I met my guide Yanti, today who I booked from England on my ipad in September. She is very friendly and knowledgeable and I am relieved I like her. She has so much information of all aspects of Yogyakarta, having been a guide for 18 years.
First I was taken to Ullen Sentalu Museum high up on the foothills of the volcano Merapi, a hidden treasure of a place built partially in caves underground. It held many historic artefacts belonging to the Royal family going back nine Sultans. Painted portraits, photographs, musical Gamelan instruments, clothing and best of all, beautiful antique batik, which kept me busy for 2 hours.
It was so interesting to learn how symbolic each batik design is and how strict the rules used to be about who wears what. For example there are separate designs for the bride, groom, maternal and paternal in laws , also special designs to be worn when first meeting and falling in love, engagement, night before wedding and after the wedding. A girl must have had to have had a big wardrobe !
After a delicious lunch sampling many Indonesian foods we drove to Borobudur, the amazing Buddhist Temple built in 900 Ad. It had clouded over and I was concerned about getting good photographs, but it turned out well because it was slightly cooler for the climb up all those steps. Phew it was a climb, the steps were about 50 cm high on the upper tiers, a real work out ! Yanti knew the story of all the carvings, from Buddha’s birth to enlightenment to death, of a sort (because he didn’t die as we know it ). The climb was pleasantly slow as I tried to absorb all the information Yanti was giving me and take many photos for Richard. The top was quite something, even having seen it in print and on screen, I wasn’t prepared for the serenity and majesty of the bell like Stupas and wonderful views, hemmed in by mountains on all sides. I was intrigued to hear that Borobudur lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. It wasn’t until 1810 that it was rediscovered and excavated by a Dutch engineer, HC Cornelius, sent to investigate the area by the governor Lieutenant Stamford Raffles, who took great interest in the history of Java.
What a fascinating but very exhausting day !