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A Meal with Yogjakarta’s Rainmakers

We, I believe wisely, decided to skip breakfast our last morning at at the Patradissa in Bandung Indonesia, ordering just hot water to mix with powdered coffee before throwing on our packs and unfolding the cycles for the ride to the train station. We were getting better at riding fully loaded with our packs, but still there were some issues with top-heaviness and rear viewing due to all the luggage. Regardless, we made short work of the journey, in part, I would guess because two large white guys on folding bicycles laden down with 50 pounds of AsiaWheeling gear are not a common sight on the streets of Bandung, so people gave us quite a bit of room, and plenty of honks, waves, and shouts of “hello mister!”
At the Bandung Station, as we folded our bikes, this time we were completely free from solicitations from baggage handlers, as though word has spread that AsiaWheeling was in town and determined to transport their own luggage.
The train ride to Yogyakarta, (or Jogjakarta depending on your map) was gorgeous and also quite time intensive. We had loaded up on a number of Indonesian snacks for the ride, so we munched happily on cheese and banana flavored crackers and wiled away our time on correspondence. Of interest as well were these sundanese fried leave snacks… very tasty.
<<<<pic of leave snacks>>>>
Meanwhile, endless volcanoes and valleys full of ride paddies rolled by as we ground our way over the rusty Indonesian tracks.
We climbed off the train in Jogja and were greeted by a large statue of what appeared to be Ronald McDonald, with a large die on his head. This, we thought, must be an example of the thriving Jogjakartian modern art scene. This was more or less confirmed when we later discovered a statue of the hamburgler sporting a bad case of the stig motta.
The skies were beginning to threaten rain, and with time against us, we unfolded the cycles at the station, attracting an unprecedented crowd, and took off in search of a hotel. The first 4 that we visited proved to be either too expensive, or too shabby, but the 5th proved quite beautiful and affordable, a place by the name of Setia Yewan with a lush garden courtyard, unlimited free coffee, wifi (a deal maker in and of itself), breakfast, and very clean rooms. As an added bonus, the walls of each room painted with a giant stylized gecko, and the beds sported richly patterned Batik sheets. In short, we were thrilled with it, so we checked in.
Immediately the skies opened and we retreated into the room, knowing it would blow over soon. In fact, we had began putting on sunscreen in preparation for the return of the sun and the inaugural Yogyakarta wheel when the staff of the hotel arrived with some complimentary tropical drinks for us. A delightfully ambiguous iced juice, we drank it down and hope the ice was sanitary. Turned out to be a safe bet.
By the time we had finished our beverages, the sun was back out and we commenced wheeling. Jogjakarta is a fantastic city for cycling in, with moderate traffic, and beautiful tree lined streets. We noodled our way south past endless Batik shops, and trinket markets.

By sunset, we had found our way onto the tiny and lightly trafficked back streets of the city, where we were forced to contend with many “sleeping policemen.” Sleeping Policemen is the Indonesian slang for speed bumps. Our Dahons handled them well though, and we noodled past small community gardens, local shops, and children fishing in garbage filled rivers, all the while attracting many smiles and waves.

Soon the hunger hit and we decided to stop into a nearby restaurant. The place was mostly empty, but we had a good feeling about the waypoint, so we sat down.

