It’s the end of 2021 and Covid-19 is still the hot topic around the world, hindering progress and generally getting in the way. Yogyakarta, too, has been caught in suspended animation for more almost two years. Now, with preventive measures and new health protocol having been carried out, the city is more than eager to welcome us back.
ADITYA PURWANTO, DISPAR YOGYAKARTA
The arrival at the new Yogyakarta International Airport feels a little peculiar as there is a sense of familiarity, yet the airport is now 90 minutes away by car from the city centre since its move to the neighbouring regency of Kulonprogo. For an alternative, the airport train service takes only 40 minutes to arrive at Yogyakarta Train Station situated at the end of Malioboro street and which is still Jogja’s hottest tourist destination. The street has changed so much yet so little, the refurbished pavement is home for benches and shades, and when night comes, the mobile vendors start turning up and setting up for Jogja folk’s dearest way of hanging out – the Angkringan stalls. The city government takes pride in the fact that Yogyakarta’s population has been 100% Covid-19 vaccinated and with the green light finally lit on this lovely town, InClover ventured out and experienced a few of the city’s lesser-known attractions.
Visiting Gembira Loka Zoo
The zoological gardens stand on 22 hectares (54 acres) of land, and consist of hills, a man-made lake, and 100% fun. Home to around 500 varieties of flora and fauna from various regions, Gembira Loka Zoo was created by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono born of his wishes to build a place where the people of Jogja could enjoy themselves. The zoo is located on the west bank of the Winongo river which contributes to the varying land contours. Starting from the children friendly Petting Zoo located closest to the entrance, visitors will also be able to experience many other fun activities such as the Zoo Express, Catamaran Sightseeing, Rowboats and Water Scooters, ATV and Segway NineBot rentals, camel and elephant rides, as well as bicycle rental on selected days.
Museum Sandi Negara, a.k.a. The Spy Museum
While perhaps not as flashy when compared to a British secret agent movie franchise, this museum has kept records on how the first cipher society in the country began. Yogyakarta once played the role of the country’s capital during the first decade of Indonesia’s independence. During those arduous times, new methods were adopted in the struggle to defend this hard-earned independence and one way was by using encrypted communications. From the first recorded secret codes used by ancient Romans to the establishment of the National Cipher School in Bogor, the museum lays bare the information for everyone to learn.
The Monalisa and the Mataram Kings Cemetery of Kotagede
Staying in tune with the trends of late, Jogja has a new sport-tourism activity in the form of a series of cycling routes which aim to reintroduce the city’s yesteryear charm to the masses. Romansa Kota Lawas (Old Town Romance), abbreviated as Monalisa, crosses old alleyways, passes through serene neighborhoods with fresh jamu stops every other mile, and an ancient royal cemetery complex. The Mataram Kings Cemetery of Kotagede is well-kept and well-attended, offering any curious souls the stories of old, complete with mysterious charm. You do need to be aware that there are parts of the cemetery which are restricted unless you wear traditional garments provided by the caretaker.
The Return of the Wayang Jogja Night Carnival
After a year of absence, the WJNC was back in a self-restrained form. Accessible only for the public through YouTube Live Streaming, WJNC 2021 marked Jogja city’s 265th birthday and the reopening of the city for tourism. The event was attended and inaugurated by the Mayor of Yogyakarta, Haryadi Suyuti, the Vice Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, KGPAA Paku Alam X, and the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, along with invited representatives from society. The WJNC 2021 carried a new format where guests visited 5 stages in sequence, riding two decorated floats and watched the performance each stage had to offer. The 5 stages were placed surrounding the inner grounds of Sasana Krida stadium where the event took place. WJNC 2021 took the theme of Semar Boyong, symbolising the city’s battle and the hope for a rapid recovery against the pandemic.
World, Allow Us to Introduce You to YK
The new city branding for Yogyakarta, YK, was launched that same night during the WJNC 2021 opening ceremony. Signifying dynamism, acceleration, and the determination to always deliver better products and achievements, YK will place itself as the new face of Jogja tourism. The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, gave his blessing and best wishes to the inception of YK as a brand, encouraging the city and the people to get on the same stage and the share the same positive spotlight with the world’s already famous cities such as SG or NY.