Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Borobudur is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. It dates to the 8th century but was abandoned not long after it was finished. 

By the time it was rediscovered in 1815, it was covered in volcanic ash and crumbling. 

It was reconstructed with UNESCO funds in the 70s and 80s, but according to my trusty Lonely Planet, bombed in 1985. It's like two million puzzle pieces, with stupas and reliefs telling stories. There are gods and goddesses, and in one section animals. 

The surrounding countryside is lush and green. We were lucky with the weather. It poured all afternoon. 

By the time we left, the monument was filled with tour groups, mostly local schoolchildren. Half of them wanted to take pictures with me. Everyone I've met in Java has a smartphone, mostly Chinese iPhone clones. 

It's similar to the Bayon in Cambodia, which I visited in 1999. But Borubudor's setting is more spectacular up on a hill. 

Crazy Bali tourists fly over for the day. Technically it's possible, but Java is enormous and there's so much to see here. 

Afterward, we drank coffee at a luxury hotel nearby. You could just see the top of Borubudor in the distance, with glints of gold: the umbrellas of the next round of visitors. 

All in all, another amazing day.