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Borobudur: A Savage Wheel to a Savage Monument

The alarm began ringing at 6am (playing the theme to sim city 2000; if you know and love this tune as well, please let us know in the comments) and Scott and I pulled ourselves out of the warm, slightly sweaty, and intensely patterned comfort of our beds at the Setia Yewan. Knowing we had a gnarly wheel ahead, we ordered the house Indonesian breakfasts and laid in to our piles of sweet fired rice, sunny side up eggs and fishy crackers. We had been struggling to warm up to the fishy crackers, but with the wheel ahead, we decided we needed all the calories we could get, so down the hatch they went as well. The ride was to be a little over 35 kilometers to Borobudur, and another 35 back, making it one of the more intense of the wheels of AsiaWheeling to date.
Outside our hotel, the sun shown bright, and the sky lacked even a hint of rain. Bolstered by the solid breakfast, we set out, wheeling hard northwards. Part way into the ride, Scott’s chain began to squeak (all the previous day’s rain no doubt), and we began pulling over at little roadside shops, many of which, amazingly, did not have any lubricant, claiming their speciality in tires or radiators did not necessitate the keeping of such materials on hand. In the end, we found an auto grease covered auto mechanic who was able to give us a little used motor oil, served from an old honey container, for free no less, which solved the squeaking quite nicely, albeit in a very sticky and black way.
We wheeled on through the morning, passing endless small businesses which survived from the traffic on the road to Borobudur. Most were selling either automotive supplies and services or snacks and souvenirs. The vast quantity and diversity of indonesian souvenirs is quite amazing, perhaps amplified by the fact that, as we have come to understand, they are all made in the Jogjakarta area. At one point, we passed a uniformed group of school children out for a morning jog. Needless to say, we were a big hit with them.
Finally the urban sprawl died away and we were once again surrounded by rice fields, furniture workshops, and smallish compounds full of fellows chipping away at stone to create ornate garden statues, and smaller souvenirs.  At one point we called a waypoint to investigate what appeared to be a large ornate cemetery in the distance. A fellow came up to us and immediately began teaching us Indonesian at an alarming and incomprehensible rate, which his compatriots struggled to fix their truck which had developed a number of debilitating problems. The fellow had progressed to lesson 7: how to say “Barak Obabma was used to live in Indonesia. Big ups Obama!” when we began to get restless and suffer from short term memory overload.
Back on the road, we had been directed by the fellows at the Setia Yewan to follow the busses, and so we did, taking a few turns, and from time to time stopping to confirm with a local that we were indeed headed for the great temple. Soon we began to see smaller temples in the centers of villages along the way and were sure we must be almost to that greatest of Buddhist pilgrimages. In preparation, we stopped at a little shop, and loaded up on water and indulged in some little snacks. It was only 10am but we were starving. We sucked down 3 liters of water, some soft drinks, and a package of indonesian pastries, and soon we were off again.
Borobudur was incredible. Generally, AsiaWheeling attempts to avoid the touristy activities. But for this we’ve decided to make an exception. I’ll let the photos and videos speak for this place, though if you are interested in more of the history I also highly recommend the wikipedia article, which we devoured on our wikireader.
<<<<video[s]>>>>>>>>>>
Before we got too far into the wheel back, we stopped at the same little shop. The owner seemed happy to see us and even more happy when we purchased another 3 liters of water, a can of Pakari Sweat and some fake m&ms. These calories proved just barely enough to get us back into the Yogjakarta area, and once we were about 10 miles out, the hunger started to take a very strong hold. Our reality became distorted, and we struggled not to become unhinged beasts on collapsable bicycles.
We had heard from the beautiful and well traveled Mai Mitsuboshi that in the vicinity there was a restaurant that specialized in all variety of mushroom dishes. This was to be a waypoint, and we had even gained the name of this place during our dinner with the Yogyakarta rainmakers 2 nights before. Unfortunately, it seems that the sweat and grit of the road had claimed this scrap of paper, leaving us with only knowledge of the theme and approximate location of this restaurant.
We began pulling off the road from time to time, attempting to communicate “mushroom restaurant.” As you can imagine, this was met with at times hilarious, but none too productive results. Finally, rabid with hunger and at our wits end, we pulled into General Electric’s Indonesian headquarters, the first fellow we spoke to took pity on us, in our ragged and disoriented state, flagging down a nearby driver, who questioned us some more, and then, may the angels sing his praises, related to us the location of the restaurant.
It was about 2 kilometers away, and we tore into the wheel. A new kind of electricity filled us at the thought of food, and we made very short work of the trip, despite the fact that it was all uphill, and the sun was beating down on our already quite burned skin.
And, dear reader, we were decidely not disappointed. The restaurant was shadey and dark, with many fountains, and the most enticing aromas wafting from the place. While the parking attendants marveled at the speed TRs.
<<image from Scott’s camera>>
We ordered with a refreshing lemon and mushroom drink, and scott a honey and lime. These were followed by mushroom satay dripping with a sweet peanut sauce; crispy fried mushrooms peppared and served with a red chili sauce; herbed and curried mushrooms complete with rice topped with more crispy mushrooms, mushroom lemongrass soup, and a mushroom and egg dish cutlet wrapped in banana leaf, and toasted over a fire. We tried as hard as we could to savor the feast, rather just inhale it, and achieved some non-trivial success. And then leaned back to relax and enjoy the rise in blood sugar.
The wheel home was glorious. It was almost all downhill, and we flew along, pedaling very little, but covering the remaining 10 kilometers in no time. We had grand plans for further missions, but after such a wheel, we could do little more than relax in the garden at the Setia Yewan and play the ukulele until the sun hung low in the sky and the call to prayer began to sound all over the city.

