Located on the north coast of Java right about its center point is the busy port city of Semarang…the city where we are docked. Although not as well known as other cities, Semarang is the Capital of the province of Central Java. We are greeted by beautiful dancers accompanied by traditional local musicians.
According to history, Semarang was given by the Sultan to the Dutch East India Company, in 1708, from which time this town was built into a Dutch enclave. For this reason, Semarang has an Old Town which was built during Dutch colonial times.
The port city of Semarang is a melting pot of beautiful architecture, rich history, delectable food, and colourful multiculturism. Borobudur, the majestic and world’s largest Buddhist temple, is a 105km scenic car ride away. It’s the only sightseeing we will be doing during our stop.
Located on the island of Java, the magnificent Borobudur temple is an ancient site widely considered to be one of the world’s seven wonders. The temple sits majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, the temple’s design in Gupta architecture reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.
It covers an enormous area, measuring 123 x 123 meters. The monument is a marvel of design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The architecture and stonework of this temple has no equal. And it was built without using any kind of cement or mortar!
The temple has remained strong even through ten centuries of neglect. It was rediscovered in 1815, buried under volcanic ash. In the 1970’s the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty The restoration took eight years to complete and today Borobudur is one of Indonesia and the world’s most valuable treasures. The temple is decorated with stone carvings in bas-relief representing images from the life of Buddha. It is claimed to be the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit.
The best way to explore this site is on foot. Our guide was able to walk us around the site and explain the history of the temple, beginning with its construction during the Syailendra dynasty. As we climbed to the top of this magnificent temple we marveled at the intricate detailed stone carvings displayed on the temple’s walls. It is said that Nirvana can be attained at the top of the Temple. I don’t think we experienced Nirvana but we did enjoy the magnificence of this Buddhist Temple and the beautiful surroundings as evidenced with the pictures below.
Luckily, we finished our tour and were heading down to the restaurant just as the skies opened up. We had both an umbrella and a rain poncho so we didn’t get too wet, but the rain came down in sheets.
The bus ride from port is about 3 hours long each way and it would be a lot worse if it were not for the police escort that our busses were provided for. Police lights on, sirens where necessary and traffic cops at major intersections facilitated an exciting and interesting bus ride each way.
We are currently enjoying a day at sea before reaching Bali tomorrow. Some of you have asked what we do on our days at sea. Frankly, we are way too busy on our sea days by choice. For example, we start our day with a stretch class at 07:00. This is followed by an ABS class at 07:30. From there, a shower and breakfast after which (or before depending on the day), we walk on the deck where I try to get a 5 km brisk walk in before a talk by the ship’s guide on our next port of call (in this case Bali). At 11:00, we go to America’s Test Kitchen for cooking classes. Lunch at Noon. First guest lecturer at 1:00, work on this blog at 2:00, second guest lecturer at 3:00, Free time until 5:00 when it is time to get ready for supper. Supper at 5:30 – 7:30. A brief stop at the Piano Bar to hear a few tunes before the show (tonight are the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers with a tribute to the Rat Pack) at 8:00. At 9:00, we are beat and head back to the cabin to finish the blog and get caught up on emails. That’s a typical, wonderful day at sea…we are so spoiled not having to make our bed, or clean our cabin, or make our meals, or do dishes, or change our towels. The biggest decision of the day was really what to eat! We are very blessed to have this experience and do not take it for granted.