Yogyakarta (Joe-jah-KART-uh), or Jogja for short, is a city of about 3.5 million people in its metro area—and almost as many scooters, it seems. Judging from the tourist t-shirts, it wasn't that long ago that Jogja was a city of bicycles and pedicabs, but when financing laws changed and people were able to begin buying motorcycles on credit, they did. Now about the only people you see on bicycles are children and tourists.
Other first impressions from my visit this summer:
• This part of Indonesia is 11 hours ahead of where I live—a daunting adjustment for anyone skipping around the globe.
• Anywhere in the city, five times a day, you can hear the Muslim call to prayer from nearby mosques. The first call is at about 4:30 AM. Often you hear several calls at once, a beautiful and haunting cacauphony of sound that instantly evokes every other Muslim city one may have visited.
• Fried food is highly favored. Yogyakartans also like savory things slightly sweet, and sweet things not quite as sweet as Americans expect.
• This is not the rainy season, but it is humid.
• Few people wear shorts.