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Yogyakarta Day 3: Friday, August 4, 2017

David painting batik

David Black paiting a batik floral design at the Museum Batik Yogyakarta

Before going up to my room the day before, I sat down with the concierge at the front desk as they had a sign saying they could work out any tour we wanted. I had some specific things I wanted to still see and do in Yogyakarta, so I designed a custom tour. But knowing that I would need to take it easy in the morning due to the strenuous day I had the day before, I decided to start the tour at 1:00 and have the morning to do what I wanted.

Vine covered tree

I walked past this tree, covered in vines, on my way to the museum.

When I woke up after a nice sleep in, I showered and dressed and headed down to the lobby for breakfast. It had been too early the day before to eat the complimentary breakfast buffet, but I was hungry this morning. They had some good items, such as a delicious bread pudding, fruit, and different juices.

Types of canting

Canting (pronounced “chanting”) are pens that hold the batik wax (malam) and come in different styles and spout sizes depending on the types of lines or dots desired.

I looked over my computer to see what to do this morning. I hadn’t made it to the Kraton yet – they are supposed to have nice dancing and wayang puppet shows. I also wanted to learn more about batik and perhaps take a class, but was afraid that would take too long. One other place I had researched was the Museum Batik Yogyakarta. I discovered it was very near my hotel – only about two blocks away. So I grabbed my camera and a bottle of water and headed out.

Drawn cartoon

The first step is to draw a pencil line drawing or cartoon that is traced through the cloth.

I walked to the intersection near the hotel, then turned east and walked two blocks. I turned north for half a block, then took a smaller alleyway back west and around to the entrance to the museum (I had to follow the signs). I must have been early or before opening time, because they didn’t have anyone ready to purchase my ticket. But they got their act together and I paid a small fee to enter. The museum itself began with a display of different types of canting, some from various provinces or with various types of openings, for doing single and double dots or lines, etc. It had a display of how to make the wax for batik, called malam, and of different dye stuffs. It showed some small stoves designed by this museum to use a votive candle to melt the wax. It showed how patterns are drawn.

Waxed lines

The traced pencil lines on the cloth are then draw over with malam (wax) using a canting.

I wasn’t allowed to photograph the batik samples themselves, but they were OK with my photographing the process. The museum itself was rather dark without much lighting, so I hope I held still enough to get some photos in focus. A lady came to act as a guide for me by this time, and I photographed a variety of cap designs. They had a huge embroidered tapestry of the Last Supper (based on Da Vinci’s painting) and of Jerusalem (the lady who started this museum was a Christian).

Caps

Alternatively, a design can be stamped or printed onto the fabric by dipping these copper strip patterns, called “cap” (pronounced “chop”) into the malam wax and pressing it onto the cloth. The museum had many caps on display.

I also took photos of a woman doing some batik waxing and of their store. I bought some malam wax and the burner kits, and they gave me samples of bark used for dyes (possibly sandalwood). All of this was packaged into a nice bag.

Painting dyes

Samples of batik dyes. They are now made from synthetic materials, but the museum also had displays of natural dyestuffs. In this case, the dyes are painted on with a brush between the waxed lines, something like paint-by-numbers or watercolors. They had these samples so visitors could practice painting designs.

I was the only one touring the museum, and it was a bit out of the way, but I learned a lot and got some good photos of the procees. Combined with what I got at the workshop two days before, and my own class in Jakarta, I now have good footage to use for a video on batik.

I walked back to the hotel and laid down for a while to cool off in the air conditioning. Noon time prayer started, and two different mosques were calling out the salat. I recorded some video of it, because the stereophonic sound was quite compelling. The muezzins in these mosques are very good.

Hotel circles cap

A cap with circular patterns in the Hotel Jambuluwuk lobby.

Preparing for third color

To get multiple colors in batiks that are immersion dyed, the wax must be applied several times to different areas and on both sides of the cloth. Here, a lady is waxing an area to cover a color so that the batik can be dyed a third color.

Historic batik

I wasn’t allowed to take close up photos of most of the batik patterns, but my guide did allow me to take this photo showing the samples of batiks they had displayed at the museum.

Dutch and royal patterns

A combination of influences are seen in this batik, where the patterns in the background represent Indonesian royalty. The floral patterns are a Dutch influence.

Single color batik

A single-color batik, with the wax removed to leave white un-dyed cloth.

Styles of canting

Different styles of canting. Based on my trials at school, using a canting is tricky as the wax has to remain at just the right temperature; too hot, and it will be too thin and run or splatter. Too cool, and it will solidify and plug the spout of the canting.

