Monday, January 14, 2008

Yogya, Yogyakarta

The weekend before Christmas we flew to Yogyakarta (pronounced Joeg-Jakarta), commonly regarded as the cultural capital of Indonesia. Yogya (as it's usually called) is the heart of Javanese culture. It's still ruled by a Sultan who fills the role taken by a democratically elected governor in the other provinces. The streets are full of becak, tiny carts powered by bicycles that everyone takes for transportation. It's a city full of artists and musicians, so it was really a great place to visit for a weekend. We also ate the best Indonesian food we've found here.

Not only is it home to amazing culture of recent centuries, it's also the site of ancient wonders of the world. Only 25 miles from Yogya is Borobudur, the largest Budhist temple in the world and 12 miles in the other direction is Prambanan, an enormous 9th century Hindu temple complex (you really should click the links and read about them on Wikipedia). They were very cool to see.

We had heard that the best way to visit Borobudur is to arrive early enough that you can watch the sunrise over the volcano nearby. On our way in to town, a few locals followed us to our hotel on their motorcycles and offered to take us to a nearby village in the morning to watch the sunrise for a fraction of the price of the sunrise admission to Borobudur. We weren't worried about the cost, but we decided to go with them.

When they took us out to the village the next morning, in the distance on a hilltop we saw this large church. We asked them to take us there and after an adventurous trek, we arrived at this abandoned church. The thing was shaped like a giant chicken! We couldn't make it up even if we tried.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Indonesia is home to the most biodiversity in the world. The government is trying to take steps to prevent all sorts of environmental catastrophes. One tragedy that no one has yet addressed affects us greatly.

The menu shortage.

When you go to a restaurant (even one that caters to expats and rich Indonesians), you'll be lucky to get one menu per customer. Even if you order an appetizer and say you're going to order more food in a minute, you'll have to fight to keep your menu. And god forbid if you're at a bar and you want to save the one drink menu for your friends who haven't yet arrived. After you spend long enough in a place, these small things start to wear on you.

So please people, think of the menus.