Saturday, March 4, 2017

Short Trip

Took a week long trip to the island of Java, the cities of Solo and Yogyakarta. I've been to Solo once before, but this was my first time to Yogyakarta. 

Katanya mati, my wife's aunt said about Solo. A dead town. As industry on the island of Java has changed over time, Solo has been left behind, somewhat like an Oregon logging town. It is a perfectly flat, drab sort of place, and yet strangely endearing, to me. Maybe it's the people. Maybe it's the slow pace.  Maybe it's just the rundown quality of the houses and buildings. I don't know. It just feels restful, cozy, worn, like an old shoe. The folks in Solo don't see a whole lot of bules, or white people, so one is accompanied by a bit of celebrity wherever he goes. People want to introduce themselves, smile, practice their English, or simply stare. Could that bald guy be Bruce Willis? They want to know who you are, where you're from, why you're there, and so on. 

Yogyakarta, on the other hand, is a larger city - the second largest city in Indonesia, after Jakarta; busy and bustling, a university town and the seat of Dutch Colonial history. It's a sprawling city with wide roads crisscrossing at the center and spreading out to the periphery into ever narrowing avenues, ending in tendril-like alleys, or gangs, just wide enough for the passage of motorbikes. The city seems to have rusted and crumbled at the edges, ultimately chipping away into the verge of rice fields and lush riverbeds. Aside from the historical district, the place has the feeling of an endless strip mall, decidedly less than beautiful. But again, it is the people who make the difference - friendly, open, eager to interact.

I'm struck, upon returning to Bali, at how plain these places are in comparison. Once becomes accustomed to the lushness of Bali, the quaintness of the place, the abundance of scenery, from beaches to mountains to rolling rice tiers and exotic resorts. It does look rather like paradise after you're gone for a while. Then again, one of the most pleasant things about central Java is the cooler weather, with a brief rain every day in the afternoon. It is truly nice to be able to sit on the porch and read, for instance, without having to swim in your own sweat. If they could just somehow turn down the heat in Bali, just a bit, it would truly be a more complete paradise. 

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