If ever there was a beige city, this is it.

Trip Start Sep 10, 2010
Trip End Feb 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Kings Garden Hotel

Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Despite the distracting exploding mountain our travels continue apace. We spent a short time at the Sultans Palace in Yogyakarta - he was out so we couldn’t have tea - where the local dance schools do public performances occasionally and we were lucky enough to catch one of them in the early morning. Sorry there are only a couple of photos, the battery died on us half way round the gardens of the palace - we are just getting used to this new camera and completely overestimated the battery life and we had forgotten to check the monitor for warnings.

We then headed to Prambana, a site dating back to the 9th century, where there are temples to both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths - the story is that two dynasties existed side by side for a long period but then conflict arose and the Hindus won. However, they seem to have been rather magnanimous in victory and allowed the ongoing construction of Buddhist temples and so one images they were also tolerant of other religious beliefs, something we can still clearly see in Indonesia today. Although a mainly Muslim state, religious freedom is permitted - many of the leading western nations could learn a lot from Indonesia rather than fear her as some heinous Islamic threat.

There are three principal Hindu temples at Prambanan, each dedicated to a different god: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (the largest temple) and opposite each temple is a smaller temple in which is housed the animal statues that would normally accompany each god. For Brahma we have Hamsa the Swan, for Vishnu its Nandli the bull and last but not least (or perhaps it is, we know little of the Hindu faith) for Shiva we have Garuda the song bird, and name of the national airline of Indonesia.

Prambana is a fascinating place to visit and is a great example of how religions should teach tolerance of other faiths and not advocate conflict. We have to confess that we found Hindu temples in India far less tolerant and welcoming of non Hindus even though at times they were very keen to take our money as a donation but let us inside. I guess that’s just another glimpse of the underbelly of India - corruption supported by those at the top and where its caste system is really a form of apartheid.

Anyway, enough of the politics of religion, time came for us to move on and rather than do the long slog all the way to Jakarta in one we decided to stop off in Bandung for a day. There really is no point in Bandung, there is nothing of note there. Sure there is a big mosque, a silly street with mad shop facades, sheep for sale on teh streets, monkeys forced to perfom tricks at the traffic lights and more traffic than the city can cope with. Apart from all this, its not useful for anything other than breaking a train journey.

Our overnight hotel was, for some unknown reason, called the Kings Garden. No king had every visited and there was no garden. There was luke warm water for which the room rate surcharge was about 40%, but it was clean(ish), the beds were comfy and the traffic noise reduced to less than a roar for most of the night. There are no restaurants of note, mainly just street carts selling deep fried reheated old food or 15 different Nasi dishes, all of which taste the same. The streets are thick with dust and the traffic churns this up so much that its hard to breathe and you need to wear glasses or risk some noisy motorbike throwing up some dusty debris into your retina. We are not fans of Bandung. Was an ok stop over and meant we could take the day train to Jakarta.

On leaving Bandung, which is at about 750m above sea level, the train moves pretty slow and you realise its because of the incline of the mountain as you climb down from the plateau. You will all have heard of the rice terraces of Bali, and we even included a photo of them in the blog a week ago. But I have to tell you, the non written about rice terraces of whatever is the name of the place between about 20 to 40 miles north west of Bandung railway station knock spots off anything in Bali. They are spectacular - and this is where we need to say “sorry, no photos”. Truth is we were travelling through a thunder storm with torrential rain on a train and every photo we tried to take from the window just looked like, well, a photo taken through a dirty train window in a torrential downpour. So you will have to take our word for it, or come do the trip yourself one day.

You will not be disappointed in the journey, just try to grin and bear it in Bandung for a few hours. 
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