After my visit to the all-villa Amanjiwo in Borobudur, I came back feeling peaceful. There is little wonder I felt this way. Staying in Amanjiwo was a rest for the soul weavied by the hustle & bustle of the city.
text CINDY ONG / photography Colin Wee ❘ SPECIAL THANKS TO AMAN RESORTS
We exited Yogyakarta International Airport and were received by Amanjiwo’s staff with cold scented towels and chilled mineral water. We then embarked on an approximately one-hour journey through throngs of vehicles in the city into the rural area. Roads gave way to narrow, meandering tracks, but the driver maneuvered with skill, sharing interesting facts along the way. Gradually, low-rise shop houses gave way to village huts. Farms passed us by, horses roaming freely and buffaloes with grazing leisurely. Chickens hurried across tracks and children cycled or trekked through farmlands to school.
After passing through the village, a picturesque sight emerged — Amanjiwo set amidst lush greenery with the rolling Menorah hills as its backdrop. When I stepped out of our van, an air of tranquility washed over me. We were greeted with petal showers and ushered to the lounge for refreshment — Amanjiwo’s deliciously sweet and cooling creation of pink ginger tea. The general manager personally received us like friends at his abode. After some casual chats, we were shown our villas.
My villa had terrazzo flooring with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. The interiors featured sungkai wood screens, a daybed, coconut wood and rattan furniture, batik pillows in classic Yogyakarta style and traditional glass paintings. There was a sunken outdoor bathtub set in a walled garden. For those in the mood for painting, Amanjiwo had thoughtfully placed painting materials in the villa.
In the centre laid a four-pillar bed on a raised terrazzo platform that looked out to a private plunge pool and thatched-roof bale (pavilion) with a daybed for outdoor lounging and dining. The view ahead was a vast tobacco plantation dotted with white flowers and Borobudur with volcanic mountains in the background.
With such a luxurious villa and view, doing nothing was truly natural. However the visit would be incomplete without exploring the village, and visit to Borobudur was necessary. I set out before daybreak for a sunrise experience on Borobudur. After climbing 42m flights of stairs to its peak, all I could hear was my pounding heart and shallow breathing amidst the thick mist of silence. It was certainly a good morning exercise.
The guide left us to enjoy the serenity and soon, rays of orange light peaked through the morning fog. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the last of the morning chill as sunlight warmed my surroundings, bringing colours to life. The dark walls of the temple lit up, exposing relief panels with meticulous carvings relating the legend of Buddhism. Beneath me, the garden came alive as the sun rays gently stroked the plants awake. Far ahead, faint outlines of the volcanic mountains became visible.
My guide took me through the temple, sharing the tale of Buddhism using the relief panels. We ended the tour with breakfast and explored two other temples that were built coincidentally in a straight line with Borobudur. Apparently, pilgrims journey annually from these two temples, Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut before reaching Borobudur to meditate on Vesak Day.
The rest of the day included visiting a local traditional home where I drank and ate homemade tea, cane sugar and brinjal crackers, followed by a scenic ride around the village on a traditional horse cart.
I ended my day with a sunset experience 710m above sea level on Menorah Hills. It was only when I sat down in Amanjiwo’s thatched-roof bale at the peak of the hills that I discovered guests usually trek up from the resort. They arrive at a pavilion set up with cushions and floor mats and enjoy Amanjiwo’s sunset cocktail as a reward. As I had decided on this trip impromptu, I arrived in a car and trekked only the last ten minutes to the peak.
I had fresh sunset coconut juice and ate its flesh using a part of its husk — provided and taught by my guide in true Aman spirit. The guide also recommended that I trekked down.
As the sun set, I was escorted by a new guide who came all the way up just for me. Along the 30-minute descent, my guide impressed me with his knowledge of the forest and thoughtfulness for my well-being. By the time I returned to Amanjiwo, I was soaked in perspiration but was contented with such an original experience.
A Permanent Memory
When it came time to say goodbye, I was reluctant to leave. Not because of the luxury but the people who touched me with their spirit of providing a complete experience.
The hospitality of the resort was nothing short of memorable. My shoes were spoiled on the first day and Amanjiwo’s staff did their best to bring my shoes for repair. However, the shops were closed. So, they surprised me by sewing and placing them neatly beside the entrance of my villa.
They also prepared unchilled water for me when they observed I was nursing a cough. Nightly, they provided us with turndown services, left us sweet local treats and souvenirs. It was bookmark on one day and playing cards on another day.
Our guide who was with us from the first day sent us off at the airport. As I bade everyone goodbye, I was thinking, “See you again, my friend.” The rich experiences I had would be permanently imprinted in my mind.