I would have combed my hair had I known how many pictures I would be in at Borobudur and Prambanan temples near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I had traveled to them in order to admire the stonework and reliefs (one at Borobudur was particularly interesting as it hinted at the cross-ocean trade Indonesia engaged in one thousand years ago) but the school groups seemed more interested in practicing English and asking to take pictures with me.
I decided to spend the money on having a driver take me around Yogyakarta since I was only staying a few days. Hiring Rendi, as recommended by my friend Pink, was great because not only did he take me to all sorts of sights (Mount Merapi, Penthuk Setumbu to see a 5 AM sunrise, a bunch of little temples near Prambanan) but he introduced to all sorts of local foods like soto ayam (chicken skewers) and nasi gudeg (jackfruit with rice).
It’s really tough to pick the highlights for this place. One highlight was the Balinese-style gates at Masjid Gede Mataram Kotagede. Afterwards, Rendi and I ended up talking with a couple of Javanese shadow puppet makers for a half hour and were even invited inside their studio. I was surprised that they didn’t try to sell me anything – they just seemed pleased to show off their antique stage and their gamelan, a traditional instrument with a deep, mournful metal sound that notably is missing a few notes on the standard tonal scale.