I am sitting now in the city of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, enjoying a Bintang beer and enjoying the cool night air and enjoying the person with whom I’m sharing this all with. Yesterday, our first day here, we explored the town and indulged in some delicious food, mostly the famous (and famously greasy) nasi goreng; today we woke up at the crack of dawn to visit Borobodur, a huge temple an hour from here. The temple was beautiful, intricate and immense. We circled up it slowly, fancying ourselves like all those who climb it to reach enlightenment.
At the top, we were approached by a group of schoolchildren who wanted to interview us as part of their final English exam (being interviewed by schoolchildren is quite a common occurrence when travelling, it seems). They asked us about our plans for Indonesia and about our home countries: “Where are you going next?” “What are you most excited for on your holiday?” “Can you tell us about animal husbandry in your country?” (Answers: Mount Bromo and then Bali, diving in the Gili Islands, ummmmmm cows?) They also asked us about famous temples or other such landmarks in our native lands. And this is where I find countries like Canada differ so much with the countries I’ve been visiting; we really don’t have famous man-made landmarks the way that other places, places with such deep history, do. Being such a young country, Canada’s landmarks are almost all of the natural variety. We simply don’t have huge temples that date back hundreds and thousands of years.
I was struck by this same observation when I visited the Taj Mahal in Agra a few months ago – there is nothing like it in Canada (though one could argue there is nothing quite like the Taj Mahal anywhere in the world). I was overwhelmed by its beauty, its size, its history, by its fame but also its mystery; it was one of the top highlights of my travels. I was transfixed.
I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have seen some of the most renown and wonderful man-made sights our world offers us: the Taj Mahal of India, the Pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge of England, the Great Wall of China, Schwedagon Paya of Myanmar, the Eiffel Tower of France, Teotihuacan of Mexico, the many wats of Thailand and Laos, the many churches of Spain and Russia and Italy and beyond. I’m so glad I’ve been able to add Borobudur of Indonesia to this list, and I would definitely recommend it if you ever find yourself on the island of Java.
So yes, we’re off to Mount Bromo tomorrow, and then we’re taking a ferry to Bali a few days after that. I only have three weeks of this adventure left, but I’m glad I’ll be spending them in the sun and the sand and the sea.