During my extended stay in Bali, Indonesia, I met Agung, a Reiki healer through a Swedish friend I had met while traveling in Bangkok, Thailand. From my chat with Agung, he mentioned that the world’s largest Buddhist temple is right here in Indonesia – in Central Java, named Borobudur. When I got back to my homestay, I did a bit of research and knew I had to get there before leaving the country!
The search was on!! I spoke to local travel agents and online tour companies. However, they all required a minimum of 2 travelers, offered a fixed itinerary and the cost was outside of my comfort zone. The draw to Borobudur was intensifying yet I did not have a method and I was set to leave Indonesia in a matter of days. I started looking for flights online and how plausible was it for me to “Do it on my own!”
When there is a will – There is a way.
I bought a same-day return flight with Lion Air for approx. $130 CAD – departs from DPS at 06:00 and arrives back at DPS at 23:00. There was hesitance in me but from talking to fellow travelers and online travel forums, all signs point to “Just go.” When I arrived in the early morning (06:10, 1 hour time difference from Bali) of July 1, I was surprised how by the open air JOG airport. It was teaming with activity, various places for breakfast food and the people stationed at the information desk were extremely helpful! Oh and there was even a KFC restaurant with a sink for patrons to wash their hands before and after their meal!
The info desk clerks helped me plan out my day: Morning at Prambanan as it is very close to the airport, lunch stop in the city of Jogyakarta and afternoon at Borobudur to catch the sunset (at 17:33) before I return to the airport for my 20:50 return flight to Denpasar airport. I could not have asked for more! This way I can spend as much or as little time at each location within my budget!!
The public transportation system, Trans Jogja was easy to figure out and cost less than $0.30 per ride.
When I arrived at the bus terminal and started walking to Prambanan Temple complex I noticed a young Indonesian male from my bus was walking in the same direction as me. So in my mind, I hoped that he speaks English – I asked him if I’m headed in the right direction (knowing that I am). I found out he is on holidays alone from Jakarta, staying in the city and also plan to visit Prambanan.
When we arrived at the main entrance, a huge signage notifies Foreign visitors to purchase their entrance ticket around the corner. Granted the decor was more visually pleasing, I would much rather pay the same entrance fee as local Indonesians. Locals are charged less than $3 CAD while Foreigners have to pay $18 USD. OUCH! I had asked to purchase the Prambanan-Borobudur package ($35 CAD), however, they said they did not have any available. Talk about sad face. Luckily I had a valid ISIC student card and only had to pay $9 USD.
At the entrance they issued a sarong that everyone have to wear, as a sign of respect to the Hindu religion. I knew about the requirement to wear a sarong and came prepared with my own in my day pack. However, they insisted that I wear the official sarong while at Prambanan. However, it is beautifully printed with the image of Prambanan in black and white. As a structural engineer, it is amazing how they were able to build such structures back in the 9th and 10 century. Granted earthquakes and volcano eruptions have turned parts of the complex into rubble, the current reconstruction efforts are returning Prambanan into a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site.
Originally there was 240 temple within the Prambanan temple complex, currently only the 8 main temples and 8 main shrines have been reconstructed. Personally, I enjoyed walking around the Shiva temple the most, despite the requirement to wear a safety helmet.
Up high from the temple, I saw the stage of the Ramayana ballet company. I wished I had more time to see one of their performances, perhaps in a future visit.
Within walking distance to Prambanan are 2 other temples, namely Candi Sewu, Candi Bubrah and Candi Lumbung. All of them are also in a state of reconstruction. I do not know how they turn a pile of sculpted stones back into the original structure. Talk about a challenging 3D puzzle! There is a green shuttle ‘train’ that connects the Prambanan complex with Candi Sewu. It saved me a lot of energy and time as I was in a bit of a rush to get to Borobudur.
On my way out of the Prambanan complex, I noticed a fenced off area with live animals. I am unsure the reason behind this mini zoo within the complex but it was definitely a welcomed surprise!
I did not realize I had spent a bit too much time at Prambanan but it was all worth it in the end.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 of my Day trip to Jogjakarta!!