Borobudur & Prambanan

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End May 24, 2010

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our first destination in Indonesia was Yogyakarta, Java. We took a flight from Nagoya to Denpasar first and then headed for Yogyakarta immediately on another flight. Denpasar airport was not as crowded as I expected and we had much time to connect to the domestic flight. The flight took us only one hour. As soon as we arrived at Yogyakarta, we took a coupon taxi to Manohara Hotel in Borobudur for Rp.190,000. Manohara hotel was a definitely 3-star-hotel, but we liked the hotel very much because of its location which enabled us to visit Borobudur early in the next morning. The room rate was only about USD 52 (we booked through ABL Tours & Travel) including two breakfast tickets and two free passes for Borobudur. On the day of arrival, I watched an introductory video of Borobudur for free in the small theater and that was all I did on the night. The sunrise tour was also available for the next morning for 175,000 per person, but we didn't take it, because we were very tired on the night after the long flight and we had a plan to see a sunrise at Gunung Bromo. 

 In the second morning, we got up at 5:30 and headed for Borobudur to enter at the opening time. The closest gate was only 5 minutes' walk from the hotel. Before we left, it was a bit raining, but it got the temple caught by mist and a view at the temple was mysterious, especially when the mist disappeared in the sunlight. The tropical scenery around the temple was also awesome with the mist. My mom was stunned by its greenery beauty, although she didn't spend even a single moment on the relieves depicting Buddha's stories. When we left the temple, we saw a lot of domestic and international tourists going up to the temple. The touts around the temple were a bit sticky, but friendly and we were not disturbed by them very much. As soon as we came back to the hotel, all-you-can-eat breakfast was ready. Unfortunately, we didn't have many choices in the buffet, but it didn't matter to us. When we checked out, I asked a hotel receptionist to call for a metered taxi, but she declined my request and told us to take a hotel taxi. So unwillingly we took the hotel taxi for Rp. 275,000 to Prambanan, another world heritage ruin near Yogyakarta. (There was a public bus station nearby, but that was not my mom's choice.)

Buddhist Cosmology: Borobudur Temple Compound
Three worlds of Buddhist cosmology are represented from the bottom to top level of Borobudur: the worlds of desire, formlessness, and enlightenment.
The Stupa Video
Stupas are one of the most common architectures throughout Asia. Interestingly, its shape and decorations vary from county to country. In Japan, it is like a tower. 

Prambanan is also a UNESCO's World Heritage Site and more accessible from Yogya than Borobudur. The temple complex looked large on its map, but its main temples stood in a limited area near the gate, so thankfully we didn't need to walk around much. There were 6 temples in the main site including the temples of 3 top-ranked Hindu Gods (Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu) and their vehicles (Swan, Nandi, Garuda). The highest one was Shiva temple and 47m high, but its entrance was closed. The temple complex was so impressive that the other Hindu temples have looked minor since I visited Prambanan. When we got out of there, I found so many souvenir shops around the exit of the park, but fortunately they were not sticky. I bought a souvenir T-shirts for Rp. 25,000, although I haggled a bit.

Just out of the site, we were able to catch a local bus for Solo in a minute. I hailed the bus, because there was no bus stop around there. The bus was full of locals, but the conductor kindly found seats for us and stored my backpack under a seat. Interestingly, there were a few musicians (a guitarist or mandolinist and a singer) getting on and off in turns. After their performance, they asked for a tip from all the passengers. In addition to them, a few newspaper vendors and snack vendors got on and off the bus frequently. They handed their products to all the passengers once and in case that the passengers didn't buy, they collected the products. When I got a bag of crisps, I thought it was complimentary, but of course, it was not. As soon as we arrived in Solo, we looked for a minibus bound for Malang, because we had to reach Malang on the day in order to join a Bromo sunrise tour. I asked a becak driver to take us to the minibus station, but at the minibus station, we were told that the minibuses for Malang were available only at 10 A.M. and 10 P.M., which meant we were not able to make it to the sunrise tour in Malang. So we changed our plan immediately to take a train heading for Surabaya first (executive class, Rp.190,000 per person) and then Malang. (The direct train for Malang was not available around that time.) The train to Surabaya was very comfortable, but a bit noisy because of some children. I had Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) and Indonesian soup on the way. Just after we got off the train at Surabaya, we were talked by an unlicensed taxi driver on the platform. I had known that there was no train for Malang on that night and it was already 7 in the evening. I thought it was a bit risky to take an unlicensed taxi at Surabaya, but we took a chance, because my mom was tired and it was not a good choice to take a local bus for Malang. As a result, we safely arrived at Helios Hotel of Malang around half past 9. We stayed in the hotel until 1:30 in the next morning and then joined their Bromo tour.

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