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Jogging around Jogjakarta (aka yogging around Yogyakarta)

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It's that time of year again, after just getting back from our summer vacation.  This year, we went to Yogyakarta which is a city in central Java, Indonesia.  The title of the topic comes from the fact that most people there call the city Jogjakarta (pronounced jōg-ja-karta), although some people (depending on background) do call it yōg-ya-karta.  This is a special place in Indonesia - Indonesia is a mostly Muslim country, however, the region around Jogjakarta was declared a special region as it is also a Sultanate.  It was the original home to the ruler of the island of Java, and once democracy came along, the Sultan still lives there and has some kind of power in the region, as well as with the government as a whole...  It's confusing - and I would say that I'm still a bit confused, but that's ok.  Anyway, all this leads this region to be called the cultural and culinary capital of the island of Java, the most populous island in the archipelago, some of the reason it is extremely popular with domestic tourists - I'd say the vast majority of the tourists there are from other parts of Indonesia, with the balance being mostly Australians, and some Europeans and very few North Americans.


Food-wise, we found Jogja interesting because it is the first Muslim area we have seen in SE Asia, which means (with very few exceptions) no pork.  There are tons of chicken dishes - many using what is called kampung chickens, or extremely free range chickens which tend to be relatively scrawny, a little tough but with a lot of flavor.  There is also some beef, some mutton/goat and fish.  Like a lot of Indonesian food, the use of sambal(s) is key - many times you will have a selection of sambal that you would use to accent or add spiciness to a dish.  Some of these sambal are crazy hot...


Another thing interesting thing about being a mostly Muslim area is the seemingly ever-present call to prayer.  In the city, typically 5 times a day, the Mosques will have their best singer sing the call to prayer (which lasts about 20 minutes) over the loudspeaker systems.  If you are in an area with a few mosques, you will hear 3 different versions all going at the same time.  Some of these calls are at inopportune times - like 1:30AM - so most hotels provide ear plugs so you won't be woken up in the middle of the night.  Like we do on all our trips, we take Benadryl as a sleep aid to help get us over the jetlag... so we never needed the earplugs as we were sleeping very soundly to say the least!


I think I'll sum this up by talking about how relatively inexpensive this city is.  It is probably the cheapest area that we have seen on our travels so far - you can get a luxury hotel room for about $50 per night, and a 40 minute taxi ride across the city doesn't cost more than $3-4, at the current rate of exchange.  Local food is really cheap too.  I took some photos of menus to show pricing - keep in mind that the current rate of exchange is about IDR14,100 to US$1.  What can be much more expensive is some touristy things - foreign tourists are charged a different rate from domestic tourists, and in some cases will have a separate entrance (and usually a much shorter, or non-existent, line).

Edited by KennethT (log)
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We got to the region a little different this year - we didn't go by our typical way by EVA airlines connecting through Taipei because it would have required an extra flight as EVA only flies to Jakarta, so we'd have to change planes again to get to Jogja.  Instead, we flew by Singapore Airlines direct NY to Singapore, and then flew by Air Asia direct to Jogja.  Singapore Air is a great airline and the food was great (shown on the Airline food thread), tons of entertainment options and the staff were warm and very helpful.  My only issue is the scheduling - the flight leaves NY at about 10:30AM and gets into Sing. at about 5:30PM the next day.  By leaving at 10:30AM, there is basically no chance of sleeping on that flight, except maybe for the last couple hours before landing.  Also, by landing so late in the day, it's hard to make any connections, so we stayed in Singapore for 1 night (not really a hardship for us as we love Singapore) and left the next morning.  The flight home though leaves at 11:30PM, which leaves plenty of time for a connection from wherever you're coming from, and then we had about 6-7 hours of hanging out in the city...


One final interesting thing about the flight - because of the issues in Middle East right now, it's recommended that airlines avoid flying over the region if possible, so SA's route basically took us straight north out of NY, over the North Pole (or really close to it), then down through eastern Russia, China, Thailand, etc.


Northern edge of Canada (I think)...


Landing in Singapore was as efficient as ever - and we were finished checking into our hotel in the city center about an hour after landing.  Since  we were really tired, we decided to have dinner in the food court of the mall around the corner from our hotel:


The Ion Center mall...



