Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jogyakarta

Our first destination, Jogyakarta (known and Jogja here), was an obvious choice because it is the jump off point for two famous archaelogical sites, Prambanan and Borobudur.
We went to see Prambanan first. It was built in the 9th century and is a Hindu temple complex, the largest in Indonesia. It was wrecked in 2006 by an earthquake so was still in the process of being restored with scaffolding and the inner parts off-limits. The main temple complex consists of 6 main temples, one for each of the 3 main Gods and their "vehicles". They are just tall lotus-shaped temples, the tallest of which is ~45m. It was interesting, first thing Hindu in a long time. The site is also a large park containing a few other ruins but Buddhist ones.
Borobudur is the more famous and impressive of the two sites so we saved it for last. It was built at about the same time but was Buddhist. It is put on the same scale of archeological importance and impressiveness as Angkor Wat and Bagan in South East Asia. I'd been to the other 2 so was interested in what Borobudur had to offer. My day didn't start off all that well as my sandal broke right at the entrance and I had to walk around barefoot through the site for the rest of the day until getting it fixed later in the market. The good news is that unlike other popular tourist sites around the world, these two were really clean and it was actually quite nice to be barefoot :)
One thing I'd noticed before and became much more obvious as I was stomping around the temple with my sandals in my pockets is that the Indonesians like to laugh at you. I just get the impression that they are laughing at me all the time. Not maliciously and it doesn't bother me really, but I haven't had that in a while. It was also interesting in that the temple wasn't all that busy but I did get mobbed by a group of young school girls that wanted to practice English and get my signature. I've heard that in Indonesia the schools often give the kids English homework that involves interacting with foreigners. It was nice, I always like that kind of thing. The temple itself was interesting. Basically a huge stupa with 8 levels or something. You can walk around it and see the different bas-reliefs of all the different carvings. I enjoyed it but would say it didn't quite live up to the comparison with the other 2 great sites. On the way back we were able to see Mt. Merapi in the distance. It is the most active volcano in the country of volcanoes (100+ active ones) and I swear the thing is smoking....
Jogyakarta is ok for a tourist town. There don't seem to be a lot of tourists around, and we are staying with a host anyway. Jake and I seemed to be hassling the locals more than they were hassling us so that is always a good thing. Indonesia is really cheap and so far the food is good if I can avoid the spicy stuff.
Both here and in Jakarta they have an interesting public transit system. They call it a "busway" and it is basically a subway service but is with buses. They have special stops and booths with turnstiles like a subway but they are on the road. It's interesting because the stops are so far away and it is all so organized and clean, right down to the air freshener spray on a timer in the buses (much needed in such a hot and sweaty country). The people are really nice and helpful too.
I wish we had more time to take a leisurely approach to the country but it won't happen this time around.
We will leave here tomorrow heading east. Jake is going to split up again for a couple weeks.
Ammon

2 Comments:

At 12:16 PM , Blogger The Bear said...

Hey Ammon,
Picture were awesome, saw them last week but was swamped busy at the time, so couldn't let you know they were fun to see. It is interesting that the tone of your writing is much more relaxed, and you seem to be enjoying the ride again. Just my spin on it.
Oh yeah, tell Maggs that Sherrie and Alan say Hi, they were out for a visit this past weekend, and was alot of fun. Tish and Sherr have become very good friends and so Al and I got to hang out too. It is fun to see people, and to have them come visit for the weekekend.

Hope that the trip continues to be more up beat and fun.

Love and Bear Hugs
The Bear

 
At 1:00 AM , Anonymous Jean-Marc said...

Hey Ammon
Great to read the news. But it seem's to make it clear, that your Canadian neighbor is totally scared of friendly people. ;-)
They may not realised, that they have a new president, who may change that attitude...
I hope you will not have any further problems with them.

Say hello to all and enjoy it!
Oh, by the way, when is Switzerland on your schedule....?

Greetings from Switzerland
Jean-Marc

 

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