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Another day, another city… Yogyakarta

colourful Yogya

I am an impulsive traveller, and when the opportunity came up to travel overland with a new friend through Central and East Java, I just couldn’t turn it down.

We left BK in the morning and took a winding road through villages to reach the nearest train station around 2 hours from my beautiful home by the sea. We boarded a train to Yogya in Central Java, and with music and hot cups of tea, settled into the ride, smoking with the doors open and waving to the children running through rice fields and ducking between coconut palms to get our attention.

I’d read that Yogyakarta was known as the soul of Java, and it really didn’t take me long to agree. Yogya is a place that has the smells and sounds of a city that is throbbing to escape the concrete walls that surrounds it. Ducking down the alleyways of gangs I, II and III in the Sorsowijayan backpackers region I was instantly intrigued by the artistic flair that quite obviously is the power house behind this cities eccentric heartbeat. The alleyways are narrow and decorated with street art and flowers and gardens and little tiny losmens that all offer basic rooms at fair prices. Art hangs in every window and dresses every wall and table. From sketches to spray paint to the infamous batik designs that have made this town so famous, I was in awe of the beauty and the talent of the artists both young and old. Kids playing soccer reminded me of how popular the world cup truly is in Indonesia as they called out to me not, where are you from, but which team is yours.

We ducked and weaved from full losmen to full losmen. Not being one to book ahead, I often have found myself in this predicament, but its also a great (not to mention sweaty) way of getting a first glimpse of the heart of a new city. We eventually booked ourselves into a simple little establishment with no sink and no power points, but a suitable fan, bed and squat toilet, which really at the end of a long day in transit is all that you need.

We dropped our belongings and ventured into the web of streets that lay before us in search of cold beer and snacks and to open our eyes and ears to the delight that truly is Yogyakarta. The streets have a different flavor here to any I’ve experienced before, the street smells of frying chicken and barbequed corn and the sound of horses plodding up and down the concrete, bells ringing and hawkers playing guitars washes over you like a warm bath. I felt at home here. There is something about Indonesia that is always urging me to stay longer, to set up my life here, there is something about here that has always been home, I’m attatched to it and to its people.

We road by becak to another popular area to eat in a fair trade, organic café which is well known for its delicious foreign fare and excellent service. I gorged myself on salad leaves, which I haven’t had the delight of eating in many months and wet my hunger with ice cold beer as I poured over brochures describing all of the artistic workshops and interesting spiritual ventures that this city offers weary but excited travelers from all over the world.

After a long dinner with lots of interesting chats and drinks and cigarettes we ventured to another part of town by taxi, getting lost and walking back to our hotel 6 – 7 kms, by the time we hit home, a day of travelling had certainly got the better of me. A quick trip to the internet café to send of some work that had been diligently done during the train ride and I was done for the night. Climbing onto my simple spring-less mattress and my bed with no sheet or blanket to speak of, I tucked my feet into a sarong, bid my travelling partner goodnight and read until my heavy eyes blurred my words and my mind was numb enough to fall into a deep delicious sleep.

Day one in Yogyakarta and I think that I’m in love.

Barefoot on the road once more.

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