Tempeh? In Indonesia?


Before I arrived in Jakarta, I thought tempeh was only
found in health food stores and select markets, but apparently it
originated in Indonesia! Thankfully, because there’s a serious lack
of Indian restaurants and “vegetarian” isn’t a common word around
here. We’re on yet another train this morning. We had an early
start from our hotel in Bangdung where we spent the night and now
we’re headed to Yogyakarta, famous for its temples (the largest
Buddhist temple in the world!) and local arts. The landscape in
Indonesia is incredible. Terraced rice patties, waterfalls, jagged
mountains and every shade of green imaginable. I love traveling by
train because it’s a great way to see the scenery and it’s more
comfortable than a bus. We arrived in Yogyakarta in the afternoon
and had a late lunch/early dinner at a great little cafe called
ViaVia. It was started by a group of young Belgian travelers who
were concerned about the rapid growth of tourism and its affect on
the environment and traditional cultures. They created ViaVia,
which now has 12 locations across four continents and each
establishment works to protect the environment and promote
sustainability. The cafe we visited in Yogyakarta uses mostly
organic products, no straws (unless requested), and lots of
vegetarian options. They also offer tours and classes that are
environmentally friendly and help out the local communities. The
adjoining shop sells locally made crafts like soaps, shampoos,
bags, tea, and coffee. I bought a pack of 11 pure essential oils
that will be great for massage! The next day we arranged to visit
two of the local temples, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The
first was Prambanan, an ancient Hindu temple built in the ninth
century and dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the
Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu), and the Destroyer
(Shiva). It reminded me of Ayutthaya, the temples I visited outside
of Bangkok. Very impressive and slightly eerie, especially the dark
cavernous rooms within the massive temples that housed altars and
stone statues. The second site we visited was equally as beautiful.
It was Borobodur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world! Also
built in the ninth century, it is comprised of six square platforms
topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672
relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. At the top there is a main
dome surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa
(thanks wikipedia). You need to see it to understand how impressive
it is. We spent about two hours there (being photographed by the
local tourists as much as we were taking pictures ourselves),
hoping to see the sunset, but the guards made us leave before the
sun sank went below the hills. On the way back to Yogyakarta we saw
Merapi in the distance, the volcano that erupted about a month ago
and covered the surrounding landscape in ash. We saw the remnants
of the destruction along the roadside – piles of grey ash, rivers
that looked black, and trucks hauling tons of the stuff out of the
villages and back to the slopes of the mountain. Hopefully it will
remain quiet for the next few weeks… Today is our last day in
Yogyakarta and tomorrow we have a long bus ride (12 hours) into the
mountains where we’ll spent Christmas. Our guide, Dara, said it
will be cold, but I’m still not expecting snow.

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One Response

  1. It all seems so surreal, as do your pictures! It looks like you are in ” Becky in Wonderland”. I want to be there!

    Hope your Christmas is joyful. i will be thinking of you!
    Love Karen

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