Gentle readers, if you are exhausted by all the ocean – and fish – themed recent posts, here is something completely different: culture. Well, some culture…
Dancer in traditional Javanese costume.
On my way back from West Papua to civilization, and ultimately, my home, I had a few days to burn. So I decided it was time to tackle the big island of Java, some volcano, and the cultural region of Yogyakarta.
I decided to do it in style. I am fond of old-fashioned but comfortable hotels, and while I will never be able to afford a colonial icon like the Raffles, I did splurge on some nights in the Phoenix, Yogyakarta.
My room was small but comfortable, I had a balcony overlooking the backyards, not the pool. But the breakfast buffet was extremely extensive, there was even live gamelan music provided by two ancient players. All in all, very enjoyable. And they made the most of the hotel’s name, replicating Phoenixes on door handles, ashtrays, everywhere…
The hotel is right in the center of Yogya, next to the major shopping places on Jl Malioboro. I took a becak (bicycle rickshaw) to the sultan’s palace – it is an invigorating feeling when the driver mixes with road traffic and buses and cars scrape by. I was reminded that I value my life very much. Also, while perusing trip advisor I found out that other travelers apparently never succeeded in crossing the road in front of the hotel, to visit a restaurant on the opposite side. Well I did, and I survived to tell the tale, but I’ll admit it’s not that easy.
The palace is supposed to be a museum, but mainly serves as a storing area of many paintings of sultans and endless dusty sets of their teacups, mostly not labelled at all. There are gamelan shows.
Javanese gamelan on the whole is more melodious than the Balinese flavor. I enjoyed the gongs and bells very much, but oh the singing. It was, to say the least, a tiny bit off-key. Well, totally.
The next day I did a day trip outside the city. First, to one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes: Mt Merapi.
Yes it is smoking. The last major eruption happened in 2010. People mad ea small museum out of their wrecked homes, and there are 4WD trips across the lava and ash flows:
After 9am, Merapi vanished into the cloud cover, so I went on to see yet another Buddhist temple. Incidentally, Borobudur is not only that, but the biggest Buddhist temple structure in the world.
There were other visitors, but with a bit of patience, I got good photos.
Well, and with that, my temple threshold was reached yet again. So the Hindu temple of Prambanan fell off the culture program. The Phoenix’ pool was far too tempting 😉