My day started at 3:30. I wanted to be at the Merapi Mountain for the sunrise. Just 3 km shy of my destination I realized that I forgot some rather important things in the safe back at the hotel I had just checked out of…which was then 45 minutes away. Man that sucked. With that, my sunrise shot was gone, although I wasn’t missing much as it was overcast again, but it still sucked. After retrieving my stuff and stopping for breakfast we headed to Borobudur. I’ve now taken a room at the only hotel on temple grounds so that I don’t miss the sunrise tomorrow.
With a lot of time on my hands I borrowed one of the hotel bikes and road into and around town but before I even left the premises I ran into this: (an aerobics class… outside)
I knew my day was looking up! So off i went; I came to discover that if you veer off of the main road just a bit, the land opens into fields of rice. Everywhere I went people would look at me with a curious gaze but if I nodded or smiled they would gesture back with the biggest welcoming smile you have ever seen. As I rode past a group of women working the fields they yelled and waived at me; I took it as an invitation so I sat and watched them for a while. Here’s a clip of them working.
You can see a woman beckoning me for money. Every time she did this everyone would laugh. It was pretty clear that they were having a good time… courtesy of me, but that’s okay, I was taking their picture and I haven’t learned their language either! It was also amusing that every time I did something they would all watch and then comment. Like when I pulled out a tissue from my pocket and blew my nose they all laughed then one would say, “Flu?! Flu.” One woman gestured for me to come and join the fun. I was tempted but I didn’t want to push my luck with the possibility of parasites, leeches, etc.; I don’t think this is good time to test the Travel Gods, eh?
As I watched and photographed (nothing to brag about here), I start to burn under the sun and realized that it’s winter here! It also brought home the fact that cultivating rice is totally back breaking work it; and of these 8 women 5 were clearly over they age of 50. It’s amazing that we pay under $1 a pound for rice in the US. Before I rode off I left them all of the soaps and hotel shampoo’s i had. They were grateful. Not much further down that road I came a upon a group of children gathered around a dessert vendor the way children in the US gather around the ice cream truck. With that I decided to buy some for the women in the field. As I waited more and more children gathered. They were easily humored, especially when I took their picture and showed them on the digital camera. Then I decided to play a game called “What’s Your Name?”, here it is:
When I returned to the field, the women were leaving for lunch. They waived and smiled at me; I gestured at my bag of goodies. When they approached I handed each a bag; these were bags of dessert soup (beans, palm sugar, tapioca, coconut milk – a local favorite). This dessert is rather common throughout SE Asia, and EVERYONE loves the stuff (myself included) so I knew I had struck gold when I ran into this vendor and it was clear from the women’s reaction that I had! The one who gave me the hardest time about money, was also most pleased. She laughed out loud!
There were no spectacular sites or photos but I think the day turned out quite nice!