Vegan in Mozambique

Mozambique is an extraordinarily beautiful country, that amazes with its stunning beaches, reefs and sea life, landscapes, national parks, nice welcoming people, lively atmosphere filled with music and dance, colonial architecture and art. But if you’re travelling in Mozambique as a vegan don’t expect much.

Vegan food is not a thing in Mozambique and even in the capital Maputo, you can only find one vegetarian restaurant called KRU.

Vegan MozambiqueAs you know they have a famous cuisine and are one of the best countries in Africa foodwise, but is all about tiger prawns, seafood, fresh fish and chicken.

I travelled from north to south only by public transports and through lots of rural areas, where there isn’t any infrastructures, restaurants, cafes, food stalls, or even many street markets. So you are asking the same question I did. Where and what am I going to eat?

If you are in a rural area, you need to rely on the local people and on what they can do for you, but communication can be a big problem if they don’t speak Portuguese.

Where to eat vegan in Mozambique?

Maputo is the exception, has some good options, and it’s easy to find your way around. There are also a few places around the country mostly linked with accommodation or some kind of recreative activity that also cater in some way for vegans.

A great example is a vegetarian place in Tofo, called happi located in the Liquid Dive Center.

Another great option is the Turtle Cove, that during their Yoga Retreats provide an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Mozambique was colonized by Portugal in 1505, their cuisine has been deeply influenced by the Portuguese. One of the most eaten dishes is ncima a thick porridge made with ground maize and water, in my opinion just serves the propose of giving you energy… it’s tasteless, but vegan 🙂

Here is a list of some traditional  vegan dishes:
  • Mucapata– rice with coconut, absolutely delicious, very common in the Mozambique Island.
  • Xiguinha – Made with cassava and cacana leaves, common in Inhambane province.
  • Pão – white bread rolls, you can find it in any market baked in wood-fired ovens in villages.
  • Matapa – made from stewed cassava leaves, ground peanuts, garlic and coconut milk, more likely to get it if you end up staying with locals.
  • Collard Greens in Oil – it’s a sauté of onions and collard greens.
  • Chamusas – triangle shaped pastries, asked for the potato ones.
  • Cassava with Red Sauce – a sauce made with fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions, garlic and  oil
  • Rice and Beans – it’s a very common dish.
  • Mucuane – with boiled cassava leaves, tomatoes, coconut milk, ask if is made with shrimp or Cashews.
  • Quiabo a Zambiana  Okra
  • fresh sugarcane juice
  • pão de sura – it’s a coconut sweet bread more typical in the Inhambane province
  • Cashews  – they have nut trees growing all over the place. You’ll see people selling bags of cashews on the side of the road and on the beach. they sell while plain, roasted piri-piri, roasted salt.
  • Fruits and vegetables– fruit and veggies are available at markets and on the sides of roads all over the country, depending on the season you can find good papayas, coconuts, mangoes. Avocados, okra and collard greens are also seasonal. Tomatoes, cassava or beans, are available year-round. Green peppers, onions, and bananas seem to go through recurring phases.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

? If you are planning to visit Mozambique, or if you are just curious.. check this post – Mozambique.. it’s maningue nice 

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Have a plant-based diet in Angola.. is it possible?

Angola, land of contrasts, music, dance, earth smells, nice people and colourful landscape. Angola is still a difficult country to visit and lacks in touristic infrastructures. The differences between the capital city Luanda and the rest of the country are abysmal in all aspects, so food is no exception. Angola is in south-central Africa, from its past Portuguese cuisine has significantly influenced Angolan cuisine.

Luanda is one of the most expensive cities in the world and has some imported vegan and vegetarian products in some supermarket at a very prohibited price and some restaurants with vegan/vegetarian options available.

Vegan restaurant in Luanda

The Healing Space it’s the first vegan, vegetarian and alkaline restaurant opening in Angola’s Capital and so far the only one. They serve delicious food using quality ingredients with Angolan, Brazilian, Mexican, and Lebanese influences.

