It's been a rough last week of traveling, as detailed in this post and also just felt between Eric and I. The 95+ degree days don't help when we have to scooter all over to please Immigration officials to show up for appointments to pay for visa extensions or with the traffic. However, the friendliness we have met in Yogyakarta has been what has made this city stand out to us.
Our amazing AirBnB host has been fantastic. We have had a typical Indonesian breakfast every morning - fried rice, gaduk (jack fruit soaked in coconut milk), vegetables with fried chicken, and at every meal: rice. They love watching our reactions as we try the food. Luckily most of it has been fantastic and we are lucky to try it here! Runi, our host, also invited us to celebrate her brother's graduation from his Masters Program. We happily agreed and took our scooter out to her parent's house, set among beautiful rice paddies that we desperately miss from Ubud. We were greeted there by the nicest people, all wanting to know where we are from, what we are doing here, what we have seen, and what we think of the food. It was such a fun evening that we felt lucky to be included. I also got to see Runi's wedding albums, her wedding had over 2,000 people! Seeing the photos and learning about their traditions was so fun to compare to ours.
The next morning we were invited to a cooking class by the woman who owns our favorite restaurant, Warung Heru. We have eaten there almost daily, loving the low prices (we can eat a full meal for under $5!) and big servings. She invited us to learn how to make some of our favorite meals, soto ayam (chicken soup), gado-gado (vegetables with peanut sauce - my daily staple dish), and nasi goring (fried noodles - Eric's favorite).
Unfortunately our worst fears were recognized when she added MSG to all 3 of the dishes! Also, Eric saw how much butter and oil go into nasi goring and I learned the peanuts in the peanut sauce are FRIED before the sauce is made! Why does everything need to be fried!? We realized why the food is so good and promptly agreed we must book places from now on with kitchens so we can prepare our own food!
However, being in the kitchen with Mrs. Wayuni was a blast. She preps everything before hand so things just need to be combined with the correct sauce and boiled before being served. The cleanliness wasn't up to Susan Potts standards but it also wasn't too bad.
We rested up the rest of the day, getting ready for the ShaggyDog concert we were invited to by the lead singer, Heru. (The Warung we did the cooking class at is named after him, and run by his mom.) We had met him at the warung and he invited us to come here them play. When we met up with him at 9:30 (admittedly, when we are usually going to sleep!) he told us they didn't start playing until 1a! We were glad for our naps earlier in the day!
We got to go see the band's studio. They have grown really popular, playing in Europe and all over Indonesia. Heru explained they are letting others use their studios and starting a record label to help others get into the business. They literally started with nothing and are trying to give back.
Well, we were in for a crazy cultural experience! To say the venue was smoky does not explain how much smoke was generated by the hundreds of people furiously smoking their cigarettes like life depended on it. We coughed and our eyes watered with all the second hand smoke that was unavoidable. The amount of smoke luckily didn't take away from how great the band was. Heru was an awesome lead singer and the band rocked away behind him. Crowd surfing is a huge thing to do here so we avoided being right in front and instead hung out in the VIP area, enjoying free Jack and cokes (a huge treat here!).
We finally grabbed a cab back to our AirBnB at 3a, smiling from such a fun night, still amazed by the level of smoke in the bar!
The kindness we have met here has really made this a special place for us. While we are getting excited to move on to a smaller city, Yogya has been a great place to explore for a few days and now that our Visas are approved we can do more sightseeing instead of scootering back and forth with documents and money required to stay a little longer. More to come from our next few days here!