Borobudur and Prambanan

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May 19th 2013
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: -7.78, 110.37

We had trouble staying asleep, due to jet lag, so we got up around 6:30am and went for a walk around the grounds of the hotel. A steady stream of people was already climbing the steps up to Borobudur. It was sunny and clear, and we had a good view of a smoking volcano off in the distance.

After a fine breakfast, Pas appeared, and we went to the temple. My memory of Borobudur will not be of the stupas and carvings but of the many, many, many people asking to take their photos with us. It must have happened 20 times, perhaps more. We always said Yes, and we were often mobbed by others asking to do the same thing. Not quite sure why it is so fascinating, but it was. Everyone was very friendly and made us feel very welcome, so that helped a lot.

But about the temple, or complex, since I'm not really sure "temple" is the best description for this construction: there are nine stacked platforms. The bottom six have carved walls, while the top three have the perforated stupas, with Buddha statues inside, which seem to be the common image of the temple. The carvings demonstrate a great deal of Hindu influence – very “large vehicle” – and, we are told, lead the pilgrim from the world of desires to the world of formlessness. But, as noted above, it was very hard to concentrate on the carvings because of the constant demand to pose for photographs. The gargoyles were cute.

We finished at the temple around 9:30am, then went to check out of the hotel. Our driver met us at 10am to take us to Prambanan Temple, the rival Hindu Temple. Traffic was much better today, so the drive, past the airport a ways to the complex, was not very bad at all.

Prambanan was built around the same time as Borobudur, by a rival clan. It is the largest Hindu temple in Java (or in Indonesia, depending on who you talk to). The carvings are very fine, and the temple grounds are impressive, with the tall towers rising out of the grassy plain. We were able to climb around the largest temple, although we were required to wear helmets. Some of the temples were damaged during a recent earthquake, and restoration was in process but not in the least intrusive to our visit.

We lunched at a restaurant near the airport, then checked in for our flight, which was delayed. The flight was fine and short. Our guide met us at the airport, and we had the 90 minute drive to Ubud. The villa is gorgeous, and I am very happy so far. I am thrilled to go to bed to the sound of croaking frogs.

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