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Published: December 31st 2011
Indonesians, from my perspective seem to be some of the most social people I know.(Although this does not seem to be the opinion of several Indonesian friends I have spoken with......this is especially true of those that live in urban areas) It seems to be a form of disorder, or something(?), for them if one is found alone, and they will gregariously try to pull you into their little posse if you happen to be a bule (A westerner) .....after snapping your picture as many times as possible. It is a wonderfully colorful but also annoying aspect of traveling or living in Indonesia as a foreigner, at times.
If I wanted to become a model, of some sort, Indonesia is certainly a good place to develop my acting skills and posing technique. Despite the hundreds of photos I took, more pictures of me were definitely taken than I took of Indonesians. At one point, my camera battery even died. This after putting on some traditional Javanese garb with a skull cap and posing with a family of muslims at Suharto's gravesite. (The former dictator who led Indonesia for 30 years). They invited me to pray with them and enter the
central chamber where Suharto and his family are entombed. I was so disappointed about not getting any photos with them, but the experience was above all educational. I met everyone in their entourage and probably posed for an equal number of photos with nearly all of them while swapping basic personal info. I now have a place to stay in Surabaya should I visit. Their very traditional group (about 50-60 people in three minivans) was extremely sociable as they invited me into their daily pilgrimage for an hour or two.
My latest journey took me to Bromo in East Java from Yogyakarta in Central Java, some 1,400 kilometers in four plus days. I slept in Sragen just outside Solo, Tosari village (next to Bromo), Blitar (burial site of the long deceased Sukarno) and Pacitan (local beach resort renowned for surfers and as the home of current Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono..SBY for short). The diversity of the landscape I passed through included crowded highways, scenic national parks, grindingly poor mountain villages, local beaches, volcanic mountains and thick agricultural landscapes resembling pastoral paintings. All of them are popular, accessible and regularly visited by Indonesians.
I think the only thing
Jabba the Hutt
This is it! Quite a disappointment the center of Bromo's volcano. Images of Boba Fett and Princess Leia circled through my head as I sat on the edge the meter wide ledge around the volcanoes central spout pictured here.
unusual about my trip was that I did it by motorbike alone rather than with a group. Only in Bromo did I have a guide and follow any sort of plan. Mount Bromo and especially its surrounding landscape is so popular and visually spectacular that it resembles a religious pilgrimage sight. Watching from above as lines of people ascended the stairs to view the inside of the volcano gives you such a feeling and the natural sublimity of the landscape below often provides a subtle hint in that direction.....but Bromo is crowded and can often seem quite a disappointment when you are surrounded by hundreds of other travelers and tourists. Hundreds of tourists crowd scenic viewpoints with cameras at sunset and take jeeps to other appetizing vistas.
I too became a piligrim of sorts on this trip visiting the gravesites/memorials of Indonesia's most famous modern leaders(Suharto, Sukarno, General Sudirman), one of Java's most famous natural wonders(Mt. Bromo)/historical sites (Majadphit temples of Penataran) and surveying large parts of the landscape and lifestyles in Central and East Java from the road.
I met so many engaging and overtly friendly people on the way, Aryadi in Sragen just outside Solo who
Scenes like this pop up out of nowhere between lots of the simpleness of rural life. The mountains between Blitar and Yogyakarta along the southern coast have tons of scenes like this.
chatted with me for over an hour the first night of the trip and invited me back anytime ("You are now part of the family" he smilingly inveighed), my guide Pancul, in Bromo, who micromanaged my stay but made it fun, the Christian family who invited me into their home and chatted with me for a while serving me browines and tea, the high school students who talked with me atop Mount Kelud Christmas morning. Many other people who I talked to along the way while eating, getting directions or snapping photos were equally interesting or nice. My GPS only worked about half the time and the road signs are best on the larger roads....so I had to ask for directions a lot. It was a brief but very illuminating journey.
I am out of words but I wanted to share some of the pictures with you.
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