When I saw To Thanh’s photos of her Indonesia trip 2 years ago, I told myself ‘I have to get there some day’. But it’s easier said that done, as there’s no direct flight between Hanoi and anywhere in Indonesia, which means expensive and complicated travel arrangements. By a stroke of luck, I got a free business trip to Singapore last month, so I just asked for a leave, bought my Singapore-Indonesia tickets, packed my suitcase, and off I went to visit the world’s biggest archipelago.

Part 1 – Temples

My first destination in Indonesia: Yogyakarta.

My (supposedly) first must-see place in Indonesia: Borobudur.

Then I stumbled upon the name ‘Prambanan’, which is actually the biggest Hindu temple in Indonesia and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It also happened that a Ramayana Ballet Performance was taking place in the temple complex on my first night in Yogyakarta. So I started my Indonesia adventure with a sunset visit to Prambanan and a kelas khusus (special class) ticket to the show, followed by a sunrise tour of Borobudur the next morning.

Visiting temples in Indonesia is fun, especially during school holidays. Instead of being nagged by street vendors selling cheap souvenirs like in other popular tourist attractions in Asia, here tourists are greeted by troupes of local kids eager to practice their English and get a photo with foreigners, especially Westerners. Some of them even go the extra mile to get some comments and signatures from English-speaking tourists (actually their teachers ask them to, I was told). I was spared the pleasure of being this Holywood-star kind of tourist as I look too much like a Chinese-Indonesian. But it was a good fun watching the kids go ‘tourist-hunting’.

I had even more fun going to the Ramayana Ballet. All first and second classes tickets were gone as busloads of kids swamped the venue. They had kind of a ‘shout and cheer’ mini-competition when their schools were introduced before the show. They all sighed a sigh of relief when Sita was proved innocent and happily returned to Ramayana. And once the show ended, they swamped the stage at a lightning speed trying to get a photo with the main dancers. If I had not been there from the beginning, I might as well have thought that Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift or some teenager superstar was in town.

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PRAMBANAN

Prambanan

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Ramayana Ballet performance - Prambanan

Ramayana Ballet performance - Prambanan

Ramayana Ballet performance - Prambanan

Borobudur

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BOROBUDUR

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