Entrance to the food court


The food court is set up like an indoor, air conditioned hawker center with tons of options.


We decided on some Prawn Noodles:



and Katong laksa, which was rich with coconut milk and shrimp paste... delicious:



In the corner of the last photo, you'll see our drink of choice in Singapore, lime juice - really a limeaid.

Edit: just found a photo of the lime juice....


Edited by KennethT (log)
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The next day we woke up bright and early and had breakfast in the hotel.


Wonton noodle soup (shrimp wontons, chicken and gailan)



To get us in the mood - nasi goreng - translated as fried rice (nasi = rice, goreng= fried) but in true style, nasi goreng is typically served with some sate, shrimp chips, acar (pickles), and this was also served with some chili rubbed fried chicken wings...


We got to the airport with time to spare, so we went wandering...



A small food court (one of several scattered around the terminal)... since it was there, I needed to visit my old friend, Old Chang Kee for fried stuff on a stick...




I was still pretty full from breakfast, but wound up getting some prawn nuggets on a stick (like chicken nuggets, but made from shrimp):


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We got to the hotel in Jogja with no problems and as part of the check-in process, they brought us to their lounge for a welcome drink and snacks:


Some kind of ginger tea with cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, traditional Bakpia and another snack I didn't know the name of...


The bakpia comes in different flavors, but traditionally is filled with a slightly sweet bean paste and wrapped with a thin dough and dry fried. The cylinder is some kind of palm sugar confection with dried coconut flakes.


Interior shot of the bakpia...


After we had our snacks, our room wasn't ready yet (it was only a little after 1), so we had lunch in the hotel's courtyard...


Various krupuk (cracker-y things - shrimp chips on the left and some kind of vegetable chip on teh right) with peanut sambal



Kampung chicken "Tali Roso" - the tough, scrawny free range chicken with chilis, shallots, dried anchovy, peanuts, some kind of bean and green tomatoes.



Mie Jawa (javanese noodles) in soup - like a chicken broth with lemongrass, lime, and sweet soy sauce.



Various sambal

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A little exploring around the hotel... first, their rooftop hydroponic garden





By the time evening came, we were exhausted - we had taken a small nap once we got into our room, but I think we woke up more tired than when we first laid down!  We wound up going to bed without eating any dinner - we weren't really hungry anyway....

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Breakfast was included in our hotel rate, and because the area gets so many domestic tourists, the vast majority of the breakfast buffet were Indonesian items... they did have a small western selection - there was yogurt and muesli for the Europeans and way in the back, secluded in an oft overlooked area was an omelette station and some waffles (no bacon or sausage).  But for me, I'd rather have the local stuff anyway and there was a LOT to choose from...


Ayam betutu - chicken stew with chilis and tomato, along with 2 different sambal and shrimp chips...



DIY soto ayam (chicken soup, soto=soup, ayam=chicken) station...


My finished soto:


I am a huge fan of this soup - the broth is flavored with lemongrass, garlic and shallots, and has mung bean noodles, cabbage, chicken, various herbs and fried garlic... I also put a small dose of the nuclear-hot orange sambal in...



Sambal station, from top left going clockwise: kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) with chilis,  nuclear orange chili, milder (but not completely mild) red chili, balinese style sambal matah - with lemongrass, chili and shallot, acar = pickles, peanut sambal



There were a few containers of krupuk - these are the shrimp chips, a fave of ours



Gulai ikan (fish curry) and veggies



This is a gorengan (fried stuff) section - they had fried tempe, tofu and seitan and far on the right was a fried noodle and fried rice station.


There were some other stations (the selection was ridiculous) unpictured here... we may come upon them as we go through.

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After breakfast, the first order of the day was to try to find some good fruit to keep in the room.  This trip, the fruit finding was quite frustrating - I couldn't find any mangosteen until the 2nd to last day before we left for home!  We went to so many markets and fruit stands, after a while, it just seemed like they didn't exist here.... and of course, once we finally found a market with some (one vendor had a small amount), I seemed to see them everywhere as we drove along in a taxi... also, for some reason, the variety of mango that is popular here is relatively flavorless compared to some of the ones we've had in Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore... the flesh was much more orange than I was used to seeing, and they were juicy, but just tasteless... disappointing...


