Bogor - gardens and puppets

Trip Start Sep 24, 2008
Trip End Oct 07, 2008

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Saturday, October 4, 2008

In flight from Padang to Jakarta we passed
over Cubadak Island giving us an arial perspective of Paradiso Village. We
hopped in a taxi at the airport and in under an hour we were in Bogor. Not too
much traffic on the road thank goodness, as the brochure at the hotel
recommended a 2 hour drive from Sukarno Hatta Airport - we were traveling
contrary to the traffic. As its still a holiday weekend, the hotel
was hectic with people checking out - so we waited for our room with a cool
drink and some lunch. The Novotel Bogor is set on beautiful grounds and is an
oasis. We settled in and enjoyed the evening with a light meal and a cocktail
at the bar.

We enjoyed a highlight of our trip today -
a visit to the Botanical Gardens. It's written up as perhaps the finest display
of tropical plants and it didn't disappoint. We got an early start - arriving
about 9am. Being a holiday weekend, families flooded into the park with us and
it was hard to find a quiet place. We walked around the gardens for a couple of
hours. The trees - from tropical zones all around the world - are spectacular,
and the huge variety of palms are also impressive. We took some photos and
found the café for a well-earned break from the heat and a cool drink. What
struck us was the amount of rubbish particularly plastic bags are just dropped
with a couple of hundred thousand people entering the park on a busy weekend
such as this the clean-up of litter is a huge task - one that is not being
tackled successfully. Indonesian cities in general, the waterways and the
streets are strewn with litter and chocking in plastic. With an endless supply
of cheap labour we wonder why the government doesn't do something about it. It
is also distressing that people here themselves don't have the pride in their
environment to clean up after themselves.

We were keen then to find the puppet
- written up in guide books, it's difficult to find. We headed in the
general direction, took one wrong turn but eventually found the kampong where
Pak Dase has his workshop. It is a maze of walking streets, a boy on a bike
knew what we were looking for and led us to the place. Inside we found a small
wayang golek workshop and Mr Dase welcomed us in. He and his nephew carve
traditional puppets out of a very light but beautiful timber. The nicest ones
were kept natural, just polished and are dressed in old batik. Many you see in
the tourist shops are garishly painted and of poor quality, usually made of
plastic. These are very beautiful and well crafted. We chose 2 to buy and
negotiated a price. We asked Mr
Dase if there were wayang performances in Bogor. Unfortunately not, he
complained the government does not support the traditional arts and crafts. He
was keen to pass on his skills to a new generation to keep them alive. We are
also disappointed in the lack of support for the arts - such a rich and diverse
cultural heritage is fast disappearing.

Our basic mud map didn't help us find a
place to eat unfortunately, so we hopped in a becak to the train station and
then caught a taxi. Finding a cool and clean restaurant we enjoyed a meal of
sates, soto, rice and kangkung. Very fresh and popular with locals.

After five hours out and about, we headed
back to our hotel.

We've eyed off what looks like a good
padang restaurant, close to the bus terminal which we'll try tomorrow for

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