Friday, October 10, 2008

Man that's a lot of Buddha's: Borobudur Temple


Destination: Borobodur Temple

Number of Buddha's: 504

One thing unexpected: Our tour guide explaining Buddhist culture was a Muslim observing Ramadan (fasting all day)

What we liked: Massive structure that has stood the test of time including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and bombs

What we disliked: Can we possibly build another store in front of the entrance, wherever that is?!?

Determined to get to the temple for sunrise and avoid organized tours, we hopped on our rented motorbike and sped north of Yogyakarta towards Indonesia's #1 tourist destination. I never really understood why bikers always wore long pants, jackets and gloves until now. At 5am in the morning, that's a cold ride! Add in a few bugs in the face and the occasional exhaust from a diesel truck or bus and you have the makings of a pleasure ride through the countryside. We arrived just in time, ran in and up the temple to see....clouds. After wandering around a bit and snapping a few photos, we went back to the main gate to get a tour guide. We find that for places like this, you really can't do it justice unless you know what you are looking at. With over 2000 different stories carved on the numerous layers of the temple it helps to have someone there explaining a least a few of them. The carvings are all the way around the bottom three layers and are meant to symbolize cause and effect scenarios. If you do this bad action, this will happen to you, etc. The carvings themselves are well preserved for the age of the structure (around 1100 years old) and you could spend days looking and interpreting all of them. We spent about two hours. Once we reached the top of the structure, the second time, our guide said he would wait for us over there, pointing to the one shady spot on top. Since he was fasting forRamadan and was going to have to make the 2-3 hour tour four times that day in the heat without food or water, we understood and said ok. After taking a quick little tour through the museum, we were greeted by about a dozen people holding up various souvenirs, most of which are far to big to fit in a backpack to lug around. Shaking them off, we jumped back on the bike, fought the smog and traffic all the way back to Yogyakarta where we promptly jumped into the swimming pool at our hotel. Sometimes you just have to do it!

To see more pictures of Borobodur and a couple of surrounding temples, click here.

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