Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rama ♥'s Sita

My new best friends
This picture you see basically summarizes our trip to Yogyakarta. (pronounced Joe-Jah-Karta) What you see to the right is the infamous Pepto Bismol medication for upset stomach, nausea and you guessed it -- diarrhea. The red container (I miss Target) is also for the same thing. My doctor gave me this way back before I had even boarded my first flight to Indonesia. I remember laughing, especially because I hadn't requested it. And I definitely wasn't having those kind of "issues." I think the laughter stemmed from the awkwardness of the entire situation as this topic is a bit taboo in the States but in Asian countries - or at least here - people talk about it so.. casually. I remember back in July 2012 when we had our annual BBS Teacher Conference and so many of the teachers got food poisoning. The next morning, we gathered in the assembly hall for praise/worship, icebreakers as well as other general matters and one of the first things the speaker did was say, "Raise your hand if you have diarrhea." So many hands went up into the air! I couldn't believe it. How crude and disgusting. Never had I ever imagined.. now I don't even think twice about it here. People will say, "I heard you were sick. Do you have diarrhea?" Or the kids will say, "Miss. Can I go to the toilet? I have to poo. It's urgent." I have one student who will actually come back and tell me the intricate details of bowel movements. Quite disturbing.  Anyway, Ryan will probably be upset that I even talked about this occurrence because it's simply just TMI but hey, I live in Indonesia now! He has to respect the culture, after all. :)

Sprite never tasted so good..

Anyway, I was so happy to be done with the fall semester at BBS. Just one more to go and I am home free! Ryan and I had already purchased tickets to Yogya. I went back in October (yes, I am lagging a post on that - will do) and had a wonderful time! I contacted ViaVia to settle our tour and accommodation arrangements. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in traveling to an area that has this company. They are excellent, affordable, speak English and are great for the solo traveler! I believe they have locations in Belgium and South America for sure. Their cafe is delicious as well.

We arrived at the airport in Jakarta with really no problems - surprisingly. The check-in went smoothly and we found our departure gate rather quickly. I was totally dressed as a bum and was hoping not to run into any BBS students. They always seem to catch me on my worst-dressed days (and scare the living daylights out of me). Last time, a student ran up to me while I was at the ATM. I am a very zoned-out person. Since I was totally tuned out in my own little world, it was no surprise (to me of course) that I was so taken aback by her abrupt arrival. I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest! I thought I was getting robbed.

We really bonded after this trip
Anyway, we were sitting at our gate just chilling. Poor Ryan, he was having some serious digestive problems. Neither one of us were looking forward to getting on that plane. It was delayed which was good and bad. Good because it gave us time to chill out but bad because it was just delaying the inevitable. I ate some nasi putih (white rice) and shared some water and an electrolyte drink with him in hopes that it would help everything calm down a bit. Sorry to gross you out. At one point, I really just wanted to turn to him and say, "You know, we can always go home. It's really okay." Anyway, shortly before it was announced that our plane was going to board, I took off running to the bathroom (which of course had a line a mile long). We're not supposed to be toilet paper in the toilets here because of bad plumbing. Instead, you are expected to throw it away (sometimes the trash can is located outside of the toilet stall). Let's just say.. I did things the Western way. Sometimes you have GOT to make exceptions. Ugh.

The turbulence wasn't too bad on the plane but it could have been better. We arrived safely in Yogya and just laid down, not moving.. I'm not really sure where the food poisoning came from because I definitely didn't take Ryan to eat any local food. I was surprised that my stomach was upset so easily, especially because I am pretty used to the food and non-sanitary food prep conditions here. We started to hypothesize that we were passing germs to each other because both of us really have developed stomachs of steel (well, not if we're talking abs.. that's more of Ryan if anything.. I'll get there.. one day..)

I must say, if food poisoning was gonna be an issue in Yogya, at least both of us had it together. We spent so many conversations talking about such a disgusting matter. I mean, I know it's a topic that couples eventually get comfortable with.. but I never imagined we'd be asking each other about our "issues" so casually.. and so soon. So disgusting. I'll stop.

The sickness got better over time. Thank goodness! Mainly because we had a trek up Mt Merapi early Monday morning. That is one trip Ryan will never forgive me for. I will get to that later.

On our way to do some family gift shopping

Squished in the becat ("bay-chawt")

A becat - common mode of transport in Yogya

We arrived in Yogya on a Saturday night. We had already purchased tickets to see the Ramayana ballet. I would love to upload a video but Blogger is being extremely difficult so it will have to wait. Meanwhile, here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

Posing with the main characters, Rama, Cita and Sugriva

The ballet is based off of an epic Hindu tale called "The Ramayana." The story features two main characters, Rama - a king - and Sita - his queen. Sita is abducted by another King and Rama goes in search for her. Meanwhile, he makes some new friends and also has to overcome several obstacles that get in his way along his journey. However, Sita is ultimately rescued and they live happily ever after. Don't let the words "ballet" fool you though. It is far different from what you might imagine in "The Nutcracker." (I have really got to get a video uploaded for you.) There is a small band at the back of the stage playing various drums and bells. There are also singers that are part of this band. They all sit on the ground (probably on soft pillows). The performers themselves are barefoot and wear very colorful and beautifully designed costumes. What makes this performance so enjoyable though is the Prambanan temples that stand so confidently in the background. It's actually a bit eerie, especially the way they light up at night. The Ramayana story itself is actually CARVED into the temples. I got to visit the temple(s) back in October so the picture you see here is from my tour back then. I had hired a guide and he told the story in such an intriguing way!

The movements of the characters in the ballet are inspired from the carvings

Since Ryan and I went during the rainy season, the performance was indoors this time (unlike my visit in October when it was outdoors). The fire scene wasn't as awesome and real torches with flames were not carried around inside the auditorium (for obvious reasons) but we still really enjoyed ourselves.

Rama and his brother

Rama fights The Monkey King

Rama is reunited with Sita

During intermission

The Prambanan temples

Although I am not having much luck uploading the videos, I did find a couple of YouTube videos that give you a better idea of what the performance is like.

Rama and Sita

Ramayana Ballet Overview 
^ skip to approx. 9:45 and watch the fire scene

The Monkey Troops

According to one website, "The Ramayana Ballet breaks the world record as the most continuously staged performance and involving the most performers. It has been performed for over 25 years!"  What makes it so unique is there is no spoken dialogue among the characters. The narrator is the singer (who sings in Javanese) whose voice you can hear throughout the above videos. You really have to rely on the background story (they provide in a booklet before the show) and the dance movements/the way the characters interact with each other to really understand what is going on. It is a very unique performance and I loved every minute of it.

Close up of the main Prambanan temple
We had two more days remaining in Yogya and many more adventures. My next post will be about our Jamu/Massage tour we took with ViaVia. Be prepared to read about electrocuting eels, slicing live catfish (and removing their intestines), purchasing a medicine known as Jamu - known for its variety of treatments of everything under the sun (including fertility and everything in-between), getting an extremely painful massage by blind women, shopping for handmade silver jewelry (and purchasing it at a RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP price), the two hour drive into the middle of nowhere (insert suspenseful music here) with a driver who falls asleep at the wheel at 10 o'clock at night as well as the trek up frozen Mt Merapi in sandals, shorts and t-shirt (pneumonia anyone?).

Make sure you come back and check out my blog. I have many, MANY more stories to share!

xoxo amber

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