Temple visits: not full

Posted on Wednesday, 3rd September 2008

I’m of the belief that the only way to kill a stomach bug is to starve it as much as possible. This seemed to have held me in reasonably good stead when I backpacked South America for five months. However, starving the bug means starving me, and I couldn’t decide which was worse – enduring the discomfort that comes from bathroom woes, especially with third world toilet facilities, or enduring the pain that comes from not eating, for I truly love to eat. However I tried to commiserate myself, searching high and low for that silver lining. “You’ll lose weight”, I told myself. “You’ll look better trying to squeeze into that bikini on Kuta Beach.”

True to my word, in the last 24 hours or so, I had subsisted on only one chocolate cookie, one packet of crisps, two coffees and two deep fried banana cakes topped with shredded processed cheese which I devoured this morning at the Buddhist temple, Borobudur. Having had a 3:30am start this morning to catch the sunrise at one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Indonesia, I was absolutely famished. I thought the cakes rather tasty, even if the cheese was a little rubbery. One of my Swiss travelling companions wasn’t too impressed however, so perhaps my taste buds had been tarnished due to my recent food deprivation.

After Borobudur, we visited another famous Yogyakartan temple, Prambanan. On the way back from our tour, I asked my tour guide about a matter which had been perplexing me over the last week. Why was it that every time I tried to book accommodation, the standard response had always been “sorry missus, we’re full”, even if the hotel wasn’t in fact full. As an example, I told him about how when I checked into my hotel in Jakarta, I tried to extend my stay beyond the one night that I had booked, to only be told, “Sorry missus, we’re full”. Thinking this implausible in a hotel with several hundred rooms, I made my way to the internet cafe, whereupon I was able to make the reservation online instead. My guide had no explanation. “See Mister, like me, not full”.