Gunung Kidul: The Sacred Beach of Ngobaran

P1050968Bowing towards the sea from Ngobaran beach

She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing “yes” into the sky. ~ Monique Duval

Entering the last month of 2012, somehow made me reflect a lot. The above quote is a summary of about how I feel this year. Those quote somehow remind me of the feeling when I arrived in Ngobaran beach. I had my first trip to Ngobaran beach with Patrick and Pak Moko. We passed the hilly roads of Gunungkidul which had that certain melancholic view, crossing the teak forest and all. Ngobaran, the word come from both Javanese and Indonesian “Kobar”. “Kobar” means flame, “ngobaran” means in flame.

The place itself believed by the local as the place where the last Hindu king from Majapahit kingdom, Brawijaya V, immolated himself to death. Some believe he is “moksa” (vanish into enlightenment). The official story which I read in the morning of the government tourism sign, was a little odd myth. It is said that the last king had two wives, they were being chased by new ruler from Demak, which are no other than one of his son, Raden Patah. Before he immolate himself he asked the two wives a question “How much is your love to me?” His second wife, Dewi Lowati, said her love is as big as the mountain. While his first wife, Bondang Surati answer that her love is like a dirty nail, where when she cut it, it will always grow. Realizing that his second wife love is lesser than the first one, he pulled Dewi Lowati to burn with him into the fire.

Although there are many tales around about the death of Brawijaya V, I found this quite intriguing. Not to mention, the surrounding temple complex. A sacred pura (temple) with Balinese style undergoing a renovation. A new looking candi recently build by the Kraton. A sacred petilasan of Brawijaya V, with wooden huts on top of the highest cliff point towards the sea. A temple build exclusively to the South Sea Queen. Caves. A mosque facing the south and next to a lingga. The diversity of beliefs in this place make it one of the favorite sacred spot for many people coming here.

IMG00660-20120917-1718A new recently build candi

P1050955Temple complex and above the hill is the petilasan

P1050980The mosque and the lingga


Sea urchin stir fry, high protein!

Magnificent sunset from above the petilasan. Sleep under the stars by the candi. Hearing the waves all night long. Eating stir fry sea urchin of local specialty with rice and hot sambal. Entering a cave that rain from the inside. Those were the things you could do while in Ngobaran. Do things with respect because you could felt the sacred sense of this place no matter you believe the myth or not.

IMG00663-20120917-1726The magical sunset of Ngobaran

I really could stay up in Ngobaran once again, just to make it another sanctuary when I need to write my own language. Where the nature, spirit and self talked as one.

yogyakarta: how navicula impress a four year old boy

P1060062navicula performing at sangkring art space

navicula was in town last weekend. they had their show in sangkring art space on friday night and the next day a concert for solarizing borobudur event of greenpeace indonesia. it was great to see the whole crew and see them performing live. such a vibrant, amazing, positive energy throughout all their concerts. their great lyrics and important message for all of us. the music that move your body, heart and soul. and might as well shake the earth to dance as well.

the gig in sangkring was a full house. my son turn out to be a grunge fan. joining the gig crowd in the trusted shoulders of his uncles and enjoying the show. bhumy is somehow smitten for that particular night. becoming the youngest and biggest fan of navicula overnight. throwing questions and stories about harimau (tiger), orang utan and his name himself, bhumy (bumi, the earth). i’m currently seeing him singing the lyrics, head banging with his imaginative guitar while making this post. i hope it will grow his conscience to learn more about taking care our planet and i’m personally hoping that his generation can see still all the animals mention before.




bhumy and his first navicula gig | full performance on stage | bhumy seriously watching the concert on my shoulder | uncle rahung with bhumy | a satisfied navicilik after the concert

then again, before the concert started, navicula played their short preview of “mata harimau” done by @rahung in their last borneo tour. it is devastating to see how all our rainforest has gone and converted to palm oil plantation. click the video, to watch it yourself.

i seriously hope, we still can act and hope for a better planet.

maybe a small act, to change out daily consumption seems small. but i believe in doing the small things. navicula made their latest merchandise by making soap from coconut oil as a statement against palm oil. for a mother and a cook myself, changing my daily cooking oil to coconut oil is never a hard thing to do. the generations of women in my family had always used them and will always will be. the tradition of southeast asian diet to use coconut oil is going back through all out traditional roots and it is ALWAYS healthy. get your readings right, black campaign of american palm oil companies on coconut oil, is the biggest lie of the 20th century.

