From Jakarta to Yogyakarta

Trip Start Jul 20, 2004
Trip End Jul 20, 2020

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

After 4 days in Jakarta, I felt I need a vacation. Tiur and Lina took me everywhere from family visits to class reunions to neighborhood visits to Spanish class visits and a 30 minute stint at an English class in an n English language institute. I really got to see Indonesian life from a very insight position and I am thankful for this. I would have never met the people I met through Tiur and Lina. It was extremely enjoyable, educational and fun. Fun, because it always involved lots of yummy food. I discovered martabak which are Indonesian crepes, lupis and pisang goreng (fried bananas), and fruits like duku and rambutan. I also learned about the Indonesians obsession with whitening cream; this stuff is available everywhere and people spend major money on it. Maybe this is what Michael Jackson used to become a light skinned guy. We went to the old harbor, the textile museum where we got an overview of the batik making process. Classes were available for 250000 rup for 4 days. The museum offers introductionary and intermediate classes. We also ventured to the bus terminal which was a new experience for Tiur as she and Lina usually have a driver that takes them places. But just going to the terminal and inquiring about buses to Yogya was an experience in itself. From pushy to touchy to screaming people to filth everywhere, its just not something I am interested in experiencing. So, we opted for the train.

After saying goodbye to all the neighboors and having our last lunch at Marie's place, we went off to Bogor, to spend 1 hour driving through the botanical garden and then headed back to Jakarta to have our last dinner together, which was batak food. Then, off to the train station, where Lina tried to convince me I should get a bisnis train ticket for 100.000 rupiah. But I figured I can have 2 nights at a hostel plus the train ticket if I only take economi and pay 36.000. So Tiur found a woman and her husband to whom she handed me over for personal protection. This train ride was an experience that I only need to experience once. Smoking in the entire train, smelly, dirty toilets (I made sure I went before and did not drink anything during the next 9 hours). For the entire time, retail and food sellers came wandering through the train trying to sell everything from socks to belts to books and toys. Well, my bladder was bursting when we finally got to Yogya. After taking care of this situation, the woman was kind enough to take me and my big backpack on her motorcycle and drop me off close to Hotel Anda where I am staying. No servas or HC hosts here so I have to play tourist again. But I like the place and you can't beat 25.000 rupiah, less than $3 for a single room with private "mandi". I met a Canadian couple at the hostel and we went out for breakfast, banana pancakes and coffee. They gave me some tips on where to go and what not to see and then left for Borobudur. They are pretty much heading in the same direction as I am going, so our ways may cross again.

I set off and explored the town and met Danny, who works in the local museum and therefore has a wealth of information. Before meeting him, I went to the government arts center where students produce and sell batik, everything from 16000 - 4mill. rupiahs. Having Danny as my personal guide proofed very useful as he took me to the museum in the afternoon and showed me the collection of leather puppets or wayan kulit and explained how they are manufactures (from buffalo skin, superbly stenciled and then painted). Visitors can only buy one puppet and all personal information is recorded. As every puppet has a story, the visitor will receive the story of the puppet in the mail at a later time. There is also some kind of guarantee that the puppets will not break. Prices for puppets range from 400.000 to over 4mill. depending on size and art work. Later in the evening, I went to see a wayang kulit performance at the museum. This 2 hour event was wonderful; I always wanted to see a Javanese puppet performance which comes complete with an orchestra, singers and the puppet master who tells the story and moves the puppets. Its basically a shadow show. It was fascinating just to watch the musicians playing their gamelan and other instruments and the puppet master telling his story using different voices for each figure. I recommend to everyone to see one of these shows in Java. The price was 15000 rupiahs, which is less than $2. Afterwards, Danny and I went to a dark pub to see some life music; no life music happened but we had some cold beers and just chatted the night away. I got a tour on his motorbike; it was great to see the city at night with traffic virtually gone.

The next day I went to Solo for the day and wished I would have left at 7 instead of 10. All the museums and kratons were either closed or closing by the time I got to them. I enjoyed walking around the city, especially wandering around the labyrinth like villages in town. I like Solo and the people, they seem to be more laid back and softer, not as pushy and obnoxious as I had experienced in all the other places. Its easy to smile here and strike up conversations with people, using hands and feet and dictionary. I am not sure what it is young men see in me. I seem to attract especially 20 somethings who love to practice their English and then want me to show around town and spend time with them. The second or third questions is usually about my marital status and if I am travelling alone. To save me from any hassles, I invented a boyfriend/husband story modeled on my friend Mika who is from Europe and works in Finnland. So, I tell people that my boyfriend/husband has to work in Malaysia and that I don't so I took the time to travel for 2 months across Indonesia. It works and can keep the guys off my back. I also watched devoted Moslems fulfilling their 5 times a day prayer obligations during work. The women put on their white skirt and head cover, roll out a small carpet and pray wherever they are, store, restaurant or other public place. I am starting to like Indonesia.
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Henry on

Yogyakarta is really a nice place to visit. And If you have chance to come to this city, do visit Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks in Ambarukmo Plaza, Yogyakarta. You can try their delicious food, especially the XXL Chicken and Happy RIce Box....

Joyo Pencing on

wah....good...i like jogja too...

Johan on

Thank you for your information.
I Love Yogyakarta !

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