The Largest

Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Beginning

There is something about life that makes you want to better the next. Being an Aussie, we always like to do this. Yes we have Uluru or Ayres Rock to some, plus a few other worthy contenders like the giant prawn and lobster which sit on the roofs of servos up the north coast of NSW and Goulburn does have a giant Merino which was a tourist attraction until they built a new expressway past it !!! But this is not about Australia, but about the most populated Islamic country on this planet which happens to house the largest Buddhist monument built !!!

The Reason

Back in April, I made a trip out to Malaysia to meet up with Lucy, but along the way I stopped to see the sleazy side of Singapore with my mate the Chungster, and he told me, I've popped the question, the wedding is in December, you are invited. So once back in London, we booked some flights and the countdown started.

It was whilst counting, I realised that having been to Singers loads of times, instead of hanging out, drinking beers with the other Westies, why don't we just get a flight to somewhere else, and there was only one place to go, Borobudur.

The Story

Eventually, after many hours and two flights, we had arrived. Once there, I realised that there was a similarity to Bangladesh. I was a giant amongst midgets !!! We grabbed a taxi and headed out to Borobudur. It took a while getting there, and along the way, the heavens opened up and our driver then told us that it was the rainy season !!! 

Room got, we fell asleep as jet lag hit us both. It kind of fucked that first day, but shit happens. As the evening fell, we took a twenty minute walk into town for food. We received many stares as we were the only ones walking !!!

Up early, it was pointless going for sunrise as it was cloudy, so we had breakfast before we headed out. Whilst sitting there, I questioned the workers and found out that our place was done up in a Buddhist style, but all the workers were Issy lovers, which was to be expected considering this is the largest Islamic country in the world !!!

As we went to walk off, the boys said, no, you are guests, we need to drive you, but we said no, and walked into town, and as we are approached the gates, the top of temple poked out through the trees. It was then that we knew that this would be good.

At the ticket office, I befriended a Malaysian couple and offered to pay half of their guides costs, and at 3.70 for my half, it was not breaking this Jewboys bank !!!

We set off and found out that there was maybe one or two but no more than three Buddhists who lived in Borobudur. He also gave us some interesting facts about the temple but he said that the people of Java were uneducated and had no need for paper and pens back in the 9th century so nothing was written down and as they were uneducated, Islam seemed like the next best step once the temple had been completed !!! Actually, it was quite amusing as he also took the piss out of the Malaysians stating that Indonesia was far better than their neigbours, it kind of reminded me of the happy banter that happens between Aussies and Kiwis !!!

The carvings on the temple were pretty impressive, but he only showed us a few before we hit the top where he then told us how the place was covered in volcanic ash, and now only 82 people at a time can be on the top three levels. I asked why 82, but he could not explain this !!! 82, what a weird number !!! After that, he then left us, so we became one of the 82 for 15 minutes, and once our time was up, we walked back down to the bottom and started circumnavigating the temple.

Trust me, this is huge. There are carvings on every level which tell stories, but nobody really knows what they mean because as I wrote previously, these people did discover Islam, I mean were uneducated !!! The bottom levels, the carvings were quite good, but did get progressively worse the higher you went up as they had either been looted or not restored, and as it was getting later in the day, by the time we were at the top, there was no time limits as there was nobody around, so we hung out shooting. Trust me, shooting is good because one year, some Issy lovers tried to blow up this place !!!

Back down the bottom, we decided to walk out and see two other temples, but before we had a chance, the rains came down, so we waited an hour before we moved on. 

The first was Pawon, which was only small with a few carvings, and the second, a further two Ks on, Mendut was pretty big with some impressive carvings. We were alone for a while, then a bunch of tourists turned up and we had to leave. The serenity was gone so we walked back.

And Finally

Impressive, yes I was impressed. Different to Bagan and Angkor, well worth a visit if you are in this part of the world so you to can tick off the worlds largest !!!
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