We wandered around the restaurant, which sported traditional Javanese architecture, and peered in to an ornate lit case, which contained various dishes, piled high in banana leaf lined baskets. “This is a jackfuit restaurant,” one of the waitresses explained, and thus exhausting her english vocabulary began pointing out all the occurrences of the Indonesian word for jackfruit on the menu. We ordered two of the “special” plates and they proved to be absolutely delectable, with plentifully herbed chicken, crispy fried tofu, and mushy sweat shapes, accompanied of course by a steaming orb of rice. Part way through, the restaurant offered us some complimentary chicken hearts and lungs, all tied up with veins, glistening and steaming, and very interestingly spiced. They proved to be supremely tasty as well.
As we were sitting and digesting, some locals came over and invited us to join them. This occurred at about the same time as an intense rain shower began thundering on the stout clay roof overhead. Our bikes were parked safely under an corrugated plastic overhang, so we relaxed and chatted with these fellows waiting out the rain.
They turned out to all be quite interesting and accomplished gentlemen. One of them was a gregarious and ruthlessly smiley businessman in the construction industry. Another was a telecommunications contractor, who’s business card sported some 5 different phone numbers, one for each of his telecom clients. Another fellow was a health care management consultant, well dressed and with a bright smile. The consultant was an avid cyclist, and a Mac user, who proudly proclaimed so with buttons on his backpack. The final fellow turned out to be the owner of not only this restaurant, but an entire chain of restaurants of which this was only a member.
We asked these fellows for recommendations for our upcoming wheel in Jogja, and they more than rose to the challenge with suggestions, helping us by making detailed markings on our map, and providing us with notes.
We were amazed by the startling array of clove cigarettes held by the gentleman, which all but the consultant smoked (he chose Malboros). Of particularly nice scent were the mentholated cloves in which the telecoms gentleman indulged. Clove cigarettes make up about 90% of the indonesian cigarette market, which is the largest in the world by volume of cigarettes consumed. The oil of the clove acts as an anesthetic and creates a crackling noise when ignited. The indonesian word for these cigarettes is Kretek, which is onomatopoeic reference to this crackling noise.
We also requested some recommendations of good Javanese music to share with you, dear readers. At this our new friends positively bubbled, producing multiple Discs and taking turns plugging our flip into their computers in order to give us songs. Here is an example:
At one point, the construction fellow began expressing to us that he was torn between leaving for a meeting with the mayor of Jogjakarta and continuing his discussions with us. We joined in with the rest of the table in encouraging him to go and meet with the mayor. So he excused himself to return back newly duded up in a well pressed and flamboyantly patterned batik shirt and bid us a final farewell before dashing through the rain and climbing into a minivan which had just arrived to pick him up. It was probably 8pm by this point. I guess the mayor works late here.
The rain continued to pour outside, and we continued to chat and drink tea. Finally, Scott and I felt we had to be going, so we took advantage of a lull in the downpour to ride back to the Setia Yewan. Feeling quite delighted with our introduction to Jogjakarta, we collapsed into bed, opting not to set the alarm.

We, I believe wisely, decided to skip breakfast our last morning at the Patradissa in Bandung, Indonesia, ordering just hot water to mix with powdered coffee before throwing on our packs and unfolding the cycles for the ride to the train station. We were getting better at riding fully loaded with our packs, but still there were some issues with top-heaviness and rear viewing due to all the luggage. Regardless, we made short work of the journey, in part, I would guess because two large foreigners on folding bicycles laden down with 50 pounds of AsiaWheeling gear are not a common sight on the streets of Bandung, so people gave us quite a bit of room, and plenty of honks, waves, and shouts of “hello mister!”

At the Bandung Station, as we folded our bikes, this time we were completely free from solicitations from baggage handlers, as though word has spread that AsiaWheeling was in town and determined to transport their own luggage.

GTD

The train ride to Yogyakarta, (or Jogjakarta depending on your map) was gorgeous and also quite time intensive. We had loaded up on a number of Indonesian snacks for the ride, so we munched happily on cheese and banana flavored crackers and wiled away our time on correspondence. Of interest as well were these Sundanese fried leaf snacks… very tasty.

Fried Leaves

Meanwhile, endless volcanoes and valleys full of rice paddies rolled by as we ground our way over the rusty Indonesian tracks.

To Jogjakarta

We climbed off the train in Jogja and were greeted by a large statue of what appeared to be Ronald McDonald, with a large die on his head. This, we thought, must be an example of the thriving Jogjakartian modern art scene. This was more or less confirmed when we later discovered a statue of the Hamburgler sporting a bad case of the stigmata. Very progressive of the Yogjakarta municipal government, we thought.

Yogjakarta Contemporary Art

The skies were beginning to threaten rain, and with time against us, we unfolded the cycles at the station, attracting an unprecedented crowd, and took off in search of a hotel. The first four that we visited proved to be either too expensive, too shabby, or full, but the fifth proved quite beautiful and affordable, a place by the name of Losman Setia Kawan with a lush garden courtyard, unlimited free coffee, wifi (a deal maker in and of itself), breakfast, and very clean rooms. As an added bonus, the walls of each room were painted with a giant stylized gecko, and the beds sported richly patterned Batik sheets. In short, we were thrilled with it, so we checked in.

