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

 

Cityscapes: Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila

Hey guys!

Work has kept me busy… and uninspired.

I know there’s this idea that ‘the more you write, the better you get’, but it just seems that lately the more I write, the less inspired I am lol. Not just on the articles that I’m writing for work, but also this space, which is supposedly where I can write without inhibition.

Maybe I’m burnt out. I come home from a full 9 – 6 shift writing stories all day, take a quick shower and dinner, then write some more for my part time gig until 10PM. By then I’m too mentally exhausted to even play games or read – two activities I used to enjoy in my spare time. I’m in bed by 11, up by 7, and the whole drudgery repeats itself.

I need more vacations!

In the mean time, enjoy some photos from my recent visit to Bonifacio Global City, an ultra-modern central business district in Metro Manila.

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View from Crossroads, where we had excellent Buffalo Wings at Frankie’s.

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Squeaky clean with well paved roads, BGC’s wide pavements, towering skyscrapers and malls made me feel like I could have been in any metropolitan city in the world – LA, Singapore, Sydney – if not for the occasional Filipino flag fluttering happily from a lamp post. The area’s orderliness is such a stark contrast from the rest of Metro Manila, it’s almost as if one is transported to another country altogether.

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One thing I liked about BGC was the presence of dozens of murals both large and small, peppered throughout the city. Some of these draw themes from local culture and history, such as one featuring local revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio. Visitors will also find numerous sculptures and installations while walking around the streets.

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A large piece called Dating Tagpuan by artist John Paul Antido. 

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Shiny modern buildings

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Taking a brief respite from the heat as we cut through a well maintained park.

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An interesting sign at the crossroads leading to the Mind Museum.

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Shangri-la at the Fort Manila

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A park-cum-roundabout lined with trees and an installation made to look like trees. In the evening you’ll see joggers and people walking their doggos.

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Another art piece called Manpower by Kris Abrigo, spanning several stories high

For the full list of murals and their locations, go to bgc.com.ph. 

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More to come!

PS: Feeling a little more inspired after this short post. Hope I can get back in the groove soon!

 

Travelogue: We Met A Magical Cat Lady @ Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati City

…Before anything else, a selfie. Because I think we both look cute here lol.

After our morning trip to Salcedo Market (blog post here), we had a lot of time to kill, so we took a walk around the central business district (CBD) of Makati.

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One thing that strikes me each time I travel around Metro Manila is the huge disparity between CBD neighbourhoods such as Makati, Eastwood and Bonifacio Global City, and their surroundings.

On one hand, you have the general chaos of Metro Manila – honking jeepneys loading and unloading wherever they please, a thick layer of smog, garbage strewn along the streets, and pretty apparent poverty in some areas where kids run around half naked without shoes.

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On the other, you have the clean, almost clinical orderliness of the CBDs, with its nicely landscaped gardens, wide roads and pavements, glitzy malls and high-rise offices. It’s like entering another country altogether.

It reminded me a lot of LA, where you have ‘hood’ areas like Skid Row, with the homeless pushing carts asking for change, versus the glamorous excess and gigantic mansions of Beverley Hills.

Not saying we don’t have income disparity in Malaysia, because we do, but I think the contrast is particularly striking because of how visible it is.

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A monument of Sultan Kudarat, a Philippine national hero who ruled Mindanao in the 17th century. He fought against Spanish invaders and prevented the spread of Roman Catholicism in the southern regions, which is why the area still has a large population of Muslims today.

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Another monument nearby is that of Gabriela Silang, the first Filipina to lead a revolt against Spain. Born in the early 18th century, she married Diego Silang, a revolutionary leader. After his murder, she led troops in his stead – earning the title Generala – but was captured and publicly hanged by the Spanish. Today, she is remembered as a heroine. Here, she is depicted on horseback wielding a bolo, a traditional Filipino machete.

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More city scapes

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The Peninsula Manila, a five star luxury hotel. Apparently a ‘siege’ happened here in 2007, when a senator and a group of officers charged with mutiny walked out of their trial and occupied the hotel’s second floor. They were joined by some civilians and other military personnel supportive of their cause to overthrow what they said was the corrupt regime of President Gloria Arroyo. The coup ended with the military storming the lobby, as an armored tank crashed through its glass doors. Looking at it now, it’s hard to imagine such an event took place!

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Underpass

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Emerging at a tree-lined avenue.

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We decided to walk through Ayala Triangle Gardens – a nicely landscaped area with lots of greenery and shady trees. The park offered some respite from the humid, scorching Manila heat. There were people practicing Arnis (a Filipino martial art) on the green, an expat honing his football skills, and also this lady:

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A MAGIC CAT LADY 

I’m guessing she must be a feeder because she had a bag of kibbles. As she rustled it, a clowder of cats came out from behind trees and shrubs, and started following her around with their tails high in the air. There must have been at least 7 or 8 of them! GIVE ME ALL THE KITTIES 

PS: I love cats. Sadly, I still live at home with my parents (nothing to be ashamed of, I’m  Asian) and my mom is allergic to cats, so until the day I move out…

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Well maintained park

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An impressive archway with a bridge connecting two buildings.

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Arrived at Ayala Greenbelt, a series of posh malls where you can find high end brands like Gucci, Prada, etc. I liked how they designed the area to be green and full of trees – like an oasis amid the gaggle of glitzy malls.

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Mostly restaurants along an open-air stretch of mall.

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A pond with koi fish, popular with families in spite of the sweltering heat.

If you’re looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of Manila, the Ayala Triangle Gardens and Greenbelt Malls is a great place to hangout and enjoy the greenery, pop in to the buildings for some air conditioning when it gets too hot, do some shopping and indulge in food.

More to come!