Temples, city Streets and a Shadow Puppet Show

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Bu Patwe Losemen

Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 1 – Transit
Wanadered down to Gambit train station and caught the 8:45 train to Yogyakata. Found the carriage to be nice enough and since I was in executive class found the seats to be wider than normal so more room to wriggle round in. The carriage also had a big TV screen playing either a movie or pop videos and train staff were regularly coming by and always asking if I wanted a drink, breakfast, lunch or food.

Basically spent the day watching the rice fields pass by the window and the people working in them. When not doing this I was basically sleeping. Also managed to spend an hour or so processing photos. Would have spent some time trying to write blog entries if I hadnt been so sleepy and had seen the power socket in the wall next to my seat earlier.

Once at the station in Yogyakarta I headed straight to the losmen (homestay) area near the station and found a bed for the night. Found paying 80-90,000R a night seemed a lot after what I had managed to get for 50,000 in Sumatra.

After dropping my bags off wandered around the streets a bit and went to look at some tour operators to see what was on offer and the cost. Picked up a number of brochures and headed down the main street which was busy with lots of people and streetside stalls.

Having collected a number of brochures I needed somewhere to sit and compare so wandered into a mall where I bought a pizza hut pizza which had sausage in the crust. Definitely a more classy looking joint than the ones you find at home. Here I compared the brochures and decided to take a tour to the buddhist and Hindu temples as well as one to Bromo. At least with the tour to Bromo I wouldnt have to worry about waiting for bus connections both to and from Bromo since the tour included onward transportation to Bali.

Was feeling tired so headed back to my room where I decided to crash out for a bit. Ended up crashing til 10:30pm at which point I turned off the light and called it a night. While it was still a bit early I did have to get up before 5am for my morning tour to the buddhist temple.

Day 2 – Borobudur Temple, Mendut Temple, Prambanan Temple, City streets
Had an early start to the temples with the bus leaving at 5am. While it was to late for sunset it wasnt to late to miss the crowds of people. Once inside found that beside a few tour groups no one else was really side the temple area.

At the gate were given a sarong to wear. Have found in the past that wearing ones of these when visiting a temple seems to be a prerequiste. So far every time I have visited a temple in Indonesia I have been made to wear one.

Started out by walking to Indonesias largest budhist temple. Lots of setted buddha statues and lots of relief carvings in the walls showing different local scenes. Made my way around the temple a couple of times as I climbed up the different levels to the top. Here found a few stupas and had some nice views of the surrounding jungle. Pity about the clouds though since I wasnt really able to see the merpti volcano in the distance.

From here headed to the small museum which had a bit of history on how indonesia was populate and its seafaring past as well as one that showed some reliefs and statues from the temple. Headed out from here to have my breakfast of coffe and jam between two pieces of bread with a bit of fruit. Not really a breakfast except in the most terms.

From here it was a short drive to Mendut temple which had a few interesting buildings and statues. The most interesting thing here though was one of the flowers I found and is shown in the photos.

Again back into the car one more time to head towards the Hindu Prambanan Temple. Personally found this more interesting than the budhist one. Seems that this place was hit by an earthquake not to long ago and while parts had been restored others were still under restoration. As a result some of the buildings, including the main central one, were not accessible.

Ended up walking around the temple complex for an hour or so checking out the buildings and their carvings, which were numerous. Also found a few statues located up some stars and inside the temple building which were hollow in the middle.

From here decided to head to the other 3 smaller nearby budhist temple but found that all except the last one was in complete ruins. This last one had some interesting statues, as well as carvings on the main building and few reconstructed stupas around it. Found not to many people out around here and while I was back at the car a little early the other people on the tour had probably been waiting around for a while.

Headed back into town where I crashed out for a couple of hours before heading out to eat something. After that wandered down the main street which was full of shops and stalls selling all sorts of souviners and Batak culture. Lots of calls of people trying to sell me stuff and calls of mister want a ride (in my rickshaw). Once past the shops found lots of street side vendors selling food and locals out and about the town.

Kept walking to Sono-Budoyo Museum where I had planned to find the puppet show but found the entrance closed. Later on found that this had actually been the side entrance. From here wandered along the streets nearest the Kraton and got some pastries from a streetside bakery shop. All of which were quite nice.

Didnt really have anything else I wanted to do so made it back to my street, used the internet to chase up some uni stuff for next year and called it a night.

D2 - Sono-Budoyo Museum, Kraton, Water Palace, Streets, Puppet Show
Decided on a fairly quite day in town rather than trying to do one of the many tours available into the surrounding countryside. As a result slept in with a latish start. Wandered into a nearby restaurant for breakfast since I could get Wifi here and spent an hour doing bits and pieces online before heading out. Before leaving though checked my guide book about entrance times and found the places I would be visiting closed between 1pm and 3pm. This meant I would need to get a move on if I wanted to get inside all of them.

Walking down the street came across a lasy selling mangos to the restaurant and lots of rickshaws (forget indonesia name) sitting by the side of the rode with cries all day of people wanting to take me to my next destination and about how hot and far it was.

