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April 28, 2004

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Indonesia comprises island thousands, yet Java dominates them all. Most of the population crowds into this one, an island that's half the size of England with twice the people. The first city we visit is Jogyakarta. Nashville is to American country music as Jogyakarta is to Indonesian culture. By this analogy, Prince Mangkubumi is Elvis. The Prince made Jogyakarta famous when he built his kraton, a walled palace (Graceland in the ongoing analogy), and turned the city into the most powerful city state during the 18th century. Whereas Elvis was known as 'The King," Prince Mangkubumi adopted the title of Sultan Hamengkubuwono.

This friendly man told us the Sultan's palace was closed today. He directed us to a batik museum. Batik is a cloth of fancy designs made by coating parts with wax, then dyeing it, melting out the wax, and repeating the procedure until the design is complete. The batik museum turned out to be a shop. And the Sultan's palace is open every day.
Traditional music in Jogyakara is nothing like American country music. Bongs supplant banjos, celempungs instead of violas. Our favorite instrument looks like a group of pots; it's called the bonang.
Jogyakarta could use more parking, but converting old mosques into parking garages is out of the question.
The bird market, all types for sale: orioles, parakeets, roosters, turtle doves, budgerigars, and especially trained pigeons. It's a squawking time.