Java Day 2 – Exploring Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta (also called Jogjakarta or Jogja) is a very lively, colorful city with a lot of stuff happening literally on the streets, especially commercial Malioboro street. It’s a good place to enjoy local food, buy some clothes or Indonesian souvenirs – including famous batik.

Street food stalls in Yogyakarta

Today we are having lazy and relaxing day. The breakfast options on offer in our hotel (Monginsidi Guest House) are:
- the American breakfast (2 pieces of toast with butter and pineapple jam ) and
- the Indonesian breakfast (a big plate of vegetable fried rice with fried egg, fresh veg on the side and a poppadom).
I’m not sure how these can be considered to be two equivalent options. In any case, we’d opted for one of each and so had a variety of food to share.

We set off walking towards Malioboro and we feel like in completely different world after being in Sri Lanka. People in here are not too desperate to make money out of tourist, there are many vendors with stalls on the pavements by the main road selling variety of things on the street (food, clothing, shoes, jewellery, souvenirs etc.) crowds of people everywhere. We are enjoying new smells, colours and liveliness surrounding us. Seems like everything is happening outdoors, literally on the street!

Malioboro street stalls

Malioboro street stalls

When the people do have money as their motivation, they are smarter and more evolved in their approach than in Sri Lanka. On a number of occasions in Sri Lanka we were offered items and we’d say “No” consistently and repeatedly but still the sellers would persist to the point of frustration and a fair amount beyond…
In Yogyakarta various approaches were tried, including inviting us to an art exhibition where we were given a drink and we viewed some quite interesting Batik works whilst it was explained to us about how these works were created. It was a welcome introduction, and when we left without buying it wasn’t an issue. Street vendors would occasionally suggest we look at their wares, but would not shove it in our faces or take offense if we didn’t want what they sold.

Art gallery/shop in Yogyakarta

We are having very nice lunch at one of the places in the touristy Malioboro area – but at the top of a department store in a place that seemed to be more commonly frequented by locals. This time we can communicate with staff so understand a bit more what we are ordering. It helps a lot but still there are variety of things on our plates that we try for the first time in our lives without knowing what they are… strange feeling. We have ordered 3 dishes: Gado – Gado, Ayam Goreng, one more dish with rice and fresh guava and water melon juice. The juices are so good and cheap.. (around 12500 IDR ~ 1 US$ ) made from pure fruit, so we order a couple more. Everything was delicious and we have paid around ~ 13 US$ for everything!

After lovely meal we decide to visit Tourist Information Centre and friendly stuff there helped us to plan our next few days and provided us with very detailed info about buses, trains, shows, temples, good places for massage etc. We also book there tickets for a show. It saves us a lot of time from researching all that information on the web.
To relax after walking around for half a day we decide to treat ourselves with massage. We went to one of the places recommended by Tourist Centre. Again, it was at great value – for 1 hour head to toe, hot oil Balinese massage we have paid 130 000 IDR ~ 11 US$ per person. Pure indulgence!

Traditional way of making batik presented in a shopping centre on Malioboro street

On the way back to the hotel in the evening we notice that there people living on the streets – and not like the western style hobos with a blanket and a doorway, some of them have constructed shelters out of some cheap wood just by the main road, actually taking up a large part of the pavements, where they sleep, cook… and live next to the noisy and dirty roads… rather sad to see…

Superman’s restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet guide is our eating place this evening. Menu is available in English and they have on offer a variety of Chinese, Indonesian and Western dishes. After dining in Sri Lanka we miss a bit Western food so we order Chicken Cordon Blue and Steak accompanied by chips and veggies, and fresh juice. It was very tasty food, but relatively expensive as we have paid in total ~ 17 US$.

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