Painted batik

A hand painted batik. The wax acts as a barrier to prevent colors from spilling or spreading, and it is then boiled out to leave white lines where the wax was.

David tracing cartoon

I am practicing tracing a cartoon design through the cloth.

Kit for sale

The museum had a gift shop with batik kits for sale, including a small folding paper stove with votive candle for melting the malam, wedge-shaped chunks of malam itself, cantings, dyes, and patterns. I didn’t buy entire kits, as I figured we already had the dyes from our tie dye experiments and I can get embroidery hoops easily in America. So I purchased several stoves, more malam, and more cantings for my students. They through in a bag of the reddish bark in the jar, which I believe is sandalwood.

 

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Yogyakarta Day 1: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

 

Motorized becak

This is the motorized becak driver I rented to get from Malioboro Street back to the Hotel Jambuluwuk. Many becak are essentially backwards tricycles – seats supported by two wheels mounted before a single wheel and seat on which the driver sits and pedals. This one was mounted on a motorcycle frame, which made for a faster ride and some fun video. I would have walked, but I was out of water, overheated, and hungry. It only cost about $5.

After walking along Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta for about an hour, I finally decided that I had seen enough for now and was in need of food. I didn’t feel like walking all the way back to the Hotel Jambuluwuk in this heat and I was out of the bottled water I had been carrying, so I hailed a becak driver. This one had the customer seat mounted on a motorcycle, and we took off after I climbed aboard. I took some fun video of us weaving through the streets. Within a few minutes we were back at the hotel.

I drank some bottled water (I was a bit dehydrated) and ate some snacks I had bought at the Alpha Mart. I laid out the purchases I had made – my new garish multicolored leather hat, my artistic batiks, the wooden bicycle and colorful dress – and took photos of them to send to my wife for approval. I rested for a while, then was ready to head out on my next expedition.

Becak driver

This was my second becak driver, this one on a traditional pedaled frame. He took me from the hotel down to the Kraton, which wound up being closed, then to a restaurant for supper. This is a common way for people to get around here – you see becaks all over the city.

This time I wanted to head to the historic Kraton area of Yogyakarta. I had a map and could have walked, but decided to try a pedicab (becak) instead, since it wasn’t very expensive. It didn’t take long to find one, as they park at most intersections or can be hailed as they peddle past. This driver spoke pretty good English and when I explained where I wanted to go, he said the Karaton was most likely closed by now (it was after 5:00) but he knew a place to get some good batik. Of course he did. Everyone here seems to have their connections.

There are times that I have felt guilty as a “wealthy” and decadent American, for example having poor pedicab drivers drive me around the city. I have to keep thinking that this is a normal and accepted way of getting around here, and that the becak drivers choose this as their livelihood. I don’t try to negotiate them down to prices so low that they can’t make a living; $4 for a ride of about one mile is considered a good fare here and it certainly saves me time and sweat. A good thing for both parties. Having me for a fare is certainly better for them than sitting around with no fare at all. I refuse to feel guilty for helping people make a living.

Keraton

The Karaton or administrative center of Yogyakarta. When the Dutch controlled Indonesia, this was the government center for this part of Java, and is still a center of culture, with dances, wayang puppet shows, and gamelon orchestra performances daily. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was closed. I didn’t get the chance to return. My becak driver did take me to a batik store he knew, where I bought two nice scarves.

So I climbed aboard and off we went. The city has fairly flat topography with a dip around the river. He had to work a bit to get us up the hill on the other side. We cut across to the road that parallels Malioboro Street, then headed south to a large grassy area and old white colonial style buildings in the heart of the town. As he said, these buildings (the Karaton or old administrative capital) and the museums nearby were closed. We continued on a couple of blocks, then turned west and went down a more narrow road with batik and clothing shops on both sides. We stopped in front of one he said had a good selection and I went in. The front part of the store had clothing that was a bit beyond my price range, but I found some inexpensive yet beautiful scarves in the back. I bought one for my daughter and one for my sister.

Jogja map-s

A map of Yogyakarta. The map I had from the Hotel Jambuluwuk was better, but still not very detailed. The roads are not this straight, except for Malioboro Street itself. After buying the scarves (yellow circle) my becak driver took me to a restaurant (green circle) on the other side of the Karaton where I ate fried chicken (ayam goreng). I then walked (purple lines) up Jalan A. Yani and Malioboro. I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts across the street, then continued on the west side all the way up past the train tracks before realizing I had gone too far, then doubled back, but still missed my road, went back north again until I finally rented another pedicab at the north end of Malioboro St. I should have marked the location of my hotel on my map before I left (located on this map as the red circle).

