Joyful in Jogja Part 3 – History & Culture

Day 3 in Jogja didn’t start until 9 am, when Tugi picked me and we headed for Taman Sari.  Wow, what a rundown, poorly maintained, nothing-to-see-here disappointment.  On top of that, I had a guide who spoke terrible English (I understood maybe twenty percent of what he said) and who actually told me to tip him after the really bad tour was over (side eye).  I tipped him, not a lot because he did a bad job, but people are in such need and every rupiah counts; I just couldn’t bring myself to not tip him at all.

At this point, my camera failed me.  The battery died, which was shocking seeing as this is the same camera that went 8 days up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro without once needing to be charged.  Yes, before you ask, I had fully charged it up before I left Jakarta.  This meant that I would be totally reliant on my supremely mediocre phone camera for the rest of the trip, since I had left the camera charger back in Jakarta.

Tugi and I hotfooted it away from Taman Sari and headed out of the city to Ullen Sentalu museum.  This is a museum in the woods, on the way up to Mount Merapi, that houses the recent history of Yogyakarta and Solo’s royal families.  I wasn’t impressed by the royal people but I really liked the museum itself.  It was so cool (temperature-wise) and quiet and tucked away in the woods that I could easily have spent all day there sipping hot chocolate and reading a book while lounging in a deck chair.

Prambanan was our next stop.  Like Borobudur, this is also a 9th century temple but this 1 is Hindu .  I was impressed by the architecture – building these huge temples back in the 800s could not have been easy – but I didn’t get the point of it.  Basically, these temples are huge structures that have a very small open chamber about two-thirds way up, in which there are 1 or 2 statues of different Hindu gods.  My question is, what else is under this huge building?  What’s the point of building it so big if you’re only going to use 1 small chamber?  There are no other openings, so what’s the point?  I still have no idea so in the end I wasn’t overly impressed.

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The main temple at Prambanan.  See all that structure?  You see why I wonder why build it so big?  What else is under there?

By this time it was almost late afternoon and I was starving so I got mie ayam to eat in the car while Tugi drove us to Candi Ijo.  We were trying once more to see the sunset but again got beaten by the rain.  Still, before the rain came, I got a stunning view of the province of Jogja spread out below me.  We were only there for a few minutes before the rain forced us to leave, but the view made every minute getting up there totally worth it.

We had 1 more stop before we called it a day – I was finally going to see the Ramayana Ballet with Prambanan as a backdrop.  Because of our thwarted sunset plans, we got to the venue 2 hours early and I decided to catch a nap in the car.  I woke up refreshed, with sufficient time to go into the venue and have a wander around before showtime.  Unfortunately, it was still raining and although the organisers tried to wait out the rain, they eventually decided to move the performance indoors.  This meant that I wouldn’t see it with a stunningly lit up Prambanan as a backdrop.  This was a little disappointing but didn’t dull my excitement.

The ballet was absolutely beautiful.  It’s not a ballet in the traditional sense but it’s just as good, in my opinion.  It is done in traditional Javanese dance with opulent costumes.  If you ever go to Indonesia, be sure to go to Jogja and see the Ramayana at Prambanan.  Five minutes after this 1 and a half hour epic drama was finished, I wanted to see it again.  After Borobudur, this was my second favourite experience in Jogja.  Unfortunately, I have no good pictures of the performance because of my camera failure; my phone camera takes awful night pictures so although I tried, the pictures I got were horrible.  But it’s all wonderfully burned into my brain.

Tugi dropped me back at my hotel at around 10:15 pm and I showered (divine!) and snuggled down into bed, trying not the think about the fact that in 24 hours I would be back to reality.

On the morning of day 4, I washed and twisted my hair again (it didn’t really need to be done but I wasn’t wasting the chance to wash my hair in a proper shower), talked to my parents by Whatsapp call (first time, yay mom!), did some stuff online, showered again and checked out of my hotel.

Tugi took me to run a couple of errands then it was back to airport.  My time in Jogja was over and it had truly been a joy.

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