Yogyakarta Indonesia

Despite the official spelling, the name is usually pronounced and not uncommonly written — JOGJAKARTA or just JOGJA (JOGH – JAH).  YOGYAKARTA, also JOGTA or JOGJAKARTA is a city and a capital Yogyakarta Special Region in Java, Indonesia.  The city is named after the Indian city of AYODHYA from the Ramayana Epic.  YOGYA means “suitable, fit, proper” and KARTA means “prosperous, flourishing” (i.e. “a city that is fit to prosper” ).  The Dutch name of the city is DJOHJAKARTA.

Yogyakarta Indonesia

The area of the city of Yogyakarta is 32.5sq.km.  While the city spreads in all directions from the KRATON (the Sultan’s Palace), the core of the modern city is to the north, centred around Dutch colonial-era buildings and the commercial district, JALAN MALIOBORO, with rows of pavement vendors and nearby markets and malls, is the primary shopping street for tourists in the city, while JALAN SOLO, further north, is a shopping district more frequented by locals.  At the southern end of Malioboro, on the east side is a large local market of BERINGHARJO, not far from Fort VREDEBURG, a restored Dutch Fort.

Yogyakarta temples

At Yogyakarta’s centre is the Kraton and surrounding it is a densely populated residential neighbourhood that occupies land that was formerly the Sultan’s sole domain.  Evidence of this former use remains in the form of old walls and the ruined TAMAN SARI, built in 1758 as a pleasure garden.  No longer used by the Sultan, the garden has been largely abandoned.  For a time, it was used for housing by the Palace employees and descendants.  Reconstruction efforts began in 2004 and an effort to renew the neighbourhood around the Kraton has begun.  The site is a developing tourist attraction.

Yogyakarta malioboro

Nearby to the city of Yogyakarta is Mount MERAPI.  The northern outskirts of the city run up to the southern slopes of the mountain in Sleman Regency (Indonesian language : KABUPATEN ).  GUNUNG MERAPI (literally “mountain of fire” in Indonesian / Javanese ) is an active strato-volcano located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548.  The south of Merapi is KALIURANG Park.

Mount Merapi

Because of its proximity to the BOROBUDUR and PRAMBANAN Temples, and because of the Javanese Court Kraton, Yogyakarta has become an important tourist destination in Indonesia.

Yogyakarta Indonesia

Nine rock sites have been declared as Geo-heritage Sites : (1) ECOCENE LIMESTONE at Gamping in Sleman.  (2) PILLOW LAVA at Berbah in Sleman.  (3) Prehistoric volcanic sediment at CANDI IJO in Sleman.  (4) PRAMBANAN in Sleman.  (5) Sand Dunes at PARANGTRITIS in Bantul (6) KISKENDO Cave and a former manganese mining site at KLERIPAN   in Kulon Progo.  (7) NGLANGGERANG prehistoric volcano in Gunung Kidul (8) WEDIOMBO – SIUNG Beach (9) A bioturbation site at KALINGALANG near Wonosari.

Some of the cultural aspects of Yogyakarta are :
Yogyakarta Indonesia(1) Batik fabric production.  The most famous Batik marketplace is BERINGHARJO Market.  Yogyakarta Silver market(2) Silverwork, fine filigree jewellery and the production centre is in KOTAGEDE.
(3) Traditional Javanese dance performance, especially Ramayana WAYANG WONG dance performed in Prambanan and Purowisata.

WAYANG WONG dance Indonesia

(4) WAYANG KULIT, a traditional Javanese leather puppetry used for shadow plays.

(5) Contemporary puppetry and theatre, for example the Papermoon Puppet Theatre.

WAYANG KULIT puppet show

(6) GAMELAN Music, including the local Gamelan Yogyakarta which was developed in the courts.

(7) Annual traditional Javanese festivals such as SEKATEN or GEREBEG MULUD.
(8) Visual artists including the TARING PADI Community In Bantul.

