On a road trip back to Jakarta after a family gathering in Surabaya, my family and I decided to stop over for one or two days and a night in Surakarta in Central Java.
Also known as Solo, this little town has preserved what’s left of the former Mangkunegara kingdom while making room for modern touches here and there.
After we checked in at our hotel, we went sightseeing. For dinner, we went to a food stall in Jl. Teuku Umar to eat nasi liwet wongso lemu. This food stall is the most popular in Solo and stays open late into the night.
Two singers, called pesinden, who appear only at night, serenaded the diners with Javanese songs.
After dinner we went to the Night Batik Market. The city closes down the road to vehicles so shoppers can stroll and browse what’s for sale. We found some batik stalls, but the food stalls outnumbered the batik sellers by far.
The next morning we went to the Mangkunegara Palace where the royal family lives. After that we went straight to Triwindu Market which is located on Jl. Diponegoro.
Triwindu is full of antiques as well as local handicrafts and artwork, from old cameras to Coca-Cola vintage posters, from a pocketful of ancient coins to a Trio Punakawan statue made from glass.
Renovated in 2010, Triwindu Market is worth a visit although some nearby sculptures are a bit vandalized.
Kampung Batik was our next stop. We stopped in at not one but two villages: Kauman and Laweyan. The two villages are strikingly different.
Villagers in Kauman make batik tulis, hand-painted patterns often worn by the royal family. Most residents are former household staff to the royal family or their families. You can visit the Batik Museum and a batik workshop in the village.
Most of the Laweyan people in contrast are batik business owners. The area has supported home industries since 1546. No wonder there are so many batik factory outlets in the village.
We only spent a little time in Laweyan but shopped a lot in Kauman. I bet my mother would have loved to stay longer if we could; but we had to continue our trip back to Jakarta.
How to enjoy a short trip to Solo
- Indulge your taste buds with Solo traditional dishes and delicacies.
- To learn about the town and its history, hire a horse-drawn carriage (delman) or a pedicab (becak); the driver can be a useful tour guide.