Last year I came to Yogyakarta to see the central Java cultural attractions of Borobudur and Prambanan temple complexes, that are just a short distance away.
After catching up with a few friends since that trip, I found out that there was a place I had not been to, that I found very interesting. So naturally, I had to go back, just for the weekend.
Next to the Kraton (Sultan’s Palace), was Taman Sari, or the Water Palace.
It was a complex of pools and waterways and dressing rooms for the Sultan and his large number of wives and children. The wives would all be out bathing in the pools and the Sultan would be on an observation area up above, watching. Once he selected a wife for the evening, they would both go to the private pool area. I find it a bit disturbing how many wives and children he had, but it was a cool building to tour.
Just down from the Water Palace was an underground mosque. We descended a small staircase and hallway which opened up to archways facing an open courtyard. Being such a hot day, it was nice to be able to walk the circumference of the building via the underground walkways, and just pop out to have a quick picture taken.
The next stop was an art shop in a hidden alleyway. This is a place where students and apprentices make traditional Batik wall art. It’s almost like buying it wholesale before some of the best prints get purchased by souvenir shops on the main street and resold for much higher prices. I naturally had to pick up a few items, before returning to the hotel, taking a shower and a nap. A very productive morning. It wasn’t until the sun was well below the horizon before I went out again for some dinner, when it was more comfortable outside.
In the morning I was off to Kota Gede. This is a neighborhood just outside the city limits that is known for its silver shops. The main street is lined with shop after shop offering intricate silver stuff: jewelry, pendants, wall hangings and sailboats in display cases. There was something for everyone, in every price range. Since there aren’t many things I collect, I thought a new pair of earrings would be a nice keepsake.
The pedicab ride back to Malioboro (the main street in Yogya) took about 15-20 minutes. I got dropped off at the very end of the street, by the park with a nice tree. School kids were out hunting for foreigners to interview for class projects, street food was a-cookin’ and some bamboo carvings were being sold nearby. I’m a sucker for interesting international art (that doesn’t take up much space) so I was happy to take away some more wall hangings.
A trip to Yogya is always a good choice. The shopping is great, and pretty cheap, the temperature is always warm, and there are so many interesting things to see and do. It’s definitely a place I’d love to visit again.