April 5. Solo.
On our last morning in Solo, we planned to visit the two palaces.
We took two motor-trishaws (becak) to Surakarta Kraton on a lovely morning. The drivers passed by batik shops but did not stop. I suspect they deliberately drive by to prove that they made an effort to turn into the street.
After paying for the palace entrance, an older man volunteered to be our tour guide. (Later he hinted for the guide tips but that’s just part of the protocol.)
We did the tour in Indonesian since that’s probably a better way to learn about the place than an English tour, although I think he’s able to do both.
We stopped at one of the offerings on the palace’s sandy (imported from Yogyakarta’s beach) ground. The guide said those were for the spirits. He then said something about the powers-that-be and that everyone on earth is just waiting for death to return to the heavens.
I repeated his sentence: “Waiting for death”.
It was oddly poetic. We weren’t born to achieve great things but to wait for death. But along the way while we wait for death, there must be something to do to not waste this life, isn’t it?
Although guide books and guide Web sites have praised Surakarta Kraton as being better than the one in Yogyakarta (which our guide says cannot be called a Kraton as the sultan does not live there), I prefer Jogja’s buildings.
Some of the things I remembered from the guided tour was:
–The Kraton should be called Kraton Surakarta since Solo is the city’s name. Or something…
–Yoygyakarta’s kraton shouldn’t be named as Kraton.
–Bengawan Solo the large river still exists but is now small
One thing Surakarta Kraton has that is better than Jogja is the lack of tourists and the peacefulness.
The guide was very accomodating. He answered our questions and seemed genuinely interested in sharing the palace and its royal residents’ history. (While the Jogja guide didn’t really give much damn.)
Here’s Lana Del Ray’s lazy “Born to Die” which was the inspiration for the title