After a short while made it to the museum which still looked closed. Headed towards the Kraton and from here could see that there was another entrance into the museum. Here I also found the entrance to the puppet show that is held every night.

Spent some time wandering around the museum which had some interesting statues and displays of indonesian culture and art. In one display it showed how batak art is produced. This includes steps such as drawing, waxing, shading and dying the picture and material it appears on. While here also saw some more puppets and masks.

From the museum continued across the square to what I though was the Kraton. Now not so sure since this particular complex was small (and expensive) and a little later on I walked into a larger complex which definitely house a number of museums and had lots and lots of buildings. Guess it possible that both were different parts of the Kraton but have a feeling this wasnt the case. Would need a better make to make heads or tails of it.

After wandering through the first complex followed the wall around and found the entrance to a second one. Had someone try to guide me at first but said I didnt want one and they left but not before warning me that the place was clossing in 20min. Thankfully they were to strict about getting people out and while I was there close to an hour a few other people were wandering around.

While wandering round noted a number of photos where people had pointy ears.Givewn this seemed like something special I am assuming they were rulers or important people. Seems that men wearing jewelery to give themselves pointed ears has some meaning in indonesian culture (Javian at least). Another interest display in the museum were the number a palaquins and photos of them. Seems that being carried around in a sedan chair was a popular local tradition at some point in the past.

Spent some time wandering around and at one point wandered into and area that was out of bounds without realising it. Either the spot I walked through was missing the sign or I was dozing. At this point I hadnt left the complex but had seemed to have walked into a living area with one old woman doing some sewing. Eventually got spotted here by a worker and asked to move on which I did.

From here wandered around the walls again to the water palace. This time has someone following along with me trying to sell me a ride. Didnt find this to bad since he was being friendly and just trying to make some money. Unlike a lot of other countries the same level of aggression and harrasement didnt seem to apply here. Had wanted to walk so turned him down and eventually he went on his way.

At one point did though get asked if I wanted to see a puppet being made and I have a feeling this is just a way to get someone into the shop. Was told that such a visit was included in the ticket but wander if you really need a ticket at all if you really want to go see.

Made it to the main bath of the water palace and wandered around the general area to a few other baths that had been restored. Inside this main bath house I also found a puppet maker and batak artist plying their trade. Both of these seem like long and intrinsic processes that involve quite a bit of effort on the part of the artist. The puppeteer cutting out details in the form of holes and the batak painter in the form of using wax to draw the lines.

Found the general area was nice to walk around with house made of stone and in fairly good nick. Seems that the water palace was located in the Kraton and had a number of bathhouses connected with canals. Given the spread of the baths and the walls I had seen along the side of the streets wandering here the Kraton must have been big. At least a few square kilometers of enclosed walls.

This day and age though the building that once use to belong to it seem to have been commandeered as houses. One of the most interesting sites along the walk was one mans ingenuity. In order to fan a

he had connected a bike wheel to a strap which turned a wheel to fuel a fire.

Eventually mad my way out of the Kraton walls as I headed to the river which was a lot further than a thought. Again lots of calls to take a ride with someone. Along the way also found a stall which sold some interesting local pastries and snacks.

Made it down to the river which was dirty and had houses along its edge. Had hoped to walk a street or path near its edge but this soon ran out. In the little part I did walk down I found myself walking through a local neighbour and looking into the backs of peoples houses. Also got lots of smiles and hellos from people not wanting anything. Found it was a pleasant experience out of the tourist bussle and wish I could have taken a few photos into peoples homes but was worried about asking them if I could in case they thought it strange.

Soon after leaving the river made my way back through the back streets to the main road which I followed. When I could I decided to cut once more towards the river but got even less far along the river and had to turn around this time. Interesting here thing though was all the wooden boxes in the river. Seems that the locals here are involved in fish farming with the boxes full of fish and local throwing fish food into the boxes to feed the fish.

Decided to wander back to the room where I could drop off my bag and crash a bit before the puppet show. Along the way ended up deciding to buy a few things and grabbed a couple of things that could be used as pencil cases as well as a few 1m long sheets of cloth that had some interesting patterns on them. Should probably have also gotten a shirt with a local print but missed out on doing this.

When it was close to starting headed back to the museum where I sat and watched the shadow puppet play for 2 hours. Upon arriving found I was shown to were the puppets were made but after saying I had already seen it in the water palace I was lead off. Guess if you have already seen it it means your not going to buy anything you havent already bought.

During the show there was lots of music singing and talking in Indonese. Also had puppet shadows either flashing across the screen or standing still where they had been stabbed into the stage. Watched half the performance from the front (shadows) and half from the back. Observed that some of the colours could be vaguely seen in the shadows. More importantly the pupetter and musicians could see the puppets from behind the screen which may be part of the reason they are painted.

In the end found 2 hours to be a bit long and cant imagine how you would sit through 12hrs. Am guessing that if I could have understand what was being said it would have been easier to follow the puppets and enjoy the story.

From here headed back to the room to call it a night since I had a relatively early start the next day.

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