When I was younger and more idealistic, life was so simple: moral issues were black and white, and a happy ending seemed the logical outcome for all deserving parties. Nowadays, a good outcome is often a matter of compromise, and there is frequently a price to pay that can seem harsh and unfair.
Today is my last full day in Jogyakarta, and I find myself liking it more and more. My two big expeditions have been to the temples at Borobudur and Prambaran on the outskirts, but yesterday afternoon I ventured into the heart of the city for a brief visit to the ruined water palace, Taman Sari. The last thing I expected was to come away from the experience feeling deeply moved.
Taman Sari was built between 1758 and 1765 as a pleasure palace for the Sultan of Jogyakarta. The name means beautiful garden. It was damaged first by war and later by an earthquake. My very first impression was of slight disappointment. The ruined buildings seemed scattered, and some were in poor repair with occasional graffiti. However, after looking through a few of the ruins on my own, I met up with a local who explained the original purpose of the buildings and the plans for the community that lives within the perimeter of the original palace grounds.
Taman Sari is listed as a tentative World Heritage area, and UNESCO is going to commence a major restoration project over the next 2 years, but to do this, the current residents must be relocated. The settlement is known as Kampung Taman and many of their homes have been built in what was the garden's huge artificial lake. The first families move in about 5 months, and, in all, 254 families will be relocated to apartments 13 km away.
No one is more supportive of preserving historical and culturally significant places than I am, but as I walked through the lanes and streets that will be demolished, there was such a charm and sense of community that I knew that something precious will be lost, even if something wonderful is gained. Kampung Taman is a very artistic community, and they seem to love their gardens and potted plants. It will surely be difficult to adjust to apartment living and the scattering of their friends and neighbours.
|Entrance to an underground passageway.|
|These buildings served as air vents for underground passageways.|
|One of the Sultan's family's homes.|
|I love birds and cages, but not necessarily combined. Love the painted boats on the top of this great cage.|