Today I decided that I enjoy Indonesia. Going to Bali put me off – but after being in Borobudur for three days, the distaste has worn off. Now that we are experiencing the ‘real’ Indonesia, as our guesthouse puts it, I am also seeing the beauty.
Today we walked up the road to the UNESCO heritage Borobudur temple. It’s a gigantic ancient Buddhist mound that seems to be a journey in itself. Going up represents the stages to nirvana and the thousands of intricate carvings along the entire thing show scenes from Buddha’s life and each stage.
It’s really breathtaking. There is no inside, so I’m not sure it’s actually a temple so much as it was used as a walking meditative journey. The kids shocked me in their interest. We stopped at every level and walked the way around the check out all the carvings and select our favorites. Found some really unique ones too with boats and monkeys and animals .
At the peak there are hollow stupas with carved Buddha’s inside and a giant stupa top. The view from there is great! We did’t linger long at the top as it seemed that was where most Indonesians gathered. We got more requests for pictures with the kids here than anywhere else so far, and I started just saying a nice, “sorry, no”. Though a few were fun because then I could get a pic of them too. The kids were the best.
There were 3 school groups here with the students all wearing matching uniforms. Zoe did want her picture takin with the girls in pretty purple headscarves. Avi is very standoffish; grandmas tend to want to grab his cheeks and he hates it. Not like Korean grandmas who give him candy.
He did have fun flirting with a gaggle if girls in the little tram we rode first. They squealed and giggled when he spoke and hid under his hat. He loves to be the center of attention on his own terms… with cute little girls, not old ladies or grandmas. The train/ tram took us on a little tour of the area around the temple to see where the museums and horse and elephants were. It was a fun intro and good to do and see how large it all was.
After the temple we settled in a shady spot to eat our snacky lunch that I bought last night. We then discovered a deer enclosure with those Asian barking deer!! The deer were so friendly and ate grass from our hands. They did their barking squawks, too, when we would try to leave. So we stayed a long time.
Past that were the elephant rides which I discovered we needed to buy a ticket for at the front – no way! We were so far from there now. The kids weren’t actually very bummed because we saw the horses and they asked for that instead. Surprisingly my kiddos have ridden elephants more times than horses…. that I could remember. So they rode horses instead and loved it. Got to choose which horse to ride, too!
We were pleasantly surprised by the ship museum which showed Indonesia’s ancient shipping history and how it was tied to the western world and China by trade quite early on. The highlight, though was a huge real wooden ship!! We were all super excited to see this. It was immense – the little dioramas don’t do the real thing justice. It’s like the size of the mayflower… Which does seem small a first glance, but I thought this Indonesian boat was going to be the size of a john boat. So imagine my surprise.
The Borobudur museum was not super interesting except we learned that the Dutch (former colony, recall) helped moved every block and built a drainage system about 20 years ago because the whole thing was sinking. People from the Netherlands, by the way, are the most common western tourists here.
Tired and hot we trudged out the exit through the maze of vendors selling all sorts of crap from clothes to nicknacks. Avi, who rarely wants anything non-vehicular, asked for a mini borobudur temple and a super-touristy outfit. So I got them for him. He and Zoe also got a hat at the entrance. She picked a floral sunhat while he chose a spiderman ball cap.
Our sore feet saw the horsecarts and we had to take one back the three blocks to the hotel. So glad we did.
All of us crashed out for the Afternoon, then enjoyed a hot shower, some tea, and watching Indonesian cartoons. That is one fun thing about traveling with kids. I get a kick out of seeing what kid shows are like in other countries. Fun to watch animated kids in skullcaps and hijabs, or sunbears and clouded leopards as well known characters.
One final evening here. We spent it walking around the neighborhood behind the guesthouse. It’s so neat to just walk around where people live. First we has a gaggle of kids join is and play with some weird dead-rat looking toy. Then we rounded a corner to find a few kitties that needed petting just as a family was getting home. They all wanted to know our names and why we like cats. The houses here are mostly identical single story cinder block homes with gabled roofs and a big front patio. Some people paint them wild colors for variety. The cats lived at a lime green place. As the sun was setting we continued our exploration on one of the smaller brick lined roads that break up the central part of a block – many homes front a walkway but not a road.
Well, along one of these walkways we passed a girl helping another off the ground. I stopped to see if she needed help and she was quite grateful. The girl who couldn’t walk was sick to her stomach. We put her arms over our necks and supported her to walk down the way a bit til she couldn’t. She sat on a front stoop for a bit and then threw up!! I wondered if she was pregnant or drunk or something, but her friend said no. It was odd to see a muslim girl in a head covering in such a situation. I expect they are all well behaved and not going to be out throwing up on porches; I suppose all teens can get into trouble. Or maybe she just had spicy food like her friend said. Zoe and Avi were so helpful carrying our bags and stuff.
The call to prayer started while we were helping the girl, and we happened to walk past the mosque before getting to the main road. It was neat to see all the men inside and the moms and kids all out on the front porch. The little kids from earlier were waving at us. Fun to be recognized in the neighborhood. Interesting experience.
We then got take out food from the nice family that lives across the street again. Avi ran around with their 3 year old boy playing helicopter in their house while I chatted with dad. He had been to Phoenix once. Like most stores here, the storefront is simply the front room of the home.
Early morning taxi ride back to Yogyakarta airport tomorrow, so we ate and the kids watched some TV while I packed and settled up our bill.
Had to wear these sarong in order to enter the temple grounds
Climbing the first of 7 levels
walking and gawking at level 2 (level 1 is under)
the carvings are amazing
found a cool carving of an ancient boat
Elephants and kings?
Zoe took my picture by some of the hidden Buddhas
Looking out from level 4
Zoe got her picture taken with quite a few girls on a school trip.
This is the iconic shot from magazines. There is a carved Buddha under all of the checkerboard domes.
The giant domed stupa at the top. It looks to be another 2-3 storeys high.
Me and the view from the top.
Back at the bottom. Avi got our picture!
Zoe and the whole temple. The big stupa we is visible directly above Zoe. It has an lighting rod sticking out of it. That may help with size perspective. This place is huge!
barking deer we found on the temple grounds
The neato Indonesian boating heritage museum
horses to ride? why not
Avi picked his horse out, and the guys were quite impressed. It was the biggest one.
took a carriage home from a long day walking around the temple
out for a walk around the neighborhood
our guesthouse is the white building in the background.