Borobudur, Indonesia Jan04


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Borobudur, Indonesia


We wanted to see Borobudur at sunrise, however the forecast predicted that it would be cloudy and rainy so we decided to leave at 9:00 AM instead. I was secretly relieved because I wasn’t relishing the thought of leaving at the unholy hour of 3:45 AM.

It took about an hour to get to Borobudur by car. On the way we saw numerous little mosques with shiny silver domes, testament to the fact that we were in an Islamic country. In many respect, life here seemed quite sedate.

The price of arriving at the temple at a more tolerable hour was the fact that it was inundated by tourists. It being Saturday, the place was full of locals as well as tourists. We saw many schoolkids walking in their uniforms in big groups. It was pretty cool to see hijab-wearing Muslims thronging to see a Buddhist site. Actually, what was even cooler was seeing hijab-wearing little girls laughing and taking selfies and asking us if we would take photos with their group (since we were “exotic looking” tourists to them). They seemed endlessly amused to get their picture taken with us. :P


The temple itself was neat. The architecture and construction was unique and unlike no other in the world. The walls were inlaid with scenes from the life of the Buddha. It was laid out in several levels and there were stairs leading from one level to the next. The top level with the stupas were the most rivetting. I could imagine a glorious sunrise or sunset at this site seeming like a near-religious experience.



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The drive back was a little painful because it started raining *and* the traffic was terrible. It took us almost two tiring hours to return to the hotel. For anyone wanting to do this trip, I’d recommend doing it as early in the morning as you can tolerate.

One stop we made on the way back was to sample some Luwak coffee, made from coffee beans that were digested and pooped out by luwaks, a kind of civet indigenous to Indonesia. We were excited by this novelty and alas, it was much later that we realized that we had witnessed some pretty bad animal treatment. We saw four luwaks in total. One of them was chained to a column near the entrance and three were in the back lying listlessly in cages. I asked if I could feed them and the owners gave me a small banana to do so. I broke off bits of it and fed the little animals. At first they were hesitant. Then they walked cautiously towards my hand, sniffed a bit and gently took the banana from my fingers. They chewed on the banana, ate it and lay down again. They were such sweet gentle creatures. When I read about how badly they are abused, all the produce this overpriced novelty coffee, my heart goes out to them. :( The coffee isn’t all that great either.