Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jun 17 - 21: Jogjakarta and Jakarta

Me being far from pleased at the airport.

We arrived in Jogjakarta late in the evening on the 17th.

What would have been an hour-long flight, if Al had remembered to actually complete the reservation — and no, I'm never letting that go — ended up being 2 flights with an hour layover. During said layover, I lost my phone, continuing the saga of misery that had begun the day before. But let's not talk about that! Let's talk about Jogja.

Jogjakarta (shortened to Jogja, and don't even get me started on whether it's actually supposed to be Yogyakarta or even Djogdjakarta, because there seemed to be no consensus on this matter at all) is Al's mother's home town. She owns a house there, which was (unsurprisingly considering my previous experiences with Indonesian domiciles) enormous, though very oddly laid out. The kitchen and laundry room were on the second floor. The back of the house consisted of one gigantic room that was two stories high. Al says the house was converted from a bread factory, so I wonder if that was some sort of store room. In any case, we did spend some time discussing how cool it would be to remodel the home and rent it out or something. I forgot to take a photo of it because, as previously mentioned, I'd mentally checked out a few days before.

That first evening, we went out to have our first meal of street food since arriving in Indonesia (everyone from Indonesia raves about how great street food is, in the same breath that they tell you not to eat it because it might make you sick). We took off our shoes, sat on straw mats on the sidewalk, and had our meals delivered to us. I had something new: gudeg (gudek?) which is made from the seeds of the jackfruit. It wasn't bad, but it was very powerful. It struck me as more of a condiment than an entree, something like a sweet version of olive tapenade. It did not make me sick.

After eating, Al and I walked around the streets for a few minutes, looking at the wares for sale, but everyone was packing up for the evening, and besides, we had planned to do all our shopping on our last day in Jogja.

But, before that could happen, we had to get through the first day, which was dedicated to tourism. First stop, the temple, Borobudur, which stands out in my mind as the place were I was obligated to pay 10 times as much for admission as Al and his cousin because I was not an Indonesian.

Unlike many of the other locations we'd visited on this trip, hardly any of the tourists were Caucasian (considering the preferential admission policies, I'm not surprised!), so I stood out conspicuously. Apparently, this temple is a big tourism spot for native Indonesians. They go there because it's awesome, being Indonesia's largest Hindu temple. But the real attraction is not this spectacular work of ancient engineering, but rather the white tourist, who everyone wants to pose for a picture with.

I'd been warned this would happen, and I hadn't been looking forward to it. I did not want to feel like some kind of sideshow freak. But when people actually did start asking for pictures with me, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imagined. In fact, for the first time in this long vacation, I actually felt appreciated, instead of just like a somewhat unwelcome stranger or a source of income.
Borobudur, once I escaped from the Papparazzi (I mean, locals).
After Borobudur, we were planning to go to the Prince's Palace (or something like that) but it was already closed when we got there. So instead, we got ice cream (avocado ice cream...yummy! Who'd have thought?) and then drove around basically running errands for Al's cousins and looking for ... an upholstery store? I don't know. One big disadvantage of being the only non-Indonesian-speaker traveling with a group of Indonesians is that you never really know what's going on.

The next day was the day we were supposed to go shopping. But we learned, when Al finally looked at the itinerary, that our flight out that day was not late in the evening as he'd thought, but rather at 3 in the afternoon, meaning we'd have to leave for the airport around noon (strike two on the flight planning, Al!). So our whole day of shopping was already hosed. We'd have to make a marathon run of it.

And we did our best, visiting a market and couple of shops and scoring some good deals on clothing (4 dollar dress, anyone?), but we didn't have time to get all of the souvenirs and gifts I'd been hoping for (sorry, family, the presents are going to be a little sparse).

Here's a picture of some shoes and clothes I bought, because, frankly, I'm out of good pictures.
And then it was on to Jakarta for the last leg of our journey. I'll keep this part short, because I already did Jakarta once. We basically just had one day anyway, which was spent visiting family: cousins' home previously visited to pick up our remaining belongs and a box of stuff to fly to the US with us, house of very rich aunt who may or may not have a strained relationship with Al's part of the family but it sure seemed like that from the awkward and somewhat silent lunch we had with her, and cousin in hospital (note to self and/or word to the wise: the next time you are dragged along to the hospital to visit someone you've never met, it is guaranteed to be uncomfortable. See if they'll let you wait outside and meet this person some other time under better circumstances.

And thus passed our last day in Indonesia. I wish I had more exciting photos to end this segment of my blog with a bang, but instead you will have to settle for this anticlimactic gradual trail-off...