January 30, 2007
“Where?” That seemed to be the typical response I would get when I told people the second city of our trip is Yogyakarta. And honestly, before the trip I knew about as much as they did about this town located in Central Java, the region at the heart of Indonesia. However, Dr. Barkin made an accurate statement when he said ‘Johg-Juh’ (as pronounced by locals) was the meat in the sandwich that is our trip. Until then, we had been pampered, massaged, slept comfortably, and used the bathroom outside the shower. We knew things had changed when we entered the Istana Batik Ratna Hotel in downtown Yogyakarta.
I found a couple of interesting contrasts in Yogyakarta when compared to Bali. First, Islam was the major religion and this was reflected in the call to prayer that played over a PA system numerous times a day. As Americans, we were told repeatedly that American tourism had slowed in the area because of the negative stereotypes portrayed in the media of Muslims. Needless to say, we stuck out. But somehow I was fine with this fact and I made it a personal goal to understand Islam where it so vibrantly flourished. Also, the size and activity of Yogyakarta was astonishing. Our guide said that the city’s population was so dense that 13,000 people lived per square kilometer. And judging by the
conditions of the city’s sewer and trash systems, I’m guessing it isn’t comfortable living. It was at this point that I realized what I take for granted at home. Importantly, as a group I think we needed to visit this city to understand how lucky we are as Americans.
By this time the group was growing tired of Indonesian food, mainly because we’re spoiled brats. So, on our most important anthropological adventure to date, we tried ALL the Indonesian representations of our fast-food restaurants. My review goes