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Obama on temple sojourn during Indonesia holiday

Former US president Barack Obama (C) and his family arrive at Borobudur in Magelang on June 28, 2017. Obama kicked off a 10-day family holiday in Indonesia that will take in Bali and Jakarta, the city where he spent part of his childhood, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / STR

Barack Obama took his wife and daughters to the ancient Borobudur temple on Java on Wednesday on a family vacation to Indonesia, where the former US president spent part of his childhood.

The Obamas arrived in the city of Yogyakarta in central Java and headed straight to explore the Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist temple built in the 8th and 9th centuries.

“Obama is fascinated by Borobudur, and he remembers that he has seen this temple when he was a child,” said Edy Setijono, head of the temple management complex, who accompanied the family at the site.

Obama spent four years in Indonesia in the late 1960s in the then-sleepy capital Jakarta after his mother married an Indonesian man, following the end of her marriage to his Kenyan father.

During those years, his mother and Indonesian stepfather sometimes took him to Yogyakarta during school holidays.

Prior to their arrival in Yogyakarta, the Obamas had visited the resort island of Bali, where they toured a Hindu temple in sarongs, walked through terraced rice paddy fields and white water rafted.

On June 30, Obama and his family are expected to visit Jakarta.

Many Indonesians feel a strong bond with Obama because of his early exposure to Indonesian culture, with a two-metre (six-foot) bronze statue placed in his former school.

The statue of “Little Barry” — as Obama was known to his Indonesian school friends — depicts the boy Obama dressed in shorts and a T-shirt with a butterfly perched on his hand.

While in the capital, Obama will meet President Joko Widodo on June 30 and give a speech at an Indonesian diaspora convention the next day.


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