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YOGYAKARTA - Pager set at seven, being paged at 6:18 and 6:49, being picked up at 7:30. Itís not an easy life when you are on holiday, as you may have read before. But having the ultimate first and last chance to celebrate Indonesiaís 58th Independence Day in Indonesia, is a chance that I would definately not want to pass. Since a few days Iím able to drive the bebek (motorbike for two persons) myself, so I donít need to rent one, as I only did one time before in my life. No, itís much more fun doing it all yourself, though it was late again last night, watching some women having a nice game of billiards.
I was picked up by my former driver Cabe, which has been transferred to the bebek-seat of the motorbike, since I can and want to drive all my myself, Iím very sorry Cabe, you will get our chance for sure, to show what you can but I so like this right now, that I just need to drive every possible stretch. But anyway, I let Cabe drive in the early morning, because I still had to wake up really, after the hoisting ceremony at the Jogja town office at the end of the informal Jalan Malioboro, Jalan Ahmad Yani, near the Kraton as well.
The ceremony would start at about 9:30, giving us plenty of time to make a ride through town. The malls and shops that normally open up around these early hours, were left closed for the morning, because today is an official Indonesian holiday (Hari Raya), but on the other hand itís a very good day to make some nice money in a tourist city like Jogja. Early in the morning planes and buses with tourists arrived from all places in Indonesia, and some places abroad as well. Furthermore it felt remarkably cool, at this early time in the morning, but well, itís already cool at midnight, and I didnít expect it to warm up during the night already.

The ceremony at the central building caused Jalan Malioboro to be sealed off for traffic around 9:45. Many police and army units were on the location to hold guard, and to arrange the traffic as well. I would estimate around 1,000 people (mostly locals) showed up to see the entire ceremony including the hoisting of the flag at 10:20. Before that all parts of the Indonesian army were showed in a small parade-like walk. With this also came a few other important groups. When they were settled, several songs were performed in which those killed are remembered.
At exactly 10:00 the only air-raid siren which is left active in this area of Jogja, was brought alive, together with the sirens of several police and army-vehicles. The crowd of spectators in front of the building fell silent, not mentioning a few loud motorbikes passing by, or a kid screaming for something to drink. The flag was presented to Sultan Hamengkubuwono X (the current Sultan of Jogja), and eventually was brought to the flagpole by some members of the military. At 10:15 Indonesia Raya (the Indonesian anthem) was played, and the flag was hoisted during the entire length of the anthem. Then it was finished. People left, and we were about to leave for the smaller villages around Jogja.

I was driving through the mountains, together with my driving instructor Cabe. Every once in a while we stopped to make a picture, as we were heading to Imogiri, because I would like to bring a visit to the royal graves there. The road was closed, and walking would be more than one kilometer, according to Cabe. Okay, the royal graves were skipped for this time, some other day would be better, as we were both not in favour of walking.
We tended to move towards Imogiri, though we never reached that village, because we were looking for a nice desa to spend our afternoon in. Probably that would mean the desa with the most noise coming from one specific location, which we would choose. Nothing was sure yet, maybe there was some kind of ceremony somewhere, who will tell? It was my first time Independence Day in Indonesia, as I have told before.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of Imogiri we saw a bunch of people on a field near the desa, and decided to pull over out motorbike and have a look around at the place. The merah-putih (the Indonesian flag) was widely available on this place, as well as almost every other street I have seen today, even the most remote houses of the desas do have an Indonesian flag, quite a difference compared to how many people have a Dutch flag back in the Netherlands, quite a shame actually, if I may put it in that way.

Almost all children in the desa welcomed me with a handshake, as a sign of their acceptance. The elderly smiled and watched at me, while I was shaking the hands of the little ones. Most people had seen me arriving on the motorbike, which also causes smiles in general, because itís not very common outside Bali (*. Still, I drive over the roads with pleasure, during daylight, as well as in the middle of the night or early in the evening. It doesnít matter, as long as you are just carefull enough.
I interacted with the people with my few words of spoken Bahasa Indonesia and my ever improving knowlegde of understanding and hearing the Indonesian language. I noticed that has improved a lot over the last ten days. Maybe itís a reminder of the last four years in Indonesia, and I only got to use it at this moment, because this was my first time alone to Indonesia without any pre-arranged place to sleep, accept the first nights.
I didnít play along with the games, as they were eating bubur. (rice porridge, see Yogya and the small invasion for the explanation), hitting water bags with sticks of banana-leave and playing soccer in womans dress. Thatís nothing for me, as Iím far to shy for that, believe it or not, but I was delighted to be a part of it for about three hours. As is became more hot during those hours, I tended to look for a shade more often, but still I managed to get a little sunburned, unless my early-morning protection with sun-lotion. I didnít bring that along of course, smart as I was.
After those ours on my bike and in the desa, in which I made about 60 pictures, it was time to head back for Jogja, only Cabe wanted to see the sunset from Gunung Slamet. We went there by using several smaller routes instead of the main road. That was a much better idea, because it was more quiet, and more interesting for me. It was more safe by motorbike as well, on the other hand there were some pretty steep parts in the road, in which I had to switch gears very fast, which sometimes was a problem to me, nothing strange, as I tend to do the same when Iím driving a car back home.
The sunset didnít really work out, because the clouds in the valley didnít want to go away on time. Half an hour before the sunset, we decided to head home afer all, but not over the small roads again, but the main route to Jogja, the very crowded one. Luckily the road is straight and wide, giving me an opportunity to test my speeding skills once more. I also learned some Indonesian driving skills which I practiced on the way to, and in Jogja. Things that I should forget about soon when Iím back in The Netherlands again.

Revisions and additions

On 6 September 2003 I edited the story on certain small points to make it more understandable for the visitors. The first version was written during my holiday, in a warnet in Jogja. This version should be better though.

(* Later on during my stay on Lombok, I discovered quite a few tourists driving around on motorbikes in the proximity of the Senggigi area as well. This was somewhat of a surprise to me, but on the other hand it was the only area. Just outside the area the higher mountains appear, or on the other side, Kota Mataram, with itís dangerous traffic, can be found. Not the best places for a safe drive around. This can better be done by locals, as I let these chances pass to Cabe as well. Later on I managed to drive through the mountains by myself as well, as it were a little bit too precarious at certain moments. ( Noticeable by the horns of the passing trucks, buses and cars).

Posted in Travel @ 17 August 2003 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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