There was a sign posted from Imaginative Traveller when we returned from our “non-Cobra”meal. Ian would be our guide and available in the reception area between 9:00-10:00 a.m. if we needed information. The formal group meeting would be held at 6:30 p.m. with instructions to bring obligatory proof of insurance, passports, tip kitty, extra money, etc. to the meeting.
A sparse, schlocky guesthouse breakfast with only one egg, fruit, toast (that never turned brown) and coffee/tea. There wasn’t a clue that each person could have one egg until ex-Marine asked for another and was presented with a bill for 5,000 Rupiah after he ate it. One other westerner arrived during breakfast, Susie from the U.K. who will be with us for the two week Java-Bali tour, and then go on to Lombok for a one-week add-on. Susie just flew in from Bali where she met up with her brother who has been traveling around the world for several years. Isn’t youth great?
Ian, group leader, wandered in and joined us with some information. There are nine of us on the 14-day Java/Bali portion until we ferry over to Seminyak, Bali, when five more people will join. The third week is a Lombok add-on from Imaginative Traveller that we hadn’t signed up for. Ian then proceeded to answer a few all-important questions:
– How much money did he suggest for two-weeks worth of meals and additional tours? $200 and there would be places with moneychangers or ATM’s through Java and Bali. A quick walk over to a nearby ATM for 2,000,000 Rupiahs, instant U.S. dollar millionaires.
– Sultan’s Palace (Kraton) recommendations? Ian suggested hiring a Becak driver who would take us to the Sultans Palace (Kraton), Taman Sari (water castle), bird market, and stay with us all morning for around 40,000 Rupiah, less than $4.00 U.S. The Kraton entrance is hard to find, and there would be free music and dancing today at 10:30 a.m. Admission tickets to the Sultan’s Palace are 14,000 Rupiah with camera fees extra. If you want to hire a guide inside, you pay them whatever you think the tour was worth. Or, as Ian succinctly stated, “If they are a dick-head, give nothing.”
With the entire day free to do our own thing, we took Ian’s advice and walked outside the hotel to negotiate with the Becak (pronounced, bee-chack) drivers. A Becak is a trishaw (a traditional, pedal-powered cart) and you’ll never have to worry about finding one or negotiating. It’s difficult to walk three steps without being approached by a Becak driver. Yogyakarta is a small city and other options for getting around, other than feet, are metered taxis, and horse carts. None are expensive and check out all three, but make sure your taxi drops the meter and/or haggle before getting in
Made a Becak deal with “Gus” who suggested taking two Becak for comfort. The deal was 60,000 Rupiah for two Becaks and all morning touring. It was more comfortable (ex-Marine isn’t exactly small) and the other Becak driver was grateful that he had a fare. The Kraton was quite far away, and would have been difficult for us to find the correct entrance even with Lonely Planet book in hand. The Kraton walls extend for 15 kms/9.3 miles around it and in the humidity and heat, probably would have given up.
Yogyakarta (pop: 500,000), is one of Indonesia’s major tourist destinations and Java’s most popular tourist destination. Probably because of its proximity to the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan (we’d see both in a few days). Yogyakarta is a center of art and education, offers some good shopping and has tourist facilities/restaurants ranging from super cheap to expensive. A huge number things to do. Our drivers pedaled off down Yogyakarta’s busy street. Through one of Sultan’s Palace walls, into Sultan’s Square where there were two elephants used for ceremonial processions giving rides.
A few other landmarks and attractions (some we saw, others didn’t) are:
– Tugu Monument in the center of downtown Yogyakarta, built by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono VI;
– The Dutch fort, Benteng Vredeburg, located in front of the President’s Palace, a example of the Dutch colonial architecture. A few warfare items are still preserved, including a twin cannon; and
– Heritage buildings from colonial era, all located near Sultan’s Palace. The Central Post Office, Bank Indonesia Building and a few more.
Travelling Solo? We make it easy.
No single supplements. GAP Adventures.