Photo Essay: Central Java (by Erika Barker)

Erika Barker sent in these photos and accompanying captions from her time in Central Java, Indonesia, this past May as part of Professor Gareth Barkin’s course on Southeast Asia (Asia 399). Her previous post describing her experience can be read here. Thanks for taking all the great shots, Erika, we appreciate it!

“Aside from tempeh (an Indonesian staple), one of the best things I ate while in Indonesia was young coconut. I’d never even heard of “young coconut” until this trip. The juice tastes pretty different from old coconut — more tangy than sweet, and fresher — and the coconut meat on the inside is, for lack of a better word, slimey. But in yummy way!”

“This is the entrance to the radio station of Atma Jaya University, where the Indonesian students we spent time with attend college. As I’ve been a DJ at KUPS, the University of Puget Sound campus station, for the past couple of years I was interested in the facilities at Atma Jaya Radio. They have some really cool stuff, like a studio for creating and editing video. Atma Jaya Radio is an example of one of the ways in which UPS is much more similar to Atma Jaya University than I thought it would be.”

“Right now it’s pretty hip to ride one’s bicycle to school and work in the States, and especially in the Northwest. In Jogja, motorbikes are the hip thing. People are zooming around on them literally everywhere (even through our hotel’s open-air hangout area) and at all hours of the night and day. This is a line of students’ motorbikes in the parking lot at Atma Jaya University.”

“We found this monkey in a pet market in Jogjakarta. Seeing so many animals, especially ones that we tend to think of in American culture as intelligent and almost human-like, was uncomfortable and upsetting for many of us on the trip. At the same time, everything that I came to think of as positive or negative in Jogja was interesting to me; it’s all part of getting to know the culture.”

“The group went on a bike ride through the more rural areas on the outskirts of Jogja one day. We got to visit a number of workshops where Indonesian artists are hand-making pottery or beautiful shadow puppets like the one in this photo. Professor Barkin pointed out that, as these are shadow puppets that remain behind a screen during performances, there’s no reason for them to be so intricately painted except to make them more desirable as souvenirs for tourists. This is an example of the way Indonesia is adapting earlier traditions to meet the demands of a growing tourism and export-oriented market.”

“Rice growing in a quintessential Southeast Asian rice field on the outskirts of Jogja. Indonesia is one of the world’s foremost rice producers, though they still have to import millions of tons many years. Some of their more premium rice crops are nevertheless exported, and it kind of blew my mind that I might’ve been looking at rice that could fly thousands of miles around the world to end up on U.S. dinner plates.”

“This is Willy, one of the students we got to hang out with in Jogja. He was about to take a photo of me just as I was about to take a photo of him. Here Willy is sitting in the same rice field from the previous photo.”

“A behind-the-scenes look at the upkeep of the World Heritage Site, Borobudur, a ninth century Buddhist temple. A cleaning person is spraying the temple to clean it off. Places like Borobudur seem to be so totally from another time period that it feels odd to witness them being cleaned and taken care of with modern tools. Borobudur is something from the past and the present, though, as evidenced by the signs around the temple reminding visitors not to litter and the huge floodlights that surround it.”

“This is Sinta, another one of the Atma Jaya University students we spent time with. She asked me to take this photo of her sitting at the top of Borobudur where she wasn’t supposed to be sitting.”

“On the bike ride through the outer edges of Jogja, we visited a pottery workshop. Behind the open-air workspace there was a room with a TV and couch inside. In the doorway was this pile of kids’ shoes. This image illustrates to me some similarities and differences between my society and the one in which some Indonesians live. For one, the Crocs suggest that brand recognition is a part of life for some Indonesians now, just as it is for many Americans.”

“This temple is part of the complex at Prambanan. Surrounding the main structure were piles upon piles of ancient stones that must once have been part of a similar building. One of my favorite things about visiting places like this is that it made me realize how little we learn in (most) U.S. schools about the extraordinary history of the people of regions like Southeast Asia. Currently, Indonesian authorities seem gradually to be restoring World Heritage sites in their country like Prambanan and Borobudur.”

“I met this group of girls at the Hindu temple Prambanan, built about the ninth century. When they saw me they immediately whipped out their cell phones and started giggling and snapping photos of me. I thought it was fair for me to take their photo in return, and they didn’t seem to mind.”

“The rooftops of Jogjakarta, Indonesia with Mt. Merapi in the distance. What I like most about this image is that satellite dishes, billboards, and a set of speakers for broadcasting the call-to-prayer throughout the area are discernable. These things are all representative of the way in which the lives of people in Southeast Asian cities like Jogjakarta are being altered by globalization and their countries’ growing economies.”


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