Yogyakarta, the soul of Java, where the arts are at their brightest and its traditions at their most visible. Still headed by its sultan, it is very independent and protective of its customs. It is a Muslim city, packed with Mosques which wake you up throughout the night reciting verses of the Quran. We also had the opportunity to live the Eid al-Adha, also called the “Sacrifice Feast”, where animals are sacrificed at the sound of Muslim prayers in a melodious manner.
Jogja, as the locals call it, was our first stop and where we met our dear friends, and travel buddies for the next month, Ben and Leo! Most of the time was spent between talks and laughs, getting to know the Indonesian culture, the great food and the catchy language.
Taman Sari is a complex, just next to the kraton (“palace”), which once served as a splendid pleasure park of palaces, pools and waterways for the sultan and his entourage. It’s said that the sultan had the Portuguese architect of this elaborate retreat executed, to keep his hidden pleasure rooms secret.
As we were entering the complex, an Indonesian asked us where we were from. As soon as he realized we were Portuguese, he showed us a big smile and without saying a word he dragged us to this big stone at the entrance where we could (barely) read, in portuguese, that the restoration of parts of the complex was supported by the Portuguese Gulbenkian Foundation. We felt very proud!
On our last night in Jogja, we were told about a myth of walking pass the twin banyan trees planted on the city square, with eyes blindfolded. The game is known as masangin, which stands for “masuk dua beringin” (entering two banyan trees). The rule of the game is very simple: we would only need to be blindfolded then walk straight about 20 m from the front of Sasono Hinggil (Javanese words, literally translated as Higher Ground) and pass through between the ringin kurung (two banyan trees planted on the center of the city square).
So that’s what we did, each one at a time, the other 3 of us walking alongside the other to make sure he wouldn’t bump into one of the trees (or get eaten by the giant rats in between), blindfolded his eyes and walked towards the passage. But – wait for the funny part – when it came Carlos’ turn, he walked, walked, walked and walked…. in circles! We were laughing our heads off, looking from far and letting the poor guy find (or not) his way around.
In boarder understanding, the game reflects a message that we have to work hard and keep our heart pure to achieve our destination.
That’s all for now……… Selamat Jalan!