We woke up 5am to get to Borobudur for 6am as that is the best time of day to go before it gets really busy and the foggy haze appears. Borobudur is an amazing Buddhist temple built sometime between 750 and 850 AD by the Sailendras dynasty. It contains 60 thousand cubic metres of stones. It's amazing how something so big was built at that time and remarkably lay hidden for hundreds of years, lost beneath the tropical forest surrounding it. It's also fun to say Borobudur in a Brian Badonde against...bidly boh.
Around each of the first 3 levels of the temple are these mind blowingly intricate carvings in solid stone each telling a different story.
Inside each of these lattice stupas is a Buddha, each carved to a different pose, particularly noticeable by their hands. This is at the top level of the huge block, a circular platform, supposedly representing 'never ending nirvana'...
It was hard to capture the enormity of the temple, because from the bottom it's at an angle where you cannot see a lot of it.
Gunung Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia. Doesn't even look real, it's like a cartoon volcano which has destroyed the surrounding area on several occasions.
We then went to a much smaller temple called menduit which has a 3 metre tall Buddha in it.
And a crazy large lucky Banyan Tree. Which was older the temple or the tree?
Right next to this was a Buddhist monastery. Free to enter and look around whilst the mostly very young monks did lots of sweeping and not much praying whilst we were there.
After the 4.30 am start to catch Borobodur pre crowd, we headed back to sleep and experience the Haj rituals and in the afternoon headed to the beautiful Hindu temples to the north of Yogyakarta: Prambanan.
They made us wear sarongs, but only the tourists so we took them off and went back later and fooled... No one.
Through today the distinct relationship between Hinduism and Buddhism really struck us both. Ganesh and Buddha made appearances at both Buddhist and Hindu sights yet, whilst exploring both, hearing the Muslim calls to prayer. Quite the religious cocktail that characterises Indonesian tradition. Something that also struck us on predominantly Hindu Bali.
After an afternoon of exploring the vast grounds and ruins around Prambanan the sun started to set and was breathtaking. The orange glow it cast across the land was unbelievable, seriously impressive light. The photos don't even do if justice.
As night fell the temples lit up and it was off to the Ballet, in the grounds of the temple in an outdoor auditorium. The Ramyana ballet story was a little like a slightly blunter more visceral Disney story: Prince, Princess, evil ruler of Ape mask kingdom steals Princess and Prince Charming wins her back with the help of a talking monkey yet in the Ramyana story the princess sets herself on fire to prove to Prince Charming she's pure. Whilst not a top class performance it was entertaining and in unforgettable surroundings. The 50 piece band chiming away behind the dancers was also pretty impressive.
Quite a day.