Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gourmet food, Solo style

The train between Yogyakarta and Solo is a simple commuter train taking about an hour. There I am met by Dicky, the brother of my couch surfing hostess Popy, and taken home to meet the family. Ibu (mother) is one cool chick, who spends her days sitting in a cool spot in the breezeway watching the daytime soaps in between doing the household chores. Aside from attending gym three times a week that is! She doesn't speak a word of English so I am getting to practice my Indonesian instead. Dicky is studying law, and is in the middle of midterm exams, but he still has time to show me around during the day whilst Popy is at work.Popy works in a bank full time, then is a radio announcer on the weekends, so she's pretty busy. But that doesn't stop her being a fantastic host, taking me to all the best local restaurants to try the Solo specialties. Over the following two days I try many different dishes, from fried duck to a dish similar to gado gado, Nasi Liwet - rice cooked in coconut milk and served with side dishes, Nasi Gudeg which is another jackfruit dish, and a rice pudding with a salty sauce whose name escapes me. There's a great night food market at Galabo which has all sorts of offerings. I have Thengkleng Kambing, which is ex President Soeharto's favourite dish, an assortment of fried goat's bones with a small amount of meat and fat on them. The sauce, however is superb. Before that we'd eaten Pisang Owol, which is baked banana topped with chocolate sauce and grated cheese. Yes cheese! I'm yet to grasp this particular combination which is very common in many Indonesian sweets. It's actually very tasty, also very filling!!

Dicky's tour guiding duties commence after he has sat his morning exam. He seems completely unconcerned and Popy tells me he'd probably spend the time playing Playstation anyway! We go to the Kraton Mangkenegaran, a smaller but better maintained sultan's palace compared with the larger more dilapidated Kraton Surakarta. I particularly like the lovely tropical garden surrounding it, and spend a few minutes trying to teach the pet cocky a little aussie slang!We also visit a batik museum and factory, where I begin to get an understanding of the meanings around the designs, but the hellish workshop in the back of the plush air-conditioned museum premises shows that this is big business, where people slave away in appalling conditions and only get paid by the piece. Yes they are skilled artisans, but that doesn't equate with decent wages. Not that I can do much about it...In the evening Popy takes me to see Wayang Orang, which is the acting out of old Javanese tales, Hindu and Buddhist tales, a few songs and lots of ad lib and audience interaction. This acting troupe performs every day of the year, whether there is an audience or not, and are really very amusing. Unfortunately I fall asleep midway through so we leave early - and I paid all of 40 cents to see them too!!

The following day Dicky takes me up into the hills to see some temples and I get to try sate bunny rabbit. On our way we stop to take a quick picture of an Islamic school which has produced more than its fair share of terrorists....Here's all the Solo pictures.

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