Best of Yogya (Central Java, Indonesia)

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After starting the day with the buffet breakfast at the hotel (probably our first breakfast in a week) and a few hours work we head out on foot at midday to walk Yogya. It’s our second last day in Indonesia and we still have much we want to see. Not famous sights; just Indonesia.

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The warung are all changing now from morning to evening shift. This multiple use of the same space is so fascinating to me. In the morning someone sells breakfast. Then they pack up their gas stoves, food and plastic chairs to make way for the person who sells food in the afternoon and evening. In some places it’s just a matter of packing up a kaki lima and walking away. In others the whole warung tarp is removed and packed away in the cart. The street is swept and then the morning shift leaves on foot, with loaded scooters or in a waiting becak.

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Loaded scooters are a common sight here. They carry everything from baskets of rubbish or coconuts to gas cookers and food to little boxes in which coals are burned to cook satay. I wonder whether you’d get away with it at home. And I also wonder why motorbike panniers and boxes are so expensive at home when they seem to make quite functional ones here, which are probably a fraction of the price (I cannot see an Indonesian food vendor paying upwards of 2,000,000IDR [$AU200] for a set of pannier boxes). Not even the metal ones.

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We cross the railway line and walk under a car bridge. The street art on the pillars is fantastic. I love it.

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Buskers play music on a street corner. I observe that traditional island nations seem to have a similar sound in their traditional music. It’s something high pitched and hollow. In Caribbean music the steel drum makes the sound and here it’s the xylophone-like instrument. I can’t put my finger on it but I can hear it when I am around this music. It’s festive and catchy but kind of relaxing at the same time.

Sop daging

We stop at an outdoor shop and buy Paul a nice 40L pack with which we get a free two-man tent. I also buy a hiking hammock and a new pair of sunglasses. Then we eat our fill of sop daging (meat soup) at a small warung. It’s served differently to the soto we’ve been eating because the rice is next to the soup.


We continue our wanderings and end up at Tempo Gelato on the tourist street. It is delicious and cool on such a hot day. We’ve walked more than 5km (3 miles) to get here so are quite ready for a treat. Interestingly, almost everyone in the shop is Indonesian. This is despite some bloggers and observers saying that places like this are only for tourists. I think there is probably a growing middle class here in Indonesia. Because there are not enough tourists for places like this to survive on the tourist trade alone. But even if Indonesian people do not come here often, the population is probably large enough to sustain relatively more expensive shops like this even if one quarter of the population only comes once a year. A medium ice cream (three scoops) costs 40,000IDR ($AU4). So it’s the same price as a movie ticket or two servings of nasi ayam goreng (rice with fried chicken) at a warung.


We watch the goings on outside the ice cream shop window. A man with a whistle is working hard to park motorbikes. The shop is busy and he has to keep moving double parked bikes around to get everyone in and out. A bus does a u-turn on the narrow street, causing traffic mayhem and the man with the whistle helps with control. He works hard and probably doesn’t even earn enough in a day to buy ice cream from this shop. It’s a stark contrast between the economic classes that exist here. He is wearing old dirty jeans and ill-fitting shirt while the locals dining here have clean pressed clothes and modern hair styles. But you can’t begrudge the haves from enjoying themselves either because our being poor will not help the impoverished any more than using a knife to cut your hand will help heal an injured person heal more quickly. So everyone tips the man with the whistle so he can make his income because if they didn’t come to this shop then he wouldn’t have bikes to park and tips to earn either.


We stop for a foot reflexology session to take us from day to night. Then we decide to have one last sate ayam (chicken satay) for our trip. Paul came not liking satay sauce and is leaving as quite a fan. Sitting in the little warung I am struck by how normal the rhythms of travel here in Indonesia have become. It’s a country that is almost as far removed from our home as is possible but we are now moving here with ease and even using more frequent phrases of Bahasa Indonesia.


We are now on the far southern end of Malioboro Street and our hotel is on the north so we take in the famous street again.




I pose for photos with owls, a cartoon cat and some scary mummies. You just drop some money into their box and they will let you post in the photo. It’s an interesting way to make a bit of money and, being a fan of street performers and buskers, I don’t mind obliging. The mummies are particularly good.



Malioboro Street is as crowded as ever. Food vendors set up stalls or push their kaki lima or push bicycles with gas stoves or cooking coals down the street banging on wooden bells. Horses and carriages line the road waiting for fares and becak drivers hassle everyone who walks past. You do reach a point where you want to scream, “If I wanted a becak I would have taken one already” but you don’t because you know they are just desperate for a fare so I hold my tongue. There’s loads of t-shirts and bags and hats and trinkets for sale here, with regular shops still open behind.


And then our walk is done. We pass the famous monument in the middle of the road at the head of Malioboro Street, turn right and walk the final few blocks to our hotel. It’s been a fantastic 9 hours on foot covering about 16km (10 miles) of Yogya’s best sights, sounds and tastes.


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