Bed bugs, belly aches, batik & Borabudur!

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Where I stayed
Bladok Hotel & Restaurant

Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Saturday, July 31, 2010

that's a lot of b's!

we've spent the last 6 days or so in Yogyakarta, a lovely city & the culture capital of Java (if you've been to Chiang Mai in Thailand, this is a good comparison).  it's a very tourist friendly town, as the main sites, shopping, hotels & restaurants are all within walking distance, or a short becak (tuk-tuk) ride away.  the city is full of great little markets selling handmade jewelry, batik clothing, shoes, slippers, fruits, food, bags, etc.  in the area we're staying (Sosrowijayan) the stone streets are small with tiny alleys leading every which way, and the neighborhood is full of murals and beautiful graffiti on the walls, food vendors, becak drivers, friendly locals and wandering travelers.

on our first day we visited the Kraton (sultan's palace - yes there is still a sultan here!) and walked around the water castle & surrounding batik galleries & shops.  we even got a free (and pretty thorough) tour of the area by a friendly local who eventually led us into a batik store (they get a commission for bringing tourists to the shops.) i didn't mind this tho, as i needed to buy some batik for my mom and bargained some pretty good prices for some lovely, handmade batik. ;)  later that day, we wandered around Kote Gede, a neighborhood known for it's silver jewelry & crafts.  another local tried to lead us into shops for a commission, but was left empty-handed as we didn't end up buying anything (he didn't give us a good tour either, like the 1st guy). we had to kill some time in that area since we were taking a silver jewelry-making workshop that evening, so we chilled in an open-air cafe on the side of the street and people watched while playing the celebrity game (one person names a celebrity and the next person names another celebrity that starts with the initial of that person's last name). we were confused as to why our guide stayed with us that whole time (literally like 2 hours) when we weren't shopping anymore, but i think he maybe just wanted some company.

the jewelry class was awesome! we cut strips of silver to our ring size, and each of us (4 total in the class) hammered and crafted various styles of rings with the help of our teacher. he showed us how to cut, shape, heat, set, polish & buff the silver. the power went out within the 1st half hour too, so we crafted our rings by the light of a kerosene lamp. this made us really feel like silversmiths, working as we imagine they did in the old days, hehe.

the next day we took a batik painting class! i now have such a greater appreciation for this form of art, as it took 7 hours to make a square of batik about 3' x 3'.  we started out by drawing our designs with pencil onto paper, then onto our blank batik material. nips drew a couple of lotus flowers & leaves, and i made a hummingbird and flower.  the next step was to dip a small tool into hot beeswax, then gently trace the pencil lines with the tip of the tool. this was pretty time-consuming, and i accidently spilt the hot wax on my fingers in the process :( no worries tho, since our teacher broke a piece of aloe vera off the plant and covered the burn with it. after dying our batik, covering the design with more wax, and then dying the background of the material, our cloth was then boiled to remove the wax and set out to dry. and that was it! our very own hand made batik. i'm so proud :)

the next few days all kinda blurred together. we both got pretty sick (we believe the culprit to be the cream sauce in our pasta dinner that night) and the 1st day of our sickness we literally spent 24 hours in bed, only getting up to use the bathroom. to make matters worse, the bed bugs just LOVE us here. we tried to escape them by switching rooms in our hotel, but the next room had them too. then we tried changing the sheets, and spraying the sheets and ourselves with 100% Deet. still, no improvement. finally last night, we coated ourselves in Deet, sprayed the sheets, blankets, pillows before AND after dinner. this finally seemed to do the trick! ha! i counted about 22 bites on just one arm, so adding the bites from my other arm, legs, tummy, back & neck, i'm thinking i've got well over 100 bites! i'm SOO itchy! it's taking all my will power NOT to scratch. sometimes i try that trick where you scratch around the bite and not on the bite, but that doesn't work since all my bites are surrounded by other bites. i curse you bed bugs! all of you! (fist shaking in air).

today we are feeling much better and are taking a trip to Borabudur, a large Buddhist temple about an hour from here. catcha later dudes!
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Toi Lynn Wyle on

Julie, despite bed bugs and tummy bugs, sounds like such a vibrant adventure. The photos, btw, are fantastic. Enjoy the heat and bring some back with you. It has been so burrryyyyy cold her in San Francisco.

xo TL

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