Sunday, February 8, 2015

2/1/15 Day 381 Batik and gudeg in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Just another day in the backpacker life, a grueling 20 hours of travel. Nick drove us part of the way from Cimaja to Cibadek, roughly 15 miles as the crow flies...we however can't fly and the drive took almost two hours to chug up the incredibly steep and windy small village roads. We work our way to the bus station climb aboard and wait patiently for the drivers assistant to come and collect our money, as is customary on Indonesian buses. He looks at the passenger in front of us saying something in Bahasa laughs a bit and asks us for 50,000 rupiah, I politely refuse and tell him the distance is not far with a few Bahasa words and offer him 7,000 as I happen to know how much the 14 kilometer ride should cost. Begrudgingly he finally accepts and takes his seat on the front seat of the bus. Unfortunately the journey is long from over only 2/5 of our journey has been sorted. We arrive at Bandung by a very slow 4 hour 30,000 rupiah bus ride (at <3$ how fast could it be really), we practically running from the bus terminal, making it to the train station just in time to be told that economy seats were sold out and executive seats would be more than 4 times the price, brutal! After pacing and cursing we decide to take the morning train and just pull an all nighter. Upon closer examination we realized this station doesn't sell economy tickets and we need to get to Kiaracondog station if we wish to buy economy tickets for the morning. Amazingly when we arrive we happen upon one last night train leaving in just twenty minutes. Unfortunately sleeper trains do no exist in Indonesia and our arrival to the station is a groggy one after only sleeping one hour we wait until 6:10 to catch the local train into center Yogyakarta for 6,000 rupiah more. Staring out the window in a daze as the picturesque emerald paddy fields, thick Palm trees and colorful houses with pristine tiled patios go sailing by. Sluggishly crawling around the backpacker haunt, Sosrowijayan street we check ourselves into a hotel and sleep most of the rest of the day away. Finally venturing out in time for a sunset and dinner we choose a place among the dozens of identical night stalls on the famous shopping street Malioboro. The food was mediocre and the portions were skimpy for the price we paid. Fortunately there is better food all over the city, just avoid the temptation of the close proximity of these stands. Further south on the same road by the market, Pasar Beringharjo we indulged in some crunchy spring rolls known as lumpia. We devoured a filling bowl of bakso, a meatball soup with noodles, crispy meat filled wonton, and tofu. We rejoiced in the crispy delights of tempeh a deep fried soybean product made of whole soybeans unlike tofu. We also tried our first portion of gudeg, a Yogyakarta specialty of unripe jackfruit and an egg boiled with palm sugar and coconut milk swimming in peanut sauce. The other claim to fame for Yogyakarta is the beautiful batik they produce it is a wax resist dyeing process that creates beautiful patterns that they use to make sarongs, dresses and tradtional batik shirts among other things to be worn. Heated wax is either drawn in lines and dots with a canting tool or stamped so they can soak the fabric in a color and all except the places with wax will soak in he dye, the process can be repeated with as many colors as desired and in the end all of the wax will be removed to reveal the gorgeous fabric patterns underneath. When we weren't eating our time in the city was spent perusing the endless batik fabric and clothing stores, stands and scams throughout the city. Everyday the touts up and down the street would try to lead us to a student artist exposition, "it is the last day you must go", when upstairs they try to oversell you pricy prints for as much money as you are willing to part with. The truth is there are no students, batik is meant to be worn not framed and you can splurge your money on these paintings any "last day" of the week. We chuckled asking innocently "wasn't"t yesterday the last day" everytime they tried to lead us back up. The rest of the street is absolutely bursting at the seams with fabric and clothes of all shapes sizes and qualities. It can be nauseatingly fun to flip through hundreds of beautiful patterns all in a single city block. Most of the stalls, on Malioboro street, like the food stalls in the same area have repeating pieces all purchased from the same wholesalers as their neighbors with little individuality to set them apart. The shops at the market Pasar Beringharjo felt far less touristy, with more variety and surrounded by amazing food, unfortunately the market is only open until around 17:00, but definitely worth a visit. 

Sosrowijayan Jalan (street) where the backpackers go
Street art in backpackers alley
Becak (pedicab) at work
Sate ship of deliciousness
Malioboro street shopping, food and tourists
Java's version of cigarette girls, got the smile down

Nap time

Taro, honey and durian pastries
Behind the scenes in a bakso kitchen
This is Bakso a very popular dish in Java, essentially meatball soup
Gudeg, a dish originating in Yogyakarta 
The smelly durian
Durian campur es, direct translation durian mixed ice, the Indo version of a fruit salad
Batik patterns

Peddle powered
Knives of all kinds
Building a wall, Indo style
Becaks all in a row
The office of a becak driver even comes with a quality nap space


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