We arrived in Indonesia on Jan. 24th. We’ve cycled over 700 kilometers across Java. We’ve met some nice people and eaten some delicious food and even gotten glimpses of some beautiful scenery. But there is also a lot of traffic, pollution, noise, dangerous roads and hot temperatures. We hadn’t really been enjoying the ride or the country. We’ve even made plans to take the train part of the way to avoid some of the roads. But, today was different. We found lush, green, peaceful, beautiful java.
This morning we let Garmin 810, our bicycle GPS, find us a route to the ancient Hindu temple of Prambanan “the tallest and most beautiful Hindu temple in the world”, according to the English Version of the UNESCO World Heritage Site park brochure, located about 20 kilometers northwest of our hotel. Sometimes Garmin leads us astray and finds routes that don’t even exist, but today he was successful at finding us small, single lane village roads that meandered through rice fields, along streams and canals and through tiny neighborhoods. We shared the road with children riding to or from school, motorcycles laden with rice bags full of freshly cut grass for the milk cow at home, and an occasional motorcycle-truck ( a small motorcycle in front with a flat bed trailer mounted on the rear).
We stopped for lots of photos. We enjoyed the shade of large trees dividing the farms. We let our minds wander rather than concentrate on the traffic.
The ride was a reward itself but the second reward was the destination. The Prambanan temples are pretty darn spectacular. I think the little 1×2 photo of Prambanan that I remember from a 6th Grade World History text book just don’t do these temples justice. They are huge, ornately carved, and in pretty good shape in spite of massive damage from an earthquake in 2006.
Today, the temples were swarming with school students on field trips which made the visit even more fun. There was a group of middle school students that were crazy about having their photos taken with foreigners. My guess is one of two reasons: 1) Their teacher told them to practice their English and give proof with a photo. 2) They had never seen Westerners before. In any case, pictures of Eric and I will be in many photos albums around Java.
Amy favorite part was being free to climb all over the ruins. I kept thinking that if these 8th century beauties were located in the United States, concerns about liability from falls or damage to the structures would limit visitors to photos from a distance or a close-up views from coin operated binoculars located miles away.
The ride back to our hotel was a little hotter and choked with a lot more traffic. But neither dampened our spirits. I’m relaxing after a swim in the hotel pool. And, I’m hoping that Eric is planning the route to our next destination, Mt. Bromo, another East Java favorite.