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Published: March 13th 2017
Via Via Cafe
So you want to go on a Jamu Tour?
Best laid plans went astray so instead of catching a morning train to Surabaya I had to catch a flight. Went for the $40 cheap option, which as a bonus, also happened to be the earliest flight I could take (3pm). My time in Surabaya was going to be short.
So, back to the story- what to do in the morning? Shopping on the famous Malioboro St? Nope - experiences, not things is the new mantra (apparently). The nearby "proper" (read... decent flat white) coffee place, aside from selling coffee (which it actually didn't on Days 3 & 4 due to broken coffee machine) also offers "experiences" (read... tours) my short notice/ short time frame meant I could choose from a cooking experience, a walking tour (whoops... I mean experience) or the Jamu tour. Cooking was full, walking... not really a new experience, so... Jamu it is.
What is it?
Well, basically it's using herbal medicine and tonics which, here in Indonesia, have been around forever. Concocting brews from around 150 different herbs, flowers, barks, etc that are going to stimulate, prevent and treat everything
Jamu Tour Begins
Enroute to the Jamu seller
from sore muscles to cancer is what Jamu is. The skill is generally passed down through the generations.
I meet Wewe (experience guide) at 9am at the cafe and she hails a motorised becak ( a traditional style of transport where the driver sits behind you and you face the traffic in a 1-2 person seat plus or minus a hood. It's motor is like a ride on lawnmower, the really traditional becak are pedal power). We putter off to a traditional jamu shop where the jamu practitioner can choose a tonic for you or you choose from the menu. I get a tour of the kitchen, the processing area where things are peeled, chopped, cooked, boiled, ground and/or seived. Wewe, meanwhile, chooses 4 jamus for me to try which are an absolute adventure for the tastebuds. I'm now guaranteed to have an increased appetite, increased stamina, an accelerate metabolism, reduced muscle soreness, weight loss, reduced allergies, less rheumatism and much, much more! I wonder momentarily if various combos cancel each other out.
Next stop is the Beringharjo Market, a traditional market selling absolutely everything you can think of, smelling, crushing, tasting stuff (fingers crossed) and wandering around.
Depicting Jamu seller
Final becak stop is a stop at the Blind Massage School because massage and reflexology are very much a part of the alternative health model here. It was an interesting experience (in a good way), it's in the middle of a residential compound so all the while that you're lying there in your underwear on a dodgy sheet being pummelled, there are the sounds of everyday- kids playing, the Bakso cart man dinging his bell, roosters, phones, coughing, spitting, general chatting... Ah, the serenity.
Back to the coffee shop at 12 to finish up with a homemade Sticky Rice cinnamon face mask- now that was interesting- sitting in a crowded cool kids cafe with ground rice plastered all over your face... As I said- it's all about experiences...
FYI- The place that I booked the Jamu Experience through was called ViaVia - a very good one stop shop for food, tours, accommodation, shop and bakery amongst other things. They also have a very good website which has lots of good info on Yogya. http://www.viaviajogja.com/travel.php#tours
The rest of the day? Well it didn't quite go according to plan- got to the airport at 1pm (local metered taxi
organised by Good Karma). Lots of people staring at me (probably due to grains of rice mask still stuck to my face). Sat, and sat and sat .... then the announcement. Flight delay meant a touchdown in Surabaya 3 hrs later than expected and a dodgy cab ride (I bet they hate tourists with google maps) meant I would only spend a total of 14hrs in Surabaya.
I had booked a very cool hotel though! http://www.artotelindonesia.com/surabaya
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