1 December 2014

BONNIE & CLYDE: THE GEMBIRA LOKA ZOO (INDONESIA)

When I stayed in Yogyakarta I visited a zoo called Gembira Loka. It is located at the eastern side of Kusumanegara Street, not far away from down town. “Gembira” means happy and “Loka” is place. This is the only zoo in the city of Yogyakarta in Indonesia. Although effective as a zoo, Gembira Loka is still classified as a museum. When viewed from the side of the history of its emergence, it is the second oldest museum in Yogyakarta after the Museum Sonobudoyo. 

Some facts about the Zoo from gembiralokazoo.com

The initial idea of the construction of the Botanical Gardens and Zoo Gembira Loka comes from the desire of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono VIII in 1933 for a place of entertainment, which later called Garden of King. The idea is realized by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX with the help of Ir. Karsten, a Dutch architect. Ir. Karsten then choose a location west of the river Winongo, because it is considered as the most ideal place for the construction of the Garden of King. However, due to the impact of World War II and the occupation by Japan, the construction of Garden of King was stalled.
At the time of the process of moving the state capital of Yogyakarta, return to Jakarta in 1949 after the completion of World War II, again sparked an idea to provide a memento to the people of Yogyakarta in the form of a place of entertainment from the central government, spearheaded by Januismadi and Hadi, SH. The idea gets a warm welcome from the people of Yogyakarta, but its realization is still not felt by community. So in 1953, with the establishment of the Gembira Loka Foundation Yogyakarta (based on notarial act of RM. Wiranto No. 11 dated 10 September 1953) which is chaired by the Sri Paduka KGPAA Paku Alam VIII, the development of delayed King’s Garden finally been realized.
A few years later, in 1959, KGPAA Paku Alam VIII appointed Tirtowinoto to continue the development of Gembira Loka. Tirtowinoto is chosen because he was perceived to have a love for nature and interest in the development of the Gembira Loka. Apparently Tirtowinoto gave no small contribution, both in terms of ideas and material, proved capable of bringing fast progress for Gembira Loka. Peak in 1978, when the collection of animals that have more complete, so that visitors of Gembira Loka can reach to 1.5 million people.”

My good friend Mara and I decided to visit the zoo, before I was scheduled to fly back to Jakarta. This was my first adventure in Indonesia and the highlight of it had nothing to do with the zoo itself. It's actually HOW we got to the zoo.......... 

First thing's first, from my observation, all Indonesians appear to be bikies. In Indonesia, bikies are schoolgirls in uniform, families, businessmen in suits, young couples on a date, and the elderly – a stark contrast to the stereotype of rebellious tattooed men with beards in leather jackets, hanging out in ‘gangs’! Motorcycles in Indonesia are as ubiquitous as cars in Trinidad. Most Indonesians learn to ride the motorcycle from around 14 years old. Generally, every household has at least one motorcycle, with the majority of the Indonesian middle class only affording a motorcycle, rather than a car. 

Nothing compares to the efficiency, ease and affordability of the motorcycle. Like a school of fish, motorcycles weave in and out amongst traffic jams, taking on an energetic life of their own. They can navigate narrow streets, overtake cars, angkots (mini buses) and trucks, and there is never a problem with finding a place to park. I have even witnessed motorcycles steering through markets, giving a whole new meaning to fast (and fresh) food drive-thru! I'm serious. A motorcycle is cheaper to maintain and you can skip the queue at a gas station because gasoline can be poured from bottles available at warungs (small streetside shops). There is also a plethora of fashionable helmets, from Hello Kitty designs and Angry birds to stylish skull-shaped ones.

The ingenuity and skill of Indonesians in balancing all sorts of things on a motorcycle is second to none. I was amazed to see a mountain of colourful toys and balloons sailing past on the road, before realising there was a motorcycle and someone buried beneath it all! LOL. At one point, if I saw correctly, a man was carrying a shop on his motorcycle. Motorcyclists also carry live chickens in cages, bamboo poles, mountains of kerupuk (crackers), hug live goats tightly and can even sell bakso (meatball noodles) at the back. I even saw a guy carrying a glass door on a motorcycle, bear hands and all, no protective wrapping or anything! Like a talented circus act, entire families of four or five can somehow fit on one motorcycle, with the children sandwiched between the parents, complete with bags and fresh produce from the markets.

Instead of taking a normal taxi or an angkot, the ojek (motorcycle taxi) is a very popular form of transport, especially amongst areas that are notorious for traffic jams or lack public transport. It is much cheaper than other forms of transport and you can even haggle for a lower price! In the spacious countryside, riding a motorcycle is the closest experience to flying. You immerse yourself into an impressionist painting as the background blurs before you, shapes shift and colours contort.

During my first experience of being a passenger on a motorcycle, I clung on for dear life as a mixture of exhilaration and trepidation overwhelmed my senses. After getting used to the feeling, I learnt to sit more comfortably and to flow with the movement of the motorcycle. 



                                                                   Snapshots from my VIDEO

According to Living In Indonesia, rather than Dying In Indonesia, it's recommend that you don't try this mode of conveyance except in less populous parts of the country, especially not on a  souped-up mopeds; a 180-cc Honda Tiger may be the most suitable. Of course we had our wisest investment- an imported full face crash helmet. (We do value our teeth). 

Since then, riding a motorcycle through the city has offered a marvellous and thrilling glimpse into life within a small Indonesian town. You speed past teenage boys fishing over a bridge, farmers with straw hats bent over harvesting the rice fields, children waving hello at a warung, villagers on modified motorcycles carrying buckets of fish, and chickens that play ‘chicken’ by crossing the road without looking. No other transportation can compare to the motorcycle, exposing you to the authentic, rich and unexpected experiences of Indonesia – and to live on the edge just like a local.

In conclusion, motorcyles rule the roads in Indonesia. In the traffic jungle of Indonesia, the motorcycle (sepeda motor) reigns as the ultimate beast, roaring its way through the stagnant city traffic and the open spaces of the countryside.

Okay, now back to the zoo....here are some images of what to see inside Gembira Loka:









My new bestie <3 muah!!!





















Selfie with the Camel.








BBQ chicken kebabs

At a local mosque, at Mahgrib time.