Three-night sail and two day land trip to World’s largest Buddhist Temple


Sunset at Borobidur


We had a three-night sail from Lovina Beach in Bali to Karimun Java – our first night passage since the end of August when we sailed from Hoga Island to Lowoleba on Lembata Island.



It was great to be out on the ocean again and we had good winds for the first 30+ hours but at 2 am on the second night we had to switch on the engine and during the rest of the night and next day we switched it on and off several times. 

Tropical Karimun Jawa


For the first time we experienced travelling through oil rigs – they were a long way off but we could clearly see the great columns of flame leaping into the air.


Fisherman’s hut

The third night we gave up trying to sail and motored the whole time which was just as well as we had to pick our way through literally scores of squid boats. Fortunately they were all lit up like oversized Christmas trees on steroids so we weren’t in any danger.


A sign for what we thought was a laundry but turned out it was a homestay!


The only problem we had during the trip was that every time we tried to start the engine it wouldn’t fire until Jonathan had bled the fuel intake. So frustrating! 


Found the laundry beyond this fishetman’s shed!

Eventually he realised that there was a wire missing off the lift pump which meant there was no fuel going to the engine. This discovery was a relief as we were worried that the next time we fired up the engine it wouldn’t start at all and we didn’t relish the thought of entering the next Karimun Jawa by sail.


Boats at anchor Karimun Java



We were enjoying the group of pretty little palm fringed and sandy beached islands at the entrance to Karimun Jawa, when we were surprised by a navy launch which suddenly appeared behind us. We made way for the launch to pass us and were greeted by friendly waves from the crew



Karimun Java home


Karimun  Jawa couldn’t be more different than Bali but as with every other stop, we found plenty to like. The town was rather dusty but it was a charming little place and everyone was extremely helpful and friendly.  

An ancient Almond tree – a local landmark

Interestingly, there were no children paddling to the boat in dug out canoes calling out “hello mister” and asking for notebooks, pens and caps. I think that the island’s proximity to Java meant less poverty, and maybe generally, a more educated and sophisticated population.


Fish for sale!

There was a thriving night market selling cooked food, clothes, toys and various household goods. There were also lots of home stays, dive shops and a couple of backpacker “drinking holes”.


The jetty taken from the dinghy


We didn’t spend much time on the island as we decided to take a side trip to the famous Buddhist temple in Central Java, Borobudur. 

In front of Borobudur


Our journey began at 5 am when we were picked up by one of the local puk puks (so called because of the noise their engines make) and taken to the wharf. A car then took us to pick up the 6 am high speed ferry to Semarang on Java where we were met by another car and whisked off to a hotel for breakfast.


 Samarang sits more or less dead centre along the north coast of Java and was once the largest port in the Netherlands East Indies from which all the sugar, tea and coffee from Central Java began their trip to Northern Europe.  


Wonderful view for this Buddha


But we didn’t linger – as soon as we had eaten our omelettes we were off again, making our way to Borobudur – a ninth century Buddhist Temple (the largest in the world) in Central Java – a four hour trip.


Amazing ninth century arches


 UNESCO has been involved in its restoration, as like Ankhor Wat in Cambodia, it was lost in the jungle until its rediscovery by Sir Thomas Raffles (of Singapore Sling fame) after the  the British took over Java for a short time following the Battle of Trafalgar.

Borobudur is famous not only for its sheer size (it is the world’s largest Buddhist temple) but also for having more than five hundred (504 to be precise!) statues of Buddha. Sadly many of the heads had been looted and in the past the eruption of a volcano had caused much damage but the restoration is just marvellous. 


One of the 500 plus Buddhas


One of the 72 Buddhas surrounding the central dome – this one minus the top of the stupa


Buddha inside one of the 72 stupas

The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and the central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa. 



the stupas surrounding the central dome

An amazing place and very well worth the long trip!





Sunset at Borobudur


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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

4 thoughts on “Three-night sail and two day land trip to World’s largest Buddhist Temple”

  1. Wow! Borobudur looks absolutely magnificent! How wonderful that you had a chance to visit it. It looks similar in character to Ankor Wat (only, I suppose, because my knowledge of Javan and Cambodian architecture is not very detailed, to put it mildly) – just awe inspiring and beautiful. What a great experience.

    Best love to you both, Sarah xx


    1. Yes Sarah, There are definite similarities between Ankor Wat and Borobudur although the latter was built some years earlier. It is thought that Borobudur was the prototype for the Bakong Temple at Ankor Wat – might have had something to with King Jayavarman II who resided for some time in Java and in 802 declared sovereignty of Cambodia from Java and proclaimed himself as universal monarch. So there would have been a lot of exchanges of ideas etc Amazing!


  2. Dot and Jonathan you are seeing some amazing sights and they are truly inspiring. I am definitely re-thinking the next Asian trip for the Hubbards. Love to you both and saty safe


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