Apart from Prambanan and Borobudur, I also paid a quick visit to Mendut Buddhist Monastery, Kraton (Sultan’s Palace) and Taman Sari (Water castle). A word of caution: beware of scams. I got a ticket to Kraton for 5,000 Rp instead of 12,500 Rp, and I heartily congratulated myself ‘I’ve done it again, I’ve blended in so well that the ticket agent mistook me for an Indonesian’. How wrong I was! On the way to Taman Sari, I met a local middle-aged man who told me I wasn’t in Kraton, that ticket was for the front ugly part of Kraton only. The real Kraton was on the other side of a locked door. Damn it! The guy seemed nice, he said he worked as a guard at the Kraton, and knew all about the place. He showed me the way to Sumur Gumuling, then Taman Sari, he even went in with me to show me around (without paying the ticket). At this point, I was a little bit suspicious but decided to play along to see whether he was a genuinely kind local or a tricky tout. So we went around for a while, made a few stops at batik shops and souvenir stores. I didn’t buy anything. He ended up taking me to his own family’s shop and suggested that I should buy something to support his artist relatives. I didn’t buy anything. When we got out to the street, he asked for some ‘tour-guide’ money. I flatly said no. Actually, I was very mean and daring, I gave him a 2,000 Rp note (~$0.2), and said that was all I got, he could either take it or leave me alone. I could clearly see the frustration, despair, and anger in his eyes, but I didn’t give a damn, I would not pay a tout. Luckily, the guy had neither a knife nor an aggressive manner, and he let me walk away unharmed.
Also beware of the so-called batik paintings. I was walking on the street and was introduced to a shop run by ‘Kraton’s artists’ down a very long narrow alley. The owner was very friendly and passionate. When he saw my interest in a Ramayana-Sita painting, he kindly offered me a 20% discount as I was a Vietnamese ‘student’.
-‘350,000 Rp down to 280,000 Rp’
-‘Too expensive’, I said.
-‘250,000 Rp then’
-‘No thank you’
-‘200,000 Rp, last price’
-‘That’s too much for a poor student like me’, I lied
-‘Ok, how much would you like to pay? Just tell me’, the guy insisted
-Hmm, time to test my bargaining skill, ‘100,000 Rp’
WHAT? No, no, noooooooooo. I had just made a huge mistake. This painting clearly was not worth 100,000 Rp. I would not be ripped off on my second day in Indonesia. So I told the guy I had to think about it, and would come back later. Thankfully a big group of tourists were coming in, so I quietly sneaked out of the shop, leaving the tout who took me there in great frustration for sure.
Mendut Buddhist Monastery
Kraton (or more accurately the tiny ugly edge of the real Kraton)
Various souvenir and batik shops
What saved my second day in Yogyakarta – Mogus World, a very cool exhibition at Kedai Kebun restaurant