The sun was beating down as thousands of people crowded along the street. They did not just stand on the sidewalk but some of them also ran over up to the road. The atmosphere was so noisy and hectic, with bubbling laughters, screaming car horns, traders shouting food and toys for children blended are into one. Such atmosphere is one that you might expect when you visited one of the most famous streets in Yogyakarta, Jalan Malioboro.
Jalan Malioboro (Malioboro Street) is a major shopping street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It lies in the line between Yogyakarta Kraton and Mount Merapi, where it is significant to many of the local population, as the north south orientation between the palace and the volcano is considered a being of importance. Malioboro was deliberately built at the heart of Yogyakarta by the Indies government at early 19th century as the center of economic and administrative activities. Symbolically, the area also aimed to compete with the domination of Sultan Mataram with his luxurious palace.
Before it turned into a busy street, Malioboro was a quiet road with a tamarind tree growing on the right and left. But the existence of Pasar Gede or Beringharjo Market on the south side and the presence of Chinese ethnic residential in Ketandan area gradually boosted the economy in the region. To add to its charm, the origin of the Malioboro name has long been a mystery and a thing of debate. Some believe the name derived from a word in Sanskrit, where Malioboro means flower bouquets as in the ancient times when the Palace held an event, a mile-long road would be filled with flower bouquets. Others said that Malioboro actually comes from Marlborough, an English Governor General, who ruled in Yogyakarta during the colonial period. Whatever the origin might be, it is unquestionable that now Jalan Malioboro has became a hallmark place for Yogyakarta.
The street is the centre of Yogyakarta’s largest tourist district surrounded with many hotels and restaurants nearby. Sidewalks on both sides of the street are crowded with small streetstalls selling a variety of goods which is a suitable place for tourists looking for cheap souvenirs in Yogyakarta. In the evening, several open-air street side restaurants, called “lesehan”, operate along the street and serve various food includes gudeg, steak, satay, tea, coffee and juice. At the market, you can buy batik fabric by the meter as well as readymade clothes. There’s also an array of handbags (many masquerading as designer brands), shoes and more. Upstairs, there are spices for sale and some antiques.
The bargaining process for souvenirs sold by the vendors lining up the sidewalk is one of the unique experiences you could get when you shop at the myriads streetstalls in Malioboro. These stalls offer various kinds of souvenirs and handicrafts made of silver, clay, batik, wood, and leather. However, just like any other traditional market, the vendors usually overcharge something for a souvenir you are interested in. If you are skilled at bargaining, the price is likely to drop drastically, say from IDR 50.000 to IDR 10.000. Unlike shopping alongside Malioboro walk, tourists can buy interesting things such as batik, handcrafted souvenirs, branded goods, and many more at Malioboro stores, albeit without the bargaining available. In this extent, Malioboro also serves as a modern shopping area.