Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Jaunt to Java - Yogyakarta Malioboro and Kraton

The main street of Yogyakarta is named Malioboro, and is where most of the tourists like to eat and shop.  While I find the markets of Asia to be colorful and interesting to walk through, I have a really hard time picking out any individual items that I might be interested in purchasing.  I've never been a very good shopper!  I like to take notice of the various kinds of street foods offered, as well as the various modes of transportation provided.  Bob and I spent a few hours walking around this area, only to be a bit disenchanted by it's ambiance and offerings.  Could it be that familiarity has dulled our appreciation for things once considered intriguing?

The Indonesian batik is really beautiful, and I did buy a few yards to bring home so that I could create wall hangings, a table runner, and perhaps a skirt.  Batik is a wax-resist dying technique which is traditionally done by hand, although most is now done by machine.  Below is a photo of a woman applying the wax patterns on some plain cotton cloth, and a display of various batik fabrics.  I've also included photos of that which I bought and framed.  (I needed something to add a little color to a long unadorned hallway - or at least that's my excuse!)

That afternoon, we took a stroll down to the Kraton Complex - otherwise known as the Sultan's Palace. The Sultan (ruler) of Yogyakarta build the palace in 1755, but the area was attacked by the British in 1812 and the palace was burned.  Most of the current structures were rebuilt by the Sultan from 1921 to 1939, and subsequently suffered from an earthquake in 2006.  It serves now as a cultural center for the Javanese people as well as a museum and tourist attraction.  Bob and I had visited the carriage museum the previous day after church, and I'm also documenting that visit now.  Museum Kareta Karaton houses the Sultan's horse-drawn carriages, including two beautifully elaborate carriages imported from the Netherlands.  They even have a "hearse" carriage on display.  The ornamentation on some these carriages is spectacular!

Somehow the "carriages" that awaited us outside the museum quickly lost their appeal!

The Sultan's Palace was somewhat disappointing, but then, that is probably because we didn't understand what we were seeing very well.  Most of the building housed artifacts and special treasures.  I think the large wooden "rolling pin" is actually a drum!  Check out the "boy scout" uniform and the horn lamps!

The most interesting, intriguing and totally impressive place to visit in the Kraton Complex is a place called Taman Sari, or the Sultan's Water Castle.  Built as a pleasure retreat and gardens by the first Sultan in 1765, it originally consisted of about 59 buildings including a mosque, meditation rooms, bedrooms, swimming pools, workshops, places of security and defense, pavilions, gardens and lakes. Much of the complex was destroyed during periods of war and restoration began in the 1970's.  The architect had been to Batavia (the Dutch area of Jakarta) several times to study the European building styles there, and that influence beautifully enhances Taman Sari.


But the thing I enjoyed most about this retreat, was discovering and exploring the extensive networks of hidden tunnels and rooms on both sides of the main gardens and swimming pools.  This would be a perfect "playground" not only for a "playful" Sultan and his harem, but all of his offspring as well!

With some effort we finally found Sumur Gumuling, a two-storied circular building that was used as a mosque or religious edifice.  In one upper niche, an arrow points toward Mecca.  A large crowd arrived here at the same time as us, but even while packed with visitors, I fell in love with the place.  Just look at the dramatic design of the staircases constructed over a once used well!  The "graffiti", which adorns many homes and businesses that now exist where the lakes and ponds of Taman Sari once were, is also a lovely sight to behold.

 I would have lingered here much longer, but after another long day of exploring, Bob was ready for some R&R back at the hotel.  It didn't take much to convince me that pool time and massages were beckoning!

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