Grand Asia Java

Day 4 – October 29, 2012 – Java

Huge day on the ship! Over 1000 family members will be coming aboard to see their loved ones. We would love to be here to witness the reunion, but we’re off on an all day excursion. Our room stewards have just come in to quickly make up our room, with us protesting – telling them to just move on! But they were flying through their job, making everything fresh. Their wives and children, parents, in-laws… all here to greet them! Gary gave them $20 each to give to their families to help pay for their traveling expenses to get here. As soon as they left our room, I burst into tears. Oh my! How hard these men work. How pleasant they are. I’m always amazed.

It’s day’s end. An amazing day. It began with no expectations, and it was one grand moment after another.

Gary at Borobudur

We had a long caravan of large coach tours, and were given a police escort for the 2 1/2 hour coming-and-going drive to Borobudur. It was a wild ride, people on the sides of the road waving and smiling at us, a stop for Java coffee along the way, rice fields, smoking volcanoes, extreme poverty, wealth, mosques, churches, temples, mangoes and jackfruit.

Our guide, Supri, was wonderful… giving us history, interesting facts, singing John Denver’s “Country Roads”… his first English lesson in school. He told us he was Muslim, but his siblings were Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist – they all get along, very common. At the end of the day he made his plea that we would tell our friends and family back home that Indonesia is safe – no more terrorists – please come visit. We can imagine that he and all the other guides and drivers were quite worried that today’s grand tour would be cancelled – as a terrorist plot was just uncovered here two days ago, and a call from the extremists to kidnap Westerners. What misery.

Borobudur was amazing. It was massive. It was hot. We were astounded at some of the people from this ship willing to try to climb the steep steps. It was built in the 9th century, and like Machu Picchu, eventually abandoned then rediscovered. Another UNESCO Heritage Site. What an honor to visit!

Borobudur Tourists

Because we’re tall, because I have blonde hair, because we had our great Panama hats on today, we were asked to be in photos with people. Oh my!! I was so overwhelmed to pose with the three-generation family. To know that such a horrific little percentage of people in this world can wreak such havoc on us… and here was this family almost giddy to take photos with the Americans. Just another moment in this day that was pushing me to the brink of tears.

Borobudur Lunch

Another one… eating the lunch at the hotel at Borobudur. Chicken satay with peanut sauce, the good vegetables… but the tears came from the sweet treat of tapioca paste wrapped in banana leaves. Such a taste of Guam!

We stopped at a silver and handicraft market on the way back to the ship. A truly pathetic little puppet show troupe was all set to perform for us as we got off the buses. Elderly men, a woman with a grating voice, the man playing the large drum asking for a cigarette light from one of the gong players during the show. It was a come and go event – people would watch for a few minutes, then meander off to the shopping. I was enchanted with this charming little group of players with their ancient instruments and their bright but tired clothing. I spent the entire 30 minutes just sitting there soaking it up while Gary went about taking photos. In the end, I was the solo audience.

Java Show

Just a wild ride back to the ship. We were careening through the highways – just like you do in Indonesia! But the police had their lights spinning, and the bus drivers weren’t giving an inch to anyone. What a scene! But we were back at the ship right on time at 5:30, and without the theatrics of the caravan, there’s no way it would have been possible to have such a full and amazing day. It goes into our record books of unbelievably memorable days!

Home for supper in the Lido and early to bed!

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