|We have spent the last several days at Yogyakarta taking in the local sites and culture. On our first day here a visit to the Kraton was in order. The Kraton is essentially a walled city that contains 25,000 residents with its own markets, shops, schools etc. The current sultan still resides there and the palace contains some of the finest examples of Javanese architecture. Elders that reside there still wear the local dress comprised of a sarong, belt, long bladed knife, shirt and a hat that looks like a wrap of material Chad tried one on as you can see in the photo. After spending an hour or so at the palace we, moved on to eat some lunch and then hunt down air tickets for our trip north to Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo but we are switching countries because Malaysia has several provinces on the northern part of Borneo. We had been doing lots of walking so in order to give our feet a break we negotiated with some Becak drivers (photo of 3 wheel bikes with a seating area in the front) to shuttle us to the ticket office. It was a pleasant break and also we employed a local. The 20 minute ride cost $2 and was worth every minute. Purchasing tickets was priority in order to set our schedule for the remainder of the trip. Afterwards, we ate lunch and then rented some 100cc motorcycles to tour around the area and take in the sites. It was definitely an exciting way to get around. First is they drive on the opposite of the road then we do so we drive in the left lane rather than the right and making a right turn takes some thought to ensure the turn is in the correct lane. Second, there is lots of traffic and with the exception of some street lights traffic rules seem like suggestions, but speeds are not real fast since there is so much traffic so any incident would be at a relatively slow speed unlike the speeds we drive in the states. It was late afternoon by the time we made our way 17km across town with a basic map and asking for directions and everyone was very friendly and helpful when we enquired as to the location of our destination. We arrived at the Parmbanan which contains some of the best remaining examples of Java’s period of Hindi cultural architecture. There are several large temple complexes in Java but the sculptural detail make this temple the most outstanding example of Hindi art. All the temples were built between the 8th &10th century. The Parmbanan was added as a UNESCO heritage site in 1991. Regrettably it suffered extensive damage in the 2006 earthquake. Restoration efforts continue and there is still a large amount of work that remains to restore the site. We spend about 2 hours before having to leave at closing time. While waiting to regroup before leaving groups of local kids came up and wanted their photos taken with us. This was the first time some of our group members experienced this and they had a great time. However, overtime it becomes annoying because every time you stop people come up and you to pose with them in their photo so it becomes hard to take photos of your own and enjoy the site itself. It was after dark by the time we left and worked our way back across town. The cool air while riding was very refreshing after melting in the sun all afternoon. The traffic, however, was just a chaotic and made for an adventure. By the end of our motorcycle experience, we had two crashes and some minor cycle damage but other than some road rash, bruises , and some stretched joints everyone came out untouched and two in our group had some good stories to go with their scared flesh.