Yogyakarta

Jogjakarta always held a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of it since I spent almost two years of my childhood there when my father studied for his Ph.D. Jogja also reminds me of him and his struggle.

Yogya was known as the City of Education. It is home of Universitas Gadjahmada (UGM) one of the top university in Indonesia. My father got his Ph.D from UGM.

Yogyakarta also held a special place for Indonesia music industry. It was the homebase of several prolific band including Kla Project and Sheila on Seven.

Kla Project’s song Yogyakarta is one of my favorite Indonesian song..

Pulang ke kotamu…ada setangkup haru dalam rindu. Masih seperti dulu…tiap sudut menyapaku bersahabat. Penuh selaksa makna…

There are many things to enjoy there while you are in Jogja..the slow almost melancholy atmosphere, the culture, the places, the artistics yet affordable handicrafts…

This time around we went in a big group of my husband’s colleagues and families. We went by train. I always love train journey. In the beginning it was quite comfortable. I read a book that I bought in Harvard bookstore long time a go. But then the air conditioning was turned on and it became too cold. So my advise is to bring warm clothes or you can also rent some blankets.

Our train arrived just after noon. After checked ourself in at the hotel, my husband had a meeting so I thought the girls for a walk. I already checked that it would be the only time I have free time to buy some souvenirs. Afterall, we will buy them eventually.

Our main destination was Malioboro. I checked on the map, and it appeared to be quite close…but even so, I managed to mess it up. Since I took the girls…I decided to take Becak.

Becak is now transformed into Becak Motor. The rider known as Abang Becak, also voluntarily act as tour guide. Be very clear and FIRM on what you wanna do and where you wanna go, otherwise a short ride may turn into shopping spree…just like what happened to us.

The girls enjoyed the Becak Ride so much 🤗

The next day we visited a beach where the girls got an opportunity to dive and see some fishes.

After that we were supposed to visit two places: pine forest and a hobbit place. But, turned out we took longer. By the time we arrived to the place, it was almost dark. So we skipped one place. I was not really impressed with the second place since everything seem to be an outdoor photo studio.

Thankfully on our way back we stopped at a restaurant at the top of the hill, which offer breathtaking view of Jogjakarta at night. The hill is aptly called star hill.

The last day in Jogja we just wanna explore the city. This time my hubby also joined me and the girls so we ended up hiring two Becak.

My plan was only to go to Keraton (The Palace) of Jogjakarta. We hired two Abang Becak to take us there. But the Abang Becak took us to the Bakpia Pathok shop first. Bakpia Pathok is the most popular cake from Jogja. So, in the end we stopped and bought some boxes for souvenirs.

Then, he persuaded us to visit the Museum of Palace Carriage before visiting the Keraton. Again, its not part of the plan since we never heard about the museum. But, we’re glad that the Abang Becak did, because we got to see some grand carriage…

Each carriage safely maintain in the Museum has its name.

The one in this picture is called Garuda Yeksa. It was made by the Dutch in 1861 during the period of Sri Sultan HB VI. This carriage was only used during the King coronation in Keraton Yogyakarta. Kereta Garuda Yeksa was used during the coronation of Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana VI to Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana X.

On our way out of the Museum, we saw the Palace staff, called Abdi Dalem, parading. I did not quite get what is the occasion, but Keraton Jogja is one among a few kindom in Indonesia which still adhere to their tradition.

Finally we made it into the palace… First, we must buy tickets to get in. You must also pay for every camera used to take pictures. But the price for both are really reasonable.

One corner of the Palace

We arrived almost noon and was told that there will be a performance inside the palace. Perfect time!

These beautiful ladies practice their dance inside Kraton Jogja (Palace of Jogja). Their moves are slow and graceful as opposed to energetic and fast Balinese dance.

We did not stay long at the Keraton since we must catch our flight. But all in all Jogja always bring certain atmosphere that makes me wanna come back. Until next time Jogja!!

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ARISAN – Indonesian Social Gathering

Another weekend, another non work related days…today

Long before the emergence of social media, Indonesian people has a traditional form of social gathering called Arisan. It is usually done by a group of people who shares the same background or interest, most commonly people who lives in the same neighborhood, work mates, class mates, etc.

When I was a little girl, my mum would take to go to Arisan with her colleagues (She is a lecturer). I remembered being really confused about the concept. You and the member of Arisan, will put a certain amount of money that you agreed. The coordinator will take the money, draw a lot to determine which member will take home the money. For more articulate explanation of Arisan please check this article:

http://www.whatsnewjakarta.com/what-in-the-world-is-arisan/

I have several Arisan Group. One at work, one at home and one with a Hindu community. So almost every month there is Arisan to attend to. I am not that diligent though, I often miss the meeting. Sometimes, the Arisan is also filled with talks about health, parenting, cooking etc.

Nowadays, many of the Arisan are supported and to some extent replaced by Social Media. My Arisan group has a WhatsApp Group and Facebook group too 😊

But, there are some things that Social Media can’t replaced…that is the food served and the warmth of the embraced 🤗

The Expectation of Being a Balinese

Being Balinese has many advantages including beautiful nature and the rich culture around you.

But it also comes with a catch.

As Balinese people expect certain things from you. I often heard my friend and colleague comment:

You are a Balinese so you must be a good dancer or a great artist.

Well, unfortunately, ­I am NOT both 😑

When I was little, I was given the basic dancing lesson so I know the basic moves. But, Balinese dance involves quite complicated choreography where you must balanced your legs, arms, and facial expressions according to the music (Gamelan). Plus, most Balinese dance involve more than one dancer. So, you must also coordinate with your fellow performer. Somehow, I just did not feel confident and not that interested to master in any of the traditional Balinese dance.

