By : Emily Eckert – Team Lead
Over the past four weeks, we have been immersed 24/7 in the routine of interviews, data entry, analysis, etc. We finally decided that it was time for a break and to see some of this beautiful and amazing country. Most of our time has been split between the central and eastern regions of Java. On our arrival, we were able to spend a few days in East Java, so now we wanted to see more of Central Java. And what better place to go than the cultural capital of Java, Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta)!
Using our trusty Lonely Planet guide book, we found a hotel and starred the “must-see” sites. And we saw pretty much everything possible in one full day and two short half-days. We arrived late in the afternoon and got settled at our hotel. A friend of our translator kindly acted as our local tour guide which was great and of course very helpful! So we had a night-time tour of Yogya and set our schedule for the next day and a half. Then it was back to the hotel to work on some academic deliverables until the wee hours of the morning! Wait . . . I thought this was supposed to be a VACAtion, not a WORKation.
But later Sunday morning, we put our collective feet down and agreed to truly give ourselves a day off. And it was still a busy, but fun day. Starting a couple hours after going to sleep, we hopped in the car and headed to the Buddhist temple of Borobudur. At this temple, we were required to wear a sarong around our waists to show respect. We spent a couple hours walking around the temple and learning the various meditation poses and what they mean.
Then it was off to Prambanan, an area with a Hindu temple to Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu who represent the Destroyer, Creator, and Protector respectively. Unlike the temple at Borobudur, it is possible to go inside these temples. Unfortunately, many of them were destroyed during earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There is an on-going effort to restore these temples to their original grandeur.
This is also the site of the classic ballet, Ramayana, a local Romeo & Juliet story. Normally the story is told over four nights, but there are also abridged versions shown in one night. The Prambanan temple is the backdrop for the ballet. We, of course, visited on the one night the ballet had a day off. Instead we were able to see Part 4 at an amphitheater in the city center of Yogya. We had already heard the story during our visit to Prambanan, so we were able to follow along even if we didn’t understand the lyrics.
So, that was our first and only full day in Yogya, and we experienced two different religious cultures. Then next day, Monday, was the first day of Ramadan and represented our third religious encounter. None of us were fasting (however we all did our share of fasting later that week and always forgot to wake up at dawn for the early meal), so we set out to explore the shopping, cultural, and artist districts of Yogya. We were able to observe the art of making Wayang puppets (shadow puppets) and batik (painted cloth). We also tried visiting the Kraton (Sultan’s palace), but it was closed because of Ramadan.
Much too soon, we were racing back to the hotel to meet the bus that would take us back to Cepu. The short weekend trip worked wonders on rejuvenating our minds and bodies. Hopefully that will be sufficient to get us through our last week in Cepu and the preparation for our final client presentations in Bali!