Travelogue Yogyakarta: Exploring Malioboro Street, The Shopping District

If shopping is your thing, then Jalan Malioboro in downtown Yogyakarta, Indonesia should be on your list of places to visit while in town. Tucked in a historic part of the city, the street and its surroundings are home to numerous shops selling everything from souvenirs and cheap clothing for tourists, as well as hotels, massage parlours and restaurants.

Shopping has never been of much interest to me (gasp ikr am I even a girl) so when the Moo and I paid a visit, our guide was incredulous that we left empty-handed (apparently the previous member of the media he brought spent a whopping FIVE hours here lol).

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I was more intrigued by the lively atmosphere, especially the sight of the horse-drawn carriages and open-top ‘becak’ tricycles that putter up and down the street ferrying passengers, as well as the variety of stalls selling street food. Also within walking distance are several historical buildings, such as the Yogyakartan Palace aka Kraton and the Fort Vredeburg Museum (a former Dutch fort turned museum dedicated to the history of Dutch colonisation in Indonesia). Unfortunately it was late during our visit and both were closed to visitors. Still got to see the beautiful architecture from the outside, though!

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Horses. Felt a bit sorry for them because the street was so noisy / chaotic that it must have been an assault on their senses. 😦

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We did manage to pop into one of the larger batik/souvenir shops. The batik clothes, bags and pouches were nice but on the pricier side. **limited budget, had to pass.

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A batik-making class was in session, with this elegant elderly lady providing a demonstration to a small class of young children.

Indonesians are proud of their batik heritage, and different regions have their own specialty batik motifs and designs. Unique to Yogyakarta is the ‘kawung’ motif, which was previously reserved for the royal family. Pictured above (correct me if I’m wrong) is the Parang motif, which like its namesake, resembles a sword. Locals call it the ‘tongue of fire’. Poetic, no?

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Matryoshka dolls with a local touch. The traditional costume of Javanese men features a batik sarong, while the women wear kebaya (which is also what Malays in Malaysia wear).

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Entrance to Kampung Ketandan aka Chinatown, along Malioboro Street. Like many Chinatowns all around the world, it features a large arch with decorative dragons and curving roof.

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Just outside Beringharjo Market (a traditional market) nearby are makeshift food stalls, many of which begin operating after sundown. A must-try here is bakpia, a Yogyakartan specialty. The round, baked biscuit, an Indonesian Chinese dessert, is filled with various fillings such as mung bean, red bean, and even cheese and chocolate. We bought some to take home and I really liked the light, flaky pastry, which balanced out the sweetness of the filling on the inside.

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Snacks for sale.

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A street vendor preparing what looked like the Japanese takoyaki.

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We got onto a becak which took us on a ride around the streets. Similar to the tricycle of the Philippines, minus the welded roof, the becak comprises of a motorbike with a sidecar attached which can fit 2 people at a time (similarity ends there since you can fit like 5-6 people on a trike lol)

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Surrounded by an open field is the Kraton Yogyakarta, or its full name the Keraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. The palace complex is the official seat of the Sultan of Yogyakarta and the royal family, besides serving as a centre of Javanese culture and a museum displaying artefacts. The palace is guarded by Guards, similar to other palace complexes around the world.

**Fun fact: Indonesia is a republic, but Yogyakarta has the status of ‘Special Region’,  in that it has its own sultan and is a provincial-level autonomous region on its own. It is the only officially recognised monarchy in Indonesia, with the Sultan as its governor.

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So even if you’re not big on shopping, Malioboro Street still has plenty to offer ! Might be a spot you want to put on your itinerary while exploring Yogyakarta.

