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This morning we gazed sadly at the steady rain and rued having planned a trip to an outdoor site. We started instead at the Batik Museum in Yogyakarta. We were set upon by a large group of boarding school students from around Indonesia, including Kalimantan who board in Yogyakarta. My poor children couldn’t cope with the pushing and touching and insistence on photos but eventually the students left us in peace and we admired the collection. Included are hand batik (batik tulis) even one from 1700, tulis batik patterns, lace work for gabya and copper plates for stamped batik (batik cap). One older woman that works at the museum was so enamored by my children that she spontaneously offered to teach them batik. We then spent a blissfully quiet and calm hour tracing a pattern with wax ready for dying and then boiling off the wax so that the only white left will be where the wax was.
As the rain lessened we headed for the UNESCO World Heritage listed Prambanan temple complex. After seeing Borobudur Temple yesterday I was wondering how good Prambanan could be by comparison and I was very very impressed by the amazing temple complex, built in about 900AD and showing impressive examples of Hindu and Buddhist art of that era.
A raised central square, has a total of 11 temples, of various sizes, the largest being the Siva (Shiva) temple which towers dramatically at close to 50 metres high. It is flanked by temples honouring the gods Vishnu and Brahma. Three smaller temples sit in front of the larger temples and each of these is dedicated to the ‘vehicles’ or transportation of the gods represented: Nandi, the bull, for Siva; Hamsa, the sacred swan, for Brahma; and the eagle Garuda for Vishnu.
We were allowed to climb the steps to the inner temple rooms (we stood outside to be culturally sensitive) and it was fun exploring he complex for my children and me. The carvings in the andesite rocks were amazing and depicted scenes from Hindu stories such as 62 panels showing scenes of the Ramayana Ballet, telling the story of King Rama and his wife Sita.
A very large school group from Gembang beset us in waves, asking to interview me. After the 4th identical interview I became more expansive in my answers and I don’t know if they understood me. Immediately following each interview was a photo session and I can only assume that photos of me and my children have now been widely circulated around Indonesia and perhaps on Facebook.
Next to the temple complex is a huge park with lots of play equipment dotted around it. My children were delighted to lose themselves in play after their demanding morning as superstars (my daughter is daily likened to a barbie doll which is ironic because we don’t have barbie dolls due to the negative female body image). We had a good Javanese lunch at the little café near the exit where three women cook the meals on outdoor gas burners.
Out next stop was Ratu Boko which is the remains of a once grand palace that is set on a hill plateau overlooking Prambanan temple complex and Mount Merapi.
Very little remains of the palace complex. Grand stone gates, built on two levels lead to what was once a settlement, which sets Ratu Boko apart from the other archeological sites in Central Java which are entirely religious in nature.
By this time we were thoroughly sick of being photographed and jostled so we avoided the Indonesian tourists and school groups. There are ruins from many different structures and few signs so it probably would be good to hire a guide but that doesn’t work well with attention seeking young children! Dinner tonight was at the excellent Milas Restaurant which is deservedly ranked 1st on Trip Advisor.