📍 Yogyakarta, 14th of August 2018.
Art instead of breakfast
Had a great night sleep and resolved to definitely start a day with a nice breakfast and a cup of coffee on the way to the Taman Sari - the Water Palace. At least this was the plan.
A couple of minutes after we left the hotel, some guy approached us. Not being irritated by such encounters anymore, we gladly stopped to chat. He advised us to check out a student batik art gallery instead of going to the palace, since today was the last opening day for the gallery. Additionally, an Italian ambassador was in town, so the palace would only be accessible in the afternoon. See – very useful to speak to strangers on the street
The gallery was in one of the small side roads we would have never found if nobody had given us direction. There was almost nobody there, so we were treated to a very personal welcome, explanation of how the batik technique works and about the gallery itself. Since textile started to get imported in Indonesia, the making of batik clothes almost disappeared. Instead, about 50 years ago, to keep the tradition alive, people started creating batik art. Specialized art schools and workshops emerged.
It is astounding how much time, patience, precision and planning goes into making batik. An artist must first cover all the areas of cloth which should not be affected by paint with a hot liquid wax, let it dry, then apply the colour, let dry again and then remove the wax. For every different colour used, the process needs to be repeated. This is just the basics, not even mentioning all the different creative techniques one could use or invent to create unusual patters on the cloth. We were both mesmerised by the art pieces. Naturally, some of those were for sale. We simply couldn’t resist getting a painting of four Indonesian girls with imperturbable facial expressions. Check it out! It will look awesome in our living room (yes, we know we probably paid too much, but! we choose to believe the money goes to the art college which we are happy to support).
Coffee instead of lunch
Feeling culturally enriched, maybe now was the time to get some lunch? As before, the flow suggested something else and we ended up in a small café specialised in loewak (luwak) coffee. This coffee is special because its beans are first consumed, digested and defecated by a type of mongoose. So, mongoose poop coffee for 5 eur/cup! (apparently it is much more expensive elsewhere in the world, so we considered ourselves privileged to have tried it for “peanuts” ) 😀 It actually tasted much better than it sounds, however, to be completely honest, I am not sure I would be able to tell a difference between this coffee and any other nicely brewed one.
The unexpected highlight were the philosophical conversations we had for a couple of hours with the shop owner. The fascinating thing about the Javanese people, as we’ve experienced and learned so far, is that they don’t think there needs to be a strict distinction between the religions, they rather see them all interconnected and intertwined, seeking wisdom from various sources. (This has to do with how this island developed historically, which we are not going to cover as we would be totally out of our depths, but a very interesting topic to research if you are into this).
Going back to our story, the coffee shop owner, whom we assume to be “officially” Muslim, was sharing with us and challenging us to the concepts of Buddhism, Hinduism and questioning the differences between Christianity and the aforementioned religions; we touched on what the self means, what separates humans from plants and animals; what does “good” and “bad” mean; and what does serenity and peace really mean, if not total emptiness. All those heavy topics not without jokes and laughing to balance out the conversation. We most definitely got more than a cup of coffee to digest after this stop!
Culture instead of ... food?
Having given up on food, we went to the Water Palace (Taman Sari), which was just around the corner (the helpful philosopher drew us a great map on how to get there, revealing most of information we would later hear during the tour). Amazingly, all tourist attractions in Yogya close at around 3-3:30 PM (why?). Having arrived at 2:25, we had a pretty rushed tour through the pools, where the first and second sultans went to relax with their wives. Apparently, one of them had 21 wives, so to avoid drama (I assume), he could observe the ladies and his children swimming in one of the two pools before choosing the one wife for today to spend some “leisure time” with him in the private pool and bedroom. Wonder what they were doing there?
Unfortunately, a huge earthquake hit the city shortly after the construction was finished, and the whole complex was in ruins until recent reconstruction with the help of UNESCO. Damn, the 3rd sultan must have been really bumped Jokes aside, the place is worth a (short) visit, the underground mosque is interesting, but with the over-touristy feel to it (with the guide taking us to his father’s batik art shop at the end of the tour) we were happy to leave after an hour.
Brunch at almost 5 PM
Food. Fooooood. Food could no longer be postponed. We were too hungry to eat Yogya street food (by far not as great as in Jakarta), so we ended up having lunch in a Western-oriented restaurant. A seafood noodle soup and a rice with sausage and sate (???) were ok, but nothing special to report on (getting too spoiled? ;)) The juicer, on the other hand, were rather refreshing. Regardless of the food, it was a nice break from this intense day where nothing was going as planned.
Bloggin and pubbing instead of dinner or bed
The rest of the evening we spent in a pub, setting up our blog. When I say “evening”, I mean almost 8 hours. We both enjoy working together and have long been looking for a project to work on together outside of our “normal” work. Until now we hadn’t find anything interesting, so we jumped on this opportunity – registering a domain, setting up custom templates, designing the homepage, installing plugins, writing down notes, selecting pictures – fun! Was it really necessary? Probably not, but we really enjoyed working on this together!