2016 Chinese New Year Holiday

This year we went on a 3 island-hopping holiday, mostly to see some very old temples.

Singapore
We briefly stopped in Singapore where we walked down Orchard Road & visited a few favourite spots from when we lived there including stopping by to see our old house (which hasn’t changed). Unfortunately Dad’s favourite restaurant (Best of Bez) is no longer there, so we went to see the new Gardens by the bay which includes 2 indoor botanical gardens.

Bali
In Bali we relaxed by Nusa beach, in spite of the rain!

Java
We stayed very close to Borobudur and listened to 2 lectures from a Belgian anthropologist so we understood a little of the history of the temples we then went to see. We had a very good view from our hotel of Borobudur and Mt. Merapi.

I also learnt how to make chocolate soufflé and had a go at batik. We woke up very early to go to see sunrise in Borobudur ……

World Heritage Site 1 – Borobudur
Borobudur is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. Founded by a king of the Saliendra dynasty, it was built to honour the glory of both the Buddha and its founder. This harmonious temple complex was built on several levels around a hill which forms a natural centre. The first level above the base comprises five square terraces, graduated in size and forming the base of a pyramid. Above this level are three concentric circular platforms crowned by the main stupa (relic mound) to which stairways provide access. The base and balustrades enclosing the square terraces are decorated in reliefs sculpted in the stone. They illustrate the different phases of the soul’s progression towards redemption and episodes from the life of Buddha. The circular terraces are decorated with seventy-two openwork stupas, each containing a statue of Buddha. Stylistically the art of Borobudur is a tributary of Indian influences (Gupta and post-Gupta styles). The walls of Borobudur are sculptured in bas-reliefs, extending over a total length of 6 km. It has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit, each scene an individual masterpiece. This colossal temple was built between AD 750 and 842, more than 300 years before Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and 400 years before work had begun on the great European cathedrals. Little is known about its early history except that a huge army of workers toiled in the tropical heat to shift and carve the 60,000 m3 of stone. At the beginning of the eleventh century AD, because of the political situation in Central Java, divine monuments in that area, including the Borobudur Temple, became completely neglected and given over to decay. The sanctuary was exposed to volcanic eruption and other ravages of nature. The temple was not rediscovered until the nineteenth century. A first restoration campaign, supervised by Theodor van Erp, was undertaken shortly after the turn of the century. A second, more recent one (1973–82) was funded by UNESCO.

The next day we visited several temples including Prambanan

World Heritage Site 2 – Prambanan
Prambanan is a magnificent Hindu temple complex in Java, built in the ninth century and designed as three concentric squares. In all there are 224 temples in the entire complex. The inner square contains sixteen temples, the most significant being the imposing 47-m-high Siva temple flanked to the north by the Brahma temple and to the south by the Vishnu temple. Each temple is decorated with reliefs illustrating the Ramayana. There are also three smaller temples for the animals who serve them (Bull for Siva, Eagle for Brahma and Swan for Vishnu). The compound was deserted soon after it was completed, possibly owing to the eruption of nearby volcano, Mount Merapi. The neighbouring Buddhist complex at Sewu comprises a central temple surrounded by a multitude of minor temples and, surprisingly, shares many design attributes with Prambanan.

Anyone who enjoys Lego (without instructions) might want to go and help with the restoration, as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have left a lot of stones in a muddle!

From Thomas

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