Mount Bromo – Indonesia

February 23, 2015

After getting back from the journey to the temples and Jocja…thought I would take a little down time to rest and soak up all the amazing experiences I have had up to this point…but, then an opportunity popped up to get one more experience…normally, I would of just passed, but I am already punch drunk, exhausted and worn out…plus, how often do you get a chance to get on the other side of the world…there will be time for rest later on…so, let’s keep er’ moving…off to Mount Bromo…

Mount Bromo is an active volcano that is listed at about 4 hours from Surabaya…with the traffic faced thus far…i don’t know if I believe that…but, let’s go with it 🙂

Now Bromo is famous for being an active volcano…but, also for its sunrise…

Of course it didn’t take just a few hours…so, getting there in the middle of the night…and by-passing the usual suspects – hotels…settled in to a local home stay on top of the mountain…basically, the Indonesian version of the Air B&B…called the ‘Cemara Homestay’


Now to be clear…this isn’t just a hill, it is a mountain…steep…and I mean straight up…they only let you go so far in a regular vehicle…for a couple of reasons, but, to get by the check point you have to be in one of these, and you see hundreds of these up here…


So, after a few hours of trying to sleep…it’s up and about at 3:00 a.m….got to check out this sunrise…somethings don’t require words…in fact, sometimes words can diminish the moment.. so here it is 🙂










What a sunrise…what do you think? 🙂  The idea of standing on a volcano and watching the sun rise…well…speaks for itself…now, this is the kind of place where you embrace silence and kind of just walk around 🙂  So, just a few pics for you to soak it up…




The savannah’s…open plain…before you get to the active volcano…absolutely peaceful and beautiful…some serious views of the mountains…




These are provided for those who would rather not take that long arduous stair case up the side of the mountain to the volcano…funny thing is, as aggressive as they were regarding getting people to take a ride…no one asked me if I wanted a ride…do you think it was because the horses were small and I was twice the size of everyone else…oh well…guess I have to walk 🙂


Getting to the top, you could immediately smell the sulfur rising into your nostrils…not long ago there was a rupture that destroyed some of the infrastructure…so this baby is still cooking…



While the area is primarily Muslim, those who live on the mountain are mostly Hindu, so they also come here for there specific rituals.  And, positioned on top of the volcano is a Statue of Ganesh…representing wisdom and learning…how appropriate…chilling on Mount Broom with Ganesh 🙂


Well, as I bring this segment to a close…just have one last thing to point out…these folks are exceptionally industrious…similar to when I pointed out some cultural points when going through the mountains…these people here take it to another level…although it is a mountain, they treat it like any other field…I mean…I saw areas where people were farming on the sides of mountains at angles of 70 to 80 degrees…I mean, ridiculous…and they climbed those areas like their legs were stronger than mountain goats…absolutely beautiful and exceptional…amazed…

P1040157Well, to be straight with you…I am worn out…my cup runneth over…these past few weeks have been similar to having my head opened up and someone pouring culture, knowledge, wisdom, life experience…and globalization into my brain until it just ran over the side….grateful is all I can say…once I rest, getting ready to spread my own alchemy 🙂  Time to actually just take it all in….and find the proper context by which to organize all these thoughts…

Mount Bromo…a must see….

Jogjakarta – Indonesia

February 23, 2015

Now if you come to the other side of the world, and come to see the temples…more than likely you will stop and stay for a bit in Jogjakarta…Jogja for short…not giving you alot here…just a few things to give you an idea about an oasis between your temple stops….

This place embodies much of what you will find in Indonesia and it is an excellent stopping point…as is said, “we eat and we shop”…:)

You will find plenty of cultural activities here “eating and shopping”, but you will also find lots of street food, art, a large international set, nice accommodations, and it is a great place to just sit back and people watch!!  This is the main strip – Malioboro…



Lots of food options, but it is always nice to find a traditional eatery and sit and people watch…trust me, they will be watching you as well:


At night, this place is buzzing…I mean, like a bee hive…people everywhere, all over the place and each other…and of course…motorbike heaven:


If you are a shopper then you must go into the market…you could probably spend a week in there digging through all the things they sell…but, keep this in mind…this is a culture that requires you to bargain…and also keep this in mind…whether you are at the temples, a city, or anywhere else…there is the local price, the Indonesian price, the Asian price, and the International Price…if you don’t see a price sticker on it…you better watch out…

There are signs warning you of pick pockets..but, some of these folks will pick your pocket right in front of you…be careful, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth…a very religious society in many ways, but they will also dig into you without any consciousness.  Now, it isn’t everyone, I met so real down to earth honest to goodness respectful people…but, all over Indonesia, especially in bali…if they can tell you are a foreigner…then you best get ready!!!!

At night, the street is packed, but all day long from open to close..the market is full:


And, you will often find a little treat that pops up on you…plenty of folks playing music, small bands by the side of the road..or moving around looking to entertain…interesting thing is, some of them will feel you out to see who you are and where you are from…then, they will break out into something they think you can associate with….good stuff….


