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Full Circle

Day 117: Yogyakarta

Michael Palin - Full CircleHaving changed out of our Y-fronts, we pass through into an eclectic mix of buildings ranging from Hindu-Javanese temples, Islamic mosques, classical-columned pavilions to a wrought iron and stained glass French bandstand. Elderly retainers in long batik sarongs brush the gravel in the courtyards and sweep the dusty tourist footprints off the tiles. There is a slightly seedy air to the huge place typified by the condition of the Golden Pavilion. This glorious concoction of gold leaf, marble floor and teak pillars supporting a magnificent tiered roof is said to represent Mount Meru, the centre of the universe. Yet at the very centre of the pavilion and, by extension, the very centre of the universe, is a growing pile of droppings from the birds' nests in the roof.

Another disappointment is that the recitals of gamelan - the best known and most admired of Java's traditional music - have been temporarily suspended. A large blackboard explains, crisply: 'During Ramadan, there'll be no dance, no music'.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 117
  • Country/sea: Indonesia
  • Place: Yogyakarta
  • Book page no: 170

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