Day 22-24 – Jogja 7th-9th Oct 2011

Day 21 – 7th Oct 2011 Bird Market Misadventures

Up and at ’em in a manner of speaking. Packing up the rucksacks for the short hop across town, interrupted only by a sumptuous breakfast of jam toasties and coffee, and then it was farewell to one fairly mediocre hotel and hello to Hotel Duta with its shaded tree lined courtyard complete with fish pond and little bridge and, more importantly, its inviting and welcoming swimming pool ( Then it was literally dump the bags, get the swimsuits out and plunge into the water to refresh ourselves from the heat of the day.

Luca, and particularly Mateo, have come on very well with their swimming, and though not particularly stylish, their technique is at least effective! Mateo amazed us all by diving in and swimming a width of the pool completely under water. Heart in mouths we watched him dive to the bottom to fetch goggles and masks, staying under for almost 10 seconds. Bravo little man!

After cooling off, we set about exploring again, and headed in the direction of the bird market. Everything in Jogja is further than it seems, the maps provided are really not to any sort of scale! After walking for half an hour we hit the ring road and continued around it on the side of the road (as there was no pavement) avoiding the whizzing motorbikes. It was hot, so hot! We had to stop for more water, and eventually turned back towards the city, as we had no idea where we were going, to ask a petrol seller where the bird market was.

He indicated vaguely along the street so we continued along this small street, answering the locals bemused but friendly smiles with equally toothy grins of our own. Eventually we hit a busier street where we found a local supermarket and got ice creams and more water. We walked on for a while before giving up on our quest for the bird market, and we negotiated with a becak driver for a ride home. He didn’t want to do it at our price, so we walked away. A few yards on, he cycled past and said OK, he and his friend would take us. Result! And so we arrived back at the hotel in relative comfort, availed ourselves of the swimming facilities once more, and then headed to Via Via, a restaurant cum travel agency a few doors down, for dinner. Great menu, excellent food, nice people.

Day 22 – 8th Oct 2011 Crafty Artisans

Today Tania had organised via Via Via for herself and Oskar to go on a Batik course in the morning, and for Luca and I to partake of a Silver jewellery course in the late afternoon. Whilst Tania and Oskar disappeared from 9 – 3pm the boys and I did homework for most of the morning before allowing ourselves to enjoy the pool. We lunched at Via Via (where we were to eat most of the time as it happened due to the fact that they had 3 different specials on every day of the week) and returned to the hotel to swot some more and swim some more whilst we waited for Tania and Oskar to return.

As the shadows lengthened, the Batik king and queen returned with their chef d’oeuvres (King then Queen):

Then it was mine and Luca’s turn to get to grips with a new skill as we headed by Taxi to the atelier to make some jewellery. We were joined by 3 ladies from Slovenia and Holland and first things first we had to decide on what we were going to make, and then make our design. I had already decided on a ring (as my wedding ring is safe at home) and Luca wanted to make a pendant, and a ring, and a bracelet, no a ring, no a bracelet, no a pendant! In the end he settled on a pendant and was dissuaded from attempting to make 2 individual sculpted geckos to be joined together to make the pendant (a somewhat ambitious design) and plump for etching the pattern of intertwined Geckos on a rectangular piece of silver.

I helped him draw out the design on the silver, and then the artist started the etching for Luca with a device a little like a tattooists needle. He did the outline, and Luca had to fill in the middle. Meanwhile, I set to stamping the inscription on my flat piece of metal and then filing down the resulting raised bits to make it nice and flat, before turning it over to mark out, and then stamp the pattern upon it and then beat it flat. Luca, likewise, had to file down the raised bits, and then round off the corners of the rectangle with a file. Once completed it was to the furnace – a gas blowtorch powered by a foot pump – to heat the metal to make it more workable, before dousing it in water to cool it again.

For me, the next step was to make the flat piece of silver into a ring by beating it over an anvil, and then testing the size on my finger. The professor chopped small bits off until it was the right size before I heated it again with some flux and solder to join the two ends together and then beating it again on the anvil to make it perfectly round.

Finally, we had to wash the jewellery with some sort of soap nut and a wire brush, and then it was onto a special machine for cleaning the insides of rings. All polished and shiny we had in our possession two magnificent pieces of unique jewellery:

Feeling very satisfied with our handiwork we taxied home to meet up with Tania, Oskar and Mateo and headed to Via Via for some scrumptious dinner.

Day 23 – 9th Oct 2011 The Kraton and the Crank?

The new day was upon us, by 9am there was already a fierce heat as I sallied forth from the hotel to find some Pulsa – the Indonesian equivalent of a mobile top-up. As I walked up the street I was hailed by a motorbike powered Becak driver called Mario and after a brief conversation he offered his services for the day for a astonishingly cheap 40,000Rp. I said I would think about it, and he said he would wait where he was for us.

After breakfast we descended upon Mario en masse and reconfirmed the rate, 40,000Rp for the day. We headed to the Kraton (the Sultan’s Palace) to see the traditional dancing and the various exhibits of gifts from visiting nobility and dignitaries. The dancing was exquisite. The poise and balance of the dancers was both elegant and precise, and their costumes magnificent.

We left the Kraton amazed by their performance and plunged into the square outside the entrance with its drinks and ice cream sellers to join up with Mario again. We asked to go to the station to see about tickets to Jakarta and to find a little “local” restaurant where they served Bakso (and where he himself would eat). The restaurant was basic, but the food delicious and there was no comparison between the excellent Bakso there and the one we had eaten on our first day. The station was beyond our understanding! And Mario said we could get tickets from a agent near the hotel without the hassle and without a surcharge.

Mario asked if we wanted to see some Batik – even though we had told him that we had already bought some – “its very cheap but good quality”. So we reluctantly agreed as Tania wanted to get some floaty clothing and Mario took us to his “pet” Batik makers shop. Excuse the pun, but this set the pattern for Mario’s tour of both the Batik district and the silver district we went to next. It transpires that each driver has a shop that they take their tourists to. If the tourist buys something, then the driver’s name is written on a list. At the end of the year, the top drivers get a share of the profits – or at least some free clothes or jewellery.

The Batik was good, but the clothes not really to our taste, so we passed on buying there in case there was some silverwork we fancied instead. Mario then took us to his pet silver store – a large affair with lovely pieces but with the air of mass production and not the kind of artisan uniqueness that Tania and I prefer. We passed on buying anything here either and asked Mario if we could wander around the area to find some smaller shops. He insisted that this was the best and cheapest and that the smaller shops were more expensive. He started to get uppity with us, no longer smiling at the children’s childish antics, and “yeah yeah” ing us when we explained our philosophy to him.

No matter, as we climbed aboard again he made another attempt to get his name on a list by asking if we wanted to return to the Batik shop as we had not bought silver. We told him “back to the hotel” and disgruntled he took us back, and then with bad grace took the proffered 50,000 note (we thought we would tip him for his trouble) and sloped away. I must confess it left a sour taste in the mouth and, I guess, a very English feeling of guilt even though there was nothing to feel guilty about. He contracted his services for a fixed amount and there was no obligation on our part to buy anything from the shops he took us to – this sounds a lot like me trying to justify it to myself doesn’t it? – end of story. Tania’s blog simply says “bad luck for him – we didn’t promise him anything.

Pool, wash, food, bed – not much more to say other than once again the food was splendid, and it was an early night as we had to be up before dawn. But I think that is for another blog!

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