1st Jun 2012
Kraton and the Sultan
I think it is pretty cool that there is still a royal family living in Jogjakarta, and that it still wields influence over traditional society. There is an area of Jogjakarta that is known as Kraton, and it is where the palace and other royal residences are, among other tourist attractions.
This being a trip toured by my love, as opposed to the trusty Lonely Planet, I was led to Kraton, but not to the tourist hot spots. Instead, we went to the Sultan's House, which is a fully functioning residential home that the public can enter and walk around in and then sit down for a meal at!
It was pretty cool to walk around and look at the all the finery on display. There were paintings on the walls, trinkets from various countries, dinner sets and china ware by the cabinet load, expensive pieces of furniture, an entire gamelan set, tonnes of family snapshots hung and framed and various souvenirs and other artefacts all on-show. As I have found to be the case, a lot of the stuff, while no doubt expensive, and probably family heirlooms, I didn't think all of it was all that attractive- in fact, a few of the tea sets were downright ugly!
But it was still quite amazing that the home was opened up for the public to walk around and admire, and it was possible to capture a snapshot into the lives of this sultan and his family. There was a lot of wealth that was obvious to see. There was also evidence of both Islam (from the huge prayer room), and Javanese traditions which evolve around superstitions with spirits and ghosts (obvious from the shrine with offerings and the giant cage out front which is a symbol of protection). This blend of religion and spirituality is an aspect of life in Java that was interesting to see in practice in a real home.
After our snoop around the royal residence, we stayed for a "Java beer", which was a tea steeped in lemongrass and ginger. The food looked fairly average Indonesian fare, not anywhere near as inspiring as the house itself. I couldn't imagine opening up my home in such a way as this sultan has chosen to, but I think it is great that he is so open and proud and willing to share with the world the way that he and his family lives.