Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stumbling Toward Jogjakarta

One of the things that I had looked forward to most on my "1 year retirement" in Bali, was taking trips throughout Asia to see places that I had heard about from others, seen in the movies or on TV. I have always been especially intrigued by those places that flirt with the impossible. Structures that were erected a millennium ago leave more questions as to how and why it was constructed in the first place. Going to Jogjakarta was my first chance to see not one, but several temples that shared these intriguing characteristics.

Flying into Jogjakarta (or "Jogja" I still don't think I can pronounce it right...) FIRST thing in the morning, we decided to hire a car to take us to the temple, Candi Prambanan. A Hindu temple constructed in the 9th century!

Prambanan


Entering the temple site and seeing something that old - is truly breathtaking. Being from America, anything that is over 50 years old seems ancient... here I was walking in a structure built well over a thousand years ago! Even more impressive was the precision and technical know-how, not to mention lack of power tools, that really blew my mind. Each of the temples at Prambanan had amazing carved reliefs, depicting the stories behind the various Hindu Gods throughout the exterior wall faces of the temples.


(PRAMBANAN!)

(PAT INSPECTING ONE OF THE TEMPLES)


(CLOSE UP OF ONE OF THE CARVED RELIEFS)

With numerous earthquakes occurring in the area, the temple, which is a UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site, is not what it once was. With a little imagination, however, I could vision how even more beautiful and imposing this great site once was.

After only a few hours... we were all drained -- so the inevitable occurred - pool time! So, after eating a delicious meal, we headed to our hotel and soaked up some sun rays!

Borobudur


The next day, we hired the same driver and headed to the temple that I most wanted to see... Borobudur.

On our 2 hour drive to the temple – I was struck by the imposing volcanoes that seemed to surround us and we all couldn't help but get a little nervous since at least one was very, very active!

(IS THAT VOLCANO ERUPTING??)

Unlike the day before, we decided to hire a guide – it is so easy to get a little overwhelmed and miss out on some of the most interesting facts and stories. Approaching the temple, you couldn’t help but be awestruck by its grand beauty and uniqueness. Built in 8th and 9th centuries – the BIGGEST Buddhist Temple in the world! It too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(BEAUTIFUL STUPA'S OF BOROBUDUR)

(BUDDHA!)

(CLOSE UP OF ONE OF THE BOROBUDUR RELIEF'S)
  
And unlike Prambanan – there is only one main temple and it consists of seven square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The carved reliefs tell the story of Buddha, the law of karma, his search for absolute truth…and every level you climbed, was one more level closer to Nirvana until you reached the very top.

Such an amazing place – I couldn't fathom the vision and will to build such a place and think that the people that constructed it had some strong convictions and beliefs!

Again, afterwards we were all beat and retreated back to our car and took the long drive back to our hotel area. Starving, we grabbed lunch and then walked around to look at the shops and markets.

At the markets “antique” section, I came across this magnificent Buddha head and had to have it! Maybe a little inspired after seeing the 500+ Buddhas at Borobudur…but after a little haggling i managed to walk away with a steal!

Now ready to truly relax we all took another betcak back to our hotel for some more POOL TIME!

For our last dinner – Pat found this restaurant on Yelp that had a #1 rating...we were all due for a great meal so we went on a wild ride to the restaurant – our drivers got lost on a couple of occasions but eventually we got there. The owner was a French guy and the cuisine was French/Indo fusion. Incredible ambiance, great jazz, a large Koi pond, a waterfall and last but not least incredible food!
Not a bad way to spend our last night in Jogja!

Gotta run!
Kurt

P.S - My apologies for the lack of photos of this trip. There is a reason behind that but you'll have to wait for the next post!

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