Traditional Indonesian festival

To the east of the town, is the large Air Force Museum ( MUSEUM PUSAT DIRGANTARA MANDALA ) with 36 aircrafts in the building and 6 aircrafts displayed outdoors.  As Indonesia was for a period in the Soviet sphere of influence, this Museum contains a number of vintage Russian aircraft not widely available for inspection in the NATO sphere of influence.  There is also an assortment of Japanese, American and British aircraft.  There is also another museum —— Jogja National Museum.


Samosir Island

Samosir Island

SAMOSIR ISLAND is a large volcanic island in Lake Toba, located in the north of the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia.  Administratively, SAMOSIR ISLAND is governed within SAMOSIR REGENCY.

The lake island was formed after the eruption of a super volcano some 75,000 years ago.  The Island was originally connected to the surrounding CALDERA wall by a small isthmus, which was cut through to aid navigation.

Samosir Island

At 640sq.km, SAMOSIR is the largest island within an island, and the fifth largest LAKE ISLAND in the world.  It also contains two smaller lakes— Lake SIDIHONI & Lake AEK NATONANG.  Across the lake, on the east of the island, lies ULUAN Peninsula.  The island is linked to the mainland of Sumatra on its western part by a narrow isthmus, connecting the town of PANGURURAN on SAMOSIR & TELE on mainland Sumatra.  TELE consequently offers one of the best views  of Lake TOBA & SAMOSIR Island.

Samosir Island

SAMOSIR is a popular tourist destination, due to its exotic history and the vistas it offers.  The tourist resorts are concentrated in the TUKTUK area.  The Island is the centre of the BATAK CULTURE, and many of the TOBA BATAK traditional houses (RUMAH ADAT) remain on the Island.  Most of the tourist accommodations are concentrated in the small town of TUKTUK, which is located a one-hour ferry ride across the lake from the town of PARAPAT.  The passenger ferry leaves from TIGA RAJA harbour every hour, between 8.30 & 19.00.  For those who run late, there is an option to take the passenger boat from AJI BATA to TOMOK until 8.30p.m.

Samosir Island

As you step down from the ferry at TOMOK, you will be greeted by a row of souvenir stalls selling an array of BATAK handicraft, from the traditional hand-woven ULOS cloths to BATAK bamboo calendars and all kinds of knick-knacks.

TOMOK itself is a traditional village, best known as the GATEWAY & INTRODUCTION TO SAMOSIR.

Borobudur Temple


BOROBUDUR or BARABUDUR is a 9th century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Central Java, Indonesia.  In Indonesia, ancient temples are referred to as CANDI, thus the locals refer to BOROBUDUR Temple as CANDI BOROBUDUR.  The term CANDI also loosely describes structures, for example baths and gates.  The origins of the name BOROBUDUR, however, are unclear, although the origin names of most ancient Indonesian Temples are no longer known.  The name BOROBUDUR was first written in Sir Thomas Raffles’ book on Javanese History.


Most CANDI are named after a nearby village.  If it followed Javanese language conventions and was named after the nearby village of Bore, the monument should have been named BUDURBORO.  Raffles thought that BUDUR might correspond to the modern Javanese word  BUDA (ancient) —- i.e. “Ancient BORO”..  He also suggested that the name might derive from BORO meaning “great” or “honourable” and BUDUR for Buddha.  However, another archaeologist suggests the second component of the name BUDUR comes from the Javanese term BHUDHARA (Mountains).

Built in the 9th century, the Temple was designed in Javanese Buddhist architecture, which blends the Indonesian indigenous culture of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana.  The Temple also demonstrates the influence of Gupta Art that reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make BOROBUDUR uniquely Indonesian.  The monument is both a shrine to Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrims.