There are lots of things that could be shown…having all these experiences, this blog could be endless…but, just wanted to give you a little taste of what you will find…time for some rest…relaxation…and contemplation…

Candi Borobudur – Temple

February 23, 2015

Leaving Prombanan, the next temple stop is Candi Borobudur…and as mentioned, that means Temple Borobudur.


now here I am walking into this magnificent temple…and before I can get set to continue my spiritual journey into heightened self-awareness…I was accosted by a bunch of kids on a field trip…laughing…it was so funny, because one kid walks up to me and asks for a picture…then when I said, “let me take a picture of you”…all his friends came running up wanting a picture as well…they were screaming so loud and so excited that even parents, patrons, employees, security…everyone came over to look…as you can see they were an excited bunch…

And, I can say that all through the tour…kids were stopping and asking for pictures with the “giant” 🙂  I must say, this was a common experience all over Indonesia…kids asking for pictures with me…they would say,

“mista, mista…pic, pic”…they were completely sweet and they gave me a wonderful experience…I guess I must not be that bad of dude after all…although the nay-sayers may be adverse….you know if you are rotten to the core…kids and animals pick it right up from the start…think I’ll add that to my self-esteem quotient… 🙂



Okay, back to Borobudur…walking into the temple compound, one difference stands out immediately…the grounds are exceptional: order, peace, life…a place where even before you get to the temple…you can sit and feel the still of the door of the universe  opening:


Walking towards the temple, you can see it standing over the tree line…and right away there is the imposition of its dignity on its surroundings…you are definitely going to see something…not going somewhere to be seen…


And, then you arrive…


while Prambanan spikes to the sky…Borobudur is more of a mass…but as we previously mentioned, not the type of mass that disconnects humanity from the environment.  There are so many breaks in the walls, and sculptures and reliefs that it still pulls you right in…whether you are aware of it or not…


Candi Borobudur, according to local sources, was built in the same era as Pramnaban…with the exception that this is a Buddhist Temple.  As mentioned, in this area…many things represent the collective between Buddhism, Hinduism, and Javanese culture…and this is not the exception…but, generally stands as the rule…

Borobudur is commonly referenced as one of the real seven wonders of the world, and is listed as being the largest Buddhist Monument in the world.  As with Pramnaban, the carvings and stories are absolutely amazing and really provide major major insight into not just compassion for humanity, but also compassion for one’s self.

Similar to Pramnaban, Borobudur has had to overcome significant environmental challenges.  While Pramnaban was devastated by earthquakes, Brorobudur had to endure volcanic eruptions…and yet, through the efforts of many…here it stands 🙂

While, Buddhism is generally known for respecting life, promoting harmony, and compatibility with other religions…obviously, not everyone on the compound may be practicing Buddhism in its ideal state…


This little fellow may need to do some more meditation…but, we are all in a state of progression…so, he is what he is…and that is hungry…don’t know if lizard sounds good, but, hey, whatever floats your boat 🙂

As with Pramnaban, the architecture and sculptures are absolutely amazing…pieced together…relief sculpting…amazing stories of the road to self-awareness and peace…



During its prime, Borobudur had over 504 images of the Buddha in various poses…each pose, with the changing of the hand position, represents something different…and much of what each stage/layer of the temple represents is the ‘path’…



The reliefs also depict some of the history of the area.  This represents the international trade that was taking place during this period.  Specifically, the cinnamon trade.  Ships and their stories are sculpted into the walls.


For those history buffs who want to research the cinnamon trade and Africa…do your thing!! 🙂

Borobudur goes up several levels…so, this isn’t an exercise for someone with cardiovascular concerns…nor for someone who has an unstable walk…while aspects of Buddhism represents forgiveness, neither the steps for Pramnaban or Borobudur are not forgiving…if you fall, you will be there until someone comes to get you…steep and hard…if you fall, you just may be there for the next thousand years…but,

making it to the top…you will find something to behold for yourself…you have to fill in that space…and the view, is exceptional:


And, this is the grand stupa….the highest point…look like I need a rest don’t I? 🙂


Now who would of thought…that kid born in Watts, L.A., would be in Indonesia at the worlds largest Buddhist Monument reading the Dhammapada…Started reading it a few years ago to try and help calm the storms of the soul, “peace, be still”…


I’ve been lots of places and seen lots of things…some posted on this blog, some not…but, this counts as one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had…when I previously mentioned the quasi-pilgrimage…it wasn’t that I was looking for something outside of myself…but, a vehicle to go further in and to make more sense of what is in there…

Like little Santiago in the Alchemist, looking for his treasure…just to find that his treasure was inside of himself!!  And, what do we do to show ourselves that it is there…can’t argue whether the builders or worshipers of/at Promnaban or Borobudur received some ethereal blessing as a result of their work or worshiping at these temples.  but, there must of been some profound sense of peace, that goes along with the energy, the effort, commitment, dedication, suffering, the alms…like the scripture says,  “I have fought the good fight…”…in terms of humanity, culture…mutual respect…are we fighting the good fight…or the fight of self-aggrandizement….even with our imperfections, our short comings…the pain we have caused others or ourselves…when we look back at the lives we have lived…beyond the glory, or the mistakes, the uncertainty of today or tomorrow…these places last for thousands of years…something that others…who we may not even know…will stand upon…and decide that the good fight is better…life is a progression…a work in progress 🙂


Candi Prambanan – Temple

February 23, 2015

The first stop on this particular journey is Candi Prambanan.  Candi means Temple….so essentially it means Temple Prambanan.


