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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

This may be an awkward opener, but I’ve got to say it up front. Yogyakarta has the cheapest laundry service I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. The going rate is 2500 IDR/kilo, but I did see one place advertising 2000. That works out to about a dime a pound! The price of laundry is a good indicator of the rest of the city; it’s cheap.

Yogyakarta, or “Jogja” as it’s commonly referred to, is a university town in Central Java. Being a college town, it is crawling with tons of cheap, good food and as Bohemian an atmosphere as one can find in a Muslim country.

My CouchSurfing host for Jogja was Richard and I had the honor of being his first Surfer. After meeting so many wonderful Indonesian hosts, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Richard would be welcoming, nice, and extremely friendly. He did everything he possibly could to make my time in Jogja great and succeeded.

We knocked out a few touristy things, the “must-dos” for Jogja. The Keraton, where the Sultan still lives, is a “must-skip” as far as I’m concerned. Admission is next to nothing, but the place itself was underwhelming to say the least. It’s not a pretty building and there isn’t much to see.

Borobudur Temple is about an hour ride from town. It was strange that they had a separate ticket sales area for locals and foreigners. It was an absolute shock to see that they were charging foreigners $20 to enter. This is more than 5x the admission price for any other temple or site I’ve come across in Indonesia. The temple itself does not justify the price relative to what $20 can buy you in Indonesia, especially Jogja. That’s a lot of laundry! However, my visit was made into a positive one by the schoolchildren I encountered at the top of the temple. I was swarmed by a couple dozen cute little kids that gave me the rockstar treatment. It made me really happy to see their smiling faces and it was totally worth the price of admission.

As far as food is concerned, it was pretty good and very cheap. One thing that I saw in Jogja and nowhere else is coffee with charcoal briquettes in the glass. It didn’t affect the taste, but unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo. Gado-gado, tofu covered in peanut sauce, is one of the better known dishes and I didn’t really care for it. The sauce was more like slop, there wasn’t much going on, and “spicy” was far from what I desire. Soto Banjar, chicken soup, was okay. We had Lonton Opor, chicken and egg in coconut milk curry, at the Sunday morning market and it was good. I also enjoyed nasi kuning, turmeric rice with chicken offal. We had some late night gudeg, young jackfruit in coconut milk with spicy chicken and chicken intestine sate, that was outstanding. The highlight was definitely oseng mercon, spicy beef offal.

My last two hours in Jogja were spent at Happy Puppy Karaoke from 12-2 pm, sober, with Richard and his friend Vindy. I’m not a big fan of karaoke, especially under those circumstances, but it was definitely a unique experience and I had a good time.

I only spent a couple days in Yogyakarta, but managed to squeeze in quite a bit, all thanks to Richard. Jogja was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t mind going back for more cheap eating and good times. It’s a definite stop on any trip through Java.

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