MALIOBORO STREET 

Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55122

  • Best for: Shopping – souvenirs, clothes, bargains
  • Also check out: Architecture of historical buildings, atmosphere
  • While here: Ride a becak!
  • Nearby: Fort Vredeburg, Beringharjo Market, Taman Sari (Water Castle), Kraton

 

Kuta Beach Part 2, Bali

Hey guys! I’m expecting very busy weeks ahead so I might not have time to update this space so often. Anyway, here is the last part of my Bali trip. After admiring the beautiful springs of Tirta Empul, we went back to our hotel to freshen up and change before heading to Kuta Beach. The last time we were here the weather was bad and it started raining, so we left early. Since the night was still young, we decided to make the best of it at this very popular tourist spot.

Kuta Square, where all the high end shops are. The place is nicely mantained and well lit. Tourists from all over the world throng the streets. There are lots of cabs, bikes and hotels lining the entire area.

The long sandy stretch of Kuta in the evening.

The beach is separated from the shops by a high wall. Because of it’s open space, the strong winds blew sand inland, which was bad for business. I mean, imagine a load of sand in your food while you’re trying to enjoy a romantic beach evening sunset.

It is one of my life’s bucket lists to visit every single Hard Rock Cafe in the world. Now I’ve added Bali to the list! Didn’t manage to go in coz it was super crowded.

Dinner was at a food court nearby. Felt kinda proud to see our Penang food made it all the way to Indonesia.

Had crab noodles. Taste was okay.

There are lots of shops around the area, and one can spend hours browsing through the many different items available. From imitation goods, bags, shoes and shirts to souvenirs, fragrances, etc, there is surely something for everyone. Apparently mushrooms are legal here too.

There’s this area where there are lots of massage parlours, so we went into one for a foot massage. The price was super affordable – less than RM20 per person for 45 mins. After washing my feet, the girl proceeded to knead my tired leg muscles. We chatted with the masseuses. There was a cute guy who said he was from Sulawesi. He spoke English with a hint of Aussie accent. Must have picked it up from all the Australian customers.

Kuta remains a busy place despite bombings which have happened here before. Nearly 10 years ago, more than 200 people were killed when a bomb exploded in a club along a busy stretch of bars in Kuta. There is a memorial square in the middle of all the busy traffic, a testament to the lives lost.

Well, back to blogging about my mundane life. Til next post!

The Holy Springs of Tirta Empul, Bali

Here’s the next part of my Bali trip! After it started raining on the Kintamani Highlands, we had to drive back down for another hour. We stopped by the Tirta Empul temple springs on the way. Built in 962 AD, which makes this place over a thousand years old, it was built to honour the Hindu god of water, Vishnu, and is also famous for it’s clear spring waters flowing from the mountains, which the local Balinese Hindus use for purification. Entrance is free, but they accept donations.

Before entering the main shrine, there is a smaller shrine of black granite stones and carvings, solely for devotees – so tourists aren’t allowed inside this area.

I’m guessing this is some form of Balinese. It doesn’t look like regular Indonesian and I can only recognise a few words. Pura is temple, and I’m guessing “tata titi” = tatatertib (rules to follow), penguning = pengunjung (visitor) and such. Very different from the formal Bahasa Indonesia. But just like how the Chinese people have different dialects like Canto, Mandarin, Hakka, I’m sure Indonesians have different ones too. Especially since their islands are so vast and scattered.

A devotee offering up prayers at the mini shrine. The boxes on the altar are prayer boxes woven out of leaves and filled with flowers, incense and sweets.

A common sight in Balinese temples is the Balinese umbrellas, which are often colourful and hung with pretty tassels. Known as ‘tedung’ in the local dialect, it gives the meaning ‘to guard’. Used in ceremonial parades, they are positioned in alignment with shrines oriented towards the sacred Balinese mountain, Gunung Agung (Majestic Mountain).

It is said that the origin of the umbrellas came from a 13th century Chinese princess visiting Java on a merchant ship. She brought an umbrella to protect her skin from the sun. This was then used and incorporated into the then Majapahit Hindu kingdom, which used to span most of Indonesia, including Bali. After Islam spread to the islands, Bali remained a sacred sanctuary for this ancient religion, and is still the predominant religion on the island today. 

