Joe-ja!

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
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63
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Trip End Jul 27, 2011


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Where I stayed
Fuji Villas
Oriza Losmen
What I did
Borobudur Temple Magelang
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Merapi Volcano Yogyakarta
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Prambanan Temples Yogyakarta
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Malioboro Street
Water Palace
Bird Market

Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Next stop: Yogyakarta, Java's centre of art. Pronounced Joe-jakarta. We flew from Jakarta in a quick hop. Thomas, the manager of the hostel we booked, awaits us at the airport. He is from Papua, another Indonesian island. We learn that he has an anger management issue, which is typical of Papuan people. He calls it a 'temper’. We have a hard time imagining this gentle man getting upset. He used to be a monk, but was expelled after hitting his abbot. Being from Papua, and Christian, means that Indonesian people won’t employ him. Hence, his boss is Chinese.

Fuji Villas is a beautiful place, but unfortunately, we miscalculated the ‘quiet setting’, not realizing that it isn’t just on the town’s outskirts, but in a whole different village between the city and the volcano, Merapi. A much bigger issue is the misunderstanding we had with the online listing’s wording of ‘free internet’. That does not mean WIFI, but merely access to a laptop they have there. Thomas offers a solution when we explain that Manu has to work and we need to move if there is no WIFI. Over the next few days, it turns out the ‘solution’ was only temporary and I get a hint of the Papuan ‘temper’. Wow, this soft spoken man can get scary, I am now sure of it.

Both Manu and Vera fall sick, so their experience of this stop is a tad tainted. We cover a little of Yogya town, see Borobudur, Merapi volcano and Ramayana Ballet besides the stunning temples of Prambanan.

Borobudur:
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction, Buddhist monument dating back to the 8th century. We spent more time having giggling teenagers and adults alike take pictures of and with us than taking our own. We don’t quite understand why and find it bizarre. We don’t think we look all that different to them. When we ask, one person told me "because your skin so beautiful". Another one tells Manu multiple times how beautiful he thinks we are. Thomas explains that to them we are like celebrities. They find it very special that we are in their country. Proud of my tan that took me months to cultivate, I must wonder why us white people always try to catch a healthy tan while coloured folks try so hard to look white. Try find a face cream or body lotion in Asia that does not contain whitening ingredients. It is not an easy task. Human beings always seem to desire what they can’t have. Regardless of these local tourists’ reasons for wanting pictures with us, I don’t mind it too much. It’s kind of fun. And really just fair, isn’t it? How many times do we take pictures of other cultures just going about their daily lives! As if the world is a big zoo. Well, it is I guess, in many ways. Interesting to be caught on the other side of the fence for a change.

Merapi Volcano:
Translates loosely to ‘Mountain of Fire”, the nation’s most active volcano, erupts every two to three years with large eruptions every 10 to 15 years. The last eruption was at the end of last year, October to December saw lava flowing down its slopes, volcanic earthquakes and eruptive activity caused over 350 deaths. On our walk up the volcano slopes it starts pouring, so we stop at a local tea hut and hang out with two local tourists. We are getting used to the attention and succumb to a little photo session with them. When the rain ceased, we resume our walk past scorched bamboo huts, skeletal remains of houses with blackened furniture awkwardly perched on their roofs, burned-out cars in front of the fertile, slightly surreal landscape. Slightly eerie feel to it all, like a ghost city, burned down, foggy and wet from the downpour. The fast moving clouds allow us a glimpse of the smoking volcano top before we head back down.

Prambanan Temle and Ramayana Ballet:
We regret not having seen this temple by day light. Somehow, we mistook Borobudur as the more impressive temple in our research. Too bad. I will want to come back for it. We came here to see the famous Ramayana Ballet, a theatrical dance performance put on with the lit temple as the breathtaking backdrop. Unfortunately, the dry season doesn’t start until May, so we have to make do with a smaller show of only 50 or so performers (versus 200) on an indoor stage next door. Still a magical performance to watch. It is the dramatic love story of Rahma and Shinta against Rahwana. A must-see if you ever get around to here.

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