If you are visiting or travelling to another place in the country the story is completely different. You will struggle to eat out because there are no options available.

Markets

Going to the markets will be your best option. Here you can buy ingredients to prepare your meals.

If you don’t need many things you will find things to buy on the roadside. It’s very common to see mostly women and children selling fresh vegetables and fruit.

For a wider range of choice, the markets are the place to go. Just keep in mind that Angolan markets are massive and busy and you will need help to find them. Most of the time they are located in the middle of a shantytown.

In the markets, you can find seasonal fruits, vegetables, roots, beans, and some cereals (rice, flour, corn, etc..) but they don’t have much variety.

Outside Luanda will be quite difficult (if not impossible) to find a supermarket with vegan options due to the lack of supply and demand, or even a restaurant with a vegetarian or vegan option.

If you are staying in a hotel you can make a special request, for a vegan meal, but don’t expect anything fancy. If there is a possibility just to cook your own meal, that will be the best solution!

Traditional Angolan food that is accidentally vegan:
  • Funge: Plain carbohydrate made from cassava with a texture like mash potato, generally served with a full-flavoured spicy sauce.
  • Farofa: Toasted cassava flour with a salty and smoky flavour.
  • Feijão de óleo de palma: Stewed beans in a palm oil sauce.
  • Mukua: Dried fruit from the baobab tree, often used for ice cream.
  • Kussangua: Traditional non-alcoholic drink made from cornflour.
  • Chikuanga: a bread made from manioc flour, served in a wrap of banana leaves (from northeast Angola).
  • Cocada amarela, yellow coconut pudding made with sugar, grated coconut, egg yolks, and ground cinnamon. (vegetarian)
  • Doce de ginguba, peanut candy.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Travel in Angola

Although it’s difficult to get and travel through Angola, no doubt that there is something really special about this country that makes it worth all the struggle.

So let’s uncover some of Angola’s travel mysteries and have a look at what to expect while exploring this stunning country.

Markets

Markets are the place where everything happens, they buzz with life and are a great place to meet and talk to some friendly locals and of course, buy fresh produce.

Don’t expect anything fancy here, only a lot of dust, and very basic infrastructures made out of some sticks, mud, and fabrics. The markets are normally massive and depending on the location and time of the day, can also be very crowded, so be patient, and on guard.

It’s also usual to see women and children selling fruits, vegetables and gasoline on the side of the road. You can also see between the thousands of street sellers in Angola, people selling car spares, school manuals, toilet paper, toilet seats, cell phones, well… literary everything.

Beaches

Angola has beautiful, quiet and untouched beaches but also beaches full of life, people and loud music. Angolans love to have a good time, to drink, dance and listen to music being Kizomba, kuduro and Semba the most popular genres.

Angola’s Countryside

Angola’s countryside is the vision of a country that is suspended in time with a past of war that didn’t disappear from its walls.

Picturesque small settlements, baobab trees, rivers, mountains and deserts are the richness of this country. The small settlements tell stories of a resourceful population that makes everything from nothing.

Slams

Slams in Angola are called musekes (musseques), it’s impossible to count how many you will see spreading through the country. An image of a sad reality. Extreme poverty and social inequities.

Nature at its best

Angola is a country with immense natural beauty that changes drastically from north to south, east to west.

What to visit and where to go
  1. Namibe, beaches, a magnificent desert, and Mucubais Tribe
  2. Lobito, great beaches
  3. Benguelaarchitecture and beaches
  4. Malange, national park and waterfalls 
  5. Serra de Leba, fantastic scenery 
  6. Catumbela, scenery, river and crocodiles 
  7. Cunene, Himba tribe and scenery 
  8. Chibia, Muila (Mumuila or Mumuhuila) tribe and the Mukumba tribal market
  9. Lubango, colonial architecture
  10. Oncocua, traditional place where different ethnic groups live, the Himba, the Mucawana and the Mutua.

