Yogyakarta

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A few weeks ago we took a chance to drive to Yogyakarta from Malang before the kids all started back to school.  We made the somewhat harrowing drive over the mountains at Batu and across the flat lands of eastern and central Java.  Picture a narrow 2-lane highway running 6 lanes of traffic that includes cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, chickens, tour buses, overloaded transport trucks and children on bicycles.  The only real rule of the road seems to be that tour buses always have the right of way in both lanes.

Yogyakarta is the cultural heart of Java and has seen it’s fair share of kingdoms come and go.  All sorts of classic Javanes art comes from this region, and most of it has now been monetized in some way: you can buy (in highly variable quality) all kinds of batik fabric and clothes, art work, tickets to dances and plays, etc.  Hawkers will give you plenty of opportunity to buy, whether you want to or not.  Yogya (pr. Jogja) is also the place that “proper” Indonesian is spoken, and we got plenty of chances to test our language skills – I guess it’s the equivalent of visiting Paris for those studying French.

Yogya is also home to many relatively ancient temples, and we were able to visit two such complexes: Candi (temple) Prambanan and Candi Borobudur.  These sites were both constructed during the 8th and 9th centuries, and both have seen ruin and partial restoration.  Both sites have a mix of Hindu and Buddhist features, and both were abandoned not long after construction was completed, as kingdoms fell and Islam spread throughout the island.

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