The morning flight from Bali lead us to the southern part of Central Java province of Indonesia.  We were at a major tourist destination which goes by name of Jogja.

Yogyakarta (pronounced as Jogjakarta) is a relatively small city that walking is inevitable when strolling down the streets for exploration.  There were less western backpackers as observed, with a quaint and charming ambiance emanating.

We walked for miles initially to locate Marlioboro Street - the street famous for nightlife and bargain finds as souvenirs.  It was a fail.  Holding the map and admittedly not used to map reading, we were lead to a different direction for the first day in Yogyakarta.

Arts and cuisine nevertheless was a good introduction of the city, discovered surprisingly.

Art scenes in the form of murals comforted us along the way.  The splash of colors and varied messages conveyed by these graffiti’s is truly a mark of Yogyakarta being a hub for culture and the arts.  Visual arts come in unexpected locations and cannot be said to have been made for commercial purposes.  Aesthetics and culture combined.

Traditional three-wheeled, pedal-powered cart known as becak (pronounced as beh-chak) occupies the main thoroughfare of the city.  They compete with space with the buses of Trans Jogja, serving as main public transportation of the city.

When traveling within the city, either the becak or the bus is practical.  Cost for the former should not exceed 10,000IDR (0.75USD) when going to the Marlioboro shopping district.  As for the bus, the Trans Jogja is higly recommended.  We availed of the latter on our trip from the airport going to the city center of Marlioboro.  It only costs 3,600IDR (0.27USD) and regardless of distance.  One can even tour the city for the whole day through public commuting.

As we dine and move from one place to another, default order for me while in Indonesia is fried chicken. Our first meal as we alight from the bus coming from the airport was on small eatery situated beside the bus stop.  Servers were so accommodating and courteous.  We hear giggles as they serve us.  They are indeed excited to serve guests.  The dish turned out to be the most delicious version of fried chicken that I have tasted in Indonesia and the cheapest one.

For an early dinner, we had ours at a nearby elevated space of aligned stalls.  While my travel buddies were having cigarettes in one corner, I stood at one of the stalls to place an order.  And then I asked how much is the chicken dish displayed.  The vendor could not decipher what I am inquiring as seen on the blank face she projects.  When my travel buddies came, the vendor asked my friends to translate what I’m saying uttered in Bahasa.  And we were all lost in translation.  I thought I could pass an Indonesian identity.  Then an old man came to the rescue, equipped with English-speaking skills.       

The local residents of Yogyakarta are quite reserved yet amiable.  Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country with the exception of Bali, and mosques as well as architectural designs of residential and commercial establishments manifest such. 

The next few days were finally spent at the Marlioboro shopping district.  Batik shops are everywhere with signage prominently displayed.  Both sidewalks are occupied by vendors offering handicrafts, souvenir items, fabrics and a lot more one can imagine as a souvenir item. 

Parked traditional horse-pulled carts, known as andong or dokar, adds charm to the vicinity as well, though their purpose is to wait for willing visitors to be guided on tour.

At night, several open-air street side restaurants, called lesehan, operates.  For an authentic dining experience, we tried one of the stalls seated in Indian style.  In the course of dining, there are musicians showing off their skills and asks for donation after the performance.

Situated at the center of the street is the Marlioboro Mall.  The mall serves as our comfort zone to refresh from the walking stint and consequently dine in a familiar air-conditioned fast food chain. 

Marlioboro Street is said to be the street for the artists.  Street musicians, painters and other artists showcase their crafts and skills on this busy street of Yogyakarta.

And just like that – the mere fact of crossing the streets of Yogyakarta would surely give us a glimpse of the rich culture and aesthetic prowess they possess.

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