Have you ever been to Angola? Find here all you need to know before going on a trip to Angola.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

Discovering Angola – Travel guide

Angola was my home for 2 years and I have great memories about this colourful, warm, magic and not yet well-known county.

Travelling through Angola is a real challenge, that starts with getting a visa. The country is not really open to tourism and to be fair doesn’t really like visitors… Although it seems that things are changing slowly in this regard.

Luanda

If you are lucky enough to get a visa you will land in the international airport of Luanda, Angola’s capital city. An extremely expensive place with a high level of violent crime, where you can’t walk on your own after dark. I’ve been to Luanda many times, but I don’t recommend it.

Angola has miles and miles of coastline, rainforests in the north, the world’s oldest desert in the south, and savannah in between.

Language and food

You need to know how to speak Portuguese to be able to communicate. A very low percentage of the local population can communicate in English.

Outside the big cities eating out is also difficult. There are no restaurants, so you will need to find where the markets are, buy the ingredients and cook your meals.

When you find a place selling food expect it to be expensive and some have poor hygienic conditions.

Transports –  getting around

Compared with Luanda the rest of the country is relatively safer but there are no reliable or safe public transports.

The options are the local minibuses that are called Candongueiros, painted in blue and white or you can also get a ride from a motorbike called cupapatas

This is the informal economy, they don’t belong to a company, so there is no timetables, no stipulated stops or standards by any means. 

The candogeiro’s driver shouts trough the window to advertise where they are going to. The cupapata is mainly for short distances and will go anywhere you want.

Both options are used by locals but are very unsafe. They have very bad driving habits and do unimaginable things like driving on the sidewalk. I don’t recommend you to use any of these options as a tourist. Because to do it you really need to know well what is going on and speak the local lingo.

Before buying my 4×4 I used those options and was involved in some minor accidents. But you see almost daily road accidents involving both cupapatas and Candongueiros. Road sinistrality in Angola is a serious issue.

Renting a car is difficult and extremely expensive, but getting your vehicle (4×4) is essential. Just bear in mind that driving standards and some road conditions are poor, to say the least. 

There is a good road between the capital Luanda – Lubango and Namibe but getting into remoter areas can be rough.

Police Officers

Angola’s police officers are notorious for asking for bribes—known as gasosa. It’s safe to say that if you are driving you will not miss this experience.

I can’t count how many times I was stopped and accused of an imagined traffic infraction and then offered to pay for a gasosa instead of paying a fine. My advice is – always offer to pay the fine.

Mines

When exploring less well-established routes outside major towns, mines and unexploded ordnance remain a problem, sometimes even in ‘cleared’ areas. So try to travel on well-established routes.

Accommodation

Outside the capital, accommodation is scarce, expensive and most of the times the conditions are deplorable. Once I stayed in the only place available in a remote country-side village, where there was no running water, the toilet was a hole on the floor, there was no electricity, and can’t even start describing how dirty it was, all of this for $100USD p/night! I know shocking.

Power and water can be cut off for days without notice, having a generator it’s essential.

Sometimes the best option is to camp on a deserted beach 🙂

Topics to avoid

Basic rules of politeness are essential at all times anywhere you are in the world. But in Angola, there are a few more things that you should keep in mind. Avoid talking about the government, politics and the civil war. Angola is a democracy in name only, and Angolans can be nationalistic and proud.

It will happen that when you are talking to a group of Angolans the discussions will turn to politics, just try to listen more than talk.

Be ready for the mosquitos

Mosquitos are your public enemy number one, try to keep safe. The last thing you need is to get malaria or even yellow fever. To enter the country you’ll need an International Certificate of Vaccination (Yellow Card)

Pollution and lack of basic sanitary conditions

There are a few severe problems with garbage, fly-tipping, open-air sewage, polluted water and in the big cities air pollution is very poor due to the heavy traffic and obsolete vehicles.

