Yogyakarta goes all “in your face” with its bright colors. From the beautifully decorated becaks to the colorful clothes its citizens sport. From the insistent “Coca-Cola batik” sellers to the pushy tour guides at every site. And let’s not forget the becak drivers, following you around, asking where you’re going and where you’re from, stalker-like.
While being a little bit lost looking for the Kraton, the Royal Palace where the king still lives, we met a tall, slim man wearing a bright emerald shirt, very dandy-looking. We asked for directions for the Kraton and he explained it was already closed for the day, due to a ceremony taking place. He explained he knew, cause he works there. He suggested we went to the art center to check out live batik making and if we wanted to, buy some there, since they had fixed prizes and it was real batik, not “Coca-Cola” batik, which we learnt is the name the locals gave to the not so authentic and overpriced batik they try to sell tourists. He said we should take a becak to get there, but a locals’ becak, not a tourists’ one. How to spot them? If they chase you down the street, it’s tourists’ becak, with rates up to 5 times more than the ones for locals. If they are just hanging out, lying on their becaks (napping even), that’s locals’. And even though you might have to bargain a little due to tourist looks ownership –”portación de rostro”, as we say in Argentina-, you’ll get a much better rate. He fixed a becak for us and off we went, grateful for the insider’s tips we were just given. Or so we thought. Another friend we made during our stay explained to us that our “dandy friend” and the becak driver most likely got a commission for the batik we bought and that that’s why the price of the ride was so low. Great, not feeling so cool after that insight. But hey, got an amazing batik piece AND a cheap becak ride.
Yogyakarta is a nice place for foodies, also! We had great food, local dishes with a gourmet twist –the best Nasi Goreng so far- and all around the world classics such as hummus or crème brulee. We also had crappy food. Well, I did: in my attempt to try some local dishes other than Nasi Goreng, I had the most awful Gado-Gado ever. Didn’t have more than two bites of that one. Tried Ankor beer for the first time there… tastes like yogurt to me, I swear! I stuck to Bintang ever since.
For me, Jogja is a collection of moments, postcard-like. A colorful sight awaiting in every corner for you to see, to experience.
If you’re interested in knowing more about why this city can be called both Yogyakarta and Jogjakarta, in addition to other names I found recently, here’s a nice article I found while surfing the net.
And yes, the title of this post is evocative of The Rolling Stones song.