Thursday, December 19, 2013

Travel Journal: Indonesia (Yogyakarta, my favorite temple & a few cockroaches)


December 19th, 2013

We arrived to Yogya. I love it here. I knew right away we found another one of those backpacker sanctuaries - tucked away in the world, yet prepared for us and ready to be found. I've learned on a long travel especially, these are the best places. Beautiful restaurants for all budgets, massage parlors, bars, and cultural sites. This is where you 'vacation'. Our new friend, Nanuk (nan ook) helped us book tickets to Borobudur for this morning. It was just amazing. The fog rolled in across Mount Merapi. Its ominous as it looks down on this beautiful place. They call it Fire Mountain. It hasn't erupted since 2010, but it smokes almost every day. Its green like everything, right until the tip. Where the Rockies taught me to expect a gleaming white peak, there's just a dark bowl and lingering gray clouds. Standing at the highest level of the temple, it feels like you could see the roundness of the earth. In all directions is beautiful fluffy trees and rolling hills.

Five hundred and four Buddhas bless this place. Each hand gesture presenting a different side of the temple and a different type of human experience. The temple showcases walls and walls of relief sculpture dictating the life and tales of Siddhartha himself. The West side they call Spirit. It's the Dhyana - meditation. This side holds the stories of Buddha's beginnings. The North side is protection. The Abhaya - literally fearlessness. It is protective. I did it myself. When you hold your hand in the position, it feels strong. The East, they name Sharing. Bhumisparsa, a calling on the earth to witness. This one was my favorite. It held the story of Buddha and the white elephant. The South side they call Clarity. It's Vara - compassion, liberation, and acceptance. Once you climb the stupa, Vitarka and Dharmachakra take their places towards the top. I love Buddhism. It has a beautiful individualism. I do believe you are who you answer to. You live each day as yourself. Finding peace there feels like the ultimate way. After all, my inner voice talks to me more than any other person.

People steal the heads off the Buddhas. That breaks my heart.

According to our guide, those who visit the temple circle the stupa 3 times then touch the stone - traditionally. So we circled...through the crowds...and placed our hands on the stone. I thought of the serenity prayer while I circled. My mom loves that prayer, she said it to me growing up really often. The clouds at Borobudur were serene and felt like a good mantra for the moment. The 8th century stone was cool - even in the humidity. I wish they would restrict the amount of people allowed on the temple at one time. It's a spiritual place, but it's hard to be in touch with that when you're also concerned about being knocked off the side of it.

However, it was the first time I've ever felt like a movie star. The local villagers don't often get to see tourists. Large groups of kids would ask for our photo or try to stand by us or get up the courage to say "hello". It was adorable. They had matching hijabs. It's an 80% Muslim area.We learned from the tour guide that many Muslims still practice Buddhism, just simultaneously.

December 20th, 2013

The perfect, spicy lumpia ayam (chicken) in Yogya is semarang style, at a restaurant called Ibu Yuli on the main shopping street. The cock roaches only bothered us for a second or two.

nom nom xo