The main hall, which was huge. Most Balinese temples are coloured in orange, grey and black. The previous Pura Puseh in Batuan had a similar colour scheme. 

Beautiful detailing at an altar. I was so frustrated with my phone camera because it couldn’t take good pictures in bright sunlight – kept turning up overexposed.

But anyway, look at the details. Must have been super difficult creating this with the tools back then. I think the top carving is the mythical Hindu bird, the Garuda, while the bottom is the Barong, a mythical Balinese Hindu lion which represents the forces of good.

A very pretty box with unknown contents. I am continually amazed at how creative these craftsmen are. 

We finally came to the springs. The waters were a pristine, dark turqoise. Lily pads floated on the surface, while fish swam in the pond. Garuda carvings spewed water out of their mouths. Devotees dipped their heads in the water, which is supposed to have curative properties and is meant for purification. I hadn’t brought a change of clothes because our guide Toto didn’t mention anything about water. Would’ve liked to take a dip.

Everyone had to wear a sarong before entering the temple, to show respect and make sure you’re properly covered. 

Stacks of prayer boxes offered up during prayer time.

Local devotees in traditional Balinese wear. Men wore shorter sarongs around themselves, much like our Malaysian Baju Melayu. The women wore longer ones tightly wrapped around their waists. The men also had clean white shirts and caps.

Prayer session in progress. A priest leads at the front.

We also came across a huge pond full of carp. They looked really well fed.


On our way out, we had to pass by a MAZE of souvenir shops. It was like a labyrinth.

If you think the sales people at your place are aggressive, they are nothing like the Balinese sales girls manning these souvenir shops. They literally shove items in your face and won’t stop pestering you til you buy something from them. We found it difficult to say no and ended up buying a tonne of souvenirs we didn’t need.

There were also a lot of penises. Idk what the obsession over penises is in Bali. I’ve seen these wooden ones all over the place. There are also the colourful, painted ones that come in red, blue, gold, and the ones with patterns over them. There are big penises and small penises, bottle opener penises, keychain penises.

I mean, I could get one for fun, but then it’d be hard trying to explain it at customs. Heh.

We’re almost at an end of our Bali trip. Next post is gonna be a revisit to the famous Kuta beach. I finally got a Hard Rock Cafe Bali pic. Yay

 

Seafood by the Ocean @ Jimbaran / Exploring Kuta Beach, Bali

Hullo, and welcome to the next part of my Indonesian trip! We visited Kuta, a famous stretch of beach and about the most touristy places you can ever go to in Bali. Surrounded by blocks of shopping malls, little shops selling souvenirs (prices are up for haggling), chic bars, clubs and restaurants, it wouldn’t be a place for a quiet getaway lol.

Toto drove us through the traffic and we got down for a quick visit. The beach was dirty because it was monsoon season, but they have regular patrols to clean up. It was late evening though so I guess they didn’t clear up the rubbish in time. The beach was super long and the waves were high, unlike in Malaysia. Surfing is common here. The wind was also super strong because of it’s flat, open landscape. Be prepared to get dust in your eyes.

Beach. Photo from dad’s phone.

It was then on to Jimbaran for dinner. Many restaurants line the beach, with soft candlelight illuminating the tables. Very romantic…if not for the strong wind blowing sand in everyone’s faces. We chose to sit inside the restaurant. The sunset view was magnificent.

Dinner was a platter of seafood items – grilled fish, squid, shrimp, and clams. The taste was so-so. I liked the clams, but they only gave us two each. The price came up to 400,000 rupiah (RM128+ or USD 30) for all of us.

The seafood is freshly picked and grilled. Lots of aquariums with fish in them, where customers can pick out their choice on the spot.

Guests sitting outside will be able to enjoy traditional Balinese dances on stage. I love their costume detail.

All in all, I think Kuta and Jimbaran are pretty touristy places to visit in Bali, although that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check them out. There’s good, cheap seafood and a relatively nice (albeit crowded) beach.