halls and waiting areas.

We stayed at the Delta Guesthouse (aka Duta Garden Hotel) on Prawirotimaran II street (try saying that after a few Bintangs). There are many hotels on the street, as well as plenty of little cafes and restaurants. It's quite a traveller-y area, with a lovely laidback vibe, and lots of hotel swimming pools!

See all our Jogja photos.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Hannah!
    Am v envious of your holiday - sounds amazing. I thought only Scott could come up with itineraries involving that many flights, but clearly I was wrong.

    We've been doing some flying ourselves - took Romilly down to Florida for a week in the sun. She must have her Daddy's travelling gene cos she was good as gold on both flights. Back in DC now, and it's FREEZING! It was 3 degrees in our house when we got in on Sunday. Poor old Mags had been home for a few hours (she didn't fancy the alligators in Florida, so stayed behind), and was extremely glad to see us, if only so we could put the heating on for her! She's taken to wearing her pyjamas again at bed time - brrrr.

    Off to bed now. We're supposed to be doing a Thanksgiving Turkey Chase in the morning, so we need our rest...



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