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Visiting Indonesian Buddhist temples – Vail, Colorado

Luc Pols
newsroom@vaildaily.com
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Luc Pols
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Editor’s note: This is the 12th in a series of travel stories from local resident Luc Pols, who is traveling through Southeast Asia.

I had a great train ride: 4-and-a-half hours with dinner served in executive class for a paltry $10. Just a bit chilly because of the air conditioning, so if you ever do this, bring a sweater!

I checked into my first high-rise hotel in a while. It was 11 stories with tight security ” two guards checking people and the inside and underside of each car. I guess they are not taking any chances. I stayed in Solo for four days to explore the surrounding area and lay at the great pool. I needed time to relax, as I am a bit tired after traveling for more than two months from hotel to hotel and eating in restaurants every day.



People in Vail tell me “Luc, you don’t go out for dinner much!” After being on the road every year for these extended periods, a home-cooked meal, even my own, is quite delicious.

I just celebrated my first birthday. It’s been exactly a year now since I came out of my eight day coma and I thank my lucky stars, but mainly Martina, that I am doing this traveling. It gives me a slightly different perspective on life and there is so much to enjoy, so much to see, so much to share.



Inside the city of Solo there wasn’t a lot to see, except for two “palaces” (it’s definitely not Versailles) with Javanese dancers, so I headed out of town, about 10 miles, to the town of Sangiran, the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Java Man.” This is where some of the oldest fossils of Homo Erectus have been unearthed. However, more than half of the few museum exhibits are in Indonesian only and without asking, I could not even find the (replica) of Java Man. Don’t go unless you have way too much time to kill in Solo, or if you just want to say that you’ve been to another UNESCO site. In my opinions, don’t bother.

I hired a car and driver along with three other foreigners and we visited temples on the slopes of Gunung Lawu: Candi Ceto, the largest Hindu temple I have so far encountered, and Candi Sukuh. The latter one is built in the shape of a Mayan temple and nobody knows why or how. It’s very mysterious and interesting. I also visited the supposedly 330-foot-high Grojogan Sewu Waterfall (not great shakes) and drove and walked through beautiful terraced fields and lots and lots of tea plantations. I was told that the women who pluck the tea leaves, get 300 Rupia (3 cents) for each killogram. They average about 50 killogram (110 pounds) a day for an income of $1.50!

Next was on to Yokyakarta for the last quest: the UNESCO sites of Prambanan and Borobudur temples. So far, as I stated before, I have been somewhat disappointed with the Indonesian temples, except, of course, for some of their settings at the ocean or lake, but Prambanan changed all that. This is a very exciting site, especially if you take into account that when it was constructed around the 9th century, people now estimate the site had 244 temples. That must have been something to see, but even the remnants, which are quite well restored, are magnificent. The plan seems to be to keep on restoring as much as possible and that is just great. The only bad thing is that there is government-sponsored discrimination here against foreigners.



Indonesians pay 8,000 Rupia (.75 cents) to get in, while foreigners have to shell out $10! That would be like Americans paying $15 to enter into the Grand Canyon, while foreigners paid $200! How do you think that would go over?

I guess I saved the best for last: Borobudur. This is rumored to be the most magnificent Buddhist temple in Indonesia and it is absolutely true. Words just fail me. Great, overpowering, imposing, overwhelming just don’t do it justice. Suffice it to say I had tears in my eyes! An absolute must for anyone visiting this area, no excuses!

Oh yeah, I got the answer to one of my Muslim questions from the guide. The reason that there are speakers on mosques and so loud, is that the prophet is getting deaf (he was a Christian)!

Send comments about this article to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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