Yogyakarta: Malioboro Street

The other side of the face is a city full of life and Reader, Reader, your first contact with the streets of “Jogja”, it will surely be Malioboro Street . A long street running through the center of the city. And it is after dark that you have to walk on the sidewalks, when the cool starts to come down on the city. 

Malioboro is a whole world… first of all, you will find a host of shops, and street vendors, who will try to sell you batik, the famous Indonesian fabric. Try to resist. Or not. No doubt we will try to convince you that there is a temporary exhibition in a back shop. Up to you !.

And it is not only by the batik sellers that you will be solicited, Reader, Reader! There are taxis and becak drivers. It is a kind of bicycle rickshaw (or moped) except that the nacelle where the passenger is located is at the front. The becak is used as much by the Javanese as by the tourists and there are hundreds, even thousands in Jogja. So be prepared to say “Tidak, terima kasih. (No, thank you) VERY often! Well, the becak is still to be tested once in your life and often falls perfectly when you have spent a long day walking. Negotiate for the shape and let yourself go (especially if the becak is motorized). Guaranteed thrills if you find yourself, like me, in the middle of rush hour!

There are also a lot of travel agencies there, if you need to book an excursion to Borobudur or Mount Bromo for example but more than anything, Malioboro is a spectacle of life. There are already many passers-by. And those who don’t walk sit on benches, chatting.

In Malioboro, we also eat on the ground. Lesehan is a style of restaurant where you eat seated on a mat or a canvas placed on the sidewalk. Brand of the city, do not hesitate to join the locals to taste The specialty of Jodja: the gudeg , a chicken dish in jackfruit stew, served with rice, which has a rather particular taste. Know that Indonesian cuisine loves salty / sweet flavors!

Malioboro also crosses a railway line: the station is 100 meters away and it is quite surprising to see a level crossing in the city center, all giving a very special atmosphere to this district.

Do not hesitate to move away from it, the small parallel streets will reserve you full of surprises: small hidden restaurants and bars, a mosque, guest houses (losmen)… Particularly between Jalan PS. Kembag and Jalan Sosrowijayan.

Today, I decided to do it on foot along Malioboro. We left to re-cross all of Malioboro, by day this time. It’s already hot, very hot. At this latitude near the equator, the sun rises very quickly in the sky and hits hard, very hard. It is a kind of historical thread that I will follow without realizing it at start. For several centuries, the Netherlands was the colonizing power of Indonesia. In Jodja, there is not much left of this time: the use of the Latin alphabet is one, some colonial buildings and the Fort of Vredeburg , now become museum of Indonesian independence. Is another.

Apart from admiring the building, since it is on the way, I will not dwell on it. The purpose of the walk is quite different: the Kraton, the Palace of the Sultan of Yogyakarta.

Chances are, Reader, Reader, the memory you bring back from Java is batik. Batik is a technique for printing fabrics using wax and multiple soaking in dye baths. Indonesian batik is so elaborate that it is listed as a UNESCO heritage! The explanation of the technique is long (and I refer you to the wikipedia article on the subject) but here are some tips to buy batik in (relative) confidence.

  1. Real batik is not cheap. It is a technique that requires a lot of time, patience and material. The most expensive is batik on silk but if you settle for a batik on cotton, the price difference is significant.
  2. Look at the fabric in transparency: the designs must be the same on both sides of the fabric (if not, it is printed, or painted on fabric)
  3. The batik can be passed into the water without fear.