Monday, April 10, 2017

The Batik Village of Laweyan, Hidden Treasure Behind Surakarta's Street

In many of our frequent visit to Solo, we found a Kampung Batik (Batik Village) hidden behind the city’s main roads. Solo is dubbed the City of Batik, as written upon arrival at Adi Soemarmo Airport. So one morning, when Dudu is busy swimming at the hotel with the cousins, I went with the moms to Kampung Batik Laweyan.

“Where do you want to go, Ma’am?” The taxi driver asked. Apparently Kampung Batik Laweyan consists of different shops and stores stretched along the long yet narrow street. Because we arrived by car, the driver took us to a shop called Batik Putra Begawan, accessible by car and have several parking spaces. From the store, we can either walk or take a tricycle to different shops in the area. The Batik shops are practically next to one another, selling different Batik items in different shape and sizes. From the air-conditioned modern store like Batik Putra Begawan that we went into, to the one inside a traditional Javanese Joglo houses. Some of the shops are located inside small alleys, fit only for pedestrians and bicycle, right next to Batik workshops. Unfortunately, the workshops are having their day off on Sundays and I was there on Sunday morning. Otherwise, visitors can learn more about Batik’s creation process and watch how the painted ones are made.

So, from Batik Putra Begawan, we turned left and started the Batik adventure. The tricycle (becak) informal station is located right across from the store. But since the stores are close together and some shops you have to walk anyway, I rather continued my journey on foot. It was rather hot as the time is closer to noon, maybe that’s why the area isn’t swarmed with visitors. According to the guy who guided us around, people usually come in the afternoon and Saturday is much more popular than Sunday. Kampung Batik Laweyan opens til 9PM, so there is still plenty of time, even if you come in the afternoon.

How about prices? Events like Solo Great Sale is surely tempting because you can get more discounts in the stores, but even without those shopping events, the prices are already relatively affordable. Dresses start from Rp100k and there are also bags and accessories starting from around Rp30k, like the traditional Javanese cap (called blangkon) I bought for Dudu.

Aside from Batik, yes, I have weakness for traditional clothing and patterns like this, Kampung Batik Laweyan is also home to historical architectures. Our guide told us that there are many old Joglo houses, “some are even built before the Kasunanan Palace. Some of them have been renovated by the Ministry of Tourism. So aside from Batik shopping, many tourists came here to look at the architecture.” Which is actually interesting and I did look up to the roof and interior of the one shop I walked in. So maybe another time, I should come just for the historical buildings and other tourist destinations. Browsing returned with facts that Kampung Batik Laweyan had existed since the Pajang Kingdom era in 1546. While shopping is the main reason many people visited the Batik Village, the area actually has other historical destinations worth the look such as Laweyan House, Burial Place of Kyai Ageng Henis, Langgar Merdeka dan Tjokrosoemartan House.

I still have a long to-do list when it comes to Solo. There are prehistoric museums and several waterfalls I would love to visit. But it’s next time.

Read: Our Review for The Sunan Hotel Solo

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