Find here more about what to see and where to go while travelling through Angola.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

Aït Benhaddou exploring the fortified village in Morocco

Ait Benhaddou has a distinctive look with sand-coloured houses, a massive fortification made up of six kasbahs and nearly fifty ksours (individual kasbahs) all protected by UNESCO.

This fortified village located in Southeastern Morocco, about 30km from Ouarzazate seems frozen in time resembling an elaborate sandcastle.

The maze of narrow streets and crenulated towers are mainly from the 17th century. A great example of pisé clay architecture.

Ait Benhaddou lies on the old trans-Saharan trade route, at the border of the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Ait Benhaddou is one of the most extraordinary Kasbahs in Morocco. Ksar refers to a group of houses made by soil and surrounded by high walls.

Ait Benhaddou has been used as the backdrop for many popular movies but is more than just a film set.

Things to do

To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to do at Ait Benhaddou, what doesn’t mean that is not a great place to visit. Exploring the old kasbah by itself is a delight.

Walking around on Ait Benhaddou maze of winding streets until reaching a fortified granary is an absolute must.

From the top, you get an amazing view of the valley and the stony desert that stretches almost into infinity. 

Make sure you hike both hills because they offer completely different views of the surrounding area. The hill above the kasbah, and the hill across from the kasbah.

Inside the houses, you see small dark rooms with uneven floors and tiny windows. Nowadays the buildings are still constructed using hand-made bricks. Flat roofs are common here and used as open-air bedrooms.

The upper floors are normally adorned with ornate patterns. The more sophisticated the richer their owner is.

Without the hassle of major cities is also nice to admire the local crafts. Both sunset and sunrise are undoubtedly spectacular and not to be missed.

Ait Benhaddou — One of the most famous villages in Morocco

I just want to reinforce the idea, that despite finding Ait Benhaddou quite picturesque, depending on the time you visit, the village can be thronged with tourists. Game of Thrones seems to to have done quite a good job at putting this village on the map.

There are still a few families living in the ksar, other houses are open to visitors for a fee of 10 dirhams.

If you spend the night the kasbah empties out and becomes a peaceful spot to watch the sun go down.

Getting there from Marrakech

The cheapest way is by bus but the best option is to rent a car.

Two companies travel here the CTM and Supratours, I heard that they have other local companies, that are a bit cheaper, but not as reliable as the other two.

In Marrakech take a bus to Ouarzazate and tell the driver you want to be let off at the intersection to Ait Benhaddou (stop at the crossroads in Taborah).

From the stop to Ait Benhaddou are 16Km, but are always a few taxis around waiting for passengers. You need a taxi ride to get you to the actual kasbah.

There are two option, a collective taxi (5DH) or a private taxi. Negotiating the price for private taxi is important (~30DH). The drive only takes 10 minutes.

How Long to Stay in Ait Ben Haddou

Most people come here on a day trip for 1 or 2 hours.  I think one day and one night is just ideal.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Is it worth going to Meknes in Morocco?

Meknes is known for its huge gates and remnants of its imperial past, and also for being close to the famous ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis.

I didn’t really have big expectations about Meknes, but because was on the way and I had time to spare I stopped there. I found Meknes quite disappointing, and don’t really recommend including Meknes on your travel plan.

The city itself is ok, but not worth a visit when compared with other cities in Marocco. On the bright side, Meknes receives fewer tourists than other imperial cities.

Walking in the old medina is nice. Because Meknes receives fewer tourists it feels in a way more authentic and untouched than other cities. Simply wander and get lost in the small streets of the old city.

The gates are huge and really impressive, The most beautiful one is Bab Mansour right in front of Hedim square.

The Place Hedim (also called Lahdim square) its the heart of the city, full of people, music, games, coffees and restaurants, a less chaotic version of Jemma el Fna square in Marrakesh.

