2009 World Cruise – February 26 was a sea day and Indonesian Night in the dining room. John wore his Indonesian shirt and I made a wrap skirt from fabric I had purchased in Lembar. The wait staff fellows all immediately recognized John’s shirt as an Indonesian pattern and were quite tickled to see him wear it. Assistant Dining Room Steward – Agus and Wine Steward -Ceasar.
I ordered the T-bone steak for dinner that night. When my plate arrived all you could see was the steak! All the veggies were underneath. It was a 12-oz steak. I did not eat it all.I was up at 6:30 the next morning when we docked in Semarang. Already there were young ladies and men standing behind the security fence waiting for a chance to see their family member who was part of our crew. As the day progressed more and more wives and children arrived. By day’s end over 1000 guests had been brought on board for dinner, a tour of the ship, and a visit with their husband/wife/sister/brother, etc. Really cool! Our cabin stewards were two young Indonesian men called, Totok (Toto) and Taufik (Toffee). Totok’s wife and 8-month old son were coming to Semarang by an 8-hour train ride in the hope of having an hour or so together while the ship was in port. We told them they need not clean our cabin that day and to ensure they would not get in any trouble with management we put a note on our door that we did not want the cabin cleaned. We told many people on our deck that was our plan, others did the same, and there were notes up and down the halls all over the ship in the hope the men and women would have more time with their loved ones. (Toto was so happy the next day telling us about the time he spent with his active little boy.)
We left the ship at 8:30 for the 2 1/2 hour bus ride to Borobudur Temple. This ancient wonder of the world was a very popular tour and there were 12 buses of guests. Every two buses was escorted by a police car with two officers inside. They drove all the way to the temple with lights flashing and sirens blaring. (We had a police escort on our excursion in Lembar the other day as well.) This is not a security measure; it is a traffic necessity. The roads are so congested that without an escort to make a path it would take over 8 hours to get to Borobudur.
I was very glad to be sitting in the middle of the bus and not near the front. It was a hair-raising ride. The police cars wove back and forth across lanes and even drove down the wrong lane or made a third lane in the middle. Cars, trucks, carts, motorcycles, and bicycles all had to veer out of the way of our long convoy. I even saw some motorcycles fall over to avoid the police and buses. Good thing that all the congestion keeps traffic speeds quite low. I don’t think anyone got hurt. Certainly an experience to remember – not really eager to repeat it either.
Half-way on the journey to the temple we stopped for coffee and a break at the Eva Coffee Plantation. As always, there was opportunity to shop. I made a huge purchase. I bought a package of three fans for $2. (I still have them and will take one with me to a concert or show or something if I expect it to be hot and stuffy.) There were three young girls in traditional dress and make-up who danced very beautifully and gracefully for our entertainment. Borobudur Temple was built around 850 AD and is the largest single monument in the Southern Hemisphere. It is believed that the temple was only used for about 75 years before being abandoned because of a change in ruler. It is over 100′ tall and comprised of about 2,000,000 stone blocks built around a central dirt core. It is covered with the finest stone reliefs, carvings and images of Buddah in the world. There are 10 terraces symbolizing the path to Nirvana and at the top there is the Great Stupa, which towers above the other 72 stupas and statues.After it was abandoned the temple was covered by lava flows and jungle and disappeared. It was re-discovered in 1814 by Sir Stamford Raffles and took over a century to uncover and restore. It was truly incredible to see something so large and beautifully designed knowing it was built so long ago with simple tools by thousands of men over, they estimate, 75-100 years. After spending a couple of hours exploring the temple we were provided a buffet lunch at a near-by hotel. We were then driven to a village on top of a hill where we boarded a steam train for a 1 hour trip down to the Bedono Valley. As the train began to pull out and gather speed a group of boys ran along side and those that could reach the train hopped on and clung to the side for the ride. It was pouring rain the whole time but they didn’t mind. They could sure run in those flip flops! We saw many rice fields as we traveled down the to the valley. There was a train museum at the bottom and we had time to check out some of the old engines. We also were treated to a beautiful traditional dance before we boarded the buses again and the police cars escorted us back to the ship. We arrived with minutes to spare to get into the dining room for dinner.