Learning New Skills in Yogyakarta

This is my second time in Yogyakarta. The first was in July, when I came to take an intensive remedial Indonesian grammar course at a language school here. And I came back, this time with my husband J who will also be improving his Indonesian language skills. Oh, I also brought with me a desire to get around independently on a motorbike. The last time I came, it was rather annoying to have to call or find a taxi each time I wanted to go somewhere. But zipping around Yogyakarta on a motorbike could only be accomplished after the undertaking of another task: learning how to ride a motorbike.

This is me on the motorbike J and I rented the other day. We’re outside a friend’s house, where we’re staying.


Day 1 involved riding around very shakily and slowly around quiet back streets…and accidentally accelerating at very bad times. Nothing bad happened, thankfully.

Day 2 involved more practice on the back streets! And in the evening, riding on the main roads under the guidance and accompaniment of my friend, who is an excellent (and calm) teacher.

Day 3: J and I zip off to the language school in the morning on the motorbike, navigating early morning traffic! And we even zip somewhere else for lunch and then zip back home! J is a very trusting and loving soul.

I don’t think I’d be brave enough to try motorbiking in a bigger city in Indonesia. But in Yogya, it’s quite doable. Some tips from my friend:

1. Never assume that there are rules. Just see what’s going on and go with the flow.

2. Any time you spend checking the traffic behind you is precious time you need checking out what’s going on in front of you.

3. Too much hesitation will result in people around you being less able to anticipate your actions.

I’ve gotten to meet one of the founders of a literary community in West Kalimantan (Jaring Penulis Kaltim) who is attending postgraduate school here: a poet and short story writer named Amien Wangsitalaja. I also got to meet his very nice wife and baby son.

A few more days here and then on to Kalimantan Timur!

One Comment

  1. I love motorbikes! Riding one in HCMC traffic was almost like a video game (except with potentially real consequences) … and the same 3 rules applied!

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