A Day By the Pool
It is hot in Indonesia – 30 degrees Celsius and up (for us silly Americans who never switched systems, that’s 86 degrees and up). Several of my guidebooks said things along the lines of “the sun is stronger in Indonesia.” And, I think this is true. So I can understand why the sultan wanted to build himself, as Lonely Planet says, a “splendid pleasure park.”
Known as the Taman Sari, in Dutch the waterkasteel, and in English the water castle, a Portugese architect constructed these grounds for the sultan in the 1700s and they are not very far from the kraton. Navigating this area is a bit difficult, so I decided to pay a man who started speaking in English to me a bit to give me a tour and explain some of the history since there are no guides here. Be warned, these types of street guides will then try and take you into batik stores and try and make you buy something, just smile and decline.
Much of these grounds are now in ruins after a war and an earthquake. You get a glimpse of everyday life as you walk to the restored pool area.
I am a huge fan of people who venture around town to take wedding photos. This is a very popular thing to do in Ukraine. I only saw one couple in France during my semester there.
The pool below, according to my guide, was for the sultan’s harem. The women would get to relax here and the sultan could look down from the tower because his own pool is on the other side.
This pool is for the children:
And this is the sultan’s pool:
The restored areas are beautiful:
So how did I get to the water castle from the kraton? Well I decided to take a becak. Although becaks have been banned in Jakarta, because of traffic and because people have argued that they are inhuman means of transport, they are going strong in Yogyakarta and many people hop in for a ride. The men that drive these are thin and really don’t look like they would be able to peddle people about, but they do. I figured if local people use this means of transport then why not, you are paying.
I snapped this photo out of the blue window of a cab. My driver kept apologizing that he didn’t speak English and I kept telling him I was sorry that I don’t speak much bahasa Indonesia yet (key word, yet, I am studying after this post). Then he put in cassette of American music for me.