Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mt. Merapi and Borobudur

Monday in Indonesia was the second day of the Idul Fitri holiday. Since most people were spending the day with families, I opted to do some course prep instead of research. Bishop Catur of the Solo 2nd ward offered to let me use one of his cars (he runs a car dealership) and asked fellow ward member Bayu (left) to do the driving. He brought along his friend Nanda (right). My primary destination was Borobudur, but when Bayu recommended we take the road lest traveled via Mt Merapi, I readily agreed. It was a great decision.

We drove along the northern slope of the mountain through fields of tobacco.

The summit of Merapi was only clear for a few minutes.


And more tobacco

The summit enclosed.

Tobacco drying on the side of the house. There were also trays of cloves drying along the road side which along with the tobacco are the two main ingredients of the distinctively aromatic kretek cigarettes so common in Indonesia.

After three hours of driving, I then explored magnificent Boroboudur for a few hours.

I circumabulated all seven terraces before reaching the penultimate stupa on top.

I was accompanied by thousands of vacationing Indonesian families, who moved slowly, stopped to take more photos than me and carried obnoxious umbrellas that got in the way of my photos.

The first level of the temple includes scenes of Javanese life.

The second terrace begins the life of Buddha seen here being enlightened under the bodhi tree.

The third and fourth levels focus on the teachings Buddhism.

On the fifth level I was asked about a dozen times to have my photo take with vacationing families and groups of friends.

The fifth, sixth and seventh levels contain 72 Buddha encased stupas,

Once upon a time when I was a culturally insensitive 19 year old I made my first pilgrimage to Borobudur. At the time it was not yet a World Heritage Site, it was not packed with tourists, it was not treated by locals as a place of worship and it had not yet been restored completely and so there was one headless Buddha that just begged to have this photo taken. At the time we missionaries, plus many Indonesians, all had this photo taken. It was near this time that two Thailand serving elders were thrown in jail when their film showing them climbing on a Statue of Buddha was developed in Bangkok by an observant (in two ways--by noticing the photo and by being a practicing Buddhist) Buddhist. Now the head has been replaced and tourist police yell in megaphones at anyone (Muslim or Mormon) who climbs (many, but not me, still do) on the stupas, plus all visitors must wear sarongs to show respect,

Inside you can see the face of Buddha.

Happy Muslims celebrating the end of the fast by visiting a Buddhist Temple.

The getting out processional moved even slower than trying to exit from the Marriott Center after a BYU devotional.

Nearby Candi (temple) Mendut

Flying from Jogjakarta to Jakarta I caught a glimpse of the Hindu Temple Complex of Prambanan

plus spectacular views of Merapi--this is why I prefer window seats.

Mt. Merapi (right) and Mt. Merbabu (left). Our morning drive went between these two mountains.

Notice the silver streaks in the river beds of the cold lahars that flowed down from Merapi last year.


Further west were two more volcanoes. Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country on earth.

The close proximity of these four volcanoes is good evidence of why Indonesia is part of the Ring of Fire. Students in my SE Asia and world geography classes this fall will certainly see a few of these slides in lectures.