Borobudur-temple (1)

The monument consists of 9 stacked platforms  —– 6 square and 3 circular ———– topped by a central dome.  The Temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.  The Central Dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.  It is the world’s largest Buddhist Temple.  The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument, and follows a path around the monument and ascends to the top three levels symbolic of Buddhist Cosmology : KAMADHATU (the world of desire), RUPADHATU (the world of form) and ARUPADHATU (the world of formlessness).  The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors.  BOROBUDUR has the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist relief in the world.

Borobudur temple sunset

Evidence suggest BOROBUDUR was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th century decline of Hindu Kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam.  Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians.  BOROBUDUR has since been preserved through several restorations.  The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian Government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


In 1974, 260,000 tourists, of whom 36,000 were foreigners, visited the monument.  The figure climbed to 2.5million visitors annually (80% were domestic tourists) in the mid-1990s, before the country’s economic crisis.  Tourism development, however, has been criticized for not including the local community, giving rise to occasional conflicts.  In 2003, residents and small businesses around BOROBUDUR organized several meetings and protests, objecting to a Provincial Government Plan to build a 3-storey mall complex, dubbed the JAVA WORLD.

International Tourism Awards were given to BOROBUDUR Archaeological Park, such as PATA Grand pacific Award —2004, PATA Gold Award Winner —–2011 and PATA Gold Award Winner —– 2012.  In June 2012, BOROBUDUR was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Buddhist Archaeological Site.

Borobudur Temple side

UNESCO identified 3 specific areas of concern under the present state of conservation : (a) Vandalism by visitors; (b) Soil erosion in the south-eastern part of the site and (c) Analysis and restoration of missing elements.  The soft soil, the heavy rains and numerous earthquakes lead to the destabilisation of the structure.  Earthquakes are, by far, the most important contributing factors, since not only do stones fall down and arches crumble, but the earth itself can move in “waves”, further destroying the structure.  The increasing popularity of the Temple brings in many visitors.  Despite warning signs, on all levels, not to touch anything, the regular transmission of warnings over loudspeakers and the presence of guards, vandalism on reliefs and statues are a common occurrence, leading to further deterioration.  As of 2009, there is no system in place to limit the number of visitors allowed per day or to introduce mandatory guided tours.  In August 2014, the Conservation Authority of BOROBUDUR reported some severe abrasion of the stone stairs caused by the scraping of the footwear of visitors, and it planned to install wooden stairs to cover and protect the original stairs, just like those installed in ANGKOR WAT.

World’s stunning volcanoes

With fiery molten channels that stretch far below the surface, volcanoes connect us to the very core of the Earth.  Active or dormant —— they resonate with an energy and beauty beyond that of mere mountains.  Their violent origins also tend to create “stunning natural landscapes” that attract sightseers from around the world.


SANTORINI, Greece :  Best known for the stark white-painted buildings that cling to is multi-coloured cliffs, this Greek island is the remnant of a VOLCANIC CALDERA, formed around 1600BC, when one of the largest eruptions, in recorded history, wiped out most of the island, including some of the original settlements.. Today, Santorini attracts visitors who are eager to admire what’s left.  To feel how majestic it is, you have to sail inside (the CALDERA) and stand at a balcony on the edge of the cliffs at sunset.  In particular, visitors should seek out the “uninhabited” NEA KAMENI which lies within the flooded SANTORINI CALDERA.  The Caldera is itself a kind of ugly black-brown blob in the centre of a picturesque, truly gorgeous caldera.

Mount Mayon

MOUNT MAYON’S steep cone is built from many layers of lava flows.  The “perfect hyperbolic shape underlines (its) threatening posture.  The ash and lave flows are just the “cherry on the top”.


MOUNT KILIMANJARO & NGORON CRATER, Tanzania :  MOUNT KILIMANJARO, at its dizzying height of 5,895m, is Africa’s tallest mountain, an also the Continent’s tallest volcano.  It is unique in the fact that it has 3 “volcanic cones”


MAMENZI & SHIRA (both extinct) and the highest one KIBO which is still active and lets off occasional steam and gases.  NGORON CRATER, the world’s largest crater used to be a towering peak (4,500-4,800m tall) until it collapsed on itself. Today it is 22.5km in diameter and 610m deep —— a unique environment for local wildlife.  Waterfalls coming down the caldera irrigate green pastures and fill a lake, at the bottom, full of flamingos and a huge fauna on its shores : lion, hippos, buffalos, zebra, gnus and rhinos.

