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Written on: Tuesday March 11th, 2008

Yogyakarta, or Yogya as everyone calls it, is a bustling city. We arrived early in the morning and tried to see the Sultan's Palace, but there were some miscommunications about when it was open. Everyone in the city wants to "help" you but they follow/lead you around and you have to shake them off or you know they're either going to try to lead you to a batik or other tourist shop and make you buy stuff, or ask you for money for guiding you. We did go to one batik place, the Center for the Arts which is all university students. You can watch them actually making the batik, and they will wash it in front of you so you know it's original (copies and prints will fade, bleed, or wash away when washed) and the prices are way cheaper since they are students' work.

Then we went to the Water Castle, an old sultan's palace where he and his 50- or 70-odd wives used to live. It was basically a few meager buildings surrounded by pools, I couldn't help but think of the Alhambra in Spain and how unimpressive the "Water Castle" was in comparison. After it started raining, so we grabbed some dinner and then Betty and Becca went to see a puppet show (which they later said was not that great because it was only shadow puppets and it was all in Javanese) and I went back to the hostel because I was tired and we had yet another 4am morning ahead of us! (In fact, while in Indonesia we were awake for the 4am/pre-dawn prayers--it is a muslim country, and 5 times a day loudspeakers all over play prayers--probably at least half the time if not more, either because we were arriving in our destination at that time from a night bus, or because we were getting up that early for our day's activities!) 

At 5am we left on a tour through our hostel to see Borobudur and Prambanan (sadly again there are no pictures of this or anything after because they were on my second camera that got stolen our last day in Indonesia!)  Borobudur is a very famous Buddhist temple in Java. They call it Indonesia's Angkor Wat, but I don't think there is any comparison at all, Angkor Wat is a hundred times more impressive. Borobudur was cool though. As you climb it, the carvings on the walls represent the path to enlightenment, so as you circle and climb the temple, you are metaphorically ascending to englightenment. It's an interesting idea.  It's set in a beautiful setting, too, surrounded by mountains and green fields and palm trees and forest, with mist and beautiful sunlight.

We then went to Prambanan, a complex of Hindu temples. Again, it was less impressive than I'd hoped (though interesting, because each temple was for a different Hindu deity and they had boards explaining them), I think mostly because there had been an earthquake a year or two ago (basically everywhere in Java/Bali had either an earthquake or tsunami two years ago that they are still recovering from!) and knocked down a lot of the buildings or rendered them unsafe to go too close to. So everything was fenced off, and half the buildings had been destroyed. It's a shame really.

We still had a few hours after the tour before we had to catch our night bus to Pangandaran (which was actually a mini bus that we had all to ourselves, which was nice!) but it poured rain so we hung out at the hostel, and actually met our second American (who we later saw again at the airport in Jakarta) in all our time in Indonesia (and really almost all our time since we started traveling even back in Thailand, there are so few American tourists in SE Asia! Many Europeans and even some Canadians, even some Mexicans and Latin Americans, but no Americans...and in Indonesia the numbers of any tourists at all significantly dropped). We also saw the British couple that had been on our bus that first day in Bromo at our hostel in Yogya. Funny enough, we ran into them AGAIN our last night in Pangandaran...that's how it seems to go, it's such a small world!