Exploring the gangs of Solo


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Asia » Indonesia » Java » Solo
May 16th 2015
Published: June 20th 2015
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Following a short train journey to Solo, we got off at the wrong train station (right city, wrong station).  To get to our hostel we had to haggle a price with the 'tricycle' man to take us there. We hate having to take these taxied bike journeys as they are so labour intensive for the poor cyclist, we cant help but feel sorry for them as they huff and pant away carrying our oversized bodies (compared to locals anyway) plus luggage.

On our way to the hostel we were surprised as we passed a McDonalds, KFC and a Pizza Hut, bearing in mind Solo is the least westernised city in Java. We guess not many of todays citys can escape such franchises for long. At the same time we could count the number of western tourists we spotted on 1 hand (mainly the other people at our home stay). There aren't many tourists here at all really (foreign or domestic) so getting around without being bombarded with "where you going?" or "Batik exhibition?" questions from taxi men was a much welcomed relief. Any locals we did meet were extremely friendly and genuinely interested in where we were from without the ulterior motives, happy to just pose for a photo for us.

We wanted to stay in a recommended homestay the term "homestay" used very loosely here as the grounds resembled more of a mansion/museum complete with pool. With its gold painted edges against the black and white decor throughout its numerous buildings and rooms, Chris jested the place was actually better than the palace in Yogyakarta. Unfortunately there were no rooms that night so we were directed to a much cheaper homestay 5mins away and booked a room in the fancy place for the following 2 nights. Mama's Homestay for the first night was very basic but the family here were very friendly and informative. The guy was seemingly intrigued by Chris's complexion mentioning not many black tourists visit at all, before complimenting on Chris's skin tone as "sexy" lol.

As we had arrived around 2pm, both palaces were closed and the temples were too far out to get to in time, so we decided on exploring the maze of alleys (gangs) armed with our camera to see what we could find. Weaving in and out; children played excitedly in the narrow streets as we dodged the many motorbikes passing through whilst locals went about their daily duties in the humid heat. Getting lost in the gang ways is all part of the adventure; a left here, a right there, walk a little, then another left before stumbling upon a small batik clothing store or colonial style building or even a piece of street art. P in particular loved the colonial feel and took picture upon picture of wooden window shutters and doors.

In the evening we visited an open air street food market where many locals hang out- Galabo. The roads are closed to traffic and are filled with tables, chairs and mats. Most stalls were selling slight variations of the same thing so we found ourselves a free table at one and both ordered the Nasi Goreng (fried rice) which was very tasty.

During our stay here we managed to find some real cheap eats in the city. One of the workers at our accommodation took us to a small store with a wide selection of vegetarian food - tempe (fried soya beans), cabbage, green beans, carrots and glass noodles, all seasoned in a sauce. Perfect for P who was beginning to struggle with
the lack of veggie options in some of the places we had visited. We both got a little bit of everything (plus chicken for Chris) with some rice and were surprised when it came up to the grand total of 15,000rb (0.75p for us both). Our cheapest meal yet! Another place we sought out - Warung Baru, recommended in the guide book with the largest menu selection we've seen during our entire trip. The food here was good and not overpriced neither. Chris tried a local dish (Chicken Koloke) and P went for vegetables and rice with a nutty sauce. We did see a rat running through the kitchen whilst dining there but still returned the following day! We guess the food was THAT good and we're pretty used to seeing such things now in SE Asia that we had to turn a blind eye. We have not been ill this far which is a miracle *crosses fingers*, so our stomachs are clearly used to it all.

We visited the Kraton Palace the following day and joined a couple of  Japanese tourists as they had an english speaking tour guide. We walked through the palace with the guide pointing out the many interesting artefacts the sultan and his predecessors had accumulated over the many years. A lot of the artefacts ranged from coins to glassware to swords from an extensive number of nations. It was very much like museum in a way although taking pictures or filming was not allowed in many areas so forgive us for the lack of photos. It was definitely worth the visit though.

With Indonesia being the largest population of muslims, there are a lot mosques big and small spread throughout Solo. You cant miss the chorus of calls to prayer booming from speakers from the many local mosques all vying for their own piece of the airwaves. 

Overall we really enjoyed our stay in Solo. Although there are not many sights the overall atmosphere of the city and the charming gang ways, was certainly worth a visit for us.

Transportation; from Yogakarta train station to solo; 1hr 40,000r (can be cheaper if book earlier).
Accomadation. Mama Homestay: 1 night and Cakra Homestay: 2 nights (the fancy place).



Additional photos below
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20th June 2015

Love it!
I love it when you manage to find those hidden gems where there are no other tourists around and the local economy hasn't become dependant on scamming those who visit. :-)
20th June 2015

Love it!
I love it when you manage to find those hidden gems where there are no other tourists around and the local economy hasn't become dependant on scamming those who visit. :-)
22nd June 2015

love it!
Us too. We just had a horrible incident in China all because people see tourists and expect to make extortionate amounts of money. We try to refuse to give in to these scammers. Its hard to resist but we have to otherwise there is no stopping them.
21st June 2015
Looking through the narrow gangways of Solo

What a relief!
After the touts hounding you recently, how fab to have a few days of respite. And even though you didn't have any of your usual wild adventures, your photos from this friendly place are great. As before, I'm salivating over your tofu, tempe, glass noodles and veggies! Thank goodness I've got a kitchen in my hostel!
22nd June 2015
Looking through the narrow gangways of Solo

What a relief
Haha our adventures can be somewhat wild, even though I don't think we actually go seeking such experiences. Well maybe.. sometimes. We did love the calmness and the feeling of getting away from all the chaos in Solo. Until it all began again... did you say you were in Peru?
22nd June 2015
Looking through the narrow gangways of Solo

Peru--yes!
I remember you once said you were coming here, so if this is true--how great to meet! I'm in the south in a beautiful colonial city, Arequipa. Hopefully, I'll be here until mid-Nov, but maybe I'll have to leave in September--I don't know yet, In mid-November, I'll be going for three months each to Bolivia, then Peru, Ecuador and Columbia. So if you're down here, maybe we can meet.
23rd June 2015
Looking through the narrow gangways of Solo

Peru..yes!
Wow, what a trip!!!. We have always wanted to go to South American but have never been. It sounds like tourism has not really been established too much there plus we love Spanish something we are determined to learn. We cannot wait to read your blog!!!. We only have around just over 2 months in SA so we decided to spend our time in Peru and Bolivia and end with the rio carnival. We'll see if that works out. Not sure if that fits with where you are but we will definately email to see if a meet up is possible :)
23rd June 2015
Children happy to pose for a photo

Adorable children
Great shot.
23rd June 2015
Children happy to pose for a photo

Adorable children.
They were and pleasantly so friendly too.

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