Silver winding markets make way for sleep…

Art anyone?

Rising early as any good traveler does, we packed our belongings once more and went in search for another vacant room. For a very quiet town, it seems there are lots of travelers lurking in the mist somewhere. Probably in Borobudur or other spectacular spiritual adventures instead of gazing at the wonders on the walls in the alleyways that I have grown so quickly to love.

Eventually we found a vacant room for an incredible price, dropped our bags and ventured out to follow the Lonely Planets Walking tour, giving us the chance to see as much as possible. After being accosted for an hour or so by a group of very sweet but also very insistent Indonesian high school students, attempting to complete an assignment for their English class, we were finally on our way.

spicy, salty... yum

We walked down Jalan Malioborogh until we reached Yogyas most famous and still functioning traditional market where you can buy more good and bad quality batik items than you could possibly imagine. Not being in a batik mood we trudged through the sweat and the crowds through aisle after aisle of batik vendors until we reached my favourite part of any market. The spice section.

The first spices I found I cannot name, but I can tell you what I discovered they were for. There is a ritual cleansing that a few of the upper class salons do in Yogya which is considered Royal Treatment for women. It involves the ‘smoking’ of the privates. Now, the spice I found was the bark that is apparently for the smoking cleansing. But what I would like to know is how the smoking works. Do your privates smoke? Or does you beautician smoke and blow the smoke into them? Now that would be an awkward experience if every I heard of one, as curious as I am, I think I’ll save my money for a nice piece of art or an indulgent meal and leave my privates smoke-free, I smoke enough as it is I think.

anyone for the worlds biggest heart?

The smells in the market were as I’ve found all asian markets to be, thick and heady. From raw meats to buffalo hearts the size of a dog, bloody carcasses filled my nose sweetened only by the fresh grapefruits and lemons that lay in the next aisle. Dried fish and salt and cumin, tamarind and peppers and chillis all grabbed my attention as I dipped my nose into every pot and receptacle to make sure that I didn’t miss a scent. I love markets the way retirement homes love bingo, they just do it for me.

Out of the market and into the street we walked trying to dodge the strangers who talk to much and keep us from seeing our sights. I’ve never met so many talkative people as I have in Yogya, it’s been insane. Everybody has a story to tell, advice to give and a lot of inane jibberish, which I think is lovely, the Javanese often have a reputation of being quite harsh, but I’ve found them kind and possessing very Australian (sarcastic) senses of humour.

We tried to view the bird market, which has been shut down since the earth quake of 2006, which was disappointing, and didn’t even bother making it into the Sultans Palace as the crowds were just too much. Instead decided to take an artistic detour and visit the gallery of the art school in town. We both purchased some divine contemporary batik art, at a fair price and left feeling like we had done something very naughty (blowing the budget just a little, some of us more than others…) and something wonderful. It’s a great thing being there to experience a friend (new or old) purchasing their first piece of art. It’s a personal and exciting experience, and what a place to do it in!

After a taxi ride around town we headed back to the strip to pick up a few much-needed items including a winter hat that I love but probably won’t ever wear considering I live on the equator and it never gets cold…

We later headed out to the silver village, on the outskirts of town. A part of Yogya which is literally crowded with silver shops and I really don’t understand how any of them can make any money. But we weren’t in this part of town to shop, but instead to learn the craft of silver sculpting.

My newest creation in process

In a little studio beside a haunted graveyard lays Agus’ studio, a perfectly constructed backyard workshop with long wooden tables and plenty of silver to melt and mould and create beautiful pieces out of. A teacher who was as young as he was old, joked with us and taught us the craft of making jewelery out of sticks of silver. To design and melt and shape and mould and shave and sand and polish until the pieces that were created shone and sparkled in the evening lights.

We talked of ghosts and the Javanese belief in the spirit world, we mused over melted chocolate roti bakar and gazed at our beautiful new creations… We ate satay and lonton at a foodstand in the street whilst the smell of baking corn and peanuts entranced us into a state for sleep.

Another beautiful day in Yogya, tomorrow a temple awaits.

Barefoot and alive.


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