When I just arrived in Indonesia in May, I didn’t have a solid plan where am I gonna live for the next 3 months ( I didn’t plan to stay here for long for some reason). Since at the time I felt my life was crumbled and wasn’t willing to work in an office, Jakarta didn’t attract me to stay even though I got a few job offers from some companies. I then spent a few days in my hometown before an occurrence kind of forced me to drove for 40 km to the Gudeg city.
I always perceive Yogya as a very nice city to visit with a laid back lifestyle and pleasant atmosphere. People are very polite & friendly. The size of the city isn’t as huge as Jakarta, more like a middle-size city, also less crowded and polluted than Jakarta. It’s the center of Javanese culture, a predominant culture in Indonesia. Yogya or Jogja is the most visited tourist destination in Indonesia after Bali. International students and tourists come to Yogya to learn the culture, history, visiting some world-class archaeological sites, and admiring the uniqueness offered by the only officially recognized monarchy within Indonesia. I have visited many cities in the world and I love visiting a city that has a soul. And Jogja fulfills the requirements as my dream city to live in.
At the time I thought this might be the perfect time to live in Jogja as a digital nomad. You might be wondering why I didn’t choose Bali?. Bali was in our initial plan. We had chosen a house to live in. But since I came back by myself, I dont want to live in Bali!
In my first month of living in Jogja, I lived with my family. But then I decided to live in my own place to get full privacy. I found a very nice place with a pool and a rice field view. Though it’s located a bit far from the city center and closer to the mountain, I don’t mind since I love the mountain and the air is cooler. The area where I lived (Jl.Kaliurang) is nice and seem like a favourite place to buy a house in Jogja (I can see from the land prices!). I got a car so commuting from north to south Jogja for almost every day won’t be an issue for me. Shortly, I am ready to rebuild my life in Jogja.
Since I got plenty of time and every day is a holiday for me I feel that I need to set up a weekly work and social schedule. As a digital nomad, I have some writing and making travel video jobs with some companies that I can do it from any place at any time. Between my work schedule, I met and hang out with some old & new friends. Then I start to think, what else should I do? This is the part where this story getting more interesting. I decided to open myself and meet new people. In my eyes, Jogja people aren’t as shallow as Jakartans whom whenever I met only talking about work and business. Jakarta indeed a good place to do business and build a career, but I felt enough meeting that kind of person. The people who live, work, or study in a cultural & education city like Jogja must be able to intrigue me with some deep & meaningful conversations. Soon after that, my adventure in Jogja is begun…
Despite my cynicism towards Indonesian guys, the 1st guy I met is a Jogja born Indonesian guy (2 years younger than me). Let’s call him S. S is arguably the only Indonesian guy I like since a few years ago. He looks very attractive with long hair and tanned skin. I met him during his last few months in Jogja before departing to the USA to pursue his doctorate in marine biology. Typical Indonesian, S is very humble, but also smart and hold liberal views (this is important!). He’s a very nice guy 🙂 Unlucky for me, he is also very busy with his job in the university laboratory and his other activities. But sometimes we met in a coffee shop, had a nice conversation in a bar, break the fast, run in Malioboro, and went to karaoke ( we sang Chinese songs 🙂 ) before he left for the US by end of August. S now lives in Maine, USA. Maybe someday I will meet him again, or maybe not.
Then I came across W. He’s a Canadian guy with Indian heritage that has been living in Jogja for 8 years as a student, doctor, and businessman. W looks charming, tall, and also very intelligent. Since he’s not my type, I can’t be more attracted to him so I kept him as a friend. We often met to had conversation for a few hours. I admire his broad knowledge and diverse life experiences and enjoyed every conversation I had with him. W has been done some business and started a company since he was young. He has done much than I did even though we are almost the same age ( He’s one year older) and I think it’s very cool. It takes bravery, commitment, a lot of time and energy, and determination to start a business and keep it going. W lives in Kuala Lumpur now.