P1060199environmental friendly packaging

P1060200navicula coconut oil based soap comes in three flavours: arak madu, java mocha and kretek spice

my son called them “the orang utan soap”, happily use them to take his bath this morning before going to school. it is a great way to start the day. SAY NO to PALM OIL!

yogyakarta: kampung dolanan (the village of toys) – pandes

traditional toys from pandes village, sewon, bantul – yogyakarta

do you remember how to make your own toys? i was born in the 1980s, my father still teach me how to make a boat or a little rolling car out of grapefruit skin and bamboo toothpick. i was born in the age where i still play traditional games at the streets and running around the abandoned land in my housing complex. climbing the mango trees at the backyard, throwing each other children mud-like rocks. one of my earliest memory of those “age to play” is putting my first paper boat in the river at the end of my street and try to watch whether it float back the same way. that particular river had a circular stream. my childhood memories are all in that greenness scene despite i grow up in a city, bogor, a 60 kilometer away from the capital of indonesia, jakarta.

things change in my housing complex. development come. they close the way to the river. they separate the kampung (village) and the housing estate. my place suddenly belong to the elite. i was 13 by then, all my childhood friends vanish into thin air. no more running around in the area. i felt the weird gut feeling every time i felt i saw one of them on my way home from school when i take the angkot (public transportation). i missed those days when we are just children and don’t care shit.

i guess those are the reason i choose to live in a kampung in jogja to raised bhumy. i would not say it’s an ideal place. but i do prefer my kid to live in a more natural surroundings. anyways, at the end of last semester, the kids in his school (MILAS playgroup) did an outing to one of the village in the southern part of yogyakarta, pandes village which famously called the kampung dolanan (the village of toys).

P1050095toy making workshop with si mbah

pandes is famous for their traditional toys maker. the whole village used to be a traditional toy maker. but now they are nearly vanishing, only 8 people left and all of them are women. the youngest of them all are the age of 80 and the oldest is 100 years old. amazing women and still actively selling these toys. they even stiil walked to the main market like beringharjo (which are quiet far) to sell their handmade toys for surviving their lives. they can make different 90 characters from the classic wayang tales, just by cutting them straight from a recycle cardboard and draw them. and i can’t believe that it is only IDR 1000 (what 10 cent USD?) per item. i raged for the prices. it’s way too cheap for whatever their skills and knowledge. this compare to all those shitty made in china toys.

P1050108bhumy and his handmade kipas (fan wheel)

pandes now become a center for learning how to make traditional toys. the youth there established a center where young children introduced to the wisdom of traditional games and how to make your own traditional toys. they documented all this traditional toys. they explain all the values of all this games with the consciousness that maybe in less than ten years all of this will disappear.

P1050121walking among the paddy field in pandes village



P1050139milas children all over the pond | bhumy and his friends playing around trying to find catfish | mud splash!



P1050137the bamboo showers | bhumy and his friends playing with the water | bhumy is loving the water

P1050140the view of pandes village

P1050149my favorite paper wayang collections (made from recycle cereal box)

although seeing the amazing things, people and the best time my son and his friends had in the village: playing traditional games, toy-making with the women elder toymaker, catching catfish in the pond near the paddy-field and bamboo showers. i can’t help myself to be saddened. that all of this richness of cultural experience would go away someday. it’s like seeing an old dear friend you can’t touch and that weird gut feeling is back.

yogyakarta: the hungry ghost ritual featuring jimmy ong

P1050695offering to the hungry ghost

the thing about yogyakarta as a such vibrant center for art and culture, is a meeting point for so many brilliant artist from all around the world. one of them is jimmy ong, an artist from singapore and based in new york. the thing about jimmy, which attracts me personally is the fact that we might be a long lost brother and sister. we share a chinese hokkian root and share the same family name: ong. we both spend a long talk on the relationship of the women in both of our family. the roles of gender. the roles of mother. the roles of wife.

