Saturday morning we woke up super-early to fly to Jogjakarta, the center of traditional Javanese culture in central Java. As soon as we arrived at the airport we knew this was a special place.
After an afternoon of napping, we went to the Ramayana Ballet at the Hindu Prambanan temple. It was magical to watch the epic story of the Ramayana acted out in dance, with the backdrop of beautiful Prambanan and the full moon behind, and all accompanied by gamelan orchestra. We even got to take photos with the dancers after the performance.
Yesterday morning we set off early to beat the crowds and the heat to Borobudur, a massive Buddhist temple elaborately carved with images of earthly life on the way to enlightenment. The top level of Borobudur is covered with stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. If you can reach in and touch Buddha's hand, the saying is that your wish will come true.
We were both tourists and objects of attention at Borobudur, as many Javanese families and students wanted to have their photos taken with us! We were also interviewed by young students taking an English class, and it was fun to interact with them.
Lest you think that we had only fun and games yesterday, we did go to the beautiful new hall at Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI) to practice. The hall has only been open four months, has a great acoustic, and we are honored to be some of the first people performing there. Our hosts at ISI are gracious and are taking good care of us here, making sure we see the sights and eat lots of delicious Javanese food.
We have even more beautiful photos than we have space to post here, so when we return to the U.S. we hope to post additional photos from our journeys.