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travel

Raja Ampat is the sort of wilderness that dreams are made of; a sequin trail of limestone outcrops, some tangled with jungle his eyes against the brightening sky. He tells me that the Javanese believe the temple was built over the course of a single night, no mean feat considering that half a million stone blocks went into making this not just the largest Buddhist monument in Indonesia, but also the largest in the world. “Luckily,” he smiles, “they had a little help from the gods.” From where we stand, encircled by an ocean of mist and the hush of dawn, at Arupadhatu, the top of the temple representing the realm of the gods, it’s easy to fathom a higher power. Built some time between 775 and 850AD Borobudur Temple was abandoned – some say in the wake of a devastating volcanic eruption, some say due to the growing uptake of Islam in Indonesia – before a restoration project took place in the 1970s and the site achieved its UNESCO World Heritage status. Coiled beneath us in tiered paths linked by steep stairways, 2,672 relief panels mark the body of the temple, each one carved with the story of Siddhartha. Borobudur’s passage through time hasn’t been an easy one and volcanic eruptions have marred its mighty façade. But in a twist of favour, the communities

s l u x u ry l o n d o n . c o. u k s

that struggle alongside these so-named ‘Fire Mountains’ have volcanic ash to thank for enriching their land with nutrients that allow crops to grow in abundance. Truth be told, there’s nowhere more illustrative of Java’s luscious landscapes than Amanjiwo. Enclosed in a natural amphitheatre in the hills and fronting of verdant rice paddies, Amanjiwo’s decadent villas keep Javanese heritage in sight at all times. Alfresco pavilions, some with private plunge pools, some with views all the way to the Borobudur Temple – make outdoor living all the more alluring. My days here are spent cycling through local villages, wandering the rice paddies among farmers in bamboo hats, idling beside Amanjiwo’s opulent pool and dining on more local delicacies than I care to admit. “It’s nature on steroids,” I catch a fellow guest whispering one morning. To me, Indonesia is all that and more; a country whose people live in the shadow of mother nature’s unpredictable wrath, land shaped by the Indian Ocean on one side and the Pacific on the other, where I’ve still got some 17,000 perplexing, hypnotic islands left to discover.

NEED TO KNOW Sorido Bay and Kri Eco Resort from £2,255 and £1,255 respectively per person per week, based on two guests sharing a cottage including full board accommodation and unlimited diving, papua-diving.com Amanjiwo from £490 per suite per night, amanjiwo.com. The closest airport is Jogjakarta, a 90-minute drive away. Ultimate Indonesian Yachts offer private charter yachts in Raja Ampat, ultimate-indonesian-yachts.com Flights from the UK reach Sorong (Raja Ampat) via Jakarta (Java). Jogjakarta is a short internal flight from Jakarta

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Profile for Runwild Media Group

Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine January 2017  

Welcome to the latest edition of Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine, celebrating the dynamism of the area and bringing you the latest features,...

Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine January 2017  

Welcome to the latest edition of Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine, celebrating the dynamism of the area and bringing you the latest features,...

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