Photos from Java Island, Indonesia

Some photos of life on the Island of Java including Borobudur Temple, the largest in Indonesia; traditional Javanese dancers; a Javanese coffee shop, and Mary Anne posing with a friend from the ship by a statue of a young Buddha on a cow.

Joe

A sample of the panels of artwork that cover the exterior of Borobudur Temple.
A sample of the panels of artwork that cover the exterior of Borobudur Temple.
Tennis Court and Observation Area under a Thatched Roof in Java
Tennis Court and Observation Area under a Thatched Roof in Java
Mary Anne and Ricki pose by a statue of the Buddha on a cow, near Borobudur Temple.
Mary Anne and Ricki pose by a statue of the Buddha on a cow, near Borobudur Temple.
Mid morning coffee break
Mid morning coffee break
Traditional Javanese Dance
Traditional Javanese Dance
All the stones are balanced without mortar
All the stones are balanced without mortar
Decorative parasols on display at Java coffee house
Decorative parasols on display at Java coffee house
Note the scale by looking at the people on the right and left corners of the photo
Note the scale by looking at the people on the right and left corners of the photo

Pix from Borobudur – from MA

Joe and MA, in sarongs, in front of Borobudur (thirsty for beer!).
Joe and MA, in sarongs, in front of Borobudur (thirsty for beer after an hour plus in the heat and humidity!).
a view out from among the stupa near the top of Borobudur
a view out from among the stupa near the top of Borobudur
among the stupa approximately half-way up the steps to attain enlightenment; looking over the gardens
among the stupa approximately half-way up the steps to attain enlightenment; looking over the gardens
everyone wants a picture of Buddha!
everyone wants a picture of Buddha!
Sadly, many of the statues were vandalized during the years when Borobudur was not maintained.
Sadly, many of the statues were vandalized during the years when Borobudur was not maintained.
at the base of Borobudur; note the speakers high on the left, available for the call to prayer
at the base of Borobudur; note the speakers high on the left, available for the call to prayer
one of the 504 Buddha at Borobudur
one of the 504 Buddha at Borobudur
Joe saluting from a low level of the temple; you can see the narrative relief in the sones behind him; hopefully you can get a sense of the steps as you look to the right.
Joe saluting from a low level of the temple; you can see the narrative relief in the sones behind him; hopefully you can get a sense of the steps as you look to the right.

 

Borobudur

Temple of Borobudur, Java, Indonesia                   Friday,            March 4, 2016
Yesterday we visited the Temple of Borobudur in Java, Indonesia. On the long (2+ hour) trip to the temple, we learned a ton of geographic and historic facts about Indonesia and the islands and neighboring countries, but I can’t remember much of it. Suffice to say that it is much more complex and diverse than I knew! On the ride we also passed mosque after mosque; each village and town has one, and you can see all shapes, sizes and colors of domes as you drive along.

We arrived at Borobudur, which is the world’s largest Buddhist shrine and place for pilgrims, and the most visited place on the island. Of course there were tour groups from all over, but it was surprisingly peaceful and quiet despite the number of visitors and vendors (selling kites, puppets, wood carvings, items made from batik and colorful fabric, souvenirs, etc.). We donned sarongs as is customary to cover the body and show respect, and walked around the perimeter of the monument with our guide, learning its history and significance.

Borobudur was built in the early 800s (yes, that’s the 9th century, not the 19th), over the course of 80 years. Stone cutters brought large pieces of gray andesite stone through the forest, and constructed the temple by laying the stones together – no mortar or similar material adheres the stones to one another. The monument is about 400 square feet, and over 100 feet in height. Narrative reliefs (1460 of them) describing the life of Buddha and the way to enlightenment are carved into the stone panels, and stupa (dome-shaped structures) house various statues of Buddha. A pilgrim or visitor can enter the lowest level of Borobudur, and walk a circular path through the monument to the top, progressing through the Buddhist stages – the worlds of desire, form and formlessness (nirvana).

There are many explanations of the symbolism of Borobudur, and we learned that the stupa reflect 3 of Buddha’s attributes: the substantial base stands for wisdom; the dome reflects an inverted alms/begging bowl, standing for charity; and the stick that protrudes from the top of the stupa represents Buddha’s walking stick, which stands for leadership. So, a person who strives to follow Buddha will show wisdom, charity and leadership.

Borobudur fell into disuse due to several factors (including volcanic eruptions nearby, the rise of Islam), but was restored in the early 1800s due to the efforts of Sir Thomas Raffles (of Raffles Hotel, Singapore fame). The temple is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

We were fortunate enough to be able to ascend to the top of the temple and look out over meticulous grounds and gardens, very simple and peaceful despite the number of tourists. At mid-day we heard the Islam call for prayer to Allah, as we looked at the Buddhist temple.

After an hour or so in the hot sun climbing the steps (and nervously descending where there were no handrails and the steps were steep and uneven), we went to a beautiful pavilion on the grounds of the temple, and enjoyed a traditional dance performance (and some local beer).

There were many from our cruise who took this long trek to Borobudur, and when we returned to the ship in late afternoon to depart for Malaysia, everyone was remarking on how beautifully spiritual the day was.

Hope that you enjoy the pictures we post – as with so many things, they don’t do justice to the reality.

Best,

MA