The alarm began ringing at 6am (playing the theme to Sim City 2000; if you know and love this tune as well, please let us know in the comments) and Scott and I pulled ourselves out of the warm, slightly sweaty, and intensely patterned comfort of our beds at the Setia Kawan. Knowing we had a gnarly wheel ahead, we ordered the house Indonesian breakfast and laid in to our piles of sweet fried rice, sunny side up eggs and fishy crackers. We had been struggling to warm up to the fishy crackers, but with the wheel ahead, we decided we needed all the calories we could get, so down the hatch they went as well. The ride was to be a little over 35 kilometers to Borobudur, and another 35 back, making it one of the more intense of the wheels of AsiaWheeling to date.

Outside our hotel, the sun shone bright, and the sky lacked even a hint of rain. Bolstered by the solid breakfast, we set out, wheeling hard northward. Part way into the ride, Scott’s chain began to squeak (all the previous day’s rain no doubt), and we began pulling over at little roadside shops, many of which, amazingly, did not have any lubricant, claiming their specialty in tires or radiators did not necessitate the keeping of such materials on hand. In the end, we found an auto grease-covered auto mechanic who was able to give us a little used motor oil, served from an old honey container, for free no less, which solved the squeaking quite nicely, albeit in a very sticky and black way.

Guy Carrying Jugs

We wheeled on through the morning, passing endless small businesses that survive from the traffic on the road to Borobudur. Most were selling either automotive supplies and services or snacks and souvenirs. The vast quantity and diversity of Indonesian souvenirs is quite amazing, perhaps amplified by the fact that, as we have come to understand, they are all made in the Jogjakarta area. At one point, we passed a uniformed group of school children out for a morning jog. Needless to say, we were a big hit with them.

Finally the urban sprawl died away and we were once again surrounded by rice fields, furniture workshops, and smallish compounds full of fellows chipping away at stone to create ornate garden statues, and smaller souvenirs.  At one point we called a waypoint to investigate what appeared to be a large ornate cemetery in the distance. A fellow came up to us and immediately began teaching us Indonesian at an alarming and incomprehensible rate, while his compatriots struggled to fix their truck which had developed a number of debilitating problems. The fellow had progressed to lesson 7:  how to say “Barak Obama was used to live in Indonesia. Big ups Obama!” when we began to get restless and suffer from short-term memory overload.

Fixing Truck

Back on the road, we had been directed by the fellows at the Setia Kawan to follow the buses, and so we did, taking a few turns, and from time to time stopping to confirm with a local that we were indeed headed for the great temple. Soon we began to see smaller temples in the centers of villages along the way and were sure we must be almost to that greatest of Buddhist pilgrimages. In preparation, we stopped at a little shop, and loaded up on water and indulged in some little snacks. It was only 10:00 am but we were starving.

Coke Ad

We sucked down three liters of water, some soft drinks, and a package of Indonesian pastries, and soon we were off again.

Borobudur was incredible. Generally, AsiaWheeling attempts to avoid the touristy activities. But for this we’d decided to make an exception. I’ll let the photos and videos speak for this place, though if you are interested in more of the history, I highly recommend the wikipedia article, which we devoured on our WikiReader..

Borobudur Carvings

Jungle

AsiaWheeling at Borobudur

Luckily, we had coordinated our outfits such that we were both wearing the AsiaWheeling uniform.

Before we got too far into the wheel back, we stopped at the same little shop. The owner seemed happy to see us and even more happy when we purchased another three liters of water, a can of Pakari Sweat and some fake M&Ms. These calories proved just barely enough to get us back into the Yogjakarta area, and once we were about 10 miles out, the hunger started to take a very strong hold. Our reality became distorted, and we struggled not to become unhinged beasts on collapsable bicycles.

