Indonesia feels like a long ways away, mostly because there’s snow in the air as I type this. But our pictures from the second half of our trip need to see the light, so here are some highlights from Jepara and Yogyakarta.
Jepara is a city by the sea known for its wood carving and we definitely had Indonesian wood on our minds. Joel and I have started a company called Raya Exchange and our focus is on supporting small businesses in Java by importing handmade, home goods that we sell via our web store and Charish. So far, we had been concentrating our efforts on handwoven textiles- pillows, throws and runners- but this trip was planned in order to expand our efforts into teak furniture and planters. We visited our furniture partner in Jepara to check out the progress of our order and we were thrilled to see our products coming together so beautifully.
Next on our list was Yogyakarta, affectionately known as Jogja. This portion of the trip was a little bit business, a little bit pleasure. Jogja is our favorite city so we always have a good time scooting about seeing old friends, visiting our favorite restaurants and taking in the sights like the Affandi Museum.
We met Ina from Animal Friends Jogja and got to meet all the dogs that she’s rescued from the dog meat trade in Indonesia. We purchased some AFJ tote bags to support their cause and brought them back to Seattle where they were sold on Joel’s cousin’s doggie food truck.
Our two weeks in Java hit on almost all of our favorite spots that we enjoyed while living there. It was also a glimpse into the future of our business that should hopefully be taking us back to Indonesia on a fairly frequent basis. If you’re interested, you can learn more about our business and the artisans we partner with at RayaExchange.com.
Initially my idea for this post was to make a top ten list of my favorite images of Indonesia, however that soon proved to be impossible. Scrolling through two years of blog posts there were too many memories and snapshots of unforgettable destinations for me to narrow it down to a mere ten. So my top ten became a compilation of pretty much any image that I was fond of starting with our fantastic honeymoon in Kuta and Ubud. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed compiling them.
We’re getting down to the wire; just two weeks until we go back to the US for over a month! But that’s not stopping us from working in some last minute travel. We first heard of Troso when we went to Jepara in January. The small village is just south of Jepara and is known for it’s production of woven fabrics. The main street was lined with stores full of gorgeous, colorful ikat and songket textiles, but we wanted to go deeper than just shopping. I had recently connected with an ikat seller on Instagram and asked if we could visit their studio. They were gracious enough to oblige us and that’s how we came to meet Mario and his uncle, Pak Aman.
We followed Mario down a dirt road just past their impressive neighborhood mosque. Connected to Pak Aman’s home is a small, covered, outdoor workshop set up with multiple looms. He gave a detailed, step-by-step lesson on the dying and weaving process, starting with mapping out the initial design with ink to wrapping the threads tightly with plastic as to resist the dye.
The plastic bindings create intricate patterns, then the threads are removed from the frames to be dyed. We were impressed with Pak Aman’s extensive knowledge of each motif and where it originated, whether it was from Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi or Sumatra. Pak Aman’s family has been weaving for five generations, so he’s had many years to soak up knowledge of dying and weaving.
The home’s kitchen floor served as the spooling area with a machine that spins the dyed and dried thread onto spools, then they’re loaded onto the looms. There were more looms than I anticipated, probably a dozen between the two studio rooms he showed us, but with each piece taking a month to complete you have to have quite a few irons in the fire so to speak.
Mario was nice enough to let me have a go at the loom, I would definitely need a few lessons before I felt comfortable at the helm. Joel was actually the more natural weaver which was a pleasant surprise.
With so many amazing patterns it was hard to pick just a few to bring home. Even though I couldn’t take them all, my ikat stash is getting pretty extensive (photo on the right below). It’s a good thing we’re moving next week and I’ll have lots of home goods needs so I can start putting these beauties to work.
With our last week of holiday break we wanted to squeeze in another small trip. With Jepara being only two hours away and touted as the furniture capital of Java, we were eager to see if it lived up to the reputation. Our first full day we rented a scooter and went to check out the shops, some of which were more like sprawling warehouses with room after room filled with intricately carved masterpieces.
We also scooted up to an old Dutch fort called Benteng VOC. There wasn’t much of a fort left but we did get to meet a gang of graveyard grazing goats.
Shortly after leaving the fort we crashed our scooter. No, I didn’t take any photos of the wreck but looking back I should have gotten one of the crowd that gathered quickly to check on us. We were both a little bruised and scraped but fine for the most part. We did have on helmets (which are very optional here) so I was glad for that. At the time it was more embarrassing than painful- the pain came the next day in the form of sore muscles and scabbed knees.
But we still had another day in Jepara and really wanted to get to the beach so we washed our waffles down with coffee and pain pills and headed out. We chartered one of the tourist boats to Palau Pajang. The name translates to Long Island even though it is small and round. We walked a trail around the island surveying the vegetation and feeding the mosquitos, then back to the beach for me to inspect the coral.
We saw these bamboo structures on Google maps when we were researching the area and we weren’t sure quite what to make of them from the satellite view. Joel told me they were shark forts where sharks plan and map out their attacks, however I’m not 100% sure he’s correct.
My only regret from Jepara is that I wasn’t able to bring home any furniture or ceramics, but next time I’ll know to book a big bus home so I can fill it with bowls, vases and maybe a carved headboard or two.