But there is a dark side to this place. It’s where snake charmers, ostriches and monkey with lids being explored.

Visiting the market is also a must, they sell a bit of everything.

Visiting the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum it’s free and non-Muslim can enter. It’s also a beautiful place with fountains, courtyards, colourful tiling and stucco walls.

Tourists are not allowed to ‘approach’ the tomb itself, but it is easy to see through the archway, and another side window where viewing is permitted.

The Dar Jamai Museum is worth a visit more for the building rather than the collection. The entry fee is DH10 (~$1).

Bou Inania Madrasa is a beautiful building, that used to be both a school and a mosque. Located right in the centre of the old Medina. To enter the entrance fee is DH60 (~$6.50) not worth it.

The royal stables have fallen in decay due to poor maintenance, and are not worth a visit. The entrance fee is DH70 (~$7.50).

The prison of Habs Qara is a huge underground prison where the Sultan Moulay Ismail would keep prisoners. In my opinion also not worthy of a visit. The entrance fee is DH60 (~$6.50)

Since I don’t really recommend any of the paid attractions there isn’t a whole lot to do as a tourist in Meknes.  So just soak up the atmosphere.

Outside of Meknes

Located a less than an hour from Meknes you have the ancient city of Moulay Idriss and the Roman ruins of Volubilis. both worthy of a visit.

How to get to Meknes From Fez
How to get to Meknes from Fez

It’s really easy to travel from to Meknes, all 3 options are good. Get to Meknes from Fez by bus with the company CTM or by train.

You can also travel in a shared taxi. The shared taxis stop in front of the main bus station (just outside Bab El Mahrouk).

The short answer to my question: Worth going to Meknes in Morocco? No, but if you have plenty of time on your hands why not 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Volubilis a stop into a Roman past

The Archaeological Site of Volubilis is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Probably the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in Morocco.

The Roman city of Volubilis dates from the 3rd centuries B.C. and the remaining structures still stand stubborn against the skyline nowadays.

Volubilis was one of the Roman Empire’s most remote outposts.

Entrance

To enter the site you need to pay an admission fee of 70 dirhams(~$7.50).

There are guides waiting for you at the entrance who can be hired for around DH150-200 for around an hour. It’s your choice to wire one, I always prefer to walk around at my own pace.

Better to go early in the morning or later in the evening for sunset, to avoid the heat of the day and the tour groups. The site opens at 8:30 and closes at 19:30.

Just beyond the entrance gate, there is an on-site museum, which displays the ancient city’s most celebrated finds documenting the whole history of the ruins.

The ruins, still impressive all these years later

Nowadays still a lot is left to be seen. From an impressive triumphal arch to mosaic floors in what were once rather magnificent townhouses.

My favourite mosaic was located at the House of Orpheus, where you see Orpheus playing his lute to an audience of wild animals, a dolphin and Poseidon, the Roman god of the sea.

At Volubilis, there’s nothing much separating you from the ruins, just a few bits of rope. So wander the site at will. Just let’s hope that all tourist are respectful and will not destroy anything.

It’s also still possible to the foundations of many houses, hot and cold rooms, the city’s basilica, temples, graceful columns and bathhouses. The ruins offer a fascinating insight into the city that once served as the capital of the kingdom of Mauretania.

Much more is still there to be found since the site is only partially excavated.

Getting to Volubilis

I recommend spending one night at the picturesque and charming town of Moulay Idriss and walk down to the ruins. The setting is just stunning, you have hilly, wheat fields and olive groves.

But if you don’t have the time to stay at Moulay Idriss you can still visit the Roman city of Volubilis as a day out from Fez or Meknès. From fez are an hour and a half drive and less than an hour from Meknès.