We had heard from the beautiful and well traveled Mai Mitsuboshi that in the vicinity there was a restaurant that specialized in all variety of mushroom dishes. This was to be a waypoint, and we had even gained the name of this place during our dinner with the Yogyakarta rainmakers two nights before. Unfortunately, it seems that the sweat and grit of the road had claimed this scrap of paper, leaving us with only knowledge of the theme and approximate location of this restaurant.

We began pulling off the road from time to time, attempting to communicate “mushroom restaurant.” As you can imagine, this was met with at times hilarious, but none too productive results. Finally, rabid with hunger and at our wit’s end, we pulled into General Electric’s Indonesian headquarters, the first fellow we spoke to took pity on us, in our ragged and disoriented state, flagging down a nearby driver, who questioned us some more, and then, may the angels sing his praises, related to us the location of the restaurant.

It was about two kilometers away, and we tore into the wheel. A new kind of electricity filled us at the thought of food, and we made very short work of the trip, despite the fact that it was all uphill, and the sun was beating down on our already quite burned skin.

And, dear reader, we were decidely not disappointed.

Looking at the Menu at the Mushroom Restaurant near Borobudur

The restaurant was shady and dark, with many fountains, and the most enticing aromas wafting from the place. While the parking attendants marveled at the Dahon Speed TRs.

Inspecting the Dahon Speed TR

I ordered a refreshing lemon and mushroom drink, and Scott a honey and lime. These were followed by mushroom satay dripping with a sweet peanut sauce; crispy fried mushrooms peppered and served with a red chili sauce; herbed and curried mushrooms complete with rice topped with more crispy mushrooms, mushroom lemongrass soup, and a mushroom and egg dish wrapped in banana leaf, and toasted over a fire.

Mushroom Satay

Mushroom Feast

We tried as hard as we could to savor the feast, rather just inhale it, and achieved some non-trivial success. And then leaned back to relax and enjoy the rise in blood sugar.

The wheel home was glorious. It was almost all downhill, and we flew along, pedaling very little, but covering the remaining 10 kilometers in no time. We had grand plans for further missions, but after such a wheel, we could do little more than relax in the garden at the Setia Kawan and play the ukulele until the sun hung low in the sky and the call to prayer began to sound all over the city.


Comments

  1. Richard | January 19th, 2010 | 4:18 am

    How did the Indonesians end up driving on the left? Beautiful photos, by the way!!

    b

  2. Angela | January 19th, 2010 | 4:34 am

    Wow. That was breathtaking. The ending of your post with the call to prayer was really beautiful.

    As your mother I must insist that you take more snacks with you so that you are not riding the hills of Indonesia and blood sugar simultaneously.

  3. Mark/Dad | January 19th, 2010 | 7:54 am

    Any evidence of religious use of Borobudur while you were there? (And I second your mom’s call for traveling with food!)

  4. Henkes | January 19th, 2010 | 9:38 am

    Favorite video of this trip so far was the Borobudur Carvings with commentary from what I can only assume is Scott… “life must have been wild back then”… my vicarious thoughts as well!

  5. Woody | January 19th, 2010 | 10:27 am

    @ Richard

    Thanks for the comment. Here’s the deal:

    When the Dutch arrived in Indonesia in 1596, they brought along their habit of driving on the left. It wasn’t until Napoleon conquered the Netherlands that the Dutch started driving on the right. Most of their colonies, however, remained on the left as did Indonesia and Suriname.

    Cheers,
    Woody

  6. A Fan | January 19th, 2010 | 5:57 pm

    Your final shot of the Indonesian skyline at dusk–its rain-swollen darkening sky a backdrop to a cacophony of calls to prayer–is a deafening, dramatic, tangible reminder of the richness of this exotic land. When I leave Indonesia in a few months, I will always treasure this singular moment in time. Having spent nearly two decades in this most magical and simulating of countries, it is the Indonesian version of their evening Islamic call to prayer which evokes all that Indonesia represents to me. Thank you for sharing these real life experiences with your readers.

    A Fan of AsiaWheeling

  7. Christi Johnson | January 26th, 2010 | 12:45 pm

    I want to know how you are keeping two hands on the bike and taking video at the same time? Love the videos!

  8. Mat | March 16th, 2010 | 2:56 am

    Hi, I am friend of Mai who participated in the work camp last year in Semarang. I live in Yogyakarta. Coincidently I find this nice blog. Last year, we ate in that mushroom restaurant after visiting Borobudur. Two thumbs up for you guys since you could successfully bicycling from Yogya to Borobudur, that was hard I bet!! Anyway, enjoy Indonesia!!

  9. Woody | March 16th, 2010 | 11:34 pm

    @ Mat
    It certainly made us hungry! Thanks for introducing us, by proxy, to that mushroom restaurant. Man alive, was that place good.

    We loved Indonesia. Really important place. We still talk about it all the time.

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