Visiting Prambanan and Borobudur in Yogyakarta
The next stop on the Java island is Yogyakarta, one of the main touristic destinations in Indonesia. Mainly because of the 2 major sights around the cities.First major sight was the temple complex of Prambanan. Its the grandest and most evocative Hindu temple complex in Java that features some 50 temple sites. Many suffered extensive damage in the 2006 earthquake though. The temples survived but there are tons of stone blocks collapsed on the ground or cracked. The Shiva temple is the biggest one and also suffered a lot of damage. At the time of visit the temple itself was fenced off for restoration. The real attractions to me weren’t in fact the temples, but rather the other tourists here. Being a major touristic complex, there were tons of school groups visiting the place, add in a few Caucasian tourists and you’ve got yourself a new attraction for the locals. For some reason, a lot of these kids were all giggly and smiles when they saw tourists. I saw several of these tourists getting asked to take pictures with them like they were some international superstars, me obviously didn’t get asked at all. But it was a rather funny sight to see. As I said before, there were several other temples spread out in the area, mostly walking distance, but there was actually only 1 other temple which was actually worth visiting at the other end of the park. I don’t remember the name itself, but it had 2 of these fat guardian statues guarding the front. Before I continue, I must note that like most touristic attractions, you must pay an entrance fee. But the difference here is that there is a tourist price and a local price. The tourist price was about 25USD and the local price was 2-3USD. Since the tourist price was so steep and I kept being seen as a local, I figured I’d try my luck with the local price. I approached the ticket office and silently gave my money to the cashier while holding up my finger to signal for 1 person. I got my ticket and went to the entrance gate where they collected the ticket. As I nearly pass the guard he asked me in Bahasa (Indonesian language), where I was from. As I couldn’t answer, the guy figured out my plan and sent me to the tourist counter instead where I had to pay the full price. Next historical site was Borobudur which was ranked along with Bagan and Angkor Wat as one of the great Southeast Asian monuments. The Buddhist temple consists of 6 square bases topped by three circular ones. Nearly 1500 narrative relief panels on the terraces illustrate Buddhist teachings and tales. The site itself was magnificent to see, it was just such an impressive and imposing structure. Because the site was smaller than Prambanan, the amount of people that were visiting seemed like a lot more. There were still curious students around trying to take pictures with the foreigners, but it seemed like a lot less since everyone was crowding the stairs to get to the top platform. Around Borobudur you can also find the volcanic Kedu Plain. This was an important area in the pre 10th century Javanese history as it contains a whole host of ruins dating from the same era as Borobudur. I didn’t go to the plains myself, because at the time of visiting, I had limited internet access to look it up. But be sure to check it out and let me know how it is. Besides the 2 temples, there’s also the Kraton Complex or the Sri Sultan’s palace. There are many museums and buildings worth seeing in the area. One of them is the water palace, it was built as a pleasure garden by the first Sultan. One of the bathing pools wat dedicated to the sultan’s harem and he had a tower overlooking the pool where he could take his pick. The complex also had 2 sultan grounds/squares where you could hang out at night. There are various little restaurants and eateries around the square where you can order food and sit on the square while you do some people watching. On fridays and weekends it gets really lively with people coming out and taking a ride on one of the many colorfully decorated cart bikes.