Note: at the beginning of July 2013, I went for a holiday with my parents, brother and sister. We braved Asia for the first time, explored but did it all in -more or less- style. The age of the group varied between 48 and 17.
Today was pretty busy for the first couple of hours and wonderfully relaxed during the afternoon. Yay!
We had the exquisite pleasure of going for a very leasurely breakfast, without any hassle whatsoever. Around half past 9, we’d agreed to meet at the reception with Heri, the guide, and Eko, the driver. They’d drive to the palace of the sultan, which we would visit, but we would get there by… taxi-bike, if such a word exists. Now, yesterday everything was just a bit confused, due to travelling and tired and what not. What I’d forgotten to mention was that the traffic in Yogyakarta is very friendly and slightly suicidal. Strange combination, but it seems to work for them. In that traffic, we would be driven by those taxis to the palace. It was great fun. I spotted a Banksy (for those not in the know: Google it) on a wall near the Champs Elysées of Yogya, everyone is extremely happy and friendly in the traffic while just ignoring all basic rules and doing whatever they deem best and we all arrived in one piece at our destination.
The palace itself is more a museum of the last 10 sultans (they all have the same name, but different numbers – duh), with special status for the sultan before this one, number 9. He was apparently a very good sultan with excellent diplomatic and strategic skills and everyone is still very fond of him. They are strangely disappointed that this one has only conceived 5 daughters, but that’s no problem as 1) he’s only 67 or something and 2) he can always take a second/third/fourth wife to have more kids. The other sultans apparently have an average of 14 children between them, with peaks for those who had almost 30 children. Gotta love the family parties.
After the palace, we went to the water castle (a.k.a. the poolhouse of the sultans). By now, we’d noticed that we were thought to be movie stars, as everyone wanted to take lots of pictures with us. Apparently, white skin is something not seen a lot here in Indonesia, so everywhere we went people said ‘hello’, waved all the time (though the elder men mostly waved at the pretty girls) and took plenty of pictures of us: either we posed with them or we didn’t, but they took pictures either way. Watch out Brangelina, the Cooreman-troupe is up and coming!
The water castle was cool, but just a bit dirty. Heri blamed it on the heat, which means everything gets dirty quickly. The castle was situated in the midst of one of Yogya’s districts and after our visit we quickly strolled though the small streets. Pretty French/Provence-y looking, actually, except for the hundreds of birds hanging around in cages everywhere. Indonesian men should have five things: a wife, a house, a horse (or car/motorbike, whichever suits him best), a kris (knife) and a bird. Lots of men here, apparently. I was understandably thrilled.
We also visited a batik shop and a silver smith/shop, both of which were very interesting and made us respect these people a lot. Purchases were made, people were happy and we got to go to the pool. Well, I say we, but I must confess I took a nap first. Jetlag and very warm and moist heat does not combine well, apparently.
We’re getting used to Indonesian life, but we still have much to learn and see. Tomorrow: Borobudur! Very famous restaurants and hotels! Much more!