Immediately the skies opened and we retreated into the room, knowing it would blow over soon. In fact, we had began putting on sunscreen in preparation for the return of the sun and the inaugural Yogyakarta wheel when the staff of the hotel arrived with some complimentary tropical drinks for us. A delightfully ambiguous iced juice, we drank it down and hope the ice was sanitary.  On AsiaWheeling, we take special care of the ice we consume, as it’s often frozen in gigantic chunks from tap water and hauled across the city on the backs of motorcycles covered in burlap sacks.  This particular ice turned out to be a safe bet.

By the time we had finished our beverages, the sun was back out and we commenced wheeling. Jogjakarta is a fantastic city for cycling, with moderate traffic, and beautiful tree-lined streets. We noodled our way south past endless Batik shops, and trinket markets.

By sunset, we had found our way onto the tiny and lightly trafficked back streets of the city, where we were forced to contend with many “sleeping policemen.” Sleeping Policeman is the Indonesian slang for speed bumps.

Yogjakarta Residents on Motorbikes

Our Dahons handled them well though, and we noodled past small community gardens, local shops, and children fishing in garbage filled rivers, all the while attracting many smiles and waves.

Soon the hunger hit and we decided to stop in a nearby restaurant. The place was mostly empty, but we had a good feeling about the waypoint, so we sat down.

We wandered around the restaurant, which sported traditional Javanese architecture, and peered into an ornate lit case, which contained various dishes, piled high in banana leaf-lined baskets. “This is a jackfuit restaurant,” one of the waitresses explained, and thus exhausting her English vocabulary began pointing out all the occurrences of the Indonesian word for jackfruit on the menu. We ordered two of the “special” plates and they proved to be absolutely delectable, with plentifully herbed chicken, crispy fried tofu, and mushy sweat shapes, accompanied of course by a steaming orb of rice. Part way through, the restaurant offered us some complimentary chicken hearts and lungs, all tied up with veins, glistening and steaming, and very interestingly spiced. They proved to be supremely tasty as well.

Jackfruit Delight

As we were sitting and digesting, some locals came over and invited us to join them. This occurred at about the same time as an intense rain shower began thundering on the stout clay roof overhead. Our bikes were parked safely under a corrugated plastic overhang, so we relaxed and chatted with these fellows waiting out the rain.

Chilling with Yogjakarta Locals

They turned out to all be quite interesting and accomplished gentlemen. One of them was a gregarious and ruthlessly smiley businessman in the construction industry. Another was a telecommunications contractor, whose business card sported some five different phone numbers, one for each of his telecom clients. Another fellow was a health care management consultant, well dressed and with a bright smile. The consultant was an avid cyclist, and a Mac user, who proudly proclaimed so with buttons on his backpack. The final fellow turned out to be the owner of not only this restaurant, but an entire chain of restaurants of which this was only a member.

We asked these fellows for recommendations for our upcoming wheel in Jogja, and they more than rose to the challenge with suggestions, helping us by making detailed markings on our map, and providing us with notes.

Sharing Music

We were amazed by the startling array of clove cigarettes held by the gentleman, which all but the consultant smoked (he chose Marlboro Lights). Of particularly nice scent were the mentholated cloves in which the telecoms gentleman indulged. Clove cigarettes make up about 90% of the Indonesian cigarette market, which is one of the largest in the world by volume of cigarettes consumed. The oil of the clove acts as an anesthetic and creates a crackling noise when ignited. The Indonesian word for these cigarettes is Kretek, which is onomatopoeic reference to this crackling noise.

We also requested some recommendations of good Javanese music to share with you, dear readers. At this our new friends positively bubbled, producing multiple Discs and taking turns plugging our flip into their computers in order to give us songs. Here are two of the many fine tracks they gave us:

Traditional Javanese Gamelan Music

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“Aneka Palaran”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

At one point, the construction fellow began expressing to us that he was torn between leaving for a meeting with the mayor of Jogjakarta and continuing his discussions with us. We joined in with the rest of the table in encouraging him to go and meet with the mayor. So he excused himself to return back newly duded up in a well pressed and flamboyantly patterned batik shirt and bid us a final farewell before dashing through the rain and climbing into a minivan that had just arrived to pick him up. It was probably 8:00 pm by this point. I guess the mayor works late here.

The rain continued to pour outside, and we continued to chat and drink tea. Finally, Scott and I felt we had to be going, so we took advantage of a lull in the downpour to ride back to the Losman Setia Kawan. Feeling quite delighted with our introduction to Jogjakarta, we collapsed into bed, opting not to set the alarm.


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