My driver was waiting for me as I came out – I suppose having a guaranteed fare was better than looking around for one even if he had to wait for me while I shopped. We pumped up the gentle hill back to the Karaton and I told him all I wanted was to find a place to eat, as I was very hungry by now. My snacks had not kept me going very long. He said he knew a good place, so we circled around the grassy area to the east side. A road led due east away from the Karaton, and in less than a block we stopped at an open-air but covered restaurant similar to others I’ve eaten at here in Indonesia. I insisted to my driver that I was done and wanted to walk back to the hotel from here, so he finally left after I paid him.

Malioboro Street 2

Malioboro Street near the Karaton looking north.

I ordered some Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) as that seemed a safe bet. It was inexpensive and not a large portion, but was the best tasting fried chicken I had in Indonesia. I figured I could find some additional snacks along Malioboro Street.

It was twilight as I left the restaurant (evening comes early in the tropics) and the action on Malioboro Street was just ramping up. There were stalls selling a variety of foods (I never did try the gudeng stew that is a specialty here – I didn’t dare eat from the street vendors selling it) but the food, which was out on display in steaming pots, looked very enticing. Then I saw a sign across the road for Dunkin Donuts, so I stopped in and had two of them. I was now good to go.

Food stall

Food stalls along Malioboro Street near the Karaton.

As it grew darker, I walked down the street, sometimes on the sidewalk, somethings further onto the street past the carriage drivers where there was more room, sometimes I entered the shops or stopped to look at the open stalls. There were a lot of tourists, including Indonesians and Europeans or Australians, and it all had the air of a bazaar or fleamarket. I’m not much into shopping, as I have said before, but this was as much a cultural experience as it was shopping, so I just went with the flow and enjoyed it.

Food stall 2

More food at a buffet restaurant on Malioboro St. We had been warned at the Embassy not to eat food from a street vendor, and I had just eaten fried chicken anyway, which I topped off with two Dunkin Donuts across the street.

I found some very colorful (and cheap) shirts for my two younger sons and a wallet for myself as a Christmas present. I took some photos. I passed a Chinese temple. I came to train tracks and crossed them, and eventually ran out of stores. I hadn’t been paying much attention to where I was, so I finally pulled out my map and realized I had gone too far for my street back to the Hotel Jambuluwuk. I must have missed it in the dark. I walked back across the railroad tracks, but didn’t see the cross street I was looking for and decided maybe I hadn’t gone far enough, so I back stepped again – I finally realized that I didn’t exactly know where the entrance to my road back was. I wasn’t really lost, as I knew I was on Malioboro Street (that was obvious) but it is a long street. And my feet were getting very tired.

Malioboro Street 3

Malioboro Street looking north, just after sunset.

I found a group of becak drivers hanging out at the end of the last stores and asked one for a ride back. He knew where my hotel was (great!) but I didn’t have the right change to pay him, so I gave him a 100,000 rupiah bill that I fished out of the reserve pouch that I have velcroed under my pants on my left calf. He got change with another driver, and gave me back two bills. I thought he had taken his fare out already and had given me one 50,000 and one 5,000 bill (we had negotiated for 45,000 or about $4), but he actually gave me back two 50,000 bills. It was difficult to negotiate since his English was sketchy and my Indonesian is even more limited.

Malioboro at night

Malioboro Street at night.

I got aboard, happy for a chance to sit down. He peddled back the way I had come – I had gone much further than I had thought – and turned onto my road back, which I don’t know if I would have ever recognized in the dark as it isn’t a very wide road. We peddled across the bridge and he pumped me up to the road leading to the hotel (Jalan Gajah Mada). We pulled up to the hotel, and he asked for his money. I thought I had already paid him (that he had taken his pay from my 100,000 bill), so I told him I had already paid. It took the help of the doorman at the hotel for us to communicate and for me to realize the fault was mine. I not only paid the driver my negotiated amount but a good tip besides. He was much happier.

Shopping spree 2b

The results of my second outing to Malioboro Street. I bought two T-shirts for my sons, two scarves, and two printed batik style shirts (very inexpensive). The brown tailed cap is the style of hats in Yogyakarta. The wooden bicycle was purchased earlier in the day, along with the colorful leather hat.

This was the only time in Indonesia where I had major trouble with a language barrier, and it was my own pride as an American that got in the way, making assumptions and being too suspicious of someone. I thought he was trying to rip me off. He wasn’t. I learned to be more careful of my money and to pay attention to the bills more. The 50,000 and 5,000 bills are both blue, so they look similar but are for widely different amounts.

