I have been to Java twice in 1993, and 1995, but also studied Indonesian language and culture at school and uni (tetapi sudah lama sejak mencoba berbahasa Indonesia jadi sudah lupa banyak kata-kata dan kurang lancar).
I travelled mostly in East Java – Surabaya, Yogyakarta (+ Borobudur and Prambanan), a small village based around a coffee factory called Kaliboro, Mt Bromo, but also to Jakarta.
Javanese culture, like all the island/island groups of Indonesia is quite distinct, and because of historic influences some argue that it has tended to dominate. Central to it is the idea of being refined (halus). In terms of religion there have been a number of influences: the original animist religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, then Islam and even some Christianity in between. What they have ended up with is a unique culture that draws on elements from all of these influences and more. I love gamelan music, wayang kulit (shadow puppets), Javanese dance and other art forms (which are as much influenced by Hinduism as by Islam).
Oh and like all of Indonesia, the food is great, the people are friendly and laid back, not in a hurry to go somewhere, spiritual without being too dogmatic, and politically astute.
There just seem to be so many layers of complexity that every time you go there you learn something new to add to the picture.over 7 years ago