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Yogya to Jakarta

INDONESIA | Thursday, 29 January 2009 | Views [1025]

Shadow puppets, Yogyakarta

Shadow puppets, Yogyakarta

We returned to Jakarta at the height of rush hour and it took our tuk-tuk more than 30 minutes to reach the hotel.  I had a splitting headache from the noise and the exhaust.  Our last day in Yogyakarta wasn’t much better.  We avoided the batik scam artists and headed for the Sono-Budoyo Museum where Yando, who works at the museum, took it upon himself to be our guide.  He told us about Javanese art, music, culture, shadow puppets, masks and of course batik.  I am beginning to wonder if such a thing as “Indonesian” exists.  Sumatra, Bali, Java and the other islands are all so different that it is difficult to find much commonality.  We were also treated to a display of the art of making shadow puppets.  Each piece of the puppet is painstakingly cut from water buffalo hide and meticulously hand-painted.

After lunch we headed towards the Sultan’s palace, the Kraton, only to learn that the Sultan was using it that afternoon for his political schemes.  So when the rain started we hopped in a becak and headed for our hotel.  I paid the driver double for getting soaked while he kept us dry.

In Jakarta this morning we had the National Museum nearly to ourselves until the school groups came in screaming.  Predictably the history began with the earliest human fossil discoveries but these were new to us; Java Man, the original ‘missing link,’ and the diminutive “Hobbit,” the new ‘missing link’ which was discovered in 2005.  From there the exhibits took us through the development of language and writing, art, commerce, architecture, and technology.  The exhibits were generally excellent and the signage was very good but occasionally they would forget to put in the English version.


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