Borobudur Buddhist Temple- Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Walking up to the temple
Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It was built in the 8th century AD and abandoned later after the island of Java’s conversion to Islam. It was first discovered by outsiders in the 1800s and Governor Raffles, an English governor of Java at the time, ordered excavations on the temple. It has undergone several renovations and restorations over the years and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 80’s after its last restoration. It sits near a few active volcanoes, including Mount Merapi which spewed ash all over it in 2010. Fortunately, there was no volcanic eruption while we were there. 
Borobudur from the base
We set out in the afternoon to visit this great structure. Our driver lent us an umbrella because I forgot to bring ours, as the sky was cloudy and threatening rain the whole time we were there. As we came in the gates, we realized that the foreigner ticket office and the domestic ticket office were different. We went to the foreign office, which was inside, had welcome drinks, free toilets, and English speaking people. Austin got his ticket for the domestic price because he has an Indonesian work permit. My ticket was nine times more expensive. Landon was free.  The first thing we came to were these brightly attired dancers. They had shin guards of bells and were shuffling around to music that people were making on a stage above them. It all seemed very American Indian to me, but of course it was Javanese. 

Traditional dancers

We were walking down this little path when all of the sudden, the temple came into view. It was huge and way up on the hill. We couldn’t wait to see it closer up! There were many other tourists there to see the temple, but as the afternoon wore on, we seemed to run into others less and less. First thing we did was take the stairs all the way to the top! The temple’s basic architecture is a step pyramid, and the steps got bigger and steeper as we ascended. On top, there was a main central section around which were situated 76 Buddhas with stone cages that looked like bells over the top of them. Some of them were headless, but many were intact. Landon liked looking inside each bell (or stupa if you want to be official) and say, “Buddha in there!” 

Here we go! Up the pyramid with all the tourists!
When we reached the top, we realized that everyone had the same idea of going to the top first. It was crowded up there! People were just hanging out, enjoying the view, and nobody seemed to know the proper way to get down so there were traffic jams to get down. There were security guys yelling instructions into megaphones, but it was all in Indonesian so of course, we had no clue.

Look at this guy climbing the stairs with backpack,
camera bag, 30+ lb kid! He’s the best!
Triumphantly we made it to the top!
Buddha in the stupa
The intact stupa

Buddha in there!
The Santas
Landon was a popular attraction at the top. From the teenagers furtively taking pictures of him to the parents smiling and those who knew some English calling out to us, it was a bit suffocating at times. The views from the top were tremendous. There were volcanoes all around and everything was very green from the daily rainfall this time of year. The clouds sheltered us from the sun, although it was still fairly hot and humid. One group of people near the top distinguished themselves with Santa hats. It was a little funky. They asked if they could take Landon’s picture, then proceeded to take at least 30 pictures with all different poses and numbers of people. I finally got them to stop and take our picture and we fled as fast as we could go. Rarely do people go that overboard with taking pictures of Landon! He was a good sport for all the shenanigans, though. 
Thanks, Santas, for the family pictures!

Daddy is a good helper!

The structure of the temple was very interesting. The bottom six levels were square, while the top three were round. We started at the top and worked our way down, but a pilgrim coming to the site for religious reasons would start at the bottom, starting at the level of the world that we live in now. That level is represented by the base. Next comes the level of forms, this series of levels had earth scenes chiseled into the rock, and also the story of Buddha’s life from the time he was a prince to when he became a hermit and founded Buddhism. The next level is plain except for the Buddhas and stupas, and is the highest level. This is where nirvana is obtained. We went backwards, but Austin and I both appreciated the lower levels where there was more decoration on the walls. I guess we aren’t ready for formless life in nirvana. At every level, we walked around the whole structure to see the scenes and differences in architecture. A small area was closed for repairs. It was neat to see that at least recently, they decided to just put plain blocks in instead of trying to replicate the original carvings. This temple did not have an inside, pilgrims and visitors were meant to walk around the outsides in a prescribed way up to the top.

Landon liked the monkeys
Original and repaired stones

Landon really enjoyed walking around the temple. He looked at the carvings, pointing out buddhas and other figures. He especially liked carvings of monkeys and another carving of a ship. This was the first time we have gone to a tourist attraction like this and Landon has engaged with the site in this way. I was so excited that he was excited to be there! I was also very excited that we could talk to each other about what we were experiencing. It was a cool “first” with my big-boy toddler.

Appreciating the salient features of this carving…
Middle level
Landon and the scary lion

Stone lions guarded every staircase. Since there were staircases on each side of the square, on every level of the pyramid, there were tons of stone lions. Security guards were also prevalent near the stone lions, because there have been terror threats from the Indonesian version of ISIS to target the temple. Anyway, the security guards actually encouraged Landon to sit on top of the lion and ride it. Landon would touch the lions, and pointed out their tails, but when pressured to sit on the lion, he would say, “NO! Too scary!” So that was that. 
Looking out on the beautiful mountains over Buddha’s shoulder
Near the top
Landon, mommy, and Buddha
About halfway up
From the bottom 
Over buddha’s shoulder
Details- how the stones were interlocked together

Landon is a great helper too!

There was a large amount of walking involved in this excursion, but I knew the stroller would do us little good when we needed to climb up and down the stairs. So Landon walked, or rode on dad’s shoulders. To keep him going in the right direction, he “helped” carry the umbrella. It worked out pretty well, so we looked like this walking around the temple.

After we were done with the actual temple, Austin wanted to check out a museum that had more information. We were trying to find that, but got sucked into this extremely long gauntlet of souvenir booths that I had read about online. We made a wrong turn, and when we realized our mistake and went back we discovered that the museum was already closed for the day. The guy manning the gate said, “Come back tomorrow!” That wasn’t happening just to go to the museum (and pay the $20 entry fee again) but I guess he didn’t know that.

I told Landon to say cheese and he kept charging the camera. 

Serene fountain near the entrance

Our driver met us right at the exit, and tried to get us to buy a variety of things from even more vendors outside the gates! This is the most popular tourist attraction in Indonesia, but still, it seemed a little excessive. Austin had a lady attempt to pickpocket him, but she did not get anything because he keeps everything in front pockets. Crisis averted!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s