Backpacker Streets Deserted: Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


The three main streets that most backpackers head to for accommodation in Yogyakarta are Jl Sosrowijayan, Jl Kembang and Jl Prawirotoman - all in the city centre.

Over the last decade or more tourism in Yogyakarta has decreased to the point of non-existence with only package tourists and the occasional backpacker cruising through. Numerous factors are to blame for Yogyakarta's demise in tourism - SARS, the numerous bombings in Indonesia and the Bird flu. The situation will, obviously, not improve in the near future.

There was an interesting article today in the Jakarta Post written by Sri Wahyuni on Jalan Prawirotoman and how this backpacker's street is so deserted and naturally it is because of the recent earthquake.

Backpackers street in Yogya deserted
Sri Wahyuni

Prawirotaman is usually one of Yogyakarta’'s busiest tourist streets. Today it is almost empty.

Signposts still promote cafes, restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops and travel agents but the businesses they represent were partially collapsed or flattened victims of last Saturday’s deadly earthquake.
Local business owners blocked roads leading to Prawirotaman II and Prawirotaman II with bamboo poles and chairs signalling the area was temporarily closed.

Two nearby hotels, the Palupi and the Agung, were badly damaged in the earthquake while a building next to the Sumaryo Hotel was flattened.

Piles of debris and the ruins of buildings form lines alongside roads while dust makes it hard to breathe.
"This is our situation after the quake" said Sumarno, manager of the Laba-Laba Cafe.
The earthquake ruined the cafes kitchen which a week later is still not fully operating.

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"It can be said that we're open but not really. If guests come in and they do not mind it we will serve them" Sumarno said.

But since the kitchen is still out of order the cafe can only served canned or bottled drinks. No food or beverages that need to be prepared in the kitchen are available.

The earthquake has put a halt to all business on Prawirotaman. Most guests left after the temblor struck last Saturday morning. There was no electricity and many hotels asked guests to leave concerned that they would not be able to provide adequate support to tourists with many of the hotels in the area seriously damaged.

At the Wisma Gajah inn only 15 of 38 rooms survived the earthquake unscathed while the Duta Guest House suffered similarly with just 14 of its 36 rooms left unharmed.

It may be some time before Wisma Gajah is back in operation as its owner has found it hard to find workers to start repairs.

"We might need one or two months before we can start taking guests again. Repair work is only going to start on Sunday,” said owner Tuti Pranowo.

"I am only reopening my hotel this afternoon. Tonight two Japanese guest will check in" said Duta Guest House owner Djoko Pilantoro adding 70 percent of his guests were foreigners.

The Duta Guest House might well be the first on the street to start taking guests after the earthquake. Djoko hopes to attract guests back to his business through charity tours which he is advertising on the www.yogyes.com and www.jogja.com websites.

To take part in the tour a guest must be prepared to donate US$50 or Rp 500,000 to earthquake victims. Guests will visit local people affected by the earthquake to personally deliver the money with the round trip from the hotel to the affected to area to be paid for by the guest house.

"If the donation is less than $50 it will not be worth the money I will have to spend on gasoline and a driver. With this tour it is my way of assisting victims by taking those wanting to help right to the disaster zone" Djoko said.


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