February 2018

Amanjiwo and Borobudur

A couple of years ago, I told to myself that I would do my best to explore Indonesia’s beauty. So far, I can say that I’ve been fortunate enough to had visited some of many people’s dream places: Raja Ampat, Flores, Komodo, Rote, Sumba, …..

Although there’s still a lot of places I still want to go, Jogjakarta and Borobudur has always been on my “bucket list” for long time.

I love visiting places with history, culture, … and Jogyakarta and Borobudur, in central Java, are full of it. Taking advantage that I had a few days off from Nihi I thought it was the perfect opportunity to plan a short escape.

While talking with Nihi’s guests, most of them talked wonders of Amanjiwo as one of the best hotels in the world in terms of service, location and unique architecture. So I decided to reach them out and in a matter of a couple of weeks I was doing check-in in this incredible hotel, where I stayed 2 nights.

On the way to Borobudur, I wanted to visit Taman Sari Palace in Jogjakarta. This is the former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta and it was built mid 18th century, consisting of 4 distinct areas: artificial lake; bathing complex, complex of pavilions and pools and another small lake. Some manuscripts says that one of the architects was Portuguese (now I really, really had to visit this place). When arriving I could actually see the resemblance with Quinta da Bacalhoa, a palace near where I used to live. Taman Sari is beautiful and visiting Sumur Gumming structure (that was used as a mosque) made me feel being in one a Escher paintings (check his “impossible paintings”). It was a busy day and I had to wait for long time to get the chance of taking photos without (or less) people in it.

After some Portuguese heritage, was time to keep driving to Borobudur.

Borobudur area is a simple muslim village, surrounded by mountains, jungle and rice fields. Soon as I arrived at Amanjiwo I felt I was entering the Sultan Palace with it’s architecture inspired in the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur (a temple that can be seen from the resort).

For 2 nights (definitely not enough to enjoy the place) I stayed in this insane Garden Pool Suite: a huge room with a big private pool just for myself. 

I could see why people become “#amanjunkies” … they prepared me a dream itinerary. It all started with a spa massage on arrival, the perfect way to get into the mood of the hotel and be relaxed to enjoy a delicious tasting menu with local indonesian flavours for dinner.

For day #1, I trekked to Selogryo Hindu Temple. Located on the slopes of Mt Sumbing Volcano on a very natural, peaceful and very local environment, where the youngest were having fun with pigeon races and the adults were taking care of the rice paddies. When arriving to the temple, I had a delicious breakfast picnic. Back to the hotel, I took the afternoon to walk down the rice fields and to swim in the “olympic pool”, right before I went back to my own private pool. Unfortunately the weather was cloudy and rainy, but still I was able to enjoy some raining night swim and hot tea with cookies to recover energy from the daily activities (if you haven’t try this, you must!! There some sort of magic on night swim under the rain).

Not that all this was not the perfect stay, but I must confess that the highlight was, without doubt, the last day.

It all started with the sunrise in Borobudur temple, where I found myself involved in a cold and magical mist. For those who don’t know, Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa and temple complex dated from the 18th century. As the biggest buddhist temple in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s located in one of the most muslim areas in Indonesia. Muji (my incredible guide) and I arrived still at night time and we walked to the top of the temple, looking for the perfect spot. When the night started to become day, the place was already crowded so I walked around trying to find a place less busy to enjoy the Mother’s Nature show and get some photos. Some people were there just for selfies, others to enjoy the temple and the sunrise. A few were there to immerse in the temple in a different way … by meditating. It’s indeed a fascinating place.

On the way back to the airport, there was still time for a quick stop in another temple: Prambanan. Built on the ninth Century, it’s the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia.

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