By Carlie Corr (Semester 17/Aug 2003)
University of New South Wales
All in all I had a great time in Yogya as a student. I have learnt a lot about Indonesia, including Indonesian people, culture and way of life (and even learnt some things about myself). I feel that my Indonesian has improved, particularly the confidence factor.
I spent my whole semester at a place which has been affectionately nicknamed “the Pink Palace” by ACICIS students. The building is pink, and it is a kos, but it resembles a hotel, complete with receptionist and 24 hour security guards. In the room there is a double bed, bedside tables, study desk, plenty of cupboards, air-con, cable TV, fridge, phone, western toilet and hot/cold shower. It’s a very comfortable place to live. On the ground floor there is a communal kitchen you can use, and there is ‘air putih’ and ‘nasi’ provided, which you can help yourself to.
The place is at Jalan Gambir 18, Karangasem Baru, just northeast of the UGM campus. There are plenty of warungs nearby, as well as a great internet café just down the road. It is only a 10-15 minute walk to campus. To stay here costs Rp1.1 million per month. They generally make you pay 3 months in advance, but if you move out at the end of the 2nd they will refund the last month. Laundry is an extra Rp50,000 per month and they now charge an extra Rp10,000 per month for parking if you have a motorbike. We had no problems here apart from the laundry. It often took several days to be returned, sometimes not even properly washed, and things sometimes went missing.
I was too lazy to walk anywhere so I rented a motorbike to get around on. It was Rp500,000 per month from Pak Faki of Weike Travel on Jalan Prawirotaman. I would highly recommend hiring your bike from here as his rates are very good, and he will swap the bike for another one if you have any problems. He is very helpful in this way. But beware because the bike is not insured for you so if it gets stolen while in your possession you will have to replace it. If you plan on riding a motorbike here I would recommend bringing your own helmet. It is virtually impossible to get a helmet here that would pass Australian safety standards. You must wear a helmet by law if you are on a motorbike.
There are warungs everywhere, especially around UGM and everyone will have their favourite. Mine was a “nasi uduk” warung on Jalan Agro which made the best ayam bakar. I got very sick of eating Indonesian food though, which made me seek out inexpensive western meals. The best quality but most expensive meals are in the hotels, eg Yogyakarta Plaza or the Hyatt. For everyday cheaper places there is the warung ‘Steak and Shake’, which is excellent value. You can get a piece of steak (local meat of course) with a couple of vegies, potato chips, a plate of rice, and an es teh for Rp6,500. For the best soto ayam in Yogya I recommend going to ‘Sate Blora’ in Sagan, on the way to the Galleria Mall. They also make the best es kelapa muda I’ve ever had. My best tip with food is try and stick to Indonesian food, because at least they’ve cooked it properly. Eating western food involves taking the risk of a nasty case of sakit perut.
I brought a credit card and Cirrus eftpos card and basically withdrew as much as I could at a time (Rp 2 million from the BCA ATMs at the back of the SuperIndo supermarket), and then kept it locked in a cupboard in my kos, just taking it out as I needed it, and never carrying much in my wallet just in case it ever got pick-pocketed or left behind somewhere. I also kept my cards locked away except when I needed them so that if I lost my wallet I wouldn’t lose my means of getting more money at the same time. It is easy to find ATMs here but beware which one you use because very transaction costs you about A$4 so you want to get the maximum amount out at a time.
Being a married couple in Yogya
You’ll notice that public displays of affection are very rare here. Holding hands is fine, but kissing is not seen in public and bound to have people around you staring in no time.
Accommodation is a big issue for married couples. My first advice is bring a copy of your marriage certificate. If you are a young couple, being bules, you may feel the need to prove that you are legitimately married, as even wearing a ring on your finger will not dispel suspicions that you are not really married. Having a marriage certificate with you will help you satisfy inquisitive Ibu Kos’s when you are negotiating for a place to live.
For the most privacy a rumah kontrakan in the best option. However, if you are only in Yogya for one semester you may prefer just to live in a kos. There are mixes koses which sometimes accept couples, the challenge is to find one with enough privacy and enough space for two people. You will also want to have your own bathroom. The other option is to live with a family, but this will offer the least privacy and may be hard to find. The place that I stayed in (the Pink Palace) is great for couples, because you have a double bed, TV in your room and your own bathroom. The room is also a good size, more like a motel room than a kos.