I'm currently sitting on the rooftop porch of our humble little home stay in Yogyakarta, the Lotus Losmen. The entire city is alive with the evening calls to prayer coming from the many, many mosques all over the city. As the call fades from the one closest to me, I can hear the many other voices singing in mismatched harmony, some close and some far away. It's beautiful... One of my favorite things about finding mark in an Islamic country. Think Sunday morning church bells, but much more regularly and with some sort of deeper meaning to them.
Anyways, Yogyakarta (or Jogja) is by far my favorite part of Indonesia so far. The city is full of students, and the backpacker alley is just off of the main road. After a difficult journey here, I've found everyone in this city to be overwhelmingly helpful and friendly. Many times today students have come up to us to practice there English and to "interview" us. I'm hoping I have many email pen pals to look forward to now. Other people have gone out of their way to tell us about random places to visit or to just make us aware of areas to avoid tourist scams... Though admittedly, the one scam we walked into was still the nicest scam I've been a part of!
The highlight of Jogja was by far the massive ruins of the temples Borobudur and Prambanan. Both were built in the 8th century. With Borobudur being a Buddhist temple and Prambanan being a Hindu temple, they represent a rare instance in humanity when two different religions peacefully coexisted right next to each other. And did I mention how massive they are? Both were covered with reliefs.
Borobudur by far was the most impressive, with ten levels, each covered level with reliefs, and showin the life of Buddha and his path to enlightenment. The top is covered with many stuppas. The restoration has left it in pretty good shape, though many of the Buddha statues are headless or missing entirely. Sadly, I took few photos in my iPod to share it...google the name and you will see how cool it is.
Prambanan had hundreds of Hindu temples arranged around about 8 massive I temples dedicated to the main gods of Hinduism, like Shiva and Krishna. It was impressive how large these were. Equally impressive is that these temples were "discovered" as complete ruins and painstakingly reconstructed over many years. Many of the smaller surrounding temples have been left as ruins. I'm now beyond pumped up for seeing Angkor Wat in Cambodia...
Today we checked out the Sultan's palace here in Yogyakarta. Every other province in Indonesia has a democratically elected governor. Yogyakarta has a Sultan, and the family has rule since the mid 18th century. Since its a democracy now, Indonesia's central government pressed to change this, but the people of Yogyakarta overwhelmingly voted to keep the Sultan in power, the family is hugely popular. So many of the people here told us about the Sultan's palace and how we should go. Guess what? Wasn't anything special. We deified y should hired a guide, that would of helped. We did get to hear a galvinese orchestra and watch a traditional Javinese dance. Both go slowww. My guess is its so damn hot here no one ever thought of doing anything too fast.
Pics: Prabanan, students playing drums on the main steet, the stuppas on top of Borobudur, and the worlds cutest kindie class stretching in front of Mendut temple