|Chic picnic overlooking Borobudur temple|
Our Borobudur temple tour lasted more than an hour so by the time it finished, we had been up and about for four hours and were starving. We were taken to nearby Dagi hill which is still inside the archaeological park. Up a winding one-lane dirt road until we reached the top and came to a large clearing. It was here that a Buddhist monk from Thailand was cremated in fulfillment of his dying wish to finish his life overlooking Borobudur temple. We walked a little way down the side of the hill and were amazed at the delightful picnic spread before us - a rather ordinary concrete bench and table for those who wished to take a rest after the climb was covered in cotton batik. Laid out on the table were two covered rectangular baskets, bottles of orange juice and rattan-covered thermoses of coffee and milk. As soon as they served our juice, they discreetly left us alone to enjoy our early morning picnic - blueberry muffin, jam doughnut, fresh fruit, muesli and an egg and ham on an English muffin. Then for an hour or so, it was just us both, the chirping birds and Borobudur in the distance.
|Fruits and vegetables at the Borobudur market|
|Colorful market vendors|
|Clockwise from top left: shallots and garlic, red and green chilis, palm sugar, fish in baskets, local oranges|
I wouldn't have been able to resist buying a few snacks to try.
|Pak Bilal making palm sugar|
Our gourmet tour ended with a visit to Pak Bilal's house where we were also going to have my birthday dinner later that same day. Seventy-year old Pak Bilal makes palm sugar daily in his hut using a bamboo-stoked clay six-burner stove where his pots and paraphernalia are set. This special coconut sugar is made from the sweet coconut juice collected in tiny bamboo containers at the top of the coconut tree. Pak Bilal himself climbs to the top of the coconut tree and to siphon off the sap collected near the bottom of the palm fronds. This sap is then cooked over high heat and made into palm sugar. When the desired consistency is reached, Pak Bilal then pours the boiling hot liquid into empty dried-out coconut husks and leaves them there to harden.
|Crispy Melinjo crackers and javanese tea with freshly-made palm sugar at Pak Bilal's home|
We ended our morning there where we sat at the rough-hewn wooden table to have some hot Javanese tea sweetened with a small chunk of palm sugar. Along with this, Pak Bilal's wife gave us some crispy melinjo crackers and palm-sugar sweetened rice cakes. So in the end, I did get my snacks after all.