Yogyakarta (Central Java, Indonesia)

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We wake to the sound of the bird singing in its cage next to our bedroom. It’s so peaceful. There are no mosques here in this area so we don’t have the 4am wake-up call that has become the norm here in Indonesia (a very unpleasant and intrusive wake-up call I must say). At first I can’t even put a finger on why I enjoy waking up here at Joglo Arun home stay. But Paul is the one who notices that it’s the birdsong waking us instead of the mosque. We enjoy our final morning here and decide to make this our go-to place to stay in Yogyakarta.

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But we are checking out to change hotels. See, we had pre-booked three nights of luxury at the Novotel Yogyakarta because we found a 50% off deal. This means we can stay in a four-star hotel for the same money we would usually spend on a powered camping site in Australia. And I don’t believe that one should only rough it when traveling to the developing world: a touch of affordable luxury is allowed. And what luxury it will be. We get a huge room on the fifth floor with a view of the city and a huge comfortable king-size bed and movie channels on the television. While I love the home stay, I certainly am not complaining about spending the final three nights of our time in Indonesia in such luxury.

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We’ve not explored this northern side of Yogyakarta yet. So we drop our gear and set off on foot to see what we find. Our first top is lunch on the street. We pass a few soto (soup) sellers but none of their pots are bubbling away so I err on the side of caution (I learned a big lesson in Semarang). But this seller has a crowd, a row of tables on the footpath Bangkok-style and the pot is bubbling away with steam rising from it. For 22,000IDR ($AU2.20) we each get a big bowl of delicious soto and Paul gets a hot sweet Indonesian-style beer glass of tea served with a straw.

The roads here are far busier than in the city’s south and scooters are neatly lined all over the footpath. We check out some outdoor shops to see whether we can find Paul a backpack (he has been using my hiking pack and wants his own). There are some nice ones in the Eiger shop but they don’t have zips in the lid so we pass on them. There are a few other outdoor shops selling packs but not all look legitimate (Deuter would never allow a pack out of their factory with dodgy stitching and I take a photo of another pack to check it online and find that this model down not exist on any company website). If the price for the knock offs was cheap as chips it would be okay but the prices are over $AU100 so we skip for now. There is another outdoor shop we can try. And otherwise we’ll buy one of the cheap local brands because we do need a bag to get our excess luggage home.

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We see a busy shop where it’s almost impossible to get inside due to the parked scooters. Naturally we have to check it out. Downstairs is a grocery shop with all the usual products and also lots of over-ripe fruit and vegetables (a problem of being in the tropics is that everything ripens quickly). Upstairs we find heaps and heaps of clothes on racks. I love how many shops here in Indonesia are like indoor markets … obviously this is the layout that shoppers are most comfortable with. There are loads and loads of children’s clothes at very cheap prices and we have lots of children in our lives so they are getting clothes as gifts this trip. Actually, there are also lots of cheap adult clothes that I like as well. T-shirts here are particularly funky and the quality is better than at home for the same price. I resist the urge to buy but only because there is a Matahari right next door to our hotel and I know they have awesome t-shirts there.

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We drop our shopping at the hotel and head back out in the opposite direction for a walk and to find some dinner. I love walking at night looking at the lights and action. Tonight I threaten Paul that I might leave him for this hot hard hunk with the big belly. Haha. Paul doesn’t seem too concerned about his status as my partner though.

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On the way home we pass a reflexology place. We are encouraged by the “no sex” signs because that means we are unlikely to have any embarrassing advances. We ask for 45 minutes reflexology. Paul’s is okay but my guy is hopeless. He has no idea what he is doing and just spends almost the entire 45 minutes digging his fingers into my calf muscles and shins as he does effleurage up and down my leg. I endure the horrible massage hoping it will end soon. I ask him a few times to be less strong but he will then ease off for a stroke then punish me by going harder. If he knew what he was doing like my physio does it would be okay. But he’s just an amateur who tells me to relax when he’s causing me so much pain I am jumping from my seat and about to punch him. The only reason I don’t get up is because I don’t want to disturb Paul who is snoring next to me. At least it only cost 45,000IDR ($AU4.50). And I’ve had more good reflexology treatments here in Indonesia than bad.

We retire to our very nice hotel room after our 6km (4 mile) night walk. I crash out pretty quickly in comfort.

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