Anyway, some first day market shots...


Various fruit - there were tons of oranges everywhere we looked, and apparently, the drink of choice is orange juice on ice - lime juice was barely found anywhere...



Fruit and veggies



Veggies starting to look a little wilty...



palm sugar



various krupuk - most are made either from shrimp, fish or vegetable... although here and there we'd find beef skin cracklins - those were awesome.


After the market, we went back to the room to upgrade our "welcome fruit plate"...





Post upgrade... while the mangoes were completely flavorless, that pineapple was probably the best pineapple I've ever had in my entire life...  it was so sweet and juicy I can hardly describe it....  But, I will say it was a bit of a challenge to peel and deal with the pineapple with a butter knife, but I made do!!!


After dropping off our haul (btw, 3 mangoes and a pineapple cost about IDR 25,000 - or less than $2 and that's without haggling which most people would do at a market... it was so cheap, I didn't bother) we continued our walk.  One area of Jogja that is very famous is Malioboro St. - a nice tree lined street made for gouging tourists, I mean, for tourists to wander around and take in the sights....  Most people in the city that we met were very friendly and nice, but there is a huge glut of "becak" or tricycle rickshaws that the drivers were quite agressive and would follow you to get to you take a ride with them.  Also, the incessant selling of batik can get overwhelming - especially in tourist heavy areas.... Jogja is a center for batik, and many of the domestic tourists come to get the stuff from its homeland.


Anyway, some shots of Malioboro St., and a market selling tons of batik



The beginning of Malioboro



Becak waiting for customers





The main market area of Malioboro St.



Batik madness....



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Lunch was a Jogja specialty called Ayam Geprek - smashed chicken.  Basically, the vendor uses a pestle and big flat stone plate and pounds garlic, chili, tomato, MSG and sugar into a paste, and then adds a piece of fried chicken and proceeds to pound it all together.  This is served with rice and a variety of other fried stuff...  We took a taxi to one street that had 3 geprek vendors all in a row - but I had read some blogs that said that the one to go to was Ayam Geprek Bu Rum (Bu meaning Mrs. or madam, Rum is her name).










The finished dish, plus an orange juice on ice.  Very tasty, and again, really cheap - lunch for the two of us was probably about $1.50


We relaxed at the hotel for a bit and then just had some snacks for dinner in the hotel...


Lumpia (like a spring roll), with sweet chili sauce



Chicken and beef sate, served with rice cakes and



peanut sambal and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)



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im so dying here


maybe its really really hot ?  110 F ?


110 % humidity ?


mosquitos the size of B-52's ?




looks like a fine and tasty trip


Kudos your way for your preparation.

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5 minutes ago, rotuts said:

im so dying here


maybe its really really hot ?  110 F ?


110 % humidity ?


mosquitos the size of B-52's ?




looks like a fine and tasty trip


Kudos your way for your preparation.

The weather was actually quite pleasant on this trip - mid to upper 80s and about 50% humidity... we only saw a few drops of rain, and that was on our last day while spending the day in Singapore before our flight back to NY... and we happened to be in a taxi at the time, so we didn't even feel it.


My wife had some disappointed facebook fans - we didn't have much material for #sweatcontest2019


Also, very few mosquitos - I even commented how surprised I was at the lack of them....

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You travel to some of the most interesting destinations! How do you choose them? Perhaps it is by the preponderance of street markets, of which I would never tire.


Thanks for taking us along.



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14 hours ago, kayb said:

You travel to some of the most interesting destinations! How do you choose them? Perhaps it is by the preponderance of street markets, of which I would never tire.


Thanks for taking us along.



