Sunday, 3 April 2011

Indianna Beckett and the Temple of Borobudur

Ever since I saw a photo of the stupa atop Borobudur temple I've had it high on the list of places I wanted to visit in Indonesia, and a week ago (whilst travelling back from Perth - see previous post) I took the opportunity to divert to Jogjakarta to meet family and friends for a long weekend break.

The break started somewhat hectically when I landed at Bali airport and only had 50 minutes to get off the plane (I planned ahead and only travelled with carry-on), get through immigration (landing card already filled in), pass customs (oops - I forgot the 2 kg of bacon and 5 kg of cheese in my suitcase which necessitated a compulsory "donation" of $10 to the customs agent who told me to zip up and get lost while his boss's back was turned) and dash to the domestic airport (only a minutes walk away and I had already checked in for the next flight in Perth). Even with all that pre-planning I only made the gate by the skin of my teeth.

And so when I landed in Jogja I met up with Adam and Greg who were my travelling partners for the drive to Magelang where our hotel was. After three or four beers, some salty snacks and a breakneck drive through the dark we arrived at our hotel at 10pm. Most of the rest of our party had turned in so we three stayed up and had a few more beers and listened to the river, not 10m away, rushing by.

The next morning we were up with the larks. Actually it was the geese who lived by the river's edge who woke us up so we went up for breakfast. We didn't realise it when we arrived in the night that the hotel was built on a steep slope leading down to the river, so we were quite surprised by the hike up to the restaurant. Fully fortified by eggs, beans and hash browns plans were drawn up for a day at the hotel's adventure playground (tree-top walks, zip lines, archery, etc), lunch at a local restaurant in Magelang and a lazy afternoon by the pool (which was a washout because of the heavy afternoon rains).

On Sunday (day two) I had the longest lie-in since I arrived in Indonesia, waking up at 9:30am, a full 3 hours after everyone else woke up (by the geese again). As I struggled upwards/towards breakfast I met with the gang coming down hill. Rae ordered me to continue - saying that if I was going to have a lat morning I should at least have something to eat lest I turn into a hungry curmudgeon (my words, not hers) later on. I didn't complain. I can't remember what happened during the rest of the day but there was pool time, that I am sure of.

The reason for my memory being cloudy about Sunday was because on Monday we were up at 3:30am (before the geese) and in a bus at 4am heading towards the temple of Borobudur to greet the sun. If you don't know what Borobudur is then I suggest you check it out because I would rather extend this post with photos and not paragraphs of text.

Even though the upper terraces (aka Nirvana) - where the stupa were located - was out of bounds (which didn't keep us from climbing up and subsequently getting caught by security) it was a truly beautiful and amazing experience. I'm in love with the volcanic stone used to build it and the bell-like design of the stupa are stunning.

Following the Borobudur visit we all took a horse and carriage ride through the rural surrounds of the temple to see the how the land and people co-exist. Though not exactly thought provoking, the tour was very nice in its simplicity.

Indonesia might be a frustrating place to live, but I can't deny it isn't beautiful.

By the end of Monday I was a bit tired of the hotel at Magelang and because Dave, Angela and Paige were heading to Jogjakarta (Dave had a early flight on Tuesday morning) we decided to jump into their taxi and make a run for it. We got to our hotel (the 5-star Melia for a staggering $65 a night) at 8pm, put Oscar to bed and said our goodbyes to Dave who was moving from Balikpapan the next day. We really do hope to see you guys in Australia when you come over.

As for me, I had hoped for a lie-in in the morning so took an early night while Rae had a bath. Sadly we forgot that we were back in a proper city and the 5am prayer call woke us up. I secretly believe the geese had followed us down from Magelang to get their revenge for us waking them up on Monday morning. Rae and Oscar were a bit under the weather so we spent a lazy morning in the hotel, with a brief foray to the pool, while Angela and Paige caught up with the rest of the gang (who had travelled down that morning) and went to see more temples. I caught up with Adam at the airport that afternoon and we both flew back to Balikpapan together.

And that was the end of the trip for me. Rae and Oscar stayed behind with the other mums and kiddies, did some shopping and souvenir buying and I got to enjoy two peaceful nights back in the house. Until they arrived and my serenity was shattered. Oh well!

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