Our two month adventure in Indonesia during the Fall of 2014 included two weeks on the island of Java. After a 10 hour train ride from Jakarta we spent several nights at Rumah Dharma, a set of 5 humble cottages set amidst the green fields of the Barepan community near the site of the largest Bhuddist temple monument in the world, Borobudur, a UNESCO site, ironically embedded in a predominantly Muslim country. The surrounding fields yielded tobacco, chili peppers, rice and a variety of unnamed vegetables, with these separate parcels owned by different villagers.
At 4:30 a.m. on our second day, we bicycled half a mile in the pitch black early hours to Manohara to climb to the top of this massive temple complex, mastering 1 foot high risers. The breathtaking view was worth it as the sky began its slowly increasing soft red-hued glow.
As the day dawned, we could see that we were surrounded by 12 foot high bell ringer-shaped lava rocks, stupas, with Buddha figures ensconced inside, visible through one of the many diamond-shaped openings. Our guide, Heru, shared his extensive knowledge of the 2,672 relief panels that held Buddhist history and mythology, which made this a valuable educational experience!
Back at Rumah Dharma, our Indonesian host, Medi, a short, stout, fun-loving and playful character, regaled us with his high pitched laughter, as well as playing the guitar and singing several decades old British pop tunes in his guttural soprano voice.