I have a long list of destinations that I started about 14 years ago. Most of it is ranked by country, but also by what major attractions are nearby... for instance, not far from Jogja is Borobudur, which is an incredible sight... we'll get to that in a bit. Once I see that there is a major thing to see/do, I look to see what type of cultural significance the area has and, of course, food, to determine how much time to spend there.  I'm still trying to find the balance between seeing amazing sights and getting enough downtime so that we're not more stressed/exhausted when we get home than before we left... this trip I think I did pretty well - probably because while there is lots of stuff to see in the Jogja area, it probably could be done in 4-5 days, but we had like 7-8 days, so we were able to spread things out and really take our time to do things that are a bit off the tourist trail, or just relax by the pool for a bit.  Last year's trip to Bali didn't quite work out that way - there is so much to see, and a lot of it is spread out and takes a long time to get there that we felt like we were always running.  For future trips, I'd either save that type of place for when we have more time (who knows when that will be) or I'd split it into 2 trips, or just take the top of the list of things I want to do and just try to forget about what we're missing.  Also, I consider the weather - I try to visit areas during the dry season - major amounts of rain can really put a damper on seeing things, can potentially be dangerous, and can also hamper travel to/from.  So, for instance, while I had long dreamed of going to Saigon, I couldn't schedule it in for our normal summer vacation because it's the height of their rainy season, so I had to wait to schedule it for our less frequent Xmas/NYs trip.  The same is true for a lot of Malaysia, and also the Mekong Delta part of Vietnam - I've been dying to go to both of those, but it really should be in winter.  Finally, I'm always looking for deals on flights, so that can be a big influence!


One thing I have found though is that if you have enough time to take things slowly, you can find local markets and interesting life to see just about anywhere.  Practically no matter where we'd go internationally, it's going to be very different from home, so just going to what locals would consider mundane would be very interesting for us just because it's so different.  They'd probably feel the same way if they came to my neighborhood!  I can't tell you how many people we've met over the years who said they were dying to see NY and really wanted to see snow... I hate the snow - not because it isn't pretty when it's falling, but makes everyday life so much more difficult.

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Breakfast the next day at the hotel - in addition to a rotating selection of Javanese/Indonesian items, they also have a section where they do food that is specific to Jogja.  One of these dishes is called Gudeg, and it's young jackfruit that has been simmered for hours in herbs and spices until it's tender. Jogja people typically like things pretty sweet, so they also add kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).  It's typically served with krecek (kreh-chek) which is beef skin that has been cooked in coconut milk and spices...  It's typically served with white rice.







We also went to a local restaurant that specializes in Gudeg near the end of the trip.


Other stuff we had for breakfast...



Chicken stew with sambal matah and the nuclear orange sambal



Mediocre pineapple - overall, I was disappointed in the hotel's fruit selection...



More soto ayam (I had it practically every day)



mediocre mie goreng (fried noodles)



Some type of sweet/sour fish with acar (pickles) and sambal


After breakfast, we went to one of the main sights of Jogja proper, the Kraton, which is the Sultan's palace.  You're not allowed to take pictures of some of the most interesting things to see - a lot of the palace's museum is devoted to batik, and the various patterns that were designed for and worn by each Sultan...  I snagged a photo of one of them...



Some sights taken walking around the area...





On some days, they have a classical Javanese dance performance at the Kraton, complete with full gamelan orchestra...






The orchestra...



After the performance, I took a photo of the gamelan setup...


Near the end of the trip, we saw a 2 hour classical Javanese ballet performance at the Prambanan temple, which was amazing....





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I had wanted to go to lunch to a local place that specialized in Brongkos - beef simmered in coconut milk and spices which was close to the southern exit of the Kraton, but unfortunately, there were tons of aggressive becak drivers hanging out at the exit harassing people into taking rides, or wanting to take them to a special "batik gallery" which is really an overpriced batik shop where they get a commission.  Rather than deal with that, we left out of the main entrance, and used Google maps to make our way to the restaurant...  a funny thing Google likes to do is take us through places I wasn't quite sure we were supposed to be!


While this is techincally a street (for motorbikes and walking only) there were times I felt like I was walking through people's yards...



Is this the right way????


Finally, we made it there...






This was really tasty - slightly spicy, with spices like star anise and clove.... served with a big shrimp chip.... also, really cheap - about a dollar a portion.  To drink, orange juice on ice...







More krupuk...

Edited by KennethT (log)
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Some of breakfast the next day....


A different kind of chicken stew...



