The Kraton Courtyard
After breakfast I head to the Kraton. It's a massive complex, but I really have no appreciation for Indonesian Sultans. The whole of my knowledge being what I read yesterday on the train. As sweet as a giant palace complex would be, I'm pretty sure I'd take air conditioning and indoor plumbing any day.
Performers at the Kraton
Apparently the Sultan still lives in the Kraton, though most of it is open to tours. I really have nothing to say about the pictures. People dress up and dance and play music and sit around and smoke. I wander out the back exit where there are fewer people trying to heard me into art shops and find myself in a quiet little neighborhood. I guess people just live right alongside the Sultan's complex. People smile, but don't want money from me here. This area is nice.
After a little bit of wandering I get a bike taxi and have him take me to the nearby Water Palace. Previously adjoined to the Kraton, the Water Palace was the Sultan's pool until an earthquake took it out of commission. It was restored in 2004, but apparently being the Sultan isn't what it used to be and the pools are mostly used as a backdrop for high school kids to take pictures of their girlfriends.
I'm guessing the ticket I bought is solely for the tourists since the place seems to have no guards or actual curators. Want to swim in the Sultan's private pool? Go for it. Even weirder, there doesn't seem to have been any zoning restrictions and now the Water Palace is just a part of a neighborhood that has sprouted up with houses sitting next to remnants of sleeping chambers and tunnels.
The Water Palace
Since I did buy a ticket though, I am led around buy a 'guide'. I suspect he doesn't actually work for the place and just acts official (tearing my ticket and such) so he can later try to push me into some art crap. I'm ok w/ this. He's not annoying and while his explanations aren't particularly enlightening
For example: Apparently the place was built by a Portuguese architect in the 1700's. So the Portuguese (I guess there are a singular entity) were brought in to restore it in 2004. Originally the pools were spring fed but in 2004 the Portuguese pumped in water from a well. Also, before 2004 the pools were brown. We don't know why the Portuguese painted them blue in 2004. All the explanations come across as oddly accusatory towards the Portuguese as if they just came in in 2004 and did what ever they wanted and the reasons have been lost to history. Which, other nonsense aside, I have to agree with them on the 'blue pools are better than brown pools' theory.
A pool and the neighborhood that has grown up around it
After wandering around the Water Palace the 'guide' does in fact take me into a Batik art shop (Surprise! 90% of Yogyakarta's appears to be based around selling Batik). At least the owner isn't particularly pushy and is not making up some BS story about it being the last day the stuff is available. I tip the guide and stop for some fried noodles and head off to wander some more.