We entered at 4:30 and made our way to the temple and up the steps to the top. Borobudur is a Buddhist temple from around the 8-9th
centuries. It is a pyramid base, built in 3 tiers and over 9 levels. At the top, there are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of Buddha. We sat and waited for the sun to rise, enjoying the peaceful moments when the obnoxious tourists beside us weren’t being noisy. Eventually we went to the other side to get away from them. We didn’t have a spectacular sunrise because it was cloudy. However, we did enjoy watching the light come up over the temple and the stupas and seeing the light and shadows change. We walked around the various top levels and enjoyed taking pictures with very few people in them. Eventually we headed back down to see the whole thing without it being crowded. Again, we lucked out as there were no tour groups present the entire time we were there. From the bottom, we again climbed up, this time doing the circuit around each level.
We spent so much time admiring the carvings and taking pictures that we decided to just do half of each level if we wanted to make it back in time for breakfast. The carvings were very detailed, often stretching across multiple stone blocks. My favourites were the various animals and tree carvings. Eventually we made our way back down and walked back to Rhuma Darma through some small streets, past houses with chickens and lots of greenery. We saw a beautiful orange-red orchid growing in one garden. We arrived back around 9 am and were ready for breakfast.
We had fresh fruit juice with breakfast which I am quite enjoying. So far, we have had watermelon, orange, pineapple and passion fruit. We were given an "appetizer" platter while we waited for the main part of breaky to arrive.
We had sticky rice made with coconut milk, a mini crepe, banana wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and deep fried, and fresh fruit. We followed that up with the most delicious omelette with veggies inside. The food here is definitely the food to beat on our trip. We then retreated to our veranda and enjoyed a pot of tea.
We also got confirmation that my bag had in fact been dropped off at the house which was really good news!
Once we had packed up, we drove back to Jogja, and checked in to our hotel. This time we were staying right in the city in a small alleyway. The hotel had a lovely courtyard which all the rooms faced; the rooms themselves were plain, but clean. We then drove down to the Kraton, the sultan’s palace, to see if it was still open. When we asked when they closed, we were given 3 different answers – 2 pm, 3 pm and when you are done. At 70 cents admission, we felt that if our visit was cut short we would be ok. Most of the kraton is walled off from visitors as the sultan and 25000 people still live there.
We were able to visit the performance pavilion which had the most incredible ceiling of carved wood painted in bright red and gold. If you visit in the morning, they have different performers at the pavilion which would have been neat to see. There were a few rooms with an odd assortment of pictures and artifacts and we had a chuckle when we noticed a sink in two rooms. Obviously, they had been used for another purpose at some point!
We then headed off to the post office to see about some stamps to mail postcards. When we got there, we were told that they didn’t have any international stamps. They told us it was 10 000 IDR (about $1) to mail to Canada, but we thought that was too low as Shankar said it cost 15 000 to mail to Singapore. We decided to forego the stamps for the time being. We headed back to our hotel to relax a bit before heading out to dinner. We ate close by and had a mediocre meal compared to some of the others we had eaten.
Around 6:15 we headed off to Prambanan to see the Ramayana ballet. It wasn’t a ballet like we would see at home, but rather a traditional dance performance. Our tickets were front and centre and we had comfy padded seats rather than a stone bench. Our VIP tickets were worth the extra just based on that alone! The backdrop of Prambanan all lit up was amazing and the stage was huge. The performance itself was extremely well done and we enjoyed every moment. It was great to be so close because you could really see their facial expressions and all the details in their costumes.
It was amazing to see how well they portrayed the different emotions with just a gesture or facial expression. At one point, there were almost 60 dancers on stage as well as the gamelan instrument players and singers. At one point, they actually light a thatch-like roof on fire as part of the act and you could feel the heat from the flames. After that, we had a very short intermission with just enough time to pick up our tea and a snack and return to our seats. At the very end of the performance, they announced that for a short time you could go on stage to take pictures if you wanted. We really enjoyed the performance and were so glad that a show coincided with our dates in Jogja.
That evening I had a mild freak-out as a small cockroach-like bug landed on my arm. I flung it to the ground where Anoop kindly squashed it for me. Definitely a reminder that we are in a tropical country!
We got up early again at 3:30 am this time. We both decided that the jet lag was helping us since we weren't nearly as tired as we thought we would be. We met Medi, the owner, at 4 am and he drove us to Borobudur which was quite close. We bought the sunrise tickets and were given a sarong and flashlight to use while visiting.