Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2/2/15 Day 382 Yogyakarta: Javanese Dancing and Prambanan

Kraton Palace by itself is nothing extravagant, it is the Palace of Yogyakarta and the home to the sultan and his family, but it is worn down and desperately in need of some tlc. Fortunately the entrance fee of 12,500 rupiah (1$) also covers the traditional Javanese Dancers performing on Saturday mornings. The performance lasts between 10:30-12:00 in the courtyard, accompanied by 8 vocalists and the sounds from more than a dozen percussionists performing on bells, chimes, drums and Indonesian style xylophones. The dancers employ a series of slow and deliberate movements with delicate control in their postures and steps. Watching the precision of their gestures is really beautiful and the intention of the movement is clear especially as 10 graceful dancers glide in unison formation. When the Javanese dancers floated off of the stage we followed the crowd out the door keeping our eyes down averting the touts, repeating the words, "tidak terima kasih" (no thank you): we do not need a ride or sunglasses, no light up headbands and certainly no smelly durian fruit. The drive to sell in Yogya is menacing, the worst we have seen in Indonesia yet, everyone is always throwing us a sales pitch. We managed to walk the few kilometers to town without being hustled by too many becak pedicabs. We squeezed our way onto the 1A bus for 4,000 rupiah from the raised bus stop platform centrally located on Malioboro Street and wedged ourselves into the muggy crowd huddled inside. The short distance took an excessively long amount of time as the rain clouds loomed overhead. At the entrance to the temple we were directed away from the locals entrance, towards the foreigner entrance where they were all too happy to exchange a ticket for 200,000 rupiah, an extortionate 170,000 more than locals pay. It is the equivalent of foreigners paying 16$ and locals forking over 2$! On the plus side we luckily have our student cards from university bring the outrageous cost down a hair to 100,000 and you get free coffee upon entry (needless to say we helped ourselves to seconds), there was no line as we have our own bule (foreigner) entrance and were three of the only Westerners to be found in the park. We were made painfully aware of how few westerners there were when we were constantly bombarded for pictures. Screw the largest Hindu temple in all of SE Asia, everyone from school children to adults wants a picture with a real live bule. At first we thought it was pretty adorable but by the end when we would hear them "bule, bule, bule" we would avert our eyes and try to head in the other direction as quickly as we have learned to avoid the calls of a tout. For the price we paid we deserve to fully enjoy the temples magnificence for a little while anyways. Just as our patience for bule photos was exhausted the rain began to pour, we hid in one of the temples and after a short stint the rain vanquished as did the hordes of students and visitors we had been sidestepping. The temple was ours and ours alone for a short blissful while. Back in the 9th century there were a total of 240 temples built. Today after natural forces have had their way with the temples and there are less than 20 structures remaining. The temples are devoted to a plethora of gods, but the largest centerpiece is devoted to shiva, the destroyer while the second and third largest temples were constructed for the preserver, Vishnu and Brahma the creator. The dark and jagged temples and shrines are an intricate reminder of the mixed culture of Indonesia and make for some beautiful photos as well. 

Graffiti elephants

The Javanese percussionists
Slowly venturing out in formation

Javanese masks are an important cultural identity

Celebrities for a day, the bule way
We even get our own VIP entrance only 6 times the cost
Beautiful Prambanan

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