Saturday, 6 July 2013

Borobudur...and the Indonesian Paparazzi!

I awoke earlyish, I had hoped to do the 5am sunrise tour of Borobudur (a famous temple just outside of Yogyakarta) with Erica but was too late to book last night so I intended on doing it on my own...the local way! So I had the free breakfast, which was weird but kinda nice; rice, prawn crackers, tempeh, some weird peanuts in caramel/soya sauce and omelet. I then got ready, got the directions and bus details from reception and began my journey!

It involved walking down to the end of the road and catching a bus to the Jombor bus station. So I arrived at the bus station...which is an elevated enclosed station, high up from the road, and strangely the buses arrive and you step over to them, as the doors are the same height as the stations - it's all weird! You also have a conductor on the bus and at the bus station, to tell you when your bus is there and what each station is! Kinda cool as you have someone looking out for you. So I got the bus to Jombor, which was over an hour long due to traffic, and on the bus I met Lisa, from Germany. We got talking and decided to spend the day together and brave the public transport in a duo!

Once we arrived at Jombor, it was a simple transfer onto the Borobudur bus after a short 5min wait, which was hot and cramped, and then it was about an hour to Borobudur town from there. Lisa and I spent the time chatting about our travels and taking pictures of the crazy 'back of a motorcycle' ensembles like in Vietnam and arrived at Borobudur around 1.30pm. We were accosted by a Bacak (pronounced BahChak) driver with a very colourful Bacak who agreed to take us the short 10min drive to Borobudur temple for 10,000 rupiah between us (under 50p).

Once we arrived we made our way to the entrance, except we got told we couldn't go through as it was for locals...we had to go to the International Visitors entrance, which basically meant, the entrance where we charge you 3 times the price of the locals! Locals was 12,000 rupiah, we got charged 190,000 rupiah - 200 times more, more like! However we also got an air-conditioned lounge, nice toilets and free water and tea/coffee - I should think so for almost £20 admission fees!

We then made our way to the Temple, suited up with our special patterned batik skirts we were given (everyone had to wear them). The temple is situated in the middle of some stunning scenery - huge mountains, lush green fields and gardens, it was sooo pretty! Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple's design in Gupta architecture reflects India's influence on the region. Borobudur is a UNESCO world heritage site, and rightly so, it's stunning! The detail in the carvings on the walls were incredible and the views from the open dome at the top were unbelievable. It's incredibly well preserved and restored, and remains Indonesia's most visited tourist attraction.

We climbed up to the first level and instantly were hounded by people asking for their photo with us. We'd heard about this in the Lonely Planet and from other people who'd been, but we weren't quite prepared for the attention we drew! The entire afternoon was basically spent having our photo's taken. It took us almost 3hrs to complete Borobudur because of this. We had our pictures taken with individuals, groups, families, children, and because we were the only westerners there that afternoon, we literally were just hounded! It was like India...on speed! At one point we had at least 6 people taking our photo at the same time, which drew a huge crowd around us as everyone wanted to know what was so interesting, which in turn meant even more people wanted their photo with us. We ended up asking for photo's back, if they want one of us, we sure as hell were getting some too!

By the end of the afternoon my face muscles ached from smiling so this was what it was like being a movie star, no wonder they hate the paparazzi and hardly ever smile, it's hard work. It was then time to head back, but not before trying some of the coconut drinks they were dishing out for 1500 rupiah; it was young coconut water, mixed with rose syrup and fresh strips of coconut, de-lish. The Bacak, bus and bus back were pretty same same, was sooo tired so fell asleep. We got the bus to Malioboro road where there is a huge mall and the street is lined with market stool after market stall and Batik stores are everywhere.

I had to pick up my washing so we took the 20min walk back to my hostel, then got a Bacak back to Malioboro road for dinner. We chose a local street restaurant - a Warung as they are called here - and I had Ayam Bakar (Chicken, BBQ) and Nasi Goreng (rice, fried) which was amazing and Lisa had the Gudeg Komplit that I had had the night before. Picking the food and drink is always a wild guess in Java as nothing has english translations but we managed to get by with the help of a couple sitting next to us.

It was then time to say our goodbyes, Lisa was heading to Jakarta so the opposite way to me, so we wouldn't see each other again. I took a Bacak back to the hotel and packed as I had an 11hr minibus ride to Mt. Bromo tomorrow at 8am. I said goodbyes to the girls in my dorm before going to bed, and I also realised that I'd got all my washing back, apart from one top, which had been replaced by an Indonesian Guy's top, so I was a little bummed about that as the laundrette was shut and wouldn't open before 8am tomorrow so I wouldn't be able to seek it out. Ah, the joys of losing good clothes whilst travelling!

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