I stayed in England for a few days to visit family, before heading out to Indonesia. I had completed my last final exam just a few days before, and was finally beginning to unwind from a hectic and difficult semester. For the first time I started to look ahead at my plans for Indonesia, and within a few minutes of googling and browsing the Internet, I realized that Vesak/Weisak, the most important day of the year for Buddhists, was the following weekend. I quickly decided that I had to be at Borobudur temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, to celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.
I had never been to Yogyakarta, let alone Borobudur, so it was an easy decision for me. Yogyakarta was also on my list of places to visit because it has a rich history of culture, art, and traditional medicine. I also was not scheduled to go to the Ministry of Health until the following week.
I arrived on an evening flight to a humble, but extremely inviting, bed and breakfast run by Anez. The house sat nestled in a quiet neighborhood a few blocks from an art school. In the United States we get nicely landscaped and planned parks, this neighborhood had rice paddy fields hiding behind houses instead. I quickly learned from Anez that this area has a vibrant art scene, and he invited me to an exhibition and music event at a local art gallery. I jumped on the back of his moped just an hour or so after arriving, and we meandered through narrow streets until we arrived to a bustling art gallery.
One of the things I love to do in my free time, wherever I may be, is to go to art museums. It helps me reconnect to life and get a different perspective on things, especially now that I have been buried in studies for the past few years. I drive up to New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC when I have a few days off and just spend my days looking at the beautiful paintings housed in the amazing art museums there. Now, I was in Yogyakarta. Anez had told me about the vibrant art scene in the city, a community he himself is deeply involved with, but I had no idea what to expect.
We arrived to Sangkring Art Space and Anez parked among a sea of mopeds. I wonder how many Indonesians have trouble finding their bikes because there are always so many that look exactly the same! The art space was packed with people of all ages. The event was held in an outdoor space, with the art displayed in a semi open space at the back with a beautifully decorated entrance. I honestly was not expecting it to be as crowded as it was. I have visited New York City art museums at busy times, but none of them compared to this. People stood and sat around chatting, eating, listening to the music and wandering through the art gallery, which displayed paintings made by local artists.