Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"But I need you today, oh mandi"

I thought you all would enjoy that song on a continuous loop in your heads. If I have to hear it constantly on my internal radio, you all should too. Share the joy, and all...

We have been in Indonesia for 8 days and seen 4 cities and a lot of countryside. Our flight to Jakarta was uneventful, the line for immigrations was interminable (though we did end up chatting with a nice young man from Pittsburgh, a Penn State student of mathematics and Mandarin, who's been studying in Singapore for the past year and a half), the city was huge, and we only stayed overnight and left the next morning for Bogor to see the botanical gardens. The gardens were quite pretty, though not nearly as well signed as you'd think botanical gardens should be. They did have an impressive variety of bamboos, orchids, and palms. From there we took off to Bandung for just an overnight in order to catch the train to Yogyakarta. The ride was bee-you-tee-ful: up into the mountains, through verdant rice paddies and plantations, just lovely!

Yogyakarta is supposedly the historical and cultural center of the island of Java, so we were looking forward to exploring the sights. When we arrived, we promptly got lost (between my already questionable sense of direction, the lack of street signs, the incorrect scale of our map, and our out of whack internal compasses from crossing the equator, we really didn't stand much of a chance) and spent an hour circumnavigating the train station and its surrounding neighborhoods searching for the street we wanted before giving in and relying on one of the local hotel touts to take us there. Best of all, it was only TWO BLOCKS from the train station! Anyway, we got a room and some dinner and an introduction to the batik industry for which "Yogya" is famous. Everywhere you go there are people selling batik everything. And you can't go to any of the sights without being invited to a "special gallery, only open the day you're there, the only government sponsored school of batik," and so on. Between fending off these folks and the becak (bicycle trishaws) drivers, it's absolutely exhausting. We did manage a visit to the sultan's palace one day, where we saw traditional Javanese dance accompanied by a gamelan (orchestra) and some really good examples of batik in their museum. The orchestras are comprised of gongs, metal and wood xylophones, drums, and singers. Sound like an awful combo? Your would be wrong, it actually was really nice.

The next day, we went to Borobudur, which is a 9th century Buddhist temple and a World Heritage site. It's from the same era as the temples of Angkor, but stylistically is completely different. The temple is 5 levels which rise like a stepped pyramid with a huge, central stupa. The scale is amazing! Like Angkor, all surfaces are carved, but the subjects are different, and the reliefs are much more deeply carved at Borobudur. It was, overall, mighty impressive.

This afternoon we leave for Bali (a 15 hour bus ride and ferry combo, leave at noon, arrive at 7am tomorrow), so we will (hopefully) be able to say we spent our anniversary on Bali, sleeping off the aches associated with a long bus ride and the usual case of "bus butt" (itchy, bumpy, chicken skin on the lower cheeks- not to be confused with "crotch rot," from hiking too long in sweaty pants).

Oh, since this is the first time we've been across the equator, here are a couple of notes: the days are getting shorter, I have no idea which direction is north, and, most importantly, the water in the sink whirls clockwise. My most scientific study involved toothpaste spit in the sink. Yes, I used the drainplug and let the foamy spit and water still before pulling the plug. And I repeated the experiment several times (one doesn't want icky breath) with the same result. And yes, I am easily amused!

PS: mandi is Indonesian for bathroom!

Toodles for now!!!


  1. The "gamelon" sounds somewhat reminiscent of Mrs Parise's music class at E.J.Blott...sorry we missed your anniversary! Does it seem like that long? I think you're prolly in the marriage minority, don't you? No stats to prove it, tho' Beauty day here!

  2. Hi, i got here from advrider. Nice RR tough :D

    P.S> Mandi mean taking a bath, as bathroom is kamar mandi in indonesian :D

    ( kamar = room)