So I'm in Jogyakarta

Trip Start Feb 23, 2008
Trip End Apr 08, 2008

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Salamat Malam from Jogja....What a couple of days its been!

I took a flight out of Bali on Friday morning and was absolutely breath taken as I flew over the Ring of Fire....spread out below me in terrifying splendour were atleast 8 volcanoes.....two of them were smoking!!! The sight sobered me down as I landed in Jogja, which is situated in the shadow of one of them smokin cones, (mount Merapi). I spent a pleasant hour chatting with Jackie, a lovely lady from Uganda who is going to Timor to be a nutritionist for 2 years with the VSO. Good luck to you Jackie....I thought of you today as I was eating my steamed tofu in casasava leaves :)

So here I was in Jogjakarta (jogja) at 8 in the morning with a 2 full days ahead of me....Jogja is not timid. Its one of those cities that has struggled to stay alive over the years and its sure as hell not going down without a fight. The only thing I knew about jogja before I got there was that it was home to the famous borobodur temples and also had a reallly big earthquake in 2006, which incidently I felt all that way in Singapore.

So after finding myself a room for the night, I stepped out with my Lonely Planet and my walking shoes, for one of the longest days I've had in a while. Being a traveller is not easy! So I made my way to the 'kraton' which is where the sultan lives with all his subjects and artists and horses and elephants. I walked my way around the golden pavilion extremely disappointed at how ordinary it all seemed. Perhaps I've been spoilt by palaces in India? And ofcors just as the guide book warned me, a sweet faced 'official' guide latched on to me, promising to show me around 'free of charge is my job'.....which to be fair it was. As it turned out our trusty joe was also a budding artist and he led me through the smallest and quaintest of streets, past the bird market (which had bird flu posters up ...I'm sure of it!!!) and through the dessicated walls of the Water Palace to his small house. Joe sighs as he stops outside his house and proclaims..."before the wall was until here...'..and he proceeded to introduce me to his mum and show me all his fine batik work. Poor Joe. So after convincing him that I was just a poor student with a 150000 dollar loan, I got away with buying a few batik post cards (look out for them in the mail!) and I continued on my journey, happy to be on my own again!

I wandered into Via Via, a belgian restaurant that has a chain in all the strangest parts of the world...(mozambique??!) with the most delightlful local staff and a range of facinating local tours all run with the objective of helping local artists via sustainable tourism. With 5 hours to kill, I decided to rent meself a bicycle and get a class in silver making. So with map in hand, I get sent off by lovely effie to 'kota gede', the silver town. After 30 mins of happy go lucky cycling I find 'Photo studio Pelangi' and am greeted by lovely 'Agus', the silversmith. And 'smithen' I was....I get taken to Agus's lil workshop in his house where I spent 5 hours designing, moulding, soldering, waxing, polishing my very own silver ring!!!! All this over profound discussions about hindusim, islam, buddhism and indian movies :) I had such a blast and have a shiny ring on my finger to show for it....(no, I"m not engaged to a silversmith maa!!!). So my ring is shaped like a heart-beat and has the word 'kehidupan' bahasa for 'LIFE' inscribed into it....and for those of you know know what my name means, you'll get the pun :)

I cycled back to via via took me double the time, no thanx to the rain and very dim road lights....but I made it and treated myself to hot coffee and a jazz band before heading over to the meusem where I watched a very possessed man play with puppets as he told the story of the ramayana. Accompanied by a 'gamelan' orchestra, which produced the most facinating sounds and a bunch of wailing women, the puppet master really went wild!!! It was strange and probably something I won't do again.

I get into a Becak ( a rickshaw which works on pedal power) and make my way home.....end of Day 1 in jogja.

Today was all about temple worshipping...I was up at 5 and am going strong after spending 9 hours in the hot sun walking aroung gawking at bas reliefs (honestly between borodbodur and angkor, Ive had enough of these temples). I've eaten a super spicy cocnout curry with steamed eggplant, played sign language with the village kids, have had 2 cups of coffee and watched swordfish with a bunch of backpackers at 'Hedhot Resto'. I"m now surrounded by mr bedhot's crazy colourful paintings and am typing this on borrowed internet time! Sign off from Jogja.....
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