Its something that I later on regret as I often disappointed my college friends every time they expect me to perform during certain event.

But, in October last year, I got an opportunity to perform a ritual dance called Rejang Renteng for a ceremony in the local Pura. As always, at first I resisted to join. But, as it was part of a ritual, I felt obligated to do it. In the end, with a lot of hesitant I joined. The dance itself was quite simple compared to other Balinese dance. The movement were slow and repetitive…and it only takes around 7 minutes. We perform in a big group of 27 dancers, so I felt less intimated.

After a grueling 4 weeks of practice, we finally performed at the ceremony. It takes a lot of effort to prepare for the make up and hair-do. But, in the end I was really happy. Not only because I can be part of the ritual, but mostly because I can prove to myself that we can do anything if we put our mind to it.

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Kuningan day in Bali

Balinese Hindu has a lot of holy ceremonies.

One of the biggest ceremonies is Galungan and Kuningan. Galungan is the day when Goodness, Dharma, prevail against Evil, Adharma. It is celebrated on Wednesday and Kuningan takes place on Saturday in the following weeks. It represents the day when the Balinese Hindu made a promise to ourself or God almighty that we will always try to ensure that goodness will prevail against evil.

There were various offerings and decoration made for the Galungan and Kuningan. But one notable decoration is a tall pole made from Bamboo decorated with young coconut leaves called Penjor (what is a Penjor). In other part of Indonesia, notably in Javanese culture, similar ornament called umbul-umbul was placed when there is important ceremony such as wedding ceremony.

In Bali, Penjor was placed in front of the house during Galungan and Kuningan. So, you’ll feel like royalty when you visit Bali at this period because the streets look so festive.

Because I worked and lived in Surabaya, we didnt normally experience all the Galungan and Kuningan atmosphere. But this year, Kuningan day happened during the period of public holiday.

We wasted no chance and immediately flew home.

It was all worth it since we got to show the girls what the atmosphere of Galungan and Kuningan in Bali.

Balinese Blends Modern and Traditional Life

Bali is known for its beautiful landscape and unique culture…the image of Balinese women dressed modestly, carrying offering in their heads across rice field have been the object of a lot of paintings, postcards and posters. But, Bali is not immune to the lure of modernization.

Development driven by tourism has certainly changed the face of Bali, especially in certain area in the southern part of Bali. Now you can see the houses, public places and building mix modern architecture with traditional culture.

This is Titi Banda Statue, representing the story of Rama with an army of Monkey on their way to cross the bridge to Alengka and pick Sita. It is located in three-way junctions of By Pass Ngurah Rai and By Pass Ida Bagus Mantra

But, despite the change from typical Balinese architecture, in every Balinese Hindu house you will see one or two shrine or temple like this.

Sanggah: a typical shrine or temple for Balinese Hindu to pray
The above picture taken in a used-to-be familiar Waturenggong street in Denpasar, Bali.

I passed this road every day when I was little. It has always been a busy street due to its proximity to schools and universities. But, now it was cramped with shops and bustling with cars and motorcycles. But densed among shop selling clothes, bags, foods, minimarts, I am happy to see this shop called Ketut Banten (zoom in for the red signage). As the name suggest, it sells Banten that is an offering Balinese Hindu use in their rituals and ceremonies. The simplest form of offering is Canang.

The base of Canang is a rectangular shape intricately made from young coconut leaves. Then flowers and leave are arranged in it.

There are many forms of artifact in Balinese Hindu.

Garuda is one of the most popular mythical creature in Balinese culture. I took this in Puncak Penulisan temple
Ornament in Pura Hulundanu Batur
Pajeng is a traditional umbrella put beside the temple. The color is normally white, yellow and black

With advance technology Balinese also changed the way they do things. Cars and motorcycle take over the more traditional horse carriage.

Skillful but also risky

This lady balance her Boiled Corn, known as Jagung Rebus by Indonesian, in her head while Riding Motorcycle. Skills you rarely find anywhere else, but in Bali. I took this picture around Pura Besakih and at that time she was travelling in a quiet road. Still, safety riding warrant certainly needed. Even in public places like Ngurah Rai International Airport, Balinese artistry is at full display.

This exhibit of The Good Barong and The Evil Rangda

Gunung Kawi Historic Site

One of the most important historic sites in Bali is Gunung Kawi. I visited it several times when I was a kid. Once with my school friends during a field trip and other times with my family. Recently, during our stay in Sabasanti Villa, I went with my husband and two girls. It was actually the same day as former US President, Barack Obama visit! We were two hours early 😦

I have never been very good at history lesson. I almost forgot all the history of Gunung Kawi. I have to Google it to find this information.

Gunung Kawi is located in Tampak Siring, Gianyar. Its a complex consisting of temples built in 11th Century by King Udayana. King Udayana played an important role in Balinese history. He married Mahendradatta and has three children: Airlanga, Anak Wungsu, and Marakata. Mahendradatta came from Medang kingdom in East Java. Airlangga eventually left to Java and became the King of Kahuripan, an area known now as Sidoarjo Regency. Airlangga has a large territory all the way to Central Java. The capital of the kingdom was eventually moved from Kahuripan to Daha (now Kediri regency).

There are many many steps to get to the complex. Going down is not hard, but climbing back the steps may take a lot of effort so make sure you are in good shape!

Here are some of the pictures from our visit.

The Color of Songan

We started the new year with a several day breaks to our home in Songan, Kintamani. We timed it perfectly so we can attend the spiritual activity, Odalan, in one of the temples. Of course while at home, we always use it also to have a walk to our garden by the lake.

Here are some of the pictures 🙂