118m a side for the greatest Buddhist monument in the world. 4 staircases crack its walls and lead the hesitant visitors towards the way of wisdom and spirituality. At each floor, a pathway snakes around the building. More we climb, more these paths shorten. The way to the bliss gets closer when I arrive at the first top level. Stone bells drilled with hexagonal spyholes let us see the sitting-and-praying Buddha statues inside. The body is shut in, but the thought and spiritual strength seem to carry out through the openings of the wrapping.
This monument shows the high Buddhist activity which livens up the island of Java, a few centuries ago. Then, Islam spread out attracting most of the inhabitants and the influence of the Borobudur temple crumbled away little by little, passing from the status of praying and devotion place to the one of huge architectural remains registered on the World Heritage list.
It nevertheless remains this large, impressive and massive pyramid for which the use of a puffy, black volcanic stone turns out to be uncommon. The dark stones let only carry out the essential thing. The illuminations become embedded in the foot of the pathways and the often-beheaded Buddhas statues have pride of place on the low wall. They point at the outside, acting like magnets for the faithful. And for a couple of hours I change into one of these faithful people.
before heading back to Yogyakarta, « the soul » of the Java island, our van makes a detour to the Merapi volcano, subject of a devastating eruption a few years ago, then we stop at the Hindu-deities-dedicated Prambanan temples for a short time. Last Indonesian meeting before I fly off to Malaysia.
Tuesday 2 September 2008
By dorian on Tuesday 2 September 2008, 09:28
Sunday 31 August 2008
By dorian on Sunday 31 August 2008, 09:24
Since I landed in Bali, a postcard-like picture constantly comes back to the point of haunting my curiosity. A curiosity that changed into an obsessional desire which would be defined as following: it it would appear to be a chaotic piling up of several perfectly-proportioned volcanoes set down an imposing caldeira. The ground of this caldeira would be covered by a sea of sand and fumaroles would rend its airs. To round off the dream, an ocean of clouds would encircle this cauldron the rising sun would stroke with its benevolent rays. I lived this dream.
The caldeira is called Tengger and the volcanic protagonists, Bromo, Batok, Kursi and Semeru. The nature within its complete and utter splendour. Departure from the village of Semero Lewang, we get up at 4 o'clock and walk down the caldeira. We tread on the sea of sand in the misty night up to the base of the Bromo. 253 steps complete this short stroll and hurl us onto the ridge of the crater. The dawn clears up the dark haze and the first shapes loom. We have left the Earth for an express journey to the moon. We walk around the crater which continually ejects its noxious fumes. In the distance, the Semeru splutters at regular intervals. A cotton-wool-like cloud which leaks from the tormented bowels of the Earth. Our loop ends in front of the staircase. Unique human-print appearance in a land that is not dedicated to him.
After experiencing the volcanic activity from inside, it's this postcard-like panorama described and admired so many times we want to reach. A very goal as soon as we wake up it summarizes with this short sentence: « be at the sunrise from the Penanjakan ». From the top of this hill, the nature gives us a good surprise modeling a new form of magic. Visual perfection which overshadows all the other senses. For a few hours, our eyes soak in everything. Attempting to describe something indescribable. Engraving something impalpable. The mounts of the last day didn't move, just the view angle changed. And what we lived? A sensory blaze of glory.
Friday 29 August 2008
By dorian on Friday 29 August 2008, 23:01
End of our Balinese adventure, most of the family goes back to France to enjoy the last days of summer on the French Riviera. I move on to Java with my parents. A short journey by bemo up to Gilimanuk before getting on the ferry which links the island of Java in 45 minutes. Transition from an island to another, radical change of culture.
Our first stage will be the Kawah Ijen, a volcano whose crater shelters an emerald-hued lake. This volcano was made famous by Nicolas Hulot and the Kraft couple for its mind-boggling colours and the sensation that the man is not welcome in the heart of this mountain.
The Kawah Ijen is the main extraction area of the Indonesian sulphur. The deposit of this yellowish substance is located inside the crater itself. Wrapped by a stifling sulphurous cloud, we walk downhill to meet it. On the way, no machine, just few men carrying 2 baskets they balance on one of their shoulders. An appalling work that begins a little bit further downhill, near the emerald lake. Pipes provide steam which liquefies the sulphur. The orangy juice finishes to solidify in a yellow and compact slab. A worker breaks off the ground to get some transportable fragments he loads into the basket. A mere dirty piece of linen covers his nose and mouth by way of respiratory protection. Around the sulphurous mound, a suffocating, whitish vapour gives an otherworldly feeling. Each porter loads his parcel and starts a slow ascent of the crater then a walking downhill. The suffering distorts their faces, the disastrous effects of the day-after-day inhaled gas can be heard in the hoarse cough of these courageous workers. More than 2 hours to bring back the booty down of the volcano. Each hero carries a minimum of 80 kilos, twice a day. The kilo is sold 400 Rupiah which represents a one-Euro gain for 35 kilos brought down! The modern times of hard labour. Scant consolation, the scenery is a visual pleasure. Supernatural colours. A dense and mythical smoke which, as a jewel case, hides the beauty of its bowels. An inhospitable land where the man hasn't his place but the economical realities drive the neediest to enlist in the volcanic adventure. And with 80 kilos on a deformed shoulder by so many journeys, they are genuine heroes in my opinion. And each time I'll eat some granulated sugar, I'll think about these smiling faces the life hasn't blessed because among its uses, the sulphur serves to refine the sugar.
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