Last weekend I had an event-filled trip to Jogjakarta, the cultural capital of Indonesia. Read about Day 1 in my previous post!
WHAT YOU SEE
In the morning: the beautiful, relaxing lobby of Ostic House.
WHAT YOU DON’T SEE
Everything else! User error means all the rest of the day’s Snaps are gone forever. Too bad because this was the fullest day of them all. Here’s what happened…
Leisurely morning at Ostic House: The staff cooked banana crepes for everyone and I ate them while chatting up other travelers. A few Americans were there along with Robert, a retired British man doing a 6-month tour of Southeast Asia, and Hendri, a young Indonesian who aspires to apply for an AMINEF scholarship. Meeting people like this make traveling solo feel much more exciting.
Solo exploration of Jogja: After searching on Google for some good museums, I decided to check out the Sonobudoyo Museum because it had good reviews and it was walking-distance to other attractions. The museum was nice: well-laid out with a decent but not overwhelming collection of cultural artifacts. The entrance fee of 5,000 IDR (~0.38 USD) for foreigners included a guide who spoke great English and answered all my questions.
Next I wandered over to Taman Pintar [Smart Park] which is designed to get kids interested in science. Next to that is Benteng Vredeberg, an old Dutch fort-turned-museum. There are over 60 dioramas detailing highlights of the Indonesian struggle for independence which ensures that you can spend a fair amount of time here if you want to. I emerged from one building to find that the central courtyard was overrun with high school students; they must have been on a field trip. But instead of taking in the history they did nothing but photo photo photo! A few brave souls asked me for a photo and when I refused a jeer rose from the onlooking crowd. It was hilarious for me, mortifying for them. But there was no way I was going to become an objek wisata [tourism object] while on my vacation.
I got out of the museum, ate some pecel [steamed veggies with spicy peanut sauce] from a street vendor, and quickly discovered that I was on the cusp of the famed Malioboro Street. Malioboro is FAMOUS in Indonesia, so finally I got to see it! It was… okay. Just a bunch of street vendors selling trinkets on the sidewalk, name-brand stores, and a giant indoor market filled with clothes and pretty much everything imaginable. You can see some footage of this in Day 5’s video.
Arrival of friends: Jukie and Siham, ETAs in neighboring Magelang, came in to Jogja for a couple of days to join our merry crew. They arrived later in the afternoon after I was back at the hostel and had a chance to rest. Good thing too because it was a late night.
Gelato: On the recommendation of Kayla, another ETA in Semarang and fellow co-editor of Indonesiaful, Jukie, Siham, and I walked over to Tempo Gelato Yogyakarta. Lots of flavors and packed with people! Definitely recommend this spot.
Late Night Part 1–Palace and Carnival: The three of us took an Uber to Alun-Alun Utara [North Park] where we intended to see a dance performance at the Sultan’s palace. We met up with Anggun, a Wisma Bahasa teacher we knew from Bandung, who had told us about the event. The dance performance held our attention only briefly because the palace was open to the public so we wandered inside. The various cultural demonstrations had the air of a renaissance fair. The best part was watching some blacksmiths hammer out a gong-like instrument that is part of a gamelan. It was like music to hear the rhythm of their work.
Caroline and Shreya, ETAs from Malang (the stars of another recent post) arrived shortly after we left for the palace, so they came to join us too. We convened in front of the dance performance where we spotted a Fulbright backpack in the audience. Turns out it was a researcher named Wendy and she was there to see the performance of Gavin, another Fulbrighter who was playing in the royal gamelan that evening. What a small world! We chatted briefly then parted ways. How exciting to meet other Fulbrighters “in the wild.”
After the palace we wandered into the jungle of lights, sirens, and sweaty bodies that was one of the biggest carnivals I have ever seen. Just like a carnival anywhere in the world, there were rides and games and fried food and a dizzying number of flashing lights. Siham, Jukie, and I had a go with bumper cars. For some reason carnival rides are even more fun as an adult–I thought my cheeks would rip from laughing so hard.
We also bought tickets and spent over a half hour waiting in line for another ride I have never seen before. It was a large, round bench upon which roughly 30-40 passengers sat facing inward, feet dangling and backs leaning on a wooden plank for support. The circle then spun around, tilting up and down and changing speed at will. There were no safety belts. Now, this might not sound too odd. But what if the ride was powered entirely by the exertions of lean, wiry young men? I can’t even imagine how much energy they burn every night running in circles to make this ride spin. Not only that but some of the younger ones jumped and pulled on the planks of the ride, causing the circle to wobble up and down while it kept spinning. A few of them even did synchronized flips and spins on the bars holding the wooden circle aloft, their feet mere inches from the passengers’ heads. Unbelievable! It was a Cirque du Soleil show and a carnival ride all in one. Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience it firsthand because there were several entrances to the ride and we simply couldn’t bear to be crushed in that crowd any longer, but it was an amazing thing to see.
Late Night Part 2–Time to Party: The five of us (Jukie, Siham, Shreya, Caroline, and me) said our farewells to Anggun and friends. We jostled our way out of the carnival, relieved to finally reach a major road. Jukie did a heroic sprint to catch us a cab which then whisked us away to a restaurant called Move On. The decor was good, the service not so much. At this point it was already late, but I received an invitation to a house party from Ruth, an old AFS friend who was studying at a university in Jogja for the past semester. We got the address of the place and summoned a taxi who agreed to take us the considerable distance for 80,000 IDR. We arrived around 1 a.m., just as the party-goers were clearing out. The house was grand–lots of beautifully carved wood and a pool in the back. It looked like we had missed one hell of a party because the place was an absolute disaster. We apologized for the late intrusion and called our taxi driver to come back around and pick us up. All the party-goers had apparently gone to a nightclub/karaoke bar down the street called Sugar Executive Club and Karaoke, so we decided that we might as well check it out.
The nightclub was… an experience. First of all, we came upon an unconscious woman sprawled out in the parking lot. A bouncer for the club was standing nearby smoking a cigarette. He claimed that her friend had gone to their room to get the woman’s missing shoe, which seemed preposterous. She was laying on the ground, completely unresponsive, and had clearly been vomiting. And they were worried about her shoes?! We were discussing what to do when her friend arrived: a young man who had also been drinking and was clearly panicked by this turn of events. After some heated back-and-forth over the girl’s situation, it was agreed that we call a taxi (the same one as earlier) to take them both to the hospital. Within minutes our taxi came back to pick them up. We got the guy’s number before they drove away and we heard back the next day that they were both okay. What a relief!
Knowing that we had done all we could do to help the girl, we went up to check out the nightclub. The elevators opened and a visual haze of cigarette smoke descended upon us. The place seemed seedy (i.e. lots of the girls were definitely prostitutes) and the music wasn’t great, but we had a decent time anyway. Siham and I danced the night away, avoiding the sickly-tasting vodka that was surely the culprit behind our new friend’s trip to the hospital. Eventually we arrived back at Ostic House sometime between 4 and 5 a.m. to sleep off a very, very long day.
There are three more days left of my trip to Jogja! Stay tuned for Day 3!