Hey Boo Boo -
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A woman painting a batik.
January 17, 2008

Okay. For as long as I have seen the name of this city, it has always reminded me of one thing. Yogi Bear. I would think many
people would be in agreement with me on this, right?

Well I had a rude (actually, more of a sad) awakening.

The name isn’t pronounced ‘yogi-yakarta’. Phonetically, it is actually pronounced ‘jogue-jakarta’. And they called it Jogja
(pronounced ‘jogue-jah’) for short. So the association with Yogi Bear was shot.

But there is still some good news – This is a wonderful city!

This is known to be one of the most cultural cities on the island of Java (I will get to my love of being in ‘Java’ in a bit).
Yesterday I got to see some of what makes this place so special.

But for a while in the morning it didn’t look like I was going to have much of a chance as ‘rainy season’ was living up to its
name. There was no way the weather was ever going to clear up. Or so I thought. But just a couple hours later blue skies made
their way out. The problem with this? I lacked sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses (because who needs any of those things in the
rain?). But I kept on trucking along – even if that meant dragging along the now-unnecessary umbrella. Murphy’s Law always
seems to be the situation in my life. Ahhh….

So off I was on my walking tour…sans map (if you can believe it, this wasn’t even a problem as I found everything I wanted to
see!)…and the first place I ventured into was the
kraton area. This was where the sultans spent their days. There are walls-of-
sorts upon entering so it’s almost like being in a city-within-a-city. Once I entered, I heard laughter. I followed the laughter
and found a bunch of kids at a school playing outside. These little Muslim kiddies were absolutely precious. I swear – they can
melt hearts.

I ventured around the palace and the gardens of the sultans. Nothing too spectacular but, nonetheless, still enjoyable. There
are people all over trying to show you batik workshops. It was pretty cool watching the women paint these things. But then
you know a hard-sell is to follow. Surprisingly, they were very pleasant with their tactics and were very nice when I told them
that I wasn’t going to buy one. I actually said ‘Well, maybe later.” – to which one man responded (while laughing) “Batik shops
are like Coca Cola out here – they are on every corner.”

I really got my kicks when passing by the bird market. I really don’t like birds. But I did see something unique – chicks in all
different shades of Easter egg colors. Pretty odd to think that they die these little guys all different colors. Have no idea why.
But it was a funny sight.

After zig-zagging my way through the kraton area, I made my way out on the opposite side. Now I was in one of the hubs for
shopping. Of course a lot of it was pure crap. But there was one shop that sucked me in – it wasn’t even because of the
Ganesha statue – it was because of the air-conditioning that was seeping out of its doorway. I must admit that I took my time
while browsing in the large store. But I was convinced that with an air-conditioning system like the one they had, the prices
would factor in the electricity bill. I was in pleasant shock when I looked at the prices of things to see that they were far
cheaper than any others I had seen. And there was no negotiating involved – score!

While in Bali I had a coffee scrub at a spa and in Lombok I have a chocolate scrub. At both places I asked whether I could buy
such a product from them. Sadly I couldn’t. But who would have thought that at this very store I would come face-to-face with
small packets of
both of these types of scrubs? Needless to say, I stocked up. I know it won’t be the same administering it to
myself as it is at a spa listening to the sounds of the ocean…but at least I will now have access to a coffee or chocolate scrub
whenever I want. Hooray for me.

After flip-flopping on whether or not I should go to Borobudur (an UNESCO Buddhist temple) because of the once-again-rainy-
skies, the weather finally decided to cooperate so I booked the trip. I just had to be back at the place at 2pm. Easy enough. I
stretched my lunch long enough so that the timing worked out.

And it would have been perfect if it weren’t for one thing.

I didn’t realize there was a time change. Here I had been operating an hour ahead of schedule for over a day. No wonder why
they looked at me in a bit of amazement at breakfast yesterday morning – I was eating at 6:30am!

So I had an hour to kill. And as look would have it, there was a mall across the street with a great bookstore with more than
enough titles at my perusal.

And when it was
actually 2:00pm, the big van picked me up and our crew set off to Borobudur.

It isn’t often that I can say that this was unique to other temples I have seen in the past. I have never seen so many stupas
before. And part of me is trying to recall a time that I have
ever seen a stupa. After all, it wasn’t until yesterday that I even
knew that there are Buddhas tucked inside each of the stupas. I am sure I would have known that had I seen one before.

Aside from the stupas that awaited on the top, the reliefs of Buddha’s reincarnation all around the first few levels at this temple
were wonderful to look at. I really had a great time here.

And then there were also the views. Wow. Talk about being able to see the lushness of Java from up there.

The funny thing is that the trip there was called ‘Borobudur Sunset’. But the temple closes at 5:30pm – probably an hour
before the sunset. Oh well. Worked out okay considering there was a huge mass of clouds that would have prevented seeing
the sun make its way down. Nevertheless, the site was stunning.

Oh. And once again, my fellow van-mates (from Germany) and I became instant celebrities while up there. There was a school
group of Indonesians and they couldn’t get enough of us. There was truly no escaping group after group after group of kids
coming up to take their pics. We were all actually thankful about the 5:30pm closing time as that put an end to the
photography session. But they were all cute, sweet kids so it makes it all just that much less annoying.

Today I didn’t do too much other than look at antique shops and walk around the kraton area again.

Today provided a different use for the umbrella that I had in tow. I threw vanity aside and used it to protect me from the sun.
Didn’t stop me from sweating my arse off – but at least it provided a bit of relief.

Another enjoyable day. Booked my flight to Jakarta for tomorrow. I ended up putting a $20 price tag on my life by choosing
the Lion Air flight for $32 vs. the Garuda flight for $52. This is how I figure it – while people here view Garuda as the ‘best’
airline in this country, they were actually the airline to have crashed the most recently (less than a year ago). Actually, it was
in Jogja that this occurred, too. My point? Spending more on a flight in Indonesia doesn’t mean much. Indonesia flights don’t
have the best track record (I have become more aware of this from googling ‘Indonesia plane crashes’). And for this reason, I
have already told my sister to say a little prayer for me tomorrow. And I was actually serious. I want to arrive in Jakarta. And
I want to be able to continue my trip. On my flight out here I was trying to channel God so that I would be able to see
Yogyakarta. I think I might just have to do the same tomorrow with regards to Jakarta.
Back to Indonesia.
Adorable Jogja kiddies.
A Buddha in a stupa at Borobudur.