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Notes on the Geography of Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting

Java is famous for its incredibly dense population. Here, mostly in the hills a couple of miles west of Borobudur, is some evidence of that crowding.

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Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 1

Despite the tourist crowds, you only need go a mile from Borobudur to find yourself in paddy country. It's not quite as peaceful as it looks: the narrow road that passes here has a steady stream of men, women, and children on motorbikes.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 2

There's a range of housing, including very traditional ones despite the electrical wires in the background and the factory-made clothing drying in the front.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 3

The paddy depends on water coming from the hills in the background. We'll climb up one of them.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 4

Our destination is that prominence on the left: with a bit of imagination you can see a man lying down. He's reputedly the builder of Borubudur. Perhaps you can make out a lump that seemingly projects just this side of his forehead. That's where we'll actually get.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 5

So long as the land is flat, there's a road; once we're in the hills we'll be on a trail.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 6

Almost exactly at roadhead, there's an Aman Resorts hotel. The path points straight to Borobudur.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 7

Beyond lie rugged and seemingly empty mountains.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 8

Lots of water comes down the slopes.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 9

At the bottom, it gets more tranquil before being put to agricultural use.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 10

The main peak is the forehead lump we saw a few pictures back. See that stony knob on the left? We'll see it again, from the top of the peak.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 11

Meanwhile, look more closely at the hillside: near the center you can make out the lines of terraced crops.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 12

A closer view: freshly cut terraces.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 13

People live up here. A few women come home with their shopping.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 14

They're heading to the top, where somebody has manhandled a small mountain of bricks all the way up to a village.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 15

At the summit, some flat land is cultivated.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 16

Bamboo is extracted, too, and carried a long way down.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 17

At roadhead, it's loaded on trucks.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 18

From the top, a view of the "bump" seen earlier. Down below, paddy lands and villages.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 19

From the summit looking straight to Borobudur, which is in the center of the image.

Indonesia: Borobudur's Setting picture 20

Close-up: Borobudur's at the upper right.


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