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Showing posts from January, 2014

Notes on a Java jaunt

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Stepping off the ferry at Banyuwangi, I was relieved to be free of the cloying melodies of the dangdut karaoke and sickly sweetness of the kretek smoke that battled for control of the upper deck. My company for the trip was made up mostly of migrant workers in weathered shirts heading home to villages in Java, and the occasional wealthy family reluctant to leave Bali after a few days of decadence. In the trip of less than an hour between the two islands, we had moved from the laid-back Island of the Gods to the bustling home to 140 million people. Lying ahead of me was the island where the country's power, money and mythologies reside.


For nearly three years I'd lived in Indonesia, but my trips in Java had barely extended beyond the mountains to the south of Jakarta, the ragged beach resorts on the west coast and the big cities whose nearby temples and natural wonders make them worth visiting. Through the trip I hoped to better understand the cities and villages, farms and fac…