Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Richard Gere Visits Borobodur

Richard Gere meditated at Indonesia's Borobudur temple on June 27, 2011 before touring the ninth-century Buddhist monument with his wife and son.

"He meditated for 20 minutes this morning at the top platform and made a 45-minute tour to admire the details of the temple's reliefs," temple manager Purnomo Siswo Prasetyo.

He said Gere was "astonished" with the grandeur of the so-called temple mountain, which lies between two volcanoes about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Yogyakarta.
One of the peaks, Merapi, killed more than 320 people last year in its biggest eruptions in over a century.
The temple was abandoned with the spread of Islam on Java island in the 14th century, but was "rediscovered" in 1814 by English trader Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.

Restored with the help of UNESCO in the 1970s, it is now Indonesia's most-visited tourist attraction, drawing about 3.8 million people last year, according to Prasetyo.

"Yes, the crowded atmosphere made Richard unable to enjoy. He was not comfortable with the many photographers and the media who followed him." said President Director of PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko , Purnomo Siswo Prasetya, after accompanying Richard at Borobudur Temple

Purnomo said the bodhi tree planting agenda by Richard is an event initiated by PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur Tourism Park, Prambanan and Ratu Boko in cooperation with UNESCO.

Feeling uncomfortable, Gere decided to cancel the bodhi tree planting in the courtyard of the east side of the largest temples. Gere arrived at the temple at around 4:30 pm. He then immediately climbed onto the top or the main stupa of Borobudur to see the sights. After that followed pradaksina, namely to respect the rituals around the temple.

Gere, a 61-year-old convert to Buddhism, arrived in Indonesia on June 26, 2011 on what he called a "spiritual journey".

Initially he was expected to plant a bodhi tree at the temple's compound but the plan was later cancelled due big crowded atmosphere.

He met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the state palace in Jakarta and told local media he was thinking of making a film about the history of the temple.

He would be going to the Indonesian resort island of Bali for a holiday with his family.

The American visited the Jogye temple in central Seoul, South Korea, last week.