On Friday June 28th, my guide took me to the University of Al-Karaouine located in Fez, Morocco, this university was originally a mosque founded in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri, a woman. It developed into one of the leading Universities for Natural Sciences. This university is considered the oldest continuously degree-granting university in the world.
The Royal Palace of Fez also known as the Dar el Makhen is one of the oldest and largest imperial palaces in Morocco. Built around the 14th century on 200 acres in Fes, a city comprised of only 800 acres total. This working palace was built by the Merinides. The Marinid dynasty was a dynasty of Zenata Berber descent that ruled Morocco from 13th to the 15th century. The Marinid dynasty also built the cousin to the Alhambra Palace of Grenada Spain. It was under the Marinid dynasty that Fes developed its reputation as an important intellectual center.
On Friday June 28th, I joined my wonderful group of fellow teachers and adventure seekers in Fez, Morocco. Since my travels from Indonesia with TGC postponed my arrival in Morocco, I was immediately welcomed into the group. My day began with a private tour/driver of the sights visited by the group on the previous day. Here are some photos of our hotel In Fez, the Hotel Mounia.
Our final night in Jakarta, Indonesia ended with a Cultural Night Event/Graduation for Charles Albert’s students. We were all given presents of shadow puppets and entertained by student performing dances, singing as well as other acts. Charles (pronounced Char- less) and his students have left an indelible impact on all of us.
Approximately 45 minutes northeast of Borobudur one finds the beautiful Candi Mendut Buddhist Monastery. This incredibly serene place sits on a hill in the town of Muntilan in the Magelang District. There are no high walls to separate visitors from viewing up close and personal the spectacular reclining Buddha, large marble bell-shaped stupas, manicured lawns and lush foliage. This is an excellent place to visit as a preview to awesome Borobudur.
Each of the monument’s three main levels represents a stage on the way to the bodhisattva ideal of enlightenment; symbolizing this spiritual journey, a pilgrim begins at the eastern stairway and walks clockwise around each of the monument’s nine levels before reaching the top, a distance of more than 3 miles (5 km). At the lowest level, which is partially hidden, are hundreds of reliefs of earthly desires, illustrating kama-dhatu (“the realm of feeling”), the lowest sphere of the Mahayana Buddhist universe. On the next level, a series of reliefs depict rupa-dhatu (the middle sphere and “the realm of form”) through events in the life of the Gautama Buddha and scenes from the Jatakas (stories of his previous lives). The upper level illustrates arupa-dhatu, “the realm of formlessness,” or detachment from the physical world; there is little decoration, but lining the terraces are 72 bell-shaped stupas, many still containing a statue of the Buddha, partly visible through the perforated stonework. During the Waicak ceremony, which occurs once a year during a full moon, thousands of saffron-robed Buddhist monks walk in solemn procession to Borobudur to commemorate the Buddha’s birth, death, and enlightenment.
The Sacred Monkey Forest-Ubud, Bali
Unlike the majority of Indonesians, most Balinese residents practice a form of Hinduism as opposed to Islam. It is worth noting that Balinese Hinduism is unlike Hinduism practiced in other country’s around the globe such as India. Balinese Hinduism combines aspects of Animism, Ancestor Worship, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Ancestor Worship “represents the belief that prosperity is associated with a relationship that exists between the living and the dead (prosperity is something that can only be achieved through intense worship and obtainment of blessings from ancestors). Animism represents the belief that inanimate objects and other elements of the natural landscape can possess souls which can help as well as hinder human efforts on earth.”
What is the cultural significance of Monkeys to the Balinese? Within Balinese Hinduism, monkeys can be the embodiment of both positive and negative forces. The famous Indian epic poem, Ramayana also depicts the dual nature of monkeys. In general, because monkey’s can embody both positive and negative forces, the Balinese both loathe and revere Monkeys, especially the long-tailed Macaques who live in the Scared Monkey Forest and find protection by the Balinese.