The most expensive way to wire a taxi, the cheapest alternative is to take a shared grand taxi from Meknès to Moulay Idriss (Dh10). – (shared grand taxis to Moulay Idriss only run from near Meknès’s Institut Français)

From Moulay Idriss is just 4 kilometres to Volubilis so easily walkable if you don’t go when the sun is at its strongest. If you are not much of a walker hire a grand taxi to take you to the ruins (~Dh30 one way).

I adored Volubilis, the site itself is beautiful and also all the nature around it. I’m glad I had enough time to visit the site and to explore and walk around the Moroccan countryside.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Ouarzazate Morocco’s Hollywood

Ouarzazate (war-zazat) is located at the edge of the Sahara desert and for that reason called “The Doorway to the Desert”.  A city of palm trees, sandy streets, muddy brick houses, blocky, fort-like buildings and film sets.

 

This town is surprisingly calm for Morrocan standards located five hours south of Marrakech by bus. This town is in the Souss-Massa-Drâa of southern-central Morocco.

Ouarzazate has a connection with blockbuster cinema and two major film production studios are located here, a film school and even a museum of cinema. Many call Ouarzazate “Ouallywood”.

 

As a travel destination by itself, Ouarzazate doesn’t have that much to see or do. But because its location can be used as a base for day trips.

Day trips from Ouarzazate

You have the orange dunes in the east and some nice nearby villages and kasbahs to be explored.

The well-known Ait Ben Haddou is a beautiful ancient ksar about 30 minutes outside the city of Ouarzazate. A place used as a backdrop in countless movies and TV programs.

 

It’s also within easy reach oasis valleys and ancient kasbahs. The Fint Oasis and the Tifoultoute Kasbah are perfect for a nice hike (15km and 8km from Ouarzazate respectively).

A bit further away you have the Todra Gorges, a series of stunning limestone river canyons that are also worth a visit.

What to Do in Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate is a great place to get lost in while you discover the Old District, with its muddy brick houses lining the old streets.

 

The Taourirt part of the Old District holds an ancient fortified village, still standing right in the heart of the city. Taourirt Kasbah Museum showcases the south Moroccan kasbah architecture.

 

At Ouarzazate city centre, you can walk around Al-Mouahidine Square and the market, and also stop at a pastry shop or café to take in the city’s lively evenings.

The Ouarzazate Center Market begins at 6pm. Here they sell all sort of goods, from clothes to handicraft. the market is located right in the city centre.

 

The local market located on the market road (6.00am) sells all kinds of items from clothes to crafts and spices. The market happens every Sunday is probably one of Ouarzazate less visited place by tourists.

Then you have lots of attractions related to cinema, from the Atlas Cinema Studios, the CLA Cinema Studios and the Cinema Museum. I didn’t visit any of these places but if you’re a cinephile I’m sure you will enjoy it.

How to get from Marrakech to Ouarzazate

Getting to Ouarzazate from Marrakech is quite easy. There are two companies that run bus services between these two cities, CTM and Supratours. The cost for both is 80 Dirhams (~$9.8), and the journey takes 5 hours.

 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Bondowoso City, East Java

Bondowoso is located in East Java, Indonesia, between the highlands of Tengger and IjenFor most travellers is the gateway to Bromo and Ijen.

I stayed in Bondowoso a couple of days, just relaxing away from all the other places that are packed with tourists. The nearest largest city is Surabaya, approximately five hours away. Bondowoso is a nice, peaceful and clean town with considerably less traffic than other cities in Java.

I’ve found here super interesting markets, great food and nice people. The common dialects are Madurese and Javanese, although Madurese is the majority.

The food in Bondowoso is delicious and cheap, and they have food stalls everywhere in town at all times. They also have delicious coffee.

Bondowoso is known for its dessert, tape, that is made from slightly fermented cassava. Tape from Bondowoso has a special sweet taste that locals say can’t be imitated by other towns.

The traditional markets are a must, you can wander for hours just exploring. Locals were quite curious when they saw us, they were commenting, saying hi, and smiling a lot.

