Yogyakarta (Jogja) – A pleasant surprise

I could describe Yogyakarta as vibrant and bustling, but to be honest, initially I found it overwhelming. There were hundreds of motorbikes neatly parked along the sidewalks with really cool, shiny helmets resting on each one. (We were impressed that they all wore helmets – except the babies.) The parked bikes, along with those riding along the sidewalk searching for a parking spot, made it difficult to walk – that, and the attention we seemed to attract since we were among the few foreigners there. We weaved our way among the food stalls and handicraft vendors lining the sidewalks, just trying to take it all in.

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But it wasn’t long before we saw the true spirit of the Indonesian people. Brad accidentally cut in front of a young man and apologized. He then talked to us at great length, giving us tips on the do’s and don’ts of Jogja. He left us, asking nothing in return except a suggestion that we visit the art institute where he taught.

We encountered this again and again. As we were walking up and down Malioboro Street with Google maps open on our phone in search of this restaurant located in backpackers’ alley, a man approached and walked with us until he was sure we wouldn’t get lost. Again, he only suggested we stop by his exhibit on our way back. (And I thought this only happened in Japan.)

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Finally ~ crossing the streets of Yogyakarta is a bit like Vietnam – dashing between cars and motorbikes with no particular strategy, you just go. Brad is good at this. Me, not so much. As a result, he was on one side of the street, and I was still waiting. A group of school girls asked if he needed help. He silently pointed at me (laughing a little inside). Before they had a chance to rescue me, a gentleman stepped into the street, stopped traffic, and let me cross. Indonesia now ranks as one of my favorite places to visit.

 

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