In many ways, it is the way Jakarta should be.

When I say I went to Yogya, I was actually only in the city for about 4 days. The other 4 were spent in and around the city of Magelang, north of Yogya about 45 minutes. I suppose the best way to speak of my time there would be to break it down into separate posts based upon what I was doing. This first will encompass only the city itself.

The first day I spent the morning hours searching for a card reader for my camera. Why? Because I’m retarded. I really dislike bringing my laptop around Indonesia for obvious reason of theft, but also for the sake of lugging it around, and not to mention I feel like an ass pulling it out in front of anyone. Many of the people around me would work for 3 years to afford one – I feel like a complete jerk when they see it. The simple fact remains that I had to transfer my photos to it, so I had to bring it along.

So back to me being retarded. What’s the one thing needed to connect a camera and a computer? Yes, a card reader or a USB cable – both of which I left in Jakarta. I rock. So of course the first day I arrived in Yogya I set out to find one – and of course this happened to be the Monday of Idul Fitri. Nothing was open; much less a camera shop selling equipment. Finally I found a Chinese shop still open, carrying a number of beautiful cameras, huge quantities of professional prints, and every kind of accessory you could find – EXCEPT a card reader.

“Ok, so you don’t have any card readers correct?”
“That’s right sir.”
“Ok, well how do you transfer your customer’s images to your computers?”
“With a card reader.”
“Umm. Ok. But you don’t have any card readers?”
“Well only the ones we use, sir.”
“Ahh. Ok, I’ll buy it off of you.” (he then preceded to give me that “fuckin tourist” look)

300,000 Rupiah lighter, I was the proud owner of a slightly used card reader. On to Yogya!

I’ll be completely honest, from what I first saw of Yogya, I wasn’t too impressed. It simply looked like yet another Indonesian city – a mini Jakarta. Walking down Malioboro (famous street), I felt as though I could have been standing on Jalan Surabaya or similar in Jak city. There was slightly less traffic, slightly less pollution (ok, much less), and just as many people, in my immediate vicinity.

When I started to actually travel outside of Malioboro, I was far more impressed. The city has a heart, unlike Jakarta. Culture was much more evident, and art was everywhere. I felt a friendlier vibe from the people, and was met with more curiosity than anything. I suppose the same is true in any American city – the larger metropolises contain a certain bitterness and cold nature in the eyes of some people, whereas many smaller towns are much friendlier. I thought there’d be more bule strolling around, but didn’t see too many. That’s fine with me.

The fun began when we hopped into becaks – basically a bike with a foam seat soldered to its frame and supported by two wheels in the front. I believe they’re outlawed on the streets of Jakarta for the obvious reasons of congestion. The driver/rider/tour guide was eager for our business and stayed with us for a couple of hours. It was wonderful to tour around without air conditioning, horns blaring, or the insanity that is Jakarta. Our silent journey took us past the Sultan’s Palace (closed for Idul Fitri), through the quaint side streets, past batik shops, silver dealers, and of course the t-shirt shops. I’m well aware that they receive a cut from any business they bring towards the shop owners, but I really didn’t care – if I like what the shop sells, I’ll buy; and buy I did. I found way too many “things” that I couldn’t part with.

I especially love the batik paintings – you simply cannot find these in America. The saturation of color, the painstaking detail, and the intricate designs are phenomenal. I’m actually considering loading up on a 100 of them before heading back to the States. The sad thing is that I didn’t find too many batik shops open, so my selection was limited. I hope to go back soon to pick some more up as gifts. The plane tickets only cost me a million Rupiah, so it’s quite cheap to return.

One thing I loved about Yogya was the fact that there were no skyscrapers; in fact, none of the large hotels were more than 8 stories high. Jakarta has lost much of its Asian charm in my opinion – money has become the focal point in Jakarta, sacrificing culture for cash.

All in all, the trip revitalized my opinion of Java in many ways. I did not have a chance to relax, as one would in Bali or Lombok, but the experience proved to be well worth the effort.

Yogya itself was only the beginning of my adventure. The temples, mountains, and magical landscapes around Yogya were the true reason for my enjoyment. More to come.