A different shade befalls upon Kotagede's street sides in Yogyakarta. History notes that Kotagede once was the colonist's central administration, although present reality has shifted this image into a serene, suburban retreat suitable for quiet travelers. Especially at nights, Kotagede sparkles as a symbol of old days excitement of an artistic city such Yogyakarta rendering perfect pictures of modest society who loves to get together and befriend with anyone.
The reminiscent of Dutch reins splashes accent European dash on humble Javanese houses. Here and there, silver artisans boast their meticulous crafts - forged with heart as they put it. If you are into fancy glamour and glitz, this setting is rather somber and down-to-earth, authentically made for anyone, not just for elitists who indulge affluent pamper.
To the north sets a lonely road between traditional Yogyakartan houses called Joglo, which emits rigid wooden closures on moldy auburn bricks. Often you might notice, several homes function ambivalently as either a pleasant respite after a long day and a gallery to expose scintillating silver handicrafts, like a mini silver carriage paired up with chained galloping stallions glistening as you peek through the display glass. Furthermore, there is one quintessential feature Kotagede perennially nurtures. Inducing one's fond since the very first sight, the native's impeccable politeness to every stranger is definitely rare and precious property. Their graceful smiles are, indeed, as similar as how these brownish-beige complexions run their fingers on silverwork; all is derived from sincere, genteel hearts.
The merrier crowds converge on the south of Kotagede. Pasar Gede (Gede Market) invites chatty housewives on one side, while the Royal Graveyard intrigues curious visitors who are looking for triple "s" success, strength, and safety. The second venue is actually Kotagede's focal point if ever getting into cemetery does not raise one's Goosebumps.
One thing for sure, you need to dress up, literally, to penetrate into this burial complex. Batik shirt and sarong are a must, complemented with blangkon, a knotted batik-cloth cap, for the gentlemen. Before finally arriving at the sovereigns' graves, there are approximately 720 tombs waiting for you passing. Sweating under the scorching sun is out of the question, but after you recite a prayer at the entrance and in front of the Royal graves, you may take a bath in Sendang Saliran (special bathing quarters). Sendang Kakung is for men and Sendang Putri is for the other gender. Rumor has it that the water runs in the bath may cure illnesses and shower prosperity to innocent believers. Well, refreshing subsequent to encountering mystical tombs is surely worthwhile.
If you are already blessed and refreshed, it is time to savor something sweet and be replete. Kotagede's Sate Karang (Juicy Beef Satay) is legendary. The succulent, grilled beef doused in sweet soy sauce is served with a bowl of pandanus-scent steamed rice. Add little spicy touch of kocor sauce, which is mostly used to seasoning fresh fruit salad. One bite crumbles the luscious meat under your palate part by part so that there is no hidden taste lingers on the slim-stick skewers. The black soy sauce seeping into the meat core unravels a mixture of sublime gratification that leaves you addicted for another satay to order. On the side of your plate, Kipo, rice flour stocked with sweet coconut grates, dares you for a nibble. You may think afterwards that Yogyakartans should have put "sweet" as their foods' middle name; nevertheless, Kipo is relishing snack for a bite or two. And for the drinks, do order a glass of Beras Kencur. Again, rice is the basic material, squashed together with galangal and stirred in hot mineral water. The result is blurry-yellowish beverage that juxtaposes sweet and bitter on a first quench yet is totally vigorous.
The silverwork, Royal Graveyards, new bathing sensation, and utterly sweet dishes may linger in your memory still as you haul you luggage for a return to hometown. But Kotagede is more than just a nice few day experience to enjoy. It is a safe haven for peaceful dwellers, a contender to utopia where everybody is a true friend to seek and greet with happiness. Live through a different getaway this time in a humbling setting of Kotagede, Yogyakarta.