It felt good to get back to my room. I left a message at the front desk to give me a wake-up call for 3:00 in the morning, and ate a few of the snacks I’d brought back from my stop at the Alpha Mart earlier. I had a bottle of red Stroberi Fanta that I drank from and left by my bedside, but I must not have put the lid on all the way. Sometime during the night, I bumped the bottle off the nightstand and a small amount of the red pop spilled onto the carpet. It was to be problem, because by the time I discovered it, I wasn’t able to get the stain out.

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Borneo Day 6: Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sasirangan hanging up

Sasirangan patterns hanging up to dry at the factory along the Martapura River in Banjarmasin.

After resting for a couple of hours, we met Nazar, his wife, and his older daughter in the lobby. He was taking us to see how sasirangan, the Banjarese form of tie-dye, is done. As we drove across the river the clouds that had been gathering all day were turning dark black and rain was immanent.

Threatening clouds

Threatening storm clouds over Banjarmasin. This is supposed to be the dry season.

We crossed the Martapura and traveled along a series of ever smaller roads leading us along the west bank. The dyeing process requires a lot of water, so the factories are located inside some of the Banjar style houses along the river we had seen on our trip to Lok Baintan. As we drove along the roadway just to the west of the river, the skies opened up and the rain began. Nazar commented that this wasn’t normal for the dry season. It came down in torrents and buckets, and before long it was impossible to tell where the rainflow ended and the river began – it was all just one sheet of water. We parked under and overhang at the factory outlet and watched the rain for a minute. I took some photos and video.

Rainstorm on river

The rain begins – it came down so fast it became hard to tell where the runoff ended and the river began.

This was quite a storm, but not the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve been through the edge of a typhoon in Taiwan, and I was once in a downpour in Minneapolis in April 1986 that was beyond belief. The rain there came down so fast that the drainage system couldn’t handle it, even though the city is along the Mississippi River. The pressure in the drains was so great that manhole covers were being blown into the air and fountains of water eight feet high were geysering out of the holes. On my way to the airport a short time later, my shuttle van drove through what looked like a shallow puddle that wound up being five feet deep. The engine got wet and stalled. They had to call another shuttle van to come get us – it drove more carefully into the “puddle” and I had to climb out the window and over to the second van with my suitcase so they could take me on to the airport.

Sasirangan choices

Sasirangan samples in the factory showroom. You can find all types of colors and patterns.

As we were looking at samples in the sasirangan store, a load thunderclap and lightning stroke boomed out and the power went out. I was able to use my flash for photos, but not for video. Craig got his cell phone out and set it to flashlight mode so that I would have some light. We crossed the road to the dye factory on the other side along the river. A man showed us how they use stencils to trace the traditional patterns onto white cloth. The cloth is then tied tightly with small ties to follow the pattern of the stencils. Parts that aren’t to be dyed in the first color are covered in plastic bags.

Tied green cloth

Died green cloth with the ties in place. Where the ties gather in the cloth, the dye won’t penetrate and will leave white places, just like western tie dye. This may be the origin of tie dye.

Next door were the dye vats. Since dye works better in hot water, the room was like a sauna with steaming vats of various colors. My camera wanted to fog up, but I did get some good photos and video. The men there were wearing gloves and dipping the cloth repeatedly into various colors. The bags are moved to the previously dyed areas so that other colors can be applied where the bags had been. The cloth is then rinsed and hung up to dry on railings between the two buildings, something a bit hard to do in this rain.

Plastic covered parts

Dyeing the sasirangan cloth. The dye area was a sauna bath from the steaming hot dye vats. To protect color in areas, plastic bags are tied on to prevent the second color from reaching the first color.

The rain soon let up, and we returned to the outlet store. We looked through the colors; there were many beautiful combinations, and I bought two different bolts of cloth. One was purples and magentas, the other oranges and brick red. These will be for gifts for my sister and daughter.

Dye vats 2

The dyers used rubber globes to repeatedly dip the fabric into the dye vats. The power was knocked out by a lightning strike nearby in the storm. Between the humidity from the rain and the steaming dye baths, this room was like a sauna. They had many types of dye powders and could do any combination of colors and patterns.

Now that the rain was ending, we got back in the car and drove through winding streets to find a restaurant for supper. Nazar knew an excellent place for bakso nearby, and we drove past alleyways and along narrow roads to get there. The late afternoon light after the storm provided a silvery golden cast to everything as it reflected off the wet pavement along the alleyways. It was extremely humid after the rain, but the air was cooler and quite comfortable, so I rolled down my window to get better photos. We passed a cemetery, including the memorial to a local hero. After a few minutes, we reached the restaurant. Nazar’s son rode a Gojek to the restaurant and met us there. I had beef bakso and chilled bottled water for supper, and it was excellent. I like bakso a great deal, and have had some good stuff, but this was the best I had anywhere in Indonesia.