Now without providing an exhaustive historical description, I’ll just provide a few tid-bits.  Obviously, if you want to know more, you can look it up. 🙂

Built around the year 860, this temple is well over a thousand years old.  It has survived two rather massive earthquakes (You will be able to see some of the rubble in the following pics).  It is really more than just a testament of faith, it also shows how different factions in society and actually work together and build a community together.  Prambanan is primarily a Hindu Temple.  And, as you probably know, Hinduism like Buddhism, emanated from India.  Interestingly, although Hindu, Buddhist temples are in close proximity and they also share some of the same descriptions, sculptures, and structures.  In essence it somewhat represents how over time, the Javanese, Hindu and Buddhist cultures mixed in with each other…both faith wise and family wise.

Growing up in the United States provides a natural impediment to attempting to understand something that you have absolutely no idea about – system, structure, etc.  And, not to mention trying to figure out names that have a lot of letters to them 🙂  But, it is worth the time and the effort.  Now, if you take a little time though and have some patience then you can see the similar structure of the trinity – Christianity.  This temple compound is dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities: Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.  However, the primary focus of this compound is on Shiva.  Really interesting stories if you get the time to check it out.


Even with its variations and nuances, once you read the literature you can see lots of similarities to other religions, and of course…all of them have their nuances.  But, what stands out is the systematic structure of the beliefs and how they really represent values that are constructive to building a society that values life and humanity.

Now, I am not the type of person that goes somewhere and gets all spooky.  Just isn’t going to happen.  And, like Al Pacino said in his grand speech at the end of the movie – The Scent of a Woman – “i’ve been around, ya know…..”.  so I don’t have any grand ethereal pronouncements to make.  What I will say is this though!!

It is a waste of time to debate someone else’s religion with them.  They have their beliefs and others have their own.  What I am amazed at, is when you get up close to Prambanan, you can see the time, effort, energy, focus, dedication, and skill it took to build this thing.  It is not a matter of whether I believe in what they are saying, it is a matter of if they believe it.  When you get here, you can obviously see that whomever built this temple…well, they believed in their purpose, and that purpose made them demonstrate it in a most excellent manner.


This is also an excellent example of how the built environment can be so amazing…as it reflects so much of a given time period.  Case in point is the difference between some modern designs and those that represent a historical era.  Much of what stands out about historical structures is how scale is correlated to the human touch.  Many times, designs leave no personal feeling of impact as they can represent something more mechanized.  As you look closer, what you see is the human touch.  As you venture out more, you start to feel how the human touch draws you in.  What I am referring to is the size of the stones.

There are not large pieces that stretch long distances, each stone was picked and placed in a way that reflects how a human being picked up what they could and merged it with the others.  Even in the sculptors/reliefs, they stretch out over multiple stones and the detail of the effort naturally draws you in towards it.  Something that large modernized architecture generally fails to do.  It creates an impression…sublime in many ways, that helps you to relate to the human effort it takes to create something such as this.


Looking closer, here is a picture of the specific sculptures or reliefs that adorn the sides of the temple.  Many of them display the Hindu stories surrounding Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma…amongst others…but, they also depict the amazing epic of ‘Ramayana’.  Now this story, I am familiar with…it is a difficult read, just because you have to take your time and look up words and meanings so that you can follow the story…but, it is an excellent epic on spirituality, love and the human struggle…Here is an example of some carvings, up close, and the reliefs:




The way it was designed and built involved primarily the master designer and his apprentice.  The master would draw the design on the stone, the apprentice would come in and start the carving, then the master would come back and provide the finishing touches.

Stepping inside the temples, many of them have this type of sculpture inside of them…they all have meaning, and even their position and placement inside the compound represents a specific meaning.  Those who want to know more, well, I’ll let you look it up 🙂


Now, as I mentioned, the temple compound has been hit very hard by earthquakes…two (2) to be exact…the latest one was in 2006, and hit near 6.0 on the Richter scale.  And, over the time it was built…local political shifting and other social dynamics left the temple neglected for some time.  But, with efforts from local and international bodies, they are working for a full restoration.  Hopefully, this fine guardian here, can move them along…


this place speaks silent volumes of information to those interested in discernment….and moving on to the next site on this journey, I’ll have more to say about this experience as well!!

On to Borobudur….