Bondowoso is a small provincial town easily walkable, but you can also get into a becak (bicycle rickshaw) if you want a break from the heat.

Bondowoso 5

Bondowoso has a park in the city centre, called Alun-Alun, with a magnificent view of the mountains.

The biggest adventure we had here was to try to rent a motorbike. Apparently, people here find it hard to say they don’t know or there is no such thing here in Bondowoso. Instead, we had people giving us all sorts of tips and directions that led to nowhere. We got rides in motorbikes from strangers without helmets that said: “we can deliver” ?

That day we “talked” with dozens and dozens of people, that didn’t speak any English neither we could speak their language, so google translator was our saviour.

By the end of the day, we were no close to finding a place to rent a motorbike, but we were well known around town.

We also went to a hotel to swim at their pool and refresh from the heat of the day.

To get to and from Bondowoso they have frequent buses.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Yogyakarta a special place

The special region of Yogyakarta often known as Yogya, Yoja or even Jogja, is located in the island of Java, Indonesia. Unlike Bali, Jogya is more traditionally Muslimwith a minority identifying as Christian and Hindu. 

Yogyakarta is a busy sprawling city with lots of narrow picturesque side streets in a maze-like formation, that makes navigation confusing at times but also exciting.

Many people will say that Yogya is not a city to fall in love with, but I did… I truly fell in love with this city to the point I have returned again. If you have been reading my posts about Indonesia I was quite disappointed with most of the places.

For the first time on my adventure around Indonesia, I didn’t feel like everyone had an agenda, I liked the vibe of the city, its people, and authenticity.

Location

Yogyakarta also has an excellent location whatever direction you go. The Merapi mount at the North, isolated beaches at the South, The Heritage site of Prambanan at the East and the ancient Buddhist temple – Borobudur at the west to where you can go using public buses.

The Arts

Jogya is the centre of many art forms including traditional dances, batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, puppet shows, and cuisine.

Yogyakarta is the beating heart of the Javanese culture. The city pulsates with creative energy, where artists from all over Indonesia come to join the community, making this city a feast for the eyes.

Street Art

Street art is just another way of expression, and finding the best street art is just one of the things you can do in Yogyakarta.  Jogya is a colourful, creative city full of surprises. There always seems to be something going on.

Local Markets

There are few better places to visit than the local markets in order to gain a sense of a country, its customs and culture than amongst the stalls and the people.

Most markets you will encounter are packed with people, are hot and sticky, have colourful foods and gods on offer, some are located in narrow alleyways full of the sounds and smells of a country waiting to be explored.

Whichever you choose, make sure you’re there early as most stalls close after 11 am.

Food

There are food stalls in every corner, and vegan and vegetarian food is abundant in Yogyakarta. Tofu and tempeh are super common and dairy, on the other hand, is rarely used in cooking.

The busiest area is on the north end of JI Malioboro where you will find dozens of street food vendors during the evening.

Look for nasi goreng (fried rice), gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), lotek (similar to gado gado), gudgeon (jackfruit curry), nasi Langgi (coconut rice with temple),  tahu and tempe sate (tofu and tempeh on skewers) and pecel (mixed veg salad with bean sprouts and peanut sauce).

Becaks

Becaks (cycle rickshaws) are used for public transportation in Yogyakarta. Around the Palace Quarter after the sun has set the streets are filled with a selection of illuminated vehicles decorated with everything from Hello Kitty to Pokemons.

Batik

Batik is an ancient waxing and dying process, very popular in Indonesia. In fact, it is here, on the island of Java that the finest batik in the world is produced.

Jogja being the Javanese cultural hub, is a great place to witness the process of batik first-hand.

Some batik workshops give free tours of the batik process. But please do some research and be aware of all the scams directed at tourists.

I’ve visited Yogyakarta twice and spent some considerable time there, and I can’t recommend it enough, I really loved it..

Have you been to Java or Yogyakarta? Let me know your thoughts..

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha