Monday, January 25, 2010

South Square of Yogyakarta (Alun-alun Kidul)

Those who had lived in Yogyakarta will never forget friendly nuance of the South Square. With your friends at college, you might have sat in one night on the mat spread close to stalls around the square while discussing your tasks or talking about popular juniors in campus. You might just have a chat with your neighbors or your colleagues when you stayed in Yogyakarta while enjoying the sweet, hot ronde or bajigur beverages.The South Square is an area at the back part of the Sultan's Palace that you can reach southwards from Wijilan, the central place for purchasing of Gudeg as special food of Yogyakarta. Symbolized by a calm elephant, the South Square is the balance of the North Square that is so busy. For the reason, the South Square is considered the resting place for the gods. It is clear now that the area functions as the place for people to calm their hearts down.

The area begins to be busy at five o'clock in the afternoon. Food and drink sellers began to erect tents and to prepare their food and drink to be sold. When night comes, you can begin enjoying the food and beverages. You can try traditional beverage called ronde containing peanut, fruit of sugar palm, and rounded dough of rice flour filled with palm sugar that are poured with hot, light ginger-taste liquid. The price is quite cheap, only at 2,500 Indonesian Rupiah. In addition to ronde, you can try the so-called bajigur beverage. It is similar to ronde with strong taste of ginger but its thick liquid is made from coconut milk, coffee and syrup of palm sugar. It contains slices of bread, coconut and fruit of sugar palm. These hot beverages are the best choices to expel the coldness of night while chatting with your friends. When you are hungry, some choices of dishes are available. Baked corn, baked banana or baked bread are good companions for ronde or bajigur drinks. The corn is spread with margarine and chili sauce before it is baked while the banana is spread with chocolate that will melt when it is baked. Baked bread is available in various tastes. All of them are simply delicious!

If you want to eat rice, it will come with some side dishes such as fried chicken, grilled fish and fried tempe. Those are all common side dishes you can find in most restaurants in Indonesia. However, if you include the nuance of the South Square into its ingredients, the cuisine becomes so special. Served in cross-legged arrangement, most of the food and drink are offered at affordable prices. You will be satisfied with spending 5,000 Indonesian Rupiah only. Then, you can try an attraction called Masangin, namely walking through two banyan trees in the middle of the square with your eyes being closed with black cloth that is available for rent at 3,000 Rupiah. The belief says that those who successfully do it will get unlimited blessing. However, do not try to peep since you will enter to other world so that it is difficult for you to return to the real world!

Please ask the person who has been renting the black cloth for thirty years, namely Mr. Albertus Harjo Suwito, anything about Masangin. He will explain that renting black cloth is not merely a business for him but it is an effort to preserve the culture and belief of the past community. The ritual of going through between two banyan trees is not mystical but it is means of saying our prayer to God. The answering of the prayer will depend on one's belief. At certain occasion, you can see leather puppet performance in Sasono Hinggil Dwi Abad, the building that is located adjacent to the South Square. You have to prepare yourself to enjoy the nightlong performance. You can also see the troops of Yogyakarta Kingdom are preparing themselves before joining the Grebeg ceremony (to commemorate the birth of Muhammad). They gather in this square before the ceremony and then march to the North Square at the ceremonial day. At day, you can also enjoy different situation of the South Square. You can see the elephants of the Kingdom in its stall or children playing football in the afternoon. Antique things are also sold around the square.

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