The 3rd person I met is the one that impressed me the most. Matt (same age as me) worked as a GM for 3 restaurants when I met him. This is the person that reminds me the most about myself. The Belgian guy is a hard worker, ambitious, and clever person. Yet he is also a fun person who loves to travel frequently. Matt took me to see the nature surrounding Jogja on a lovely Saturday afternoon. We went to see a cave and waterfalls in Kulonprogo. We were the only guest who swam there since we came during Ramadan. It might be the reason why I liked him a bit too much. None of the other guys took me to see nature and he asked me to go there with him on our 2nd date since the 1st date on a restaurant has failed. This is the person who knows what he wants, how to get it, and will do things to get what he wants.
Fast forward to July, I was shocked and felt discouraged when he told me in person that he’s coming back to his country after living and working in Jogja for 3 years. He now lives in Belgium I guess.
The 4th person I met in Jogja is the one who leaves mark the most, in both bad & good way. I met G in the Hartono mall. I was sick at the time but he insisted to meet me for an hour before he left for another country for a conference. G is a French guy (5 years older than me) who lived in Jogja for almost a year to study Javanese culture, especially Javanese traditional dance. He’s an IT guy who into gamelan and Indonesian arts. G also has an amazing photography skill. I wasn’t interested in him during our first meeting but I decided to give him more chances. At the time I also wanted to see some places near Jogja that I’ve never been visited before and I felt I need to distract my mind and to heal my wounds. We then decided to go on a trip to Karimunjawa together.
It was a nice trip and I love the island very much. We then frequently spent time together in Jogja. I do like the conversations with him about history & politic or life in general. But he has a gloomy vibe and somehow it made me sad and can’t get over my pasts. I also found difficulty understanding him since he’s very different than myself or the people I’ve known before. He’s a very active person who has a lot of interests, art in particular. He jumped from one city to the other city to see art performances, even on weekend in a very small town that I, as an Indonesian, have never heard about it.
I do impress with his love & dedication to learn Indonesian arts and felt proud that someone from a country that is well-known for its fine arts has spent years to learn and pursue my country’s traditional arts. But the mind & life of an artist seems too foreign for me. Although I love arts and have some ties to the art world, I want to have a routine and do a lot of activities together with my partner. As I told him in our last meeting on a late night in Jogja, I felt he didn’t know how to treat a girl, or maybe not used to.
During the dinner, he also pointed out how I made him felt bad. Since I can’t get over my past yet, I often talked about things I shouldn’t have said to him. I left the restaurant with feelings of guilt & regret, and I realized how awful I treated him. In early August G left Jogja to live and work in Singapore.
July – August 2019
Stable months. I’ve learned my lesson and promised myself not to do the same mistake. After living in Jogja for 2 months I felt my mind became clear. My common sense was gradually taking over my emotions and imaginations, leaving them in a dark corner. I felt more focus and wanted to find a new purpose. I then decided this is the right time to come back working. At this point, I met E, the last person in this exciting adventure in Jogja. The American guy is 3 years younger than me, but he seems mature and has a strong character. E is a smart person who focuses on his life. He’s researching in Indonesia to finish his doctorate in political science. I like spending time with him since he has a positive and pleasant vibe. He is also a polite and knowledgable person. We are both like routine so we made a regular meeting schedule.
E came from the Jewish background, a culture that made me curious for quite a while. From him, I learned many things related to his culture and religion. Same with me, E also loves adventure and traveling. So we went to Lombok, Gili, and Jakarta together. We went to many places in Jogja as well.
It felt weird because when I started to feel happy, emotionally stable and have a routine in Jogja, I got a job in another city. I can’t ignore it since it’s a good job so I decided to take the opportunity. So once again, I packed my stuff and head towards another city to start a new life. For a person who longs for stability, I moved very often from one city and country to another city and country, don’t I ?. Can’t say this time will be the last one. E is still living in Jogja now.
As said by a friend, Jogja is just a transit place. Many people came to live in Jogja for a while but not forever. Yes, it’s a very special place for me and I am still dreaming to spend my life there. It also has helped me to heal, grow and learning one or two lessons. While now I’m preparing my future in another city, I’ll be waiting for destiny calling me to live there again.