Mount Kelimutu

MOUNT KELIMUTU, Indonesia :  It’s 3 “mysterious crater lakes” attract both scientists and visitors to the island of FLORES in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province.  One lake is “emerald green”, another “dark red” and the third “pitch black.”  Scientists say the colours come from the chemical reaction that occurs when the “volcanic gases” meet the “lake’s minerals.”  The eeriness, surrounding the lakes, which according to lore is a “reservoir of souls” remains, despite the scientific explanation of the colours.

Mount Kilauea

KILAUEA & MAUNA KEA, Hawaii :  The youngest volcano, in Hawaii —— KILAUEA, has been erupting continuously since 1983, so much so that the lave falls straight into the sea, creating fantastic forms of lack rocks and insane smoke clouds.  At the other end of the spectrum, MAUNA KEA, is around 1 million years old.  It sits dormant, still impressing with its sheer size rising 4,205m from the sea.  It is both incredibly beautiful and home to secret treasures, including a “sacred frozen lake” near the summit, accessible only by a 6-mile, 10-hour round trip.  You can find snow in the winter and almost zero crowds.


MOUNT FUJI, Japan :  Perhaps the world’s most famous symmetrical strato-volcano is Japan’s MOUNT FUJI, which has served as a muse for many artistic creations through the centuries.  It is the “national symbol” of Japan —–snow-capped, looming in the distance, cherry blossoms in the forefront.  Not only is the mountain itself beautiful and mysterious, but the AOKIGAHARA forest on the north-west base of the mountain also inspires the imagination, as many local folk tales describe the demons and goblins that haunt within..  At least, the mountain itself remains a safe haven ——- the low-risk active volcano hasn’t erupted since 1707.  Its symmetrical cone serves as a dramatic backdrop to Tokyo.

