The story about Krakatau’s eruption in the proximity of Java Island had impressed me when I was young. So as we were only an hour away (by plane) from Java’s center, it would have been a sin not to visit it.
The same name we use for programming at work further fueled our desire to visit this astonishing place. Therefore, we contacted a local agency and at 5 am in the morning we were at Denpasar’s airport more than ready to hop on the Lion Air flight to Yogyakarta or Jogjakarta, the cultural capital of the island.
As soon as we touched the ground, we were warmly welcomed by the local guide Suryo (sun) and our driver. After they arranged our flight back, we started conquering the beauties of Jogjakarta one by one. The largest Hindu temple on the island was situated there – (Candi) Prambanan. Within the same site, was also located the second biggest Buddhist temple on the island – Borobodur.
Prambanan is composed of 224 temples lined in three squares. The largest, devoted to the Gods Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, are in the middle. The whole complex area is quite impressive and imposing. Diving inside, you would find many stories, carved into the walls of the different temples. In a quite fascinating way, Suryo narrated to us the story of Ramayana. This man (Suryo) knew so much information and he was not at all challenged by the harangue of questions that were popping in my head.
Only 800 meters away from Prambanan is located Candy Sewu, built by the same prince (who constructed Prambanan), but this time in honor of a princess from a Buddhist dynasty whom he had married. Mixed religion marriages existed long ago.
Here, we were able to observe the restoration activities of the almost destroyed temples during the last earthquake. In every way possible, Suryo was trying to explain the important things about the temple. He was even drawing on the ground with his finger.
|Every stone is a part of a puzzle which turns into a temple.|
Here’s the real picture after the last earthquake in the region, and the indefatigable restorers are recovering the lost little by little.
After these breathtaking temples, we headed downtown to see the Palace of the Sultan.
But first, we stopped at an artists’ workshop where there were no standard paintings, but rather those made with the technology called batik – painting with wax and dyes on fabric. They showed us the process, we had a personal attendant in the gallery who was explaining and showing us the paintings (and their prices, of course). At the end, we bought one of the paintings which was painted by the students of the real master himself. It was equally as beautiful as the others, but it did not have the signature of the master 🙂
Bistra even tried to paint something…
The Sultan‘s palace is huge, but not the most majestic sultan’s palace that can be seen. This is mainly because here the sultan no longer exercises the political and financial power he used to exercise in the past, but he is still an important person who attends all important events. There, we had a personal guide (a woman) because Suryo was not allowed to enter inside (this was more a business than a religious issue). She was also quite detailed in her stories about every building/room and who used it. The most interesting thing was to observe the influence of Hinduism on Islam and how this palace was a successful mix of cultures and religions over the years. We even managed to attend part of the tea ceremony, where a group of maids brought the Sultan his tea – an activity which is definitely not a Muslim custom.
After the palace, we went to have lunch. The photo can tell you how well we were enjoying it 🙂
Refreshed, we headed to Borobodur, the most gigantic Buddhist temple on the island. On our way there, we passed through a couple of villages, possibly some towns, too. It was much more urbanized than Bali. Some years ago, the temple was a School of Buddhism. It has ten levels and at each level are carved stories and studies in the walls. The students interpret them and after that they have exams. After successfully passing the exam, they receive permission to enter the next level. That is done until level 7. Once at that level, there is nothing more to learn. If you have reached that level, you have learned everything about Buddhism and you have understood it. However, that does not mean that you are successfully implementing it and living in unison with it. To achieve that, you have to pass through the last three levels. Only those who have reached the greatest heights in meditation and philosophy of life can achieve that.
Even here, we did not miss to come off as stars for entire families who have not seen foreigners before, as well as a group of village mayors on Sumatra Island.
Due to the short, but refreshing, Javanese rain brought at the end, we paid very little attention to the souvenir traders. Despite that, they were chasing us until the car. Of course, the most insistent got rewarded. 🙂
Our last part of the program was a tour of the local mall 🙂 – a true celebration for Bistra. Luckily for me, we did not spend a lot of time, wandering around the shops, but explored the food floor. Whatever restaurant you may think of could be found there – coming with the well-known, local service. We even enjoyed some live music while eating.
After eating, it was time for the biggest event for Bistra – a manicure. And it was time for the biggest surprise for us – a manicurist.
We had to be half an hour late and Suryo (in a very relaxed fashion) had to wait for us, but they needed to finish Bistra’s manicure. The delay may be due to the manicurist’s utmost attention to even the tiniest rind around her nails.
However, here we are at the airport with a new amazing manicure and the news for the one-hour delay of the flight (a normal thing for the domestic flights in Indonesia).
After landing in Bali, we were again greeted by the local agency. Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything else since we were quite tired, and it was time for sleep.