Pondok Boro, a modest lodging in Ledok area in Yogyakarta, is popular among travelers, or boro in Javanese.
Situated in a narrow alley along the Code River, the place only rents out three rooms, divided with rickety plywood panels. It has no signboard, a reception or a phone.
Guests wishing to stay the night do not have to book the room or brings cash. Doors at the lodging are open around the clock. All you need to do is show your identity card.
Almost all residents are familiar with Pondok Boro and will voluntarily guide interested guests to the place.
“The guests are usually traveling vendors, such as beverage and balloon sellers. They usually arrive at uncertain times of the day, some at noon and others at night, so the doors opens around the clock here,” said Haryawan, 43, who inherited the inn from his mother.
Each day the place receives an average of 10 guests. When it’s full, or when there’s an event in Yogyakarta, there could be up to 15 guests.
The room rate is quite cheap at Rp 2,000 (20 US cents) per night.
With such prices, do not expect good facilities and services – there are no mattresses, televisions, fans, much less air conditioning.
Guests must queue to use the bathroom located outside and must bail their own water from a well.
They also sleep in a row on the floor covered only with mats.
“The important thing is we can sleep and straighten our body,” said Giyono, 47, who sells beverages at Beringharjo market in Yogyakarta.
Giyono, who was born in Kuarasan hamlet, in Gunungkidul regency, and son Eko Setiawan arrive at Pondok Boro at around 5 p.m. to take a bath and converse with other guests.
After taking a bath, Giyono and Eko must sleep immediately because they have to leave for the market again at 11:30 p.m. to sell beverages to traders who start arriving at the market at 3 a.m. The next day, at around 5 p.m., they return to the inn, rest for three hours and later struggle to earn a living.
Another guest, Kusman, said that apart from cheap rates, Pondok Boro was also a familiar place.
“If we don’t have the money to pay, we can pay it the next day and everyone is like family,” he said.
“If I don’t have rice, I’ll ask Mas Kusman because he cooks rice every day,” Haryawan said.
“Here, we poor people share with each other.”
Since it was first set up in 1960 by Haryawan’s mother, Sastri Priyogo, the lodging aims to help petty traders and its management is built on trust.
When paying the fee, guests usually place cash on the desk.
“If I’m not in, they just leave the Rp 2,000 on the desk. If I’m out of town, they will pay when they stay here again,” Haryawan said.
The friendly atmosphere creates a close bond, even among former guests.
Many of those who have reaped success frequently show up just to maintain good old ties.
“Former lodgers, like those from Surabaya who are now successful, still come here just to say hello and reminisce about the difficult times at Pondok Boro,” Haryawan said.
Taken from The Jakarta Post.