No stay in Yogyakarta is complete without visiting a pair of ancient temples, both of which are UNESCO world heritage sites. Borobudur, a massive 8th century Buddhist temple, and Prambanan, a 10th century Hindu temple complex, can be visited in one day by car.
We began our day at the more distant Borobodur. The entry station treated us to a free drink and we began our tour with one of the guides they provide for a fee. The temple design is a multilevel structure with basic human desires represented on the bottom and each level above representing a higher level of consciousness until you reach Nirvana at the top. Reliefs carved at each level tell Buddha’s life story. The structure itself is huge but repetitive if you don’t focus on the reliefs. The tour was pretty good and we spent another 30 min walking around taking pictures and trying to achieve total consciousness, so we’d have that going for us. We also checked out two minor temples close by, Mendut and Pawon, both Buddhist and similar in age.
Views of Borobudur temple
The reliefs and carvings
Yay! We reached nirvana
Pawon and Mendut temples
Of course we didn’t get far into our tour before we were assaulted by teenagers in school uniforms hoping to practice their English with westerners. Some had notebooks and conducted free form interviews, and others had slips of paper with predetermined questions. It was actually fun. And of course there was the obligatory picture. The interesting thing was some of the kids just wanted a selfie with the westerner or the white guy. A few shy girls took quick surreptitious shots, but a few just asked politely if G would mind taking a selfie with them. Now G knows what it’s like to be Brad Pitt, minus the money.
Next we went to Prambanan. The complex is still in the process of being rebuilt but the 6 main structures are up and a few of the many minor ones as well. Our guide informed us that they are being rebuilt at a rate of one per year and that it will take over 200 years to complete the entire job, and that’s with most of the stone blocks still intact. How did they build it in the first place? (They’re not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens.) Like Borobudur, the temples are covered in carved reliefs, in this case telling stories from Hindu mythology. After our tour, we had time to freely explore the temple buildings inside and out. But first, would you mind taking a selfie with me?
Views of Prambanan temples
Statues and reliefs
Two can play the selfie game