Wednesday, June 16
Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia
I returned to the Sultan's Palace to watch the gamelan rehearsal. I arrived a few minutes after they started, but not as late as I did on Monday. I was surprised to see that in addition to the gamelan, a full-blown Wayang Golek, also known as a wooden puppet play, was being staged. It was kind of bittersweet, because this was the first time I got to see Wayng Golek, and I was stoked,, but I was also looking forward to hearing the gamelan play by themselves, because the dalang (puppet master) adds a lot of clatter to the overall sound with his toe block and metal plate. That can be a good or bad thing depending on your mood.
I assumed today's performance was an excerpt from the Ramayana, which seems to be a really popular theme in Indonesia. Laced in between the sedate scenes were quite a few acts of violence in which the puppets cracked each other over the head in time to the dalang rhythmically beating his metal plate. During dialog-only sections, it was rad to watch the gamelan players drink their tea and smoke their clove cigarettes, then crash back in with a round of jangly, metallic percussion right on cue, as the cute little lady singers filled the air with their shrill, angelic voices.
I also checked out the rest of the Kraton, or Sultan's Palace, that I unknowingly missed yesterday. As far as I could tell, there wasn't much more to it than a large pavilion, a little and really old-looking gamelan, and a couple of dusty old rooms--one containing a portrait of all of the past Sultans, and another really odd one filled with pictures of the royal carriages.
I spent the rest of the afternoon pounding the white hot pavement looking for the local office of Lion Air to book my flight to Singapore for June 22. It took a lot of walking back and forth and around in circles, which, under the hot, tropical sun, utterly wore me out. I was informed by someone in the building where Lion Air should have been that they only have an office over at the airport now. Luckily, Air Asia had an office in the same building, so I just booked a flight with them. I was surprised and delighted that it only cost $137 for an 800-mile flight. I was expecting to pay $200 to $300.
A big blister on my left baby toe was flaring up, so I took a becak up to a money changer near my room to get some cash for the ticket. The rate for traveler's checks was kind of low there, so I walked a few blocks over to a bank, but it was closed, then headed right back to the money changer and went for it. Since my feet were all hot and bothered and my blister was hurting pretty bad, I rented a mountain bike and rode back down to the Air Asia office and paid for my ticket. I was relieved to finally get that done.
Then I went on a joy ride through some insane motorcycle traffic around the main area of Yogyakarta. It felt so good to cruise around super fast, which made a nice breeze blow on me, and it didn't aggravate my feet. I also had fun stopping to shoot photos of rad, raw-looking scenes. After a short web session, I went back to the Sono-Budoyo Museum at 8:00 p.m. to catch another Wayang Kulit and gamelan performance.