Thursday, 28 October 2010

Java: Borobudur

Tuesday 26 October: Borobudur is a glorious Buddhist temple, with seven levels of carved stonework, built around 800 AD. The site is ringed by volcanic peaks and the temple lies in the shadow of Mt Merapi, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Now a World Heritage Site, for many centuries Borobudur lay overgrown and buried under layers of volcanic ash before Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, governor of Java, cleared the site in 1815.
Lunch at the Lotus Guesthouse is a delicious bowl of Soto Resah, chicken and shredded vegetables in a rich yellow coconut-milk soup. The chef has won awards for this dish and it is now, deservedly, the restaurant's most popular meal.
Nearby, the small but delightful Mendut temple has a living Buddhist community and a wonderful 15-foot high stone Buddha, unusually, sitting in the upright position, western style.

In the evening, an alert from the Foreign Office tells me:

Mt Merapi in Yogyakarta, t
he most active volcano in Indonesia, started to erupt on 26 October. The mountain is now closed to climbers and people living within a six-mile radius have been evacuated. There have been a number of fatalities.

I wanted to climb Mt Merapi (at 9,813ft when last measured, it's twice the height Ben Nevis) from the south, Kaliurang side, but now the whole area is an off-limits disaster zone.
Photos of Borobudur temple.

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