Day 2: Borobudur

Sleeping on Saturday night was hell ya uncomfortable because the air condition was breathing asthmatically and I an older Italian woman was snoring and farting. I ended up closing all the curtains around my bed and sleeping naked; which is something a person shouldn’t do in a semi-public place. Although I went to bed at 10PM, I think I only slept for an hour and a half. I was so agitated by sweat and the dampness in the heat.

Sunrise near Borobudur

When I got up at 3:00AM and dressed warmly for the sunrise view. I rested in the main room and at 3:47AM a man tapped me on the shoulder to go with him. I got in his SUV and picked up another tourist and we drove for forty minutes out of the city. I was thrilled to have AC in the car and rested for another 30 minutes before we arrived at a hill from which to see the sunrise.


Jungle view

Dawn over the jungle was beautiful. Since it’s the rainy season, I didn’t actually see any sunrise through the clouds. But seeing the mist rise out of the jungle was awe inspiring. This was like one of those fantasy jungles with mythic temples lurks as gray clouds loomed overhead.

The rainy season here is wet. It is constantly dripping and cloudy. Unlike in HCMC where the rain happens and then suddenly vanishes. Here the rain stays. The rainy season is over in Vietnam. Crossing the equator and the rainy season is just beginning. I think it would be safe to say that Indonesia has a wet season and Vietnam just has some rain.

After the inspiring dawn mist, we headed to the Borobudur temple. The largest manmade Buddhist structure ever built – constructed in the 800AD era (before Islam spread in Indonesia).

The monument was impressive, but I lack the know how to truly assess it. It was filled with Indonesian people who wanted to take photos with me. I selfied with a smile a few times before I stopped. I mined my tourist gold by taking photos of the people who wanted photos with me. It made me uncomfortable because I could hear children giggle and debating how to approach me. Some didn’t even ask and they just took photos of me.

I was surprised to learn that because it is the rainy season now there are few tourists on Java. My bad timing reminded me of the time I went to the Himalayan region of Nepal only for the locals to tell me the mountains would not be visible for another six months.

Our tour went on to Prambanan temple.

On this leg of the day tour I was paired with other tourists and I enjoyed chatting with three Spanish, French, and Singaporean girls while at the temple and at the lunch table.

When we first arrived at the temple it rained on us and I we actually climbed into the temple for cover from the rain. The temple had many carvings of the Ramayana. I enjoyed trying to piece together my broken memories of a story I read once in India and once in Thailand. I followed an Indonesian man giving a tour in Japanese and translated from his words and my memory as I looked at the scenes of the Ramayana carved into the walls.

It was impressive to see these temples and imagine that over a thousand years ago, kings would contemplate their next moves on the spice islands archipelago chess board. I looked at some of the mist and low hanging clouds hanging over the mountain and thought that these scenes were the same as back then.

I was puzzled to think of the decline of a civilization. That at one time a well-oiled command system functioned so ideally that it could afford to have its people labor away endlessly on temple construction. The real wealth of the temples was not the carvings or the scared items, but the brilliance in architecture and human resource management to get this to be nearly perfect. How can humans build complex temples and still struggle to parallel park?

Dinner with the Ladies

On the ride back I learned that a volcano on the other side of Java had erupted and created a tsunami that killed at about 300 people. My mom and Trinh both urgently texted if I was ok. Our driver brought us back to our hostels one by one and I exhaustedly showered and wrote this. I agreed to meet up with the Spanish and French girl for dinner, but until then I’ll rest.

A few thoughtless dreams passed over the PowerPoint presentation that plays inside my heads as I snoozed. I woke up from a two-hour nap parched. I invited a German woman from my room to join myself and the ladies from the tour for dinner. So the German woman and I met with the Spanish woman and we when to eat Javanese food… which to me is indistinguishable from other Indonesian-Malaysian foods. I don’t think that this region is blessed with amazing food.

The dinner was ok; it was nice to hear other people’s worldviews. Both women were between jobs. The German had been living in Bali for two years, because her work in Munich gave her high blood pressure. So she Eat-Pray-Loved it and seemed to be having a life-changing experience. The Spanish women is a nurse between contracts, she had also been in Bali and Ecuador before coming to Java.

The conversations were good enough to make the food a bit better. I felt good for being the one who took the initiative to invite those people out.

I’m quite disappointed that the rainy session is interrupting my plans to go trekking. Trekking was the main reason I wanted to come here. If it turns out I can’t go trekking then, I’ll leave Yogyakarta and overland it across Java for more adventure. Luckily, one of the staff of the hostel offered to drive me out of the city to a hill to go hiking a bit tomorrow morning. I’ll take him up on the offer.

Good night

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