Prambanan and Borobudur

I move between the morning market stalls exchanging greetings (“Selamat Pagi” – good morning) and buying “air” – water – and biscuit supplies, essential for survival today. I sit outside “Si Woles” bike shop until 8:00 when a friendly girl appears on the window of the shop, also her home. I rent a shiny bicycle at a very reasonable price and begin.

I’m like a fish out of water. Rather, like a minnow kicked around by a group of frenzied cats and eventually dying from horror. The situation is complicated by the fact that the left-hand side of the road, the slow lane, is used by small vehicles such as motorbikes and taxi-bicyles that go against the flow of traffic. Nobody is bothered to cross to the other side for only a few hundreds of meters until the next exit. Lonely Planet suggest to go through the University and follow a canal for a few miles until we reach the first temples of the Prambanan plain.

Is this an alternative fishing technique?

The landscape is becoming more scenic, as rice aquaculture and small rainforest zones alternate. The plain is filled with temples built between the 8th and 10th centuries CE and are, mostly, Hindu, but including Buddhist elements. After all, the two religions coexisted in the kingdom after the wedding of a Hindu prince from the North with a Buddhist Princess of the South. The idea of ​​using a bicycle proved to be good, as you can reach temples where you are completely alone – the gentleman will appear momentarily for the ticket until he returns to his siesta.

A smaller Hindu temple

Prambanan itself is a mysterious temple complex, the largest of which is dedicated to the sacred triad: to Brahma the creator, to Vishnu the keeper and to Shiva the destroyer, the greatest of all. Approaching from a distance and seeing for the first time its dark towers that spread out in the landscape, was one of the most powerful images of the journey. The temples are decorated by numerous reliefs telling the story of Ramayana Hindu epic.

Prambanan complex
Shiva Temple, Prambanan
Entering Shiva temple
Ganesha statue, with its trunk polished by the many visitors

After paying 1000 Indonesian rupees (5p) for bicycle parking (!), there was no time for lunch, since I wanted to reach the second giant of the area, Borobudur. So I caught the bus from Jobor terminal and in just over an hour, sunset approaching fast, I am in the town with the same name. Panic! Overwhelmed by persistent becak drivers I reach one of the entrances at the same time as a couple of Czech tourists. With Vitek and his wife, from beer-famous Pilsen, we walked between the Borobudur bells with the hidden Buddhas, heard the evening prayers from the mosques of the valley that surrounded us and greated the legendary Merapi volcano, the true king in this place. The Czechs offered a free lift back to Jogja, and thanking them it was finally time for food in one of the apparently renowned in all Indonesia “Gudek” (jack fruit sweet stew) restaurants.

Borobudur, bell tip pointing to mount Merapi
Borobudur at sunset
A Buddha

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