I thought I was clever going to Borobudur on Christmas day, after all, this was a Muslim country. I guess I hadn’t learned my lesson from the train from Bandung. Instead of no one being at the site, the Buddhist structure was overcrowded. I soon realized it was a holiday in Indonesia. I’m not sure if it was a hangover from colonial times or that Islam revered Jesus (Isa) as a prophet and thus the holiday.
We climbed to each monumental section of this ancient temple dating from the eighth and ninth century where friezes clung to walls, a multitude of stupas crowned the summit with statues of Buddha inside, and a vista of green surrounded us. It was a wonder like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
Not far within the stone labyrinth, I discovered my daughter thought otherwise—to her this was the dullest place. She wanted to race to the shops outside the temple selling wristbands and other trinkets. Being an expert bargainer, she haggled the price down to half and once it was agreed, she renegotiated the price still lower if she bought more than one. I have no idea where this skill came from because I detested bargaining, but I don’t think the traders could resist her childish charm.