Visiting Jogjakarta is more than just a breath of fresh air - it’s a city I can and will always consider home. Although I have no biological traces and roots from the region, there will always come a time where I could just retreat knowing that the city can cater and bring about something good. The sultry air, stinging heat and occasional heavy rains and rumbling thunders that seem to gradate against the blazing sun (the region’s rare oddities I can and will never understand) will always find its way greeting and enveloping me every time I step into it.
I’ve always considered Jogja to be one of Central Java’s cradling arts and cultural hub – where both modernity and historical precincts coincide beautifully and sometimes, chaotically. The facades of the old, dilapidated buildings that may have stood statically some 30, 40 years ago are stark contrasts to the many textile and fashion commerce that inundate Malioboro. Art centers, galleries and spaces seem to sprawl in every corner of the city, paving their way to existence and appreciation. Some would not have realized that these creative visionaries are painstakingly fusing culture and history into their work as a means of awakening the old love and sentiments that are currently embers of apathy and indifference.
Lesehan is the most common and typical forms of communally getting together with friends and families. People would sit on thin bamboo-woven mats and coverings as they order various mouthwatering traditional dishes from “angkringan”, the so-called food trucks or food stalls on the sides of the roads. What I think is a fun way of gathering the kindred spirit of families and friends is a pattern I’ve look forward to most of the times. Although visiting new and quaint little coffee shacks and gelato bars would also take place, my family would never miss out on the habits of visiting old restaurant houses that bring out our long lost nostalgias. Soto Kadipiro is a pit stop my family and I would never miss upon landing or arriving by train in Jogjakarta. According to mother, the small, humbled rumah makan has been there for as long as she could remember. Warm spiced chicken broth form the traditional Javanese chicken Soto would permeate in the small unventilated dining space - a hearty soup that could enlighten the soul once more.
Rickshaws, antique bus and Pedi cabs are things commonly experienced in Jogja as you traverse through busy and congested roads, while encountering near misses and narrow escapes from uncoordinated drivers and thick polluted smoke. There’s always that art of slow moving and living whenever we sit on rickshaws, watching cars and motorbikes accelerate before us. It’s always a thrill, knowing you can get in tune with the surroundings. You watch as passerby and people busy themselves under old colonial houses, preserved and standing just as grand and beautifully as newly constructed ones.
Days can end blissfully overlooking the sunset from the many mountaintop cafes and restaurants, or just from your humbled terrace with a backyard that seem to fulfill your every need and comfort. The kind that rekindles the old memories of being home with the family – one without worries, you would just sit for hours, occasionally conversing and laughing over things that may matter and don’t. The day in Jogjakarta will come to a close, only then will I be in my sleep, knowing that a new day in the city will be as new and exciting as today.