Half-baked Pilgrim

The good part about hanging out with Rajbir is that she is so organised about photo trips that I don’t have to do much except copy-paste the packing/booking lists and soon the program is under way. I do miss Sara, and not just for her delicious chocolate mint cupcakes that were a photo hunting staple.

So, this year, thanks to Rajbir, we made it to Borobudur on the holy day of Waisak, or Buddha Purnima. No less than pilgrims, with a load on our backs, tracking the monks with our cameras, giving up some of our worldly necessities of food and shelter.

The walk from Candi Mendut to Candi Borobudur in the heat of the afternoon morphed into a moonlit, chaotic evening following the path of lanterns as they took our prayers and wishes into the heavens above. Something like nirvana was achieved at daybreak after a night spent in the company of sermons and chants, with the final pradakshina (circumambulation) of the monks around Borobudur.

Pradakshina at Candi Mendut

Pradakshina at Candi Mendut

Pradakshina at Candi Borobudur

Pradakshina at Candi Borobudur

I found the whole ‘light-and-sound’ show a little too much for my nirvana-seeking sensibilities. A giant golden Buddha statue seems wrong to me somehow, as do the floodlights and loudspeakers. The glow of simple fire lanterns was far more benign, the chants of Buddham Sharanam Gachchami in unison by the people minus the electronics, making goosebumps.

We did earn our reward that morning of a foot soak and massage at the airport, which is my definition of pure bliss.


Shopping and Eating in Hoi An – endlessly!

Suman recently celebrated her birthday, so I baked a pumpkin cake from Martha Stewart’s recipe (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/pumpkin-cake-with-brown-butter-icing)

After spending a whole evening in the Ancient Market of Hoi An, Suman & I were pretty sure about what we wanted to shop – lanterns and handmade silk shoes!

I will never tire of saying how pretty the lanterns are, and we splurged to buy almost 2 dozens of them in various shapes and sizes. Lucky people you, who get those as gifts from us!

For the shoes we had to shop around a little, but when we found them, we were delighted at the shop lady’s suggestion that we should get them made to measure. She also promised to deliver them to our hotel the next morning before our departure (which she fulfilled).

We also found some pretty bracelets that will probably never get worn again, after this holiday!

As for eating, we discovered very nice Vietnamese vegetarian cuisine – great flavours, my favourite herbs, delicious salads and curries. We followed our guidebook recommendations – Mango Mango, White Marble, and for divine homemade ice-cream – Casa Verde. Ummmmm……Happy!