Meeting the locals in Yogyakarta, Java

Who says Friday the 13th brings bad luck? Yesterday was Friday the 13th and I had a perfect day. What makes a day perfect (to me)? Meeting locals, getting insight into their everyday-life (even if it is the smallest and most unspectacular things) and connecting with them – through a little chat, a friendly hello or even just a smile.

And yesterday I had so many of those experiences within a few hours. I walked through the narrowest alleys which were a welcome break from the busy traffic jammed roads – chatted to young guys about where they and I were from and what they studied. Took photos of young boys cheekily posing for “phoooootoooooos” and of mothers with the cutest babies (whilst everyone around the road stopped and tried to make the baby smile by making funny gestures, funny faces etc. -only that the baby wasn’t very impressed by that). I had old toothless grandmothers giving me a friendly shoulder-squeeze and the warmest smile, I met some oder men chatting me up in the streets, giving me tips on where to go, what to see and what to be aware of (“do not go to those kind of Batik shops because they cheat you, do not take guides around this place because there is nothing to see, etc”) without wanting (to sell me) anything – just being helpful and friendly.

One man on the street was asking me if I was going to the Bird Market (which I dadn’t even heard about) and adter he told me “be careful, it moved and is now 4 km away from the old location” I thought “why not give it a try” and ended up taking one of the many tricycles which are all over town to see this market. And it was quite an experience – thousands of colorful beautiful birds singing all different kinds of songs – but the downside was of course that they were perched into tiny cages – sometimes up to 50 little birdies in 1! cage. After walking around the market (which didn’t feature only birds but also locked up dogs, squirrels, monkeys and rabbits) for about 40minutes I took another tricycle ride with an old man who was so weak and old that he had to hop off on the tinies inclining roads to push the bike. On the one hand I felt terrible getting carted around by such an old man (who should not have to work anymore but enjoy his last years) but on the other hand you just know that they have to do those kind of jobs to make a living so in a way you support them (I know it may sound cheesy but unfortunately it is that way). After a nice lunch I stolled around a little market and watched old ladies selling flower petals on the sides of the street and got many more dark-brown beautiful eyes smiling at me and yelling “heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeello, Miss!”.

A perfect day. All it takes is happy and friendly people. And Indonesia surely has a lot of them.🙂

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