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yogyakarta: the south sea and the memory of beauty

IMG_0543it is 2 am in yogyakarta. i’m making a cup of kahwa (kashmiri style tea) and half done packing my things for my first flight to bali after three long years in a few hours time. the tickle of embarking for another journey always reach you in the stomach. that little butterfly which is near to the feeling of falling in love.

i revisited the southern sea beach area two weeks and a half ago. no camera. no photos. i just want moment and memories. amazing moment and memories did happen. and i felt that i’m washed away in the wave of the southern beach and renew my breath.

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sunrise series: mount merapi

IMG_1099to be honest, i’m a person who can’t really live without seeing mountain. i always felt something is missing in life if i can’t see a mountain in the place that i lived. having a childhood in bogor, west java, surrounded by mountains and spending the last ten years in yogjakarta, i enjoy my morning or afternoon trips seeing the mountain in a clear view kind of day. that very small things is my little happiness.

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jalan solo: the silk road tour of jogja

P1020996i was so busy since november last year, this post was meaning to be publish and i was totally forgot about it. having rearranging my thought while rearranging my house after so many getaways, being totally at home and taking things slowly always mean to be good. and because this is a cool sunday morning, i guess i should post something beautiful :)

so elia from simalakamma made this program at the end of december 2011 of touring the silk road of jogja: jalan solo. jalan solo is famous of their indian shops selling various kind of fabrics. the long history of jalan solo started in the 80s where most of the indian shops move here from malioboro street. now it become one of the most busiest street in jogja where they have many shops which you can see clearly still dominated by indian fabric shops.

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progo: the ceramic and enamel heaven of jogja



progo classic enamel collection

like always, i was suppose to look for a smaller rice cooker because our old ones are too big for us two and the rice keep on drying and cracking overnight. but of course i can’t help myself (who will?) to pass the ceramic area of progo store. and that little heaven started to drain my wallet. not to mention the enamel section where they have new stock. oh dear, the only thing that was holding me not to pick up every beautiful stuff i found, was my little running boy all over the alleys.

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between research and the search of spirituality

work has been marvelous and come with a lot of variety. i feel like i’m back to my old self again, which i’m glad. i felt even much better nowadays. at the end of this year i’m involved with the research: indian community history in jogja. the process can be found in this blog. it is a project involving etnohistori and kunci, the participant comes from diverse background and multi-discipline. it is also part of the parallel events of jogja biennal xi. etnohistori is a continuation of my study group back in my student days, now that all of us already growing up, we start to establish a community concerning on history and ethnography studies.

anyway, the process of the last two months research put myself in the “temple team”, along with my best mates JP, abmi and sandhy (a comic artist). we’re going to present the work later on the 3rd of january 2012.

it was a very interesting experience. founding temples in the most unexpected places. a hare krisna temple in the maguwo of east outer ring road of jogja. a saibaba center on top of a toko besi (hardware store) in bumijo. it is one of the weirdest and exciting experiences.

the top of hare krisna temple

the flower garland offerings

hare krisna altar

saibaba temple

the fire offerings

i believe by knowing other beliefs, experiencing their rituals and being involve with the people, we would gather more understanding about others and about ourselves. it is what we need in this kind of time :)

my three year old boy going to school

it’s entering his three weeks already. my son going to school the first time. this means i have to change to a morning person in a more discipline manner. his first day was amazing because it only took him 30 minutes to adapt with his surrounding without my help at all. the second day, he is fine without me. the fourth day he have his 3rd birthday at school. i baked spinach and carrot brownies for his schoolmates. everyone took another portion :D (huge success) we were given gift such as children classic song that i haven’t heard for so long. his fifth day, i was not allowed to take him to the gate. i practically drop him off and he say “mom, stay in the motor cycle. i can go myself.” those were those kinda moments that you want to cry as parents. children grow up so fast.

i feel like an eagle, letting their little ones the first time to learn to fly.