Posted by: Mark | February 10, 2008


As part of my ongoing effort to visit places I should have seen five months ago, on Friday I visited Borobodur and Prambanan, perhaps the most heavily touristed places in Java. After meeting at the Circle K on Jalan Kaliurang at about 5am, Sinta, Kiki, Steve, and I, set off on the hour long journey to Borobodur.


Imposing, no?

Built in the 8th and 9th century from about two million bricks, Borobodur is truly one of treasures of Indonesia. Its also pretty amazing that it has stayed together so long, despite being placed in the centre of a island that is constantly falling down. Architecture seems to have gotten worse in the last 1000 years.


Walking in a clockwise direction around each layer of the temple to the top is about 5km.

As I walked around the temple, I enjoyed the carved panels lining the walls, as well as the hundreds of Buddha statues, many headless. Later in the museum, I was to find out that in addition to the panels showing fishing, trading, and singing, others depicted abortions, deaths, laziness, and general peril, according to the English translations.


The top layers contained dozens of these bell-shaped things, referred to a stupas, each containing a very serene looking Buddha.

The view at the top was stunning, with the complex hemmed in on all sides by mountains, including Gunung Merapi. Although it doesnt show up to well in photographs, it looked quite stunning before the clouds moved in.


Australia needs more volcanoes, they really add to the landscape.

Not long after we arrived, about 100 Indonesia students from two English schools in East and West Java arrived to interview (accost) tourists and ask a series of basic questions in English. Oh, and also to take a bunch of photos with them (extra credit?) After swimming against the tide there for a hour, we descended to the rather beautiful parks in the Borobodur complex, and made our way back to the main area.


A great piece of Indonesian history, a boat built by foreigners in the early-90s. It cost an extra 100,000 rupiah to go in!

Indonesia has a habit of putting unrelated museums into parks like this, so after checking out the free ones, Steve and I trekked on to Prambanan alone. On the other side of Jogja, about 1.5 hours from Borobodur, Prambanan is the former temple’s Hindu counterpart.


Another amazing feat of architecture, in stark contrast to some of the abominations you can find in Jakarta.

Unfortunately, because of earthquake damage, we couldnt go into the main temples; barriers had been set up to keep visitors at bay while repairs were going on.


The only decent scaffolding I’ve ever seen in Indonesia. Also, the only one not made from bamboo or rotting logs. It was perhaps the most impressive part of the day.

There are several other temples in various states of ruin with the complex, and getting to them requires an enjoyable meander through fields, which a surprising number of visitors dont even bother to go to. We had the other temples all to ourselves.


Some seemed beyond repair, but there seems to be an ongoing effort to do so.


It’s kind of sad that something so beautiful could be built on land so intent on destroying it.

After making my way home, via Amplaz to get some lunch (Pitta Katsu, weird, but recommended), I noticed something that is quickly becoming routine. Despite an attempt to be SunSmart as a result of last week’s intense painful experience, I managed to get burned in an hilarious manner yet again. Riding a motorcycle in the middle of the day has seared a skin glove onto each of my hands, starting at the cuff of my jacket and ending where my knuckles curl around the handlebars. The left one has a watch tan too. Though the picture doesnt do it justice, rest assured everyone I’ve met over the past two days thinks its absolutely hilarious.




  1. That big temple looks like a pretty enjoyable climb, I’d do it too if I was there. Good to see you’re having some fun! More updates plz.

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