September 25, 2005

Java

Borobudur was just like it was described in the hotel's pamphlet, "High curiousity makes people come to deepen or they just taking a look merely to experience the memorable values behind the gloriousity of the 8th century monument." Walking clockwise, there are stepping terraces that are lined with reliefs telling the story of Buddha's life and other legends. At the top are 3 circles of 72 buddahs in stuppahs that look out to the mountain range around. If you do the pilgrims walk, it would be 5km of meditation along these pictures. One, explained the story of a 2 headed bird. The top head ate the delicious berries from the branches but the lower head could not reach them. The top head asked "Why do you need to eat the berries if we have the same stomach?" The lower head in despair, ate the mushrooms he found on the ground. They turned out to be poisonous and so both heads died. The moral: being greedy does not get you more.

Yogyakarta is a city still run by a Sultan and is swamped in Batik. Traditional batik is a handpainted style of print that is made by a process of drawing patterns with wax and then dying the fabric. Almost everyone wears it either as a tied head peice, a sarong or a shirt. And every becak (bike) driver knew a batik store he would try to drop you off at to get a commission. A second job is common, even for the 2000 employees who work for the Sultan in the Kraton where he lives. One of the security men told us of the approaching tea ceremony which consisted of his mother, the head tea maker and her procession of 4 other batik'd women carrying an umbrella and kettle. His father is the secretary of the Sultan, and of course, does batik on the side.

The intricate details I saw throughout Bali were also prominant here, in these batiks and also the puppets. Wayang makers spend there days hammering tiny holes into water buffalo leather that make up a lattice of spirals and dots. The flat characters are finely painted on both sides and have arms that move at the joints. Our treat one evening was to see a wayang show. The black silhouettes of the puppets are seen behind a back-lit sheet of fabric. The story of the Abduction of Shinta was 2 hours of still figures in Indonesian conversation with their double jointed arms bending periodically. Once in a while something dramatic would happen and the shadows quickly flew across the screen, colliding, singing, and loud, crashing gamelan music enhancing the effects. The full story runs all night and morning, 8 hours long! Very interesting! P

2 comments:

  1. Hiya! Are you on the west coast of Java? There's a famous volcano off the coast there..Anak Krakatoa...it'd be neat if you saw that!

    Safe travels!

    jenn
    p.s. when are you in Australia? I'm in Sydney Oct. 24-27th and then in Adelaide Oct. 27th-Nov. 5th

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  2. I saw a few very cool volcanoes! Off in the distance though which was safer anyway. I wasn't in the west but more central around Yogyakarta.

    I'm in Australia REALLY soon! Fly into Sydney Oct 3rd and will head to Melbourne for sure, maybe the Blue Mountains and Grapians.... Would like to see Adelaide, your date should work for me!!!

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