Published: February 11th 2011July 30th 2010
The Entrance View
Borobudur on the green hill under the blue sky
Still continuing our previous two posting on the Indonesia trip in summer 2010, we were basically running out of time so that we had to eventually leave Bali for some other places we'd planned. We flew to Malang, my hometown, straight from Bali. Then we decided to do a road trip to Yogyakarta. My Dad insisted us to drive his huge SUV because it surprisingly consumes less gas than my own sedan that now is used by my little sister. Driving a big SUV in chaotic Javanese traffic on the narrow road from East Java to Yogyakarta was quite a problem for me. I did do that zillion times before, but having living and been used to European traffic made the whole Java road trip so scary. I came straight to Berlin you know, where the roads are wide and empty, with few cars and no motorcycle. Anyway, the fact that the car was very spacious made the 8 hours road trip way easier. Kiki reclined the second seat row and connected it to the third seat row made them a bed to comfortably sleep on. We'd also got the built in DVD set we could watch movies in a quiet
Hand carved reliefs along the walls tells the life story of Gautama
watchable size of LCD monitor. Things we wouldn't have had if we would have driven my sedan.
We stopped by some local small restaurant to have lunch. Kiki was at that time (until now he still is) crazy about 'kecap manis': the sweet soy sauce made of black soybean sweetened by palm sugar. So he wanted to just eat anything with kecap manis on it. We had 'ayam bakar' for our lunch then, grilled chicken with 'kecap manis' served with steamed rice and fresh salad. We continued driving for few hours and we finally reached Yogya around sunset. By the way, although we were gonna stay in Yogya, and although Yogya itself is a magnificent city (I lived for 4 years in the city when I went to college), our main destination on this trip is actually Borobudur Temple, the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. We stayed in my university hotel in which also we ordered room service for our dinner. If in Bali we were just outing and partying, in Yogya we were just more calm and resting. I guess we started to feel the fatigue after non-stop traveling for the last three weeks, cross continents.
The Stupas on the top level
The first thing we did the next day was for sure heading to the dream temple of Kiki's. Why was he very excited about the temple again? Oh, he watched a documentary about the temple in Discovery Channel before. Of course. We headed there right after having breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Borobudur itself is not geographically located in Yogya, although there is common misunderstanding about that. Borobudur is in a city called Magelang, around 40 km north from Yogya. So it took us around half an hour to get to the temple. Oh by the way, Kiki put on his Croatian soccer jersey that day so the guy at the ticket booth was like "Oh, that's a nice jersey!". The entrance ticket was around a euro for me, and 10 euros for Kiki because he was a foreigner who didn't pay any tax in the country. However, Kiki had a free welcome drink upon his entrance though. So Borobudur is another World Cultural Heritage that is under the protection of UNESCO. I didn't really know the history myself, but Kiki had been reading his Lonely Planet since like a month before the trip. All I knew about was that
The temple was so big I couldn't make it putting it all on one frame
the temple was built by the Syailendra Dynasty around the 8th century, and somehow it was buried underground after one big volcano explosion, and that around 17th century a Portuguese (or Dutch?) archeologist re-found it and started to dig the lost temple. The temple was re-found in a fit condition and just needed little reconstruction, and just lately became one of those Unesco's WCH.
I did know a little bit about the clock-wise climbing ritual to the top level of the temple that symbolizes Buddha's journey to reach the nirvana, but that was the first time I actually did the ritual after like zillion times visiting the site. Kiki was obsessed about this nirvana and Buddhism thing, which is indeed pretty cool for me. So we did this walking around while I was trying to explain the story of Buddha described on the reliefs of the temple as best as I can, recalling what the tourist guide explained to us when I was visiting the temple with my parents years before. And you know what is really amazing about this temple, beside its gigantic size? That back then in that time they just put together those giant stones without gluing them with cement and after hundreds of years now the temple is still looking outstanding. So we kept questioning how could possibly those people build this, like gluing the stones with tons of egg whites? Oh by the way, don't forget to take a bottle or two of water with you while walking around, because climbing on steep stairways and walking in circles under the very bright sun with a temperature around 30 degrees Celsius is pretty exhausting. There are plenty of places you can just take a rest and sit down in shadow to cool down.
We walked through the traditional market on our way back to the parking lot, where Kiki bought small statue of the Buddha made of stone. He wanted to buy a bigger one, too bad airlines always just gives you 20 kg luggage, and the statues are made of stones, you know. Anyway, we had lunch there if I remember it well, because Kiki wanted to take another 'ayam bakar' with 'kecap manis'. Then we headed back to Yogyakarta and went to the Sultan's palace. We couldn't get into the palace because we came too late, and the palace is closed at 2pm for public visits, but we did check around. We also went to this most famous street in Yogya called Malioboro, where all the painters, jewelery artists, musicians, etc sell their products along the narrow sideways. Kiki bought batik button shirts, the Javanese traditional patterns, which he loves to wear to work until now.