Monday, August 4, 2008
basking in central java & amanjiwo
Indonesia has a lot of facets worthy of remembrance, but so far, none has taken my breath like Central Java. This volcanic region is home to a handful of highly active volcanoes and is home to a fertile topography of tobacco and the endearing kretek.
We went to Central Java with very little expectations of its so-called architectural gem - Borobodur. Having lived in Cambodia for quite some time on the shadows of Angkor, we figured that we would have seen it all and Borobodur would pale in comparison.
But we were definitely taken by surprise...
The magic began the moment we arrived at Amanjiwo where we were driven from the airport in solo to a two hour journey to the resort. We were welcomed at the stairs by Javanese flower girls who showered us with a fragrant spray of rose petals and we slowly made our way up to the main circular hall.
Then we caught glimpse of Borobodur being framed perfectly by the pillars to the center as the clouds slowly revealed the monument right before our eyes. We found out that the entire resort was designed to perfectly echo the direction of the temple on the hill.
We were welcomed by Bapak Sean, the general manager, who also had a quick drink with us and gave us an introduction to Amanjiwo. Then, we were ushered to our room to slowly take in the views. Every single touch, scent and texture around us were given incredible artistic thought…
A symphony of stone and wood was present all throughout our rooms but they were softened by flowers here and there and an ethereal melody of Javanese gamelan music. We slept like babies on our first night.
We woke up early the next morning (and the next!) to be taken to the temple and the village by a local horse-drawn carriage called the Andong.
The trip to Borobodur was truly beyond what I had expected. In contrast to the thousands of tourists clambering up the temples of Angkor, Borobodur is still on its most pristine state... we watched the sun rise over the mist by ourselves...
The bastion of Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Borobodur has been a centre of faith where even the great Khmer ruler who founded the Angkor empire has been sent to study in the 9th century. It has been said that Borobodur has been the inspiration to build monuments even greater to glorify the ancient Cambodian gods.
We went back for lunch at Amanjiwo's spectacular Dining Room where our minds are still bewidered by our Borobodur experience - gasping on every single travel adjective cliche one can think of.
Although the entire Javanese island has converted from Buddhism to Islam, much of their traditional art and vernacular culture has been retained.
For a reason, the pool suite which was offered to us earlier was closed because apparently, David and Victoria Beckham were also there...
But then, a breakfast picnic was prepared for us by Chef Linda on a gorgeous cliff owned by a local artist overlooking the river.