Jakarta was intense. Loud and dirty and the traffic was so busy I could not even cross a street. Even though the very nice son of the family I was staying at lead me through this craziness to have some bakso and martabak, Jakarta was just too much for me. So I decided to leave early the next morning to catch a train to Jogja.
Jogja is intense too, but in colors, noices and patterns on cotton. The jingle of the horses bells is only drowned by the drivers offering transport and people trying to sell their batik. This basically is Malioboro Street. In the middle of this madness I somehow ended up on the second floor of some shop, which happened to be the working place of a batik artist. He teaches the art of batik at Jogja university. With four other professors they have 25 students and only these few people are “real” batik artists. He showed me step by step how they first put the wax on and the paint afterwards. Some large-sized pieces with lavish subjects and colors sometimes take several months until they’re finished.
The two must-sees in the Jogja area are obviously the two UNESCO temples Borobudur and Prambanan. Both of them are very expensive ever since they have this title, which kind of sucks, but I still think it’s worth every Rupiah. I can’t decide which one I liked better though. Borobodur is massive. It’s the biggest buddhist temple of south east asia, but it somehow is incredibly calm and pondering. After it was built in the 11th century people forgot about it so that it was buried in volcanic sand until people rediscovered it 200 years ago.
Prambanan is the biggest hindu temple in Indonesia, built before hinduism was expelled from Java and settled over in Bali. According to legend, the beautiful princess Loro promised her suitor to marry him if he’d build 1000 temples in only one night. When he finished the 999th with the help of some demons she got worried and set fire on the horizon to simulate sunrise. He transformed her into the biggest, 1000th temple for punishment. Prambanan consists of 8 main temples surrounded by 250 smaller temples, whereas the three biggest are dedicated to the three gods: Shiva the Destroyer, Vishnu the Keeper and Brahma the Creator. Unfortunately only the smallest part of the complex remains until today. An earthquake in 2006 further damaged what was leftover. I think the incredible thing about Prambanan is the imagination of what it might had looked like earlier. I mean it is still huge but the leftovers on the ground imply dimensions which exceed every imagination.
I also went to see a puppet. They have them all over Indonesia but the one in Jogja traditionally has very detailed puppets in shape and paint. Normally they start at 9 pm and end at around 4 or 5 in the morning. I decided to go for a shorter version of 2 hours at night. 😛 They played some famous love story of the hindu epic Ramayana. I couldn’t even understand the english translation of the story as the 5 sentences contained about 10 persons differently related to each other but only appearing once in the play. When they started playing I couldn’t recognize any of them so I just sat back to enjoy the music and the way the narrator spoke.
My next stop was supposed to be Mt Bromo, one of the most active volcanos of Indonesia. But as I read in the newspaper, it happened to be erupting at this time so I couldn’t do the hike. I still went to have a look though.