Komodo dragon

Komodo Dragon  is also known as the Komodo Monitor.  To the natives o Komodo Island, it is referred as Ora, Buaya Darat (land crocodile)or Biawak Raksasa (giant monitor).
In the wild, an adult Komodo Dragon usually weighs around 70 kilograms, although captive specimens weigh more .  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, an average adult male will weigh 79-91 kilograms and measure 8.5ft, while an average female will weigh 68-73 kilograms and measure 7.5ft.  The Komodo Dragon has a tail as long as its body, as well as about 60 frequently- replaced, serrated teeth that can measure up to 1 inch in length.  Its saliva is frequently blood-tinged, because its teeth are almost completely covered by GINGIVAL TISSUE that is naturally lacerated during feeding.  This creates an ideal culture for the bacteria that live in its mouth.  It has a long, yellow, deeply-forked tongue.  Komodo Dragon skin is reinforced by armoured scales, which contain tiny bones called OSTEODERMS that function as a sort of natural chain-mail.  This rugged hide makes Komodo Dragon skin poorly suited for making into leather. 
Komodo Dragons have only a single ear-bone, the STAPES, for transferring vibrations from the tympanic membrane to the cochlea.  This arrangement means they are restricted to sounds in the 400-2,000 hertz, compared to humans who hear between 20 and 20,000 hertz.  The Komodo Dragon can see objects as far away as 300 metres, but because its retinas only contain ‘cones’, it is thought to have poor night-vision.  The Komodo Dragon is able to see in colour, but has poor visual discrimination of stationary objects.
It uses its tongue to detect, taste and smell stimuli, as with many other reptiles.  With the help of a favourable wind and its habit of ‘swinging’ its head from side to side as it walks, a Komodo Dragon may be able to detect carrion from 4-9.5 kilometres away.  It only has a few taste buds, in the back of its throat.  Its scales, some of which are reinforced with bones, have sensory PLAQUES  connected to nerves to facilitate its sense of touch.  The scales around the ear, lips, chin and soles of the feet may have 3 or more ‘sensory plaques.’  
The Komodo Dragon prefers hot and dry places, and typically lives in dry, open grassland, savannah and tropical forest at low elevations.  It is most active in the day, although it exhibits some nocturnal activity.  Komodo Dragon are solitary, coming together only to bred and eat.  They are capable of running rapidly in brief sprints up to 20 km/h, and climbing trees proficiently, when young, through use of their strong claws.  To catch out-of-reach prey, the Komodo Dragon may stand on its hind legs and use its tail as a support.  As it matures, its claws are used primarily as ‘weapons’, as is size makes climbing impractical.
For shelter, the Komodo dragon digs holes that can measure from 3-10ft wide with its powerful forelimbs and claws.  Because of its large size and habit of sleeping in these burrows, it is able to conserve heat throughout the night and minimize its basking period, the morning after.  It hunts in the afternoon, but stays in the shade during the hottest part of the day.  
They are carnivores.  Although they eat mostly carrion, they will also ambush live prey with a stealthy approach, and then suddenly charge at the animal and go for the underside or the throat.  They have been observed knocking down large pigs and deer with their strong tails.  It eats by tearing large chunks of flesh and swallowing them whole.  Copious amounts of RED SALIVA, the Komodo Dragon produces, helps to lubricate the food, but swallowing is still a long process (15-20 minutes to swallow a goat)  After eating 80% of its body weight in one meal, it drags itself to a sunny location to speed digestion, as the food could rot and poison the dragon, if left undigested.  Because of their slow metabolism, large dragons can survive on as little as 12 meals a year.  It drinks water by sucking water into its mouth via BUCCAL PUMPING, lifting its head and letting the water run down its throat.  The Komodo dragon possesses a ‘venomous bite’.  
Komodo Dragons were first documented by Europeans in 1910.  It is a vulnerable species and is on the IUCN Red List.  There are about approximately 4,000-5,000 living Komodo Dragons in the wild.  Their populations are restricted to the islands of Gili Motang (100), Gili Dasam (100), Rinca (1,300), Komodo(1,700) and Flores (perhaps 2,000).  However, there are concerns that there may presently be only 350 breeding females.  To address this concern, the Komodo National Park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo Dragon population on islands including Komodo and Rinca.  They avoid encounters with humans.  If cornered, they will react aggressively by opening their mouth, hissing and swinging their tail.  
The Komodo Dragons have long been great zoo attractions.  They are, however, rare in zoos, because they are susceptible to infection and parasitic disease, if captured from the wild, and do not readily reproduce.  As of May 2009, there were 13 European, 2 African, 35 North American, 15 Singaporean and 2 Australian institutions that kept the Komodo Dragon.


