Despite it being really hard to drag ourselves away from the luxury of The Phoenix Hotel, we did manage to get out to explore a few streets in Yogyakarta (aka Jogja) on my parent's recent visit to Indonesia. Yogyakarta is known for being the heart and soul of Javanese arts and culture, with something to suit every taste including ballet, batik, puppet shows, drama, poetry and music. My mum is an artist so I particularly wanted her to see all the great street art and galleries. While we didn't make it to the latter, we did spend time in Sosrowijayan and the surrounding gangs (or laneways).
Sosrowijayan is known as one of the main tourist areas (or 'kampong') in Yogyakarta. Full of affordable accommodation, it is an ideal hub for backpackers with easy access to warungs (street cafes/restaurants) and pedicabs (known as 'becak').
There are numerous art classes on offer from learning to make batik (traditional indonesian block-stamped and hand-painted fabric) to painting and jewellery-making. You don't need to look far to find an outlet for your creativity - and you can see that the local residents have already found theirs, with art on every available surface.
These are the kinds of streets where you could spend hours slowly exploring from cafe to gallery to bookshop, surrounded by happy children playing and shopkeepers calling out greetings. In the evenings, local musicians often gather in the cafes over glasses of ginger tea, a specialty of Jogja.
The streets are lined with plants and flowers, with great attention to detail making the area a delight to be in and a world away from the congestion of the city's main ringroad nearby. This is the perfect place to go if you need some solitude and an escape from the hustle and bustle of Jogja.
Travellers staying in this area can easily organise tours to nearby sights Borobudur, Prambanan and Mt Merapi, but be ready to bargain for a good price as you can often get prices much lower than the quoted rates. Bargaining is a huge part of Indonesian culture and you won't offend if you try - don't be frightened, just do it with a smile! I'm no expert. Sometimes it works for me, other times it doesn't. You have to make sure you're happy to pay what you're being asked to pay.
Watch out, watch out! There are children about!