Various krupuk - the squiggly guys were either shrimp of fish based, and the long ones at the top were beef skin cracklins...  dangerously good!!!!



Indonesian siu mai... I think they call it Sao May... but not make with pork - I think it was chicken...


After breakfast, we packed and transferred to a hotel about an hour away, which was right near Borobudur.....



Welcome drink at the hotel during check in...




Some snacks...  and a complimentary short neck and shoulder massage!


Then it was time for lunch:


View of Borobudur from our table



Green mango salad



whole fish with sambal and red rice



Some type of shrimp curry - lots of lemongrass and coconut... my wife had this for lunch and dinner practically the whole time... she couldn't get enough of it.


Dinner that night was more shrimp curry and



Kampung chicken

Edit: whoops - this wasn't chicken, it was green curry duck... I think the duck was also free range, as it was really stringy and chewy - but had great flavor

Edited by KennethT (log)
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@KennethT - a man after my own heart (don't tell my wife!).


Your Fruit/butter knife story made me laugh out loud as it reminds me of various trips of ours with me hoarding local fruit back to our hotel only to have a butter knife (to deal with Mangos, passion fruit, jack fruit, and the like) to work with.


But we make do - anything for the love of fresh, ripe, local fruit!


BTW - I can tell just by the color of the pineapple alone, it was unreal - totally ripe!



Edited by TicTac (log)
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One other interesting thing before we get to Borobudur is that in this area where the hotel is, the surrounding mosques do the call to prayer 7 times a day!!!  This means they do it at like 1:30AM and 4:30AM!!  And it's REALLY loud - much louder than in our hotel in Jogja... It sounded like there were 3 mosques in the area, and they all used loudspeakers to broadcast the calls - one singer had a deep baritone voice, another had a high falsetto, and a third was somewhere in between... and they would all seem to compete with each other over who could sing the loudest... fascinating...


Anyway, we wanted to go to Borobudur at sunrise, so we had to wake up really early.  But it was so worth it to see this.....


We weren't alone...



Just a few more photos....













Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, built in the 9th century, as the island of Java was predominantly Buddhist and Hindu at the time.  Now that the island is largely Muslim, the government considers it a cultural site, rather than a religious site.  Along the walls are carvings depicting the life of Siddhartha Gautama - the Buddha...  The whole complex was buried by volcanic ash deposited by Mount Merapi (the volcano on the right in the above sunrise shots) probably back in the 1300s, and was rediscovered and uncovered in the 1800s by British archaeologists.  In each bell (called Stupa) is a statue of the Buddha - they left two of the stupas uncovered, one facing due East and the other facing due West, so you can see the statues inside.


It is really hard to get a sense of it through photos as it is just so huge... but a couple more shots to try to show perspective






As we were leaving, the hordes of tour buses were arriving, as most people see this site as a day trip out of Jogja...




We got back to the hotel in time for breakfast...



Pineapple and dragon fruit



Nasi campur - rice with lots of stuff with it, from bottom left corner: cucumber (obviously), fried shallots, two different kinds of beef floss, some type of mung bean/noodle salad, fried veggies, peanut curry sambal, fried chicken, some kind of root vegetable curry, shrimp chips, sweet and crunchy bean cake.



Nasi goreng (fried rice) with fried egg, cucumber/shallot/tomato salad, chilis, fried shallots and shrimp chips.



Basket of krupuk


View of Borobudur from our table:



Edited by KennethT (log)
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Love the little hats on the rice! Presentation is so much a part of all the Asian meals I've had and seen. It's one of the things I loved about meals in Japan -- edible art!

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30 minutes ago, TicTac said:

What's with those rolled up cones on top of the rice?


As soon as I saw those, I thought 'PP Tee Pee' (those with young boys, will know)!

I have no idea, but I saw it from time to time in Bali also.... maybe it's an Indonesian thing?

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We spent the rest of the day laying around the hotel and also getting complimentary massages...




Lime juice



Fried kampung chicekn with sambal



Shrimp curry (again)


Dinner that night:



Lumpia (spring rolls)



The most fanciful presentation of beef rendang that I've ever seen... but the beef was a bit chewy



More shrimp curry (I told you my wife was addicted!)

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