Tropical Punch Tour: Java Part 8
Featuring Wayang Orang at Sriwedari Theatre in Solo.
Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010
Solo, Java, Indonesia

For the past few days, I couldn't decide if I should backtrack the 50 or so miles to Solo, but since the Tugu station is only a couple of blocks from my room, I finally decided to hop on a train today and go for it. En route, the train passed a lot of farms growing crops like rice and corn, which, on the way into Solo, eventually gave way to scenes of incredible poverty and squalor within a series of super raw shanty towns. I'm talking about dirt floors, garbage strewn everywhere, rusty tin roofs shot up with a million holes and patched with every kind of random material known to humanity.

I got a super-basic room for $6.00 at Istana Griya with a mattress on the floor and a bathroom down the hall. Then I took a stroll down the main drag, snapping photos and looking for an Internet joint. A tour guide popped up out of thin air and offered to take me on a bicycle tour the following day. He showed me an Internet spot, but it was useless because their computers lacked Microsoft Office Picture Manager, which I need to size and add contrast to my pics.

I found another spot that had the program, but also boasted the worst, most archaic and color-inaccurate monitors you could shake a cathode ray tube at. I uploaded my photos from the previous day, but since there was no wi-fi, I had to wait to fetch the text from my iPod touch. As the evening wore on, I went to a Wayang Orang performance down at Sriwedari Theatre, located in the back of a weird little amusement park.

On the way there, I rode through a bunch of bugs that I thought were mosquitos, so I worried that I may have got bitten and infetced with Malaria. I think they were just gnats, though, because I never found any mosquito bites on me later. Back to the show. I had never heard of Wayang Orang, so I didn't really know what to expect. Basically, the dancers imitate the puppets of Wayang Kulit, and the show mainly consists of comedy skits interspersed with a little dance and a few dramatic scenes backed up with occasional gamelan support. So if, like myself, you don't speak Indonesian, most of the performance is impenetrable. It sure looked nice, though--especially the backdrops. It was also funny to see the gamelan players stare into their cell phones during downtime.

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All words and photos ©2010 Arcane Candy.