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Tourists are back again YOGYAKARTA - Sometimes you have those days that you want to enjoy the evening after a day of traveling around. This enjoying will work perfectly having a cold beer and some company. Earlier that day I had enjoyed the celebrations of Independence Day in and around Yogyakarta and after that I headed for Jalan Malioboro to do some shopping. That has to be done as well, and to combine it with something good, I decided to look for a place in one of the many bars or restaurants in the first small street off Jalan Malioboro, Jalan Sosrowijayan.

I entered the FM Café and noticed a fair number of foreign tourists. Most of them Westerners and a single guy from the east who looked somewhat sad, maybe because all Caucasian women were already taken for that evening. Maybe not as well. I didn't ask him but I found a nice place to sit on a wooden bench. Right in the middle of tourists, because that has been quite some time ago.

A crowded celebration of Independence Day in Yogyakarta where hundreds flocked to the flag ceremony. Among them also a larger number of tourists than last year.
A crowded celebration of Independence Day in Yogyakarta where hundreds flocked to the flag ceremony. Among them also a larger number of tourists than last year.

I cannot remember those earlier days when it was crowded with tourists here; an exception is my early years in Indonesia around 2000. Ever since, tourism was on the decline in Yogyakarta and many other places and economies mainly depend on local Indonesian tourists. That was the situation until this July, because around that time I noticed an increase of foreign tourists compared to the same period last year.

Becaks for the tourists

For the first time in years the becak (pedicab) are not only used by the local population to go to the market, but also for many tourists. From a random hotel to the other side of the street. The price has come down in recent years because of heavy competition, but has now settled around 5.000 Rupiah per ride in the area directly around Jalan Malioboro.

Still the biggest part of the becak-drivers has not enough work to earn a proper living. This is not to blame the tourists however, but purely the fact that there are way too much of those pedicabs here. Using them has also become increasingly more unhealthy than 'those early days', when there wasn't that much traffic as today. Those 'early days' is just some seven years ago for Yogyakarta. Around that time the affordable motorbike started to enter the cities and countryside of Indonesia.

Enjoying evening in FM Café

Meanwhile the evening progressed in FM Cafe. Just after eight o'clock, so still on time, all of a sudden a slender lady in a red dress showed up at a small stage. She was to sing for us that evening. The low quality of the synthesizer was largely compensated by the nice but mostly loud enough voice of the short woman. Normally I don't appreciate this kind of Indonesian junk from big black sound boxes, but this already was a huge improvement, my beer wasn't finished as well.

The nice mix of people - a balance of Indonesian and foreign tourists - soon created a good atmosphere. Only later I realized which languages were spoken. Mainly Dutch, some German and other European languages. I just kept using my Indonesian to the people who served me. Not because I wanted to show that I am able to use it, but mainly not to be forced into conversations I don't want. I can enjoy myself perfectly like this, as an anonymous Dutch guy. Listening to the latest gossip without the need to give anything myself. Perfect, right?

The lady on stage likes it as far as I can see. Her voice is heard far outside the doors of the café. Across the street, it is getting crowded at the kaki lima (food hawker), mainly smoking men who are trying to have a look at the nice looking woman in red dress. A little bit shy she is, with every louder applause, her thank you to the visitors gets shorter and she will be looking for a new song to sing.

My beer is finished, and around me are some men drinking their beers alone. Staring to the lady in red is fun enough for some time, but the act is taken over by a seemingly funny Indonesian guy. He probably didn't drink too much yet, but the view doesn't get better at all of course when you expect to see a lady on the stage. Time to pay the bill and say goodbye for the evening.



Posted in Tourism @ 20 August 2007 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





andre
User
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It's funny how your local observation ("The tourists are back again") matches the dutch news. Just yesterday RTL news mentioned that the number of tourists going to Indonesia is rising.



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