Alley near bakso place

Alleyway near bakso kitchen after the rainstorm.

Bakso kitchen

Bakso kitchen in Banjarmasin where we ate after visiting the sasirangan factory.

Bakso soup

The best bakso in Banjarmasin.

Road after rain

Traveling through the narrow streets of northern Banjarmasin after the rainstorm.

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Jakarta Day 2: Sunday, July 16, 2017

Garuda pancasila

The Indonesian flag, with the golden Garuda holding the motto “Unity in Diversity” (old Javanese – Different but One). The five symbols in the shield are the Pancasila.

Now that we were all in Jakarta, we were ready to begin the final training for our field experiences at various schools across Indonesia. We spent the morning in a conference room at the Le Meridién Hotel learning about Indonesian customs and culture.

Dewi led our discussion. She began with a brief history of Indonesia, including the discoveries of Java Man, events leading up to Indonesian independence in 1945, and the governments of Sukarno and Soeharto. When the economy tanked in 1997, Soeharto was forced to step down and Indonesia has been a representative democracy ever since. She discussed the philosophy of Pancasila and the emblem of Indonesia, the Garuda bird with the shield divided into five sections representing the five principles of Pancasila: 1 – The Star, representing a unity of belief in one God (there are five recognized religions in Indonesia: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestant Christianity – of course, some of these five are polytheistic, such as Hinduism, so I’m not sure how the “one God” aspect works); 2 – The Gold Chain, representing a just and civilized humanity; 3 – The Banyan Tree, representing different roots growing into a common national unity; 4 – The Bull, representing a democracy based on the inherent wisdom of unanimity arising from deliberation among popular representatives; and 5 – The Rice and Cotton, representing social justice for all Indonesians.

We had a break with some tasty juices (pineapple and mango) and fried banana fritters and cookies.

Provinces-of-Indonesia-Map copy

The provinces (states) of Indonesia. They are divided into Regencies (counties) and Districts.

After the break, Dewi went on about some of the customs and the many diverse cultures around the islands. She is originally from western Sumatra but now teaches in Jambi, which is in eastern Sumatra. The major islands of Indonesia (Borneo, Java, and Sumatra) are called the Greater Sunda Islands and are large enough to have many cultures and dialects on the same island. Western Sumatra has unique food, architecture, and customs compared with eastern Sumatra or the more conservative Muslims of Aceh in northern Sumatra. Some ethnic groups or tribes live in the deep interior and have unique languages and customs.

A villager wearing traditional costume jumps over a stone

The tradition of jumping the stone on Nias Island. To prove one’s manhood, you get a running start and vault off of a foot stone and over the top. There is no soft bar that falls when you hit it. Just hard stone.

I checked out a video from our local library about traveling in Indonesia, which also covered some of these ethnic groups. One group on Nias Island off the west coast of Sumatra have a kind of high jump tradition to test one’s arriving at manhood – you get a running start, vault off of a standing stone, and must clear a hurdle about six feet high. Dewi and the video both spoke of other ethnic groups, such as the Toraja of Sulawesi who have houses shaped like the hulls of boats and don’t burry their dead for a year, the Betawi of Java with the traditional black “Soeharto” hat (I’ve got to get one of these) and who have the Ondel-ondel puppets, the saman dance of Aceh province, or the plate dance of West Sumatra, where they break the plates at the end and jump on them barefoot, the kecak dance of Bali, the wayang puppets of Yogyakarta, and other traditions.

There are perhaps 200 or more dialects throughout Indonesia, and Bahasa Indonesia has become the official language as a way of unifying all these cultures together. Most people speak and read it as well as their local dialect and some English or other international language. Teachers wear a khaki tan uniform on Mondays and Tuesdays, black pants and white shirts with ties on Wednesdays, local batik patterns on Thursdays, and more casual clothing on Fridays and Saturdays. School goes six days per week, although Saturdays are more for activities and clubs.

Dewi ended by talking about different Indonesian foods, such as beef rendang (a spicy beef dish from Sumatra), nasi goreng (fried rice), satay padang (rice cakes with sauce), soto (a noodle and rice stew), and bakso (meatball soup). She spoke of cendol, a drink made from sweet green beans and coconut, as well as other favorites. I expect to have the chance to try all of these over the next three weeks.

Beef rendang

Beef rendang, a spicy and savory dish from western Sumatra.

We would learn more particulars about the Indonesian education system tomorrow, but for now, our training was done for the day.

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