Panyembrama is a secular Balinese dance form designed by I Wayan Beratha, and first performed in 1971.  Traditional Balinese dances are sacral in nature and thus unsuited for secular performances.  That these dances were used for welcoming non-Balinese, and in non-sacral contexts, was a point of controversy in the late 1960s.  A secular dance was needed, one which could be used outside of the temple, particularly for tourists and thus maintain the sacredness of the original dances.
PANYEMBRAMA was one of the several dance forms, which rose from this situation, and was intended for non-Balinese (particularly Westerners) audience.  I Wayen Beratha, a choreographer with the Kariwitan Conservatory (Indonesian : Konservatori Karawitan who was well-versed in traditional Balinese dance, was tasked by his organisation to create a new secular dance.  He combined the most beautiful moves of traditional dances such as LEGONG, CONDONG and PENDET, in order to create what would become PANYEMBRAMA.  This basis in traditional has also led to PANYEMBRAMA being classified as a form of classical dance by art critic A. M. Hermin Kusmayati.
Panyembaram was first performed in 1971, at the Pandan Festival.  This dance form has been taught at Balinese dance schools and been used at temples in religious ceremonies, as a sort of welcoming dance for the Gods.  The name PANYEMBRAMA comes from the Balinese word ‘sambrama’ meaning ‘welcome.’  In lengthy events, the dance is usually performed first, particularly, before a secularised LEGONG DANCE.
The dancers — always young women — come on stage carrying a metal (usually silver or aluminium) dish with incense and flowers in it.  These dancers, numbering 2 or more, wear layered clothing, decorated with a golden pattern called PRADA.  Around their bodies they wear a KAMBEN (sarong) as well as a tightly wrapped cloth which covers from the chest to the waist.  On their heads they wear golden head-dresses and frangipani flowers.
To open the PANYEMBRAMA dance, the performers kneel, as if praying.  They make welcoming movements to the guests, accompanied by GAMELAN.  Their movements are slow, accentuating the curves of the dancers’ bodies.  At the end of the performance, the dancers move  in circles, throwing flowers  at each other and the audience, with the scents being carried in the air.  Unlike some other Balinese dances, PANYEMBRAMA is not intended to convey a story.

Paper cutting

PAPER CUTTING is the art of cutting paper designs.  The art is evolved uniquely all over the world, to adapt to different cultural styles.
KIRI-E, is the Japanese art of paper cutting, while KIRIGAMI, also called MONKIRI, involves cutting and folding paper. See https://speakzeasy.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/kirie/
CHINESE : — JIANZHI, is a traditional style of paper cutting in China.  It has been practised since at least the 6th century A.D.  JIANZHI has a number of distinct uses in Chinese culture, almost all of which are for health, prosperity and decorative purposes.  RED is the most commonly used colour.  JIANZHI cuttings often have a heavy emphasis on Chinese characters symbolizing the Chinese Zodiac Animals.  Although paper cutting is popular around the globe, the Chinese Paper Cut was listed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, which was in 2009.  The Chinese paper-cutting was recognized and listed, because it has a history of more than 1500yrs, and it represents cultural values of the people throughout China. 
INDIAN : —- SANJHI, is the Indian art of paper cutting.  the cut paper is usually placed on the floor and colours are filled in to make RANGOLI.
INDONESIAN : —— Indonesian traditional art is influenced by Chinese, in some parts of Indonesia.  BATIK, a traditional art and paper cutting can be combined perfectly; the intricate details, which is BATIK uniqueness, is the most beautiful part in Indonesian paper cutting.
A "parol" is a traditional Filipino Christmas lantern.
FILIPINO : ——- Several Philippine crafts employ paper cutting.  During Filipino Christmas, the PAROL (a traditional star-shaped lantern) is embellished with coloured paper, cut into various forms such as floral designs on the faces and “tails” on the points of the star.  Paper cutting is also involved in the creation of BANDERITAS (bunting), that feature prominently in ‘fiesta’ décor; these may be elaborate or plain-cut paper squares and triangles strung over streets.
JEWISH : —– Paper cutting has been a common Jewish art since the Middle Ages, connected with various customs and ceremonies and associate with holidays and family life.
MEXICAN : —- PAPEL PICADO is the Mexican art of paper cutting.  Tissue paper is cut into intricate designs with scissors or small, sharp chisels; this technique is frequently used to produce decorative banners.
SWEDISH : —- Christmas is when flowers of cut and manipulated paper, fringed candy holders and LJUSKRONA which are covered with cut paper, are found in Swedish homes.
SILHOUETTE can refer to the art of cutting outlines or portraits out of black paper.  Modern-day paper cutters, typically follow one or more of the ‘traditional’ styles mentioned above.  Contemporary paper cutting is also sometimes associated with the art of STENCILING, itself being derived from the techniques used in GRAFFITI ART.  The use of hand-cut stencils in Graffiti Art, has received international attention, in recent years.