Borobudur and Prambanan impressions spoiled

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I visited the astoundingly beautiful, inspirational and impressive sites of Borobudur and Prambanan on Java, Indonesia, in September ’03 and am sad to report that both left a bad taste in my mouth because of what has been allowed to develop at these sites.

After climbing the 3-dimensional mandala of Borobudur and being awed by its 2.4 miles of bas-reliefs, in order to exit the grounds visitors are forced to walk a very long, Disneyland-like snake-line of stalls. This line seems to go on forever with no way of escape. It is tacky and certainly not in the spirit of the ruins.

When you visit Prambanan, you are treated to a completely different but equally enthralling set of ruins, whose bas-reliefs are even more beautiful than those of Borobudur. However, after climbing these monuments, again you are not allowed to exit directly but must take a very long hike around the perimeter, which is sprinkled with beggar-“musicians” and some small shops.

In both cases, that wonderful feeling of having come in contact with a superb human achievement (such as one feels at Angkor Wat, the Parthenon, Machu Picchu, etc.) is marred and sullied by this needless and thoughtless bowing to greed and bureaucracy. All should urge the Indonesian government to correct this.

RICHARD C. WALKER
La Jolla, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I visited the astoundingly beautiful, inspirational and impressive sites of Borobudur and Prambanan on Java, Indonesia, in September ’03 and am sad to report that both left a bad taste in my mouth because of what has been allowed to develop at these sites.

After climbing the 3-dimensional mandala of Borobudur and being awed by its 2.4 miles of bas-reliefs, in order to exit the grounds visitors are forced to walk a very long, Disneyland-like snake-line of stalls. This line seems to go on forever with no way of escape. It is tacky and certainly not in the spirit of the ruins.

When you visit Prambanan, you are treated to a completely different but equally enthralling set of ruins, whose bas-reliefs are even more beautiful than those of Borobudur. However, after climbing these monuments, again you are not allowed to exit directly but must take a very long hike around the perimeter, which is sprinkled with beggar-“musicians” and some small shops.

In both cases, that wonderful feeling of having come in contact with a superb human achievement (such as one feels at Angkor Wat, the Parthenon, Machu Picchu, etc.) is marred and sullied by this needless and thoughtless bowing to greed and bureaucracy. All should urge the Indonesian government to correct this.

RICHARD C. WALKER
La Jolla, CA