JOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — If you’ve never bought a one-way plane ticket to somewhere you can barely pronounce, I highly recommend it.
Jogyakarta is derived from the Javanese words for “beautiful,” “happy” and “prosperous.” Taking a taxi to your hotel near the Royal Palace, you might be inclined to agree.
The streets, even during the afternoon rush hour, are unlike Jakarta’s in that traffic actually moves. Broad, tree-lined boulevards — though they’re always called “jalan,” or “street” — lead from the airport to the city center. The ubiquitous “warungs” (“shops” or “stands”) line both sides of the street, offering everything from mobile phones to goat satay (which are delicious).
Motorbikes, which help clog Jakarta’s roads and en masse produce a deafening roar, are ridiculously abundant here, too, and every other warung has at least a dozen of them parked in front, including one eatery named Jogya Chicken. (Jogya, pronounced “JO-gyah,” is the city’s nickname.) But in Jogyakarta, the two-wheelers aren’t handlebar-to-handlebar.
Downtown, bicycle taxis with ornamented frames proliferate the sidewalks, along with traditional-looking horse-drawn carriages.
The gorgeous crepuscular light helped make vendors, vehicles and buildings far more photogenic than I had expected.
A nice surprise is always welcome.