We had the opportunity to visit Yogyakarta (Yogya) for a week last summer. We were there taking an intensive one week-long language class and I must say I enjoyed touring the city as much as I enjoyed learning bits and pieces of Bahasa Indonesia and Indonesian Culture. I was about 5 months pregnant at the time but that didn’t stop us from visiting some of the most popular sites around Yogya.
We stayed at a beautiful private villa near the Kraton area and enjoyed experiencing what life in the kampung or village is like. Evan enjoyed it the most as he got to know a lot of the kids in the neighborhood while mom and dad where at school. Pondok Terra Villas provided comfortable accommodations right in the heart of Yogya .
Very close to our villa streets full of restaurants, hostels and antique stores provided daily entertainment. I must confess I visited the ViaVia Restaurant almost on a daily basis. They had delicious coffee and the meals were cooked to perfection with local organic ingredients. Within the same area you could find several Batik factories. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Batik Workshop where I was taught how to make batik from scratch and observed ladies working on real art pieces. Batik Winotosastro was also a great place to get custom-made Batik clothes. We got matching Father-Son shirts made and they were ready the same day we ordered them.
Our Language School, Wisma Bahasa, provided us with an excellent opportunity to learn the language and get to know other expats living in Indonesia. The teachers were outstanding and encouraged us to practice the new skills we were learning by walking around the school neighborhood and striking up conversations with strangers. Yogyakartans are the friendliest people I have met and having a big belly was definitely a conversation starter.
Taking advantage of the location, we made a day trip to the Borobodur and Prambanan Temples. It was somewhat of a challenge to climb up the steps holding an 18 month old and a 5-month-old baby in the belly but seeing Evan running around the temples and looking at the impressive structures in awe made it all worth it. My only recommendation would be to wear tons of sun block and not to forget to hydrate, it’s really hot and there’s practically no shade available. As in all the tourist attractions, foreigners are an easy target for sellers, so just be careful and make sure you shop around and bargain before purchasing anything. We found the prices in Yogya much more reasonable than in Jakarta when it comes to Batik and folk art. I got Evan a little metal bike for 50,000 IDR (about $5.50 USD) and later found something just like it in Jakarta for 450,000 IDR.
The only regret I have, other than not taking the 2 day batik workshop, is having visited during Ramadan. A lot of the shops remained closed during the day and the pace was certainly slower. However, I would without doubt recommend visiting Yogyakarta. It is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta and gives you a taste of what Indonesia is truly like.