Thursday, October 7, 2010

Temples trip on Java

We had only been back from Bali for 10 days when a 3 days WE appeared in the calendar: it was Hari Raya, the end of Ramadan so we were on our way to give the Indonesian government another 25$!

This time, we are going to Yogyakarta on the island of Java. It is not really easy to get there so we have a connection flight in Jakarta. The objectives of this visit are the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. The first one ranks as Anghor Wat in terms of size so we have to have a look at it!

So Friday morning we are in Changi at 6am (WE are worse than going to work!), 1st flight is on time, the transfer in Jakarta is highly entertaining, basically we have to go through immigration, collect our bag in a conveyor belt drop it on another conveyor belt, try to go through the door indicated, go back, explain that the door is closed, they don't believe us so we drag them, the door IS closed so finally we exit the terminal, go upstairs and start all over again!

A boring 1h30 at Jakarta airport and another short flight and we land in Yogyakarta. The hotel sent someone to pick us up and the guy wears an uniform, speaks proper English and has R's name spelt properly on a board! And the biggest miracle of all, his car has an engine (no pedals if you remember previous Indonesian post) and the road is clear enough to drive at 90km/h!!!!!!!!!!!!

20mn later we get to our hotel, it's lovely, nice pool, nice terrace, tea and spring rolls as a welcome drink. After a quick deep in the pool (it's really hot!) we are off to the city centre. We start at the Sultan palace which is closed because of the end of Ramadan, visit post-poned until Sunday. Then a local takes us through the little street of the Kraton (area where live the people working for the sultan) to visit a puppet maker. Indonesian are fan of these shadow puppet show and today is the biggest one of the year so they are preparing actively. The show starts at 9pm and will finish around 2am! And the sultan is coming!

I find the puppet so pretty (very detailed cuts made in buffalo skin and then very colourfully painted) that I have to buy one obviously! R is not impressed by my negotiation skills...

After this shopping, we move on to the water palace. It's a big house with many swimming pool, a sauna etc there is also a little tower and the story says that the sultan used to go up and throw a little stone at his favourite lady of the day to let her know that she could come upstairs to join him.

After that another local gets hold of us and drag us along to the underground mosque.

This is quite impressive! It has a funky stairs symbolising the 5 prayers a day, it's orientated towards the west! Yes, we are on the other side of Mecqua comparing to Europe!

Obviously after this really nice tour, our local guide takes us to his batik shop, but this time I manage to resist!

After that we go around town a bit and make our way back to our hotel. I then decide to give another chance to the Javanese massage (previous experience at the Bromo hadn't been pleasant...); conclusion, I shouldn't have... I do not know what they do but it is always weird and painful!

Second day, we are living the hotel at 5am, objective: Borobudur. We are there at 5.45am it's still close but there are another 30 western tourists waiting with us. The guidelines are that it gets very hot during the day and also very busy with local tourists so we better go early.

The driver will pick us up at 9.30 so we have plenty of time to go around.

I'm not going to give massive description, photos are better. Just one thing, below all the stuppas, there is a Buddha, and I try to take a picture of all the different positions of Buddha which is hard when he has broken parts!

By 8.00 we are more or less done with the temple which gives us A LOT of time to explore all the museums around. There are plenty, not really sure why and they are not that great... Luckily our driver is early at the meeting point so at 9am we leave Borobudur and move on to see a couple of other temples, second was very nice and much less crowded than Borobudur!

We are back at the hotel at 10.30am where we enjoy a giant breakfast, followed by a swim. The early afternoon rain returns, absolute buckets of water! So we decide on a nap! (I know it's a hard WE... But remember we were up at 5!)

Later in the afternoon we go back to Yogyakarta city centre and just walk around, we discover plenty of shops selling beautiful baskets of flowers,

we take a tuk-tuk, we have a look at the bank (colonial building) and a church. Oh by the way we wondered for a while why our taxi driver didn't know about the famous monument wikitravel kept on talking about but we understood when we saw it, a little clock, shorter than a lamp post at un unsignificant cross road, amazing.........

Anyway when 6.30pm arrives, we are thirsty and despite all the walking we still haven't found a bar! But I came organised this time I have a good restaurant address so after much conversation with a hotel concierge and a taxi driver, we finally find the area of town where they have put all the bars and restaurant!

We have a fantastic dinner in a tiny bungalow and then we join plenty of other Frenchies at the next bar!

Sunday morning. We have given up on the idea of getting up at such an indecent time, never mind, it will be hot and there will be hordes of tourists!

And there was...

And not the most organised ones...

The very narrow stairs going up to the temples were a nightmare!

Anyway, the temples are beautiful! We can't access all of them because they are very fragile after all the earthquakes but even from outside, it's very impressive (the inside is really tiny anyway).

In the same area, there are hindu temples, buddhist temples, religion problems don't or didn't seem to exist overthere!

There is still a lot of work to do in terms of putting back the stones together! At the moment, with many of the temples, they have made some very ordered piles. It's quite funny.

As usual, we go around 3 or 4 museums after the temples visit and looking at the pictures, the job done is already very impressive, seeing how it used to be.

One interesting thing about both Borobudur and Prambanan is that they were both rediscovered during the british rulling of Java, which was by the way really short. Prambanan was found by accident ; when they actually looked for Borobudur (a legend was saying there was a lost temple in the jungle)

After Prambanan, we catch a taxi back to town where we can now have a look at the sultan palace (it's sunday, so it has re-opened), ok, we shouldn't have bothered. The only thing R managed to take photos of were chickens in cages... (I didn't bother showing you that...)

After that, back to the hotel to grab the bags and then the airport. We had left it a bit late to make it to the airport so thanks very much to our driver for his efficiency in Yogyakarta traffic!

Not really a smooth way back to Singapore, the planes were late, but it's Indonesia, transport is not their strongest asset...

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