Yogyakarta, Java: Exploring

Yogyakarta is a city on the Indonesian island of Java known for its cultural heritage and traditional arts.

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Lost

We arrived in Yogyakarta at 1am last night after a 10 hour train ride from Jakarta and for the life of us could not find our accomodation Hotel Batik Yogyakarta. The alleyways and dead ends make navigating the city very difficult especially at night. We would never have found Hotel Batik Yogyakarta had it not been for a local who walked us directly to the gate.

The following morning we made our way to the infamous Malioboro street. Malioboro is popular among tourists and locals for its shopping (especially in the evening). The street is lined with vendors selling everything from clothes and shoes to food and artwork. You’ll notice vendors selling a lot of Batik: a type of artwork using paraffin and wax to create colorful designs.

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Malioboro street

After walking Malioboro street we made our way to the Kraton (Royal Palace) only to find it closed (government officials were in town). A local teacher who was protesting animal rights alongside his students (it was Eid) suggested we visit a free Batik school a couple minutes down the road. Unfortunately we never found the school, however, we were guided to a Batik shop (likely on purpose) where we bought 3 pieces.

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Batik

After a quick power nap at the hotel we decided to do some more exploring. Mom and I took a taxi to the local bird market. What an interesting place to explore! They had everything from owls, parrots, puppies, fish, chickens, reptiles, and a number of unrecognizable animals. Unfortunately, many were crammed into tiny cages.

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Civet cat (most expensive coffee in the world-Kopi Luwak-comes from these little guys’ behinds)

After the market, we made our way to the Taman Sari Water Castle (home of the Yogyakarta Sultan). We debated walking but eventually decided to take a becak (cycle rickshaw). Becaks use the same lanes as cars and motorbikes only they move at 1/10th the speed.

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Becak

We arrived at the Taman Sari Water Castle only to find out it was closed. A lot of attractions in Yogyakarta close early (around 3pm) so getting an early start is essential. Luckily, one of the guides outside offered to show us around the grounds. Although we weren’t able to go inside, we were still able to get some amazing shots.

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Aerial view of the bathing pools

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And our local guide was full of information!

-Taman Sari Water Castle was water bound when built (aka the name). A boat was used to get around.

-The 1st sultan had 23 wives and 70 children. His wives and children had designated bathing pools. The sultan had his own water pool.

-Both hindus and muslims lived in harmony within the castle walls in the workers’ quarters. The same is true today (our guide lives on the grounds with his mother)

-Buildings are made of limestone, stone, and egg whites. Yes, egg whites!

-To clear his mind the sultan built a meditation building designated to fasting. He would fast (no water or food for 4 days). This cleared his mind, leaving him more open to following his heart (the main influence behind decisions).

-Doorway entrances are low and to enter buildings you must duck. The reason? A reminder to be grateful to your mother and all that life has provided you.

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Roof destroyed by the 2006 earthquake

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