Our first visit to the Borobudur Temple.


We first visited the Borobudur Temple outside Yogyakarta, Indonesia August 16, 1999.

We were accompanied by friends visiting from the United States. Paul and Barbara Toews from our home town of Fresno were on their way to Mennonite World Conference meetings on Java. Clair Brenneman, MCC Co-Country Rep. for Indonesia was hosting the World Conference group, and John Lapp from MCC Akron, PA was also on his way to the meetings.

The temple is set on a hill. It was built in the 9th century, so far as anyone can tell. After two hundred years it fell into disuse and was not rediscovered until the late 19th century.

The basic form of the temple is a stepped pyramid. Each layer's reliefs are read in a clockwise circle.

The story told in the carvings is of the life of Buddha.

Each of the bell-shaped structures (dagob) encloses a statue of Buddha. There are 72 of them.

There are 1,300 narrative panels and 1,212 decorative ones.

As soon as you get out of your car a set of hawkers attaches to you. They crowd around, tugging at you and trying to get you to buy their clothing and trinkets all the way to the temple. They then wait until you descend and follow you all the way to your car and as you are driving away. This includes confiding in you, in English, that they cannot feed their children this night unless you buy. If you want to buy, ignore them or refuse until you are back in the parking lot. A 75,000 Rupiah batik shirt on the way up the hill is 17,000 as you get in the car to leave. Don't bother trying to chase them off. It doesn't work. I am told that paying them to leave you alone will bring a new set of hawkers. If you absolutely ignore them they will press a little less. The least friendliness or acknowledgement of their presence intensifies the assault. My wife and I enjoyed the game, and bought several items. We overpaid on all but the last items bought at the car. Of course "overpaid" is a relative term. It is amazing to buy a batik shirt for $3.00 US, and if I overpaid, so be it. You can generally get better quality for less money, I am told, in the shops on Malioboro in Yogyakarta.


Prepared by Duane Ruth-Heffelbower.

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