When I was still in school, I learned many things about Indonesia. Its geography, history, sociology, culture, and many more. One thing that we’re proud of is Borobudur temple. I’ve always been told that it’s one of the seven wonders of the world, and that it’s the biggest temple in the world.
At some point in my early years, my parents brought me there. I was amazed. Surely what they’ve told me is true. It’s the biggest temple I had ever seen. It’s one of the seven wonders of the world, after all! Live goes on, and I still believe in that.
Three years ago, I started traveling the world. I talked to a lot of people. When they asked me where’s my hometown, I always say proudly that I’m from Jogja, the city near Borobudur temple. Surely they will know instantly, that was my thought. But, everytime I said that, what I get is bewilderment. What’s wrong with these people?
This year, I visited Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor in Cambodia. Oh boy, aren’t they impressive? Just thinking about their scale and architecture while imagining the life there in their peak era, it gives me chill. Bagan and Angkor were actually cities, not just one single temple. One could never explored them truly in just one day. They’re temple in the grandest scale.
But, still, Borobudur is surely comparable and has some edges compared to them, I believed. Maybe Borobudur is still the biggest single temple? Or maybe it’s the tallest temple in the world?
And there I was, back to Borobudur last week.
I was.. disappointed. It’s nothing compared to Bagan and Angkor. It’s smaller than what I believed in these past 15 years. How come then Borobudur is the wonder of the world while Bagan or Angkor isn’t?
That curiousity triggered me to look for some information. I didn’t find any trace about Borobudur in any information about the wonders of the world, bar Indonesian goverment’s. Does it mean that it’s just a propaganda? That’s what I think now.
One other thing about Borobudur is the exorbitant ticket price. The single entry is USD 20! Compared to Bagan: USD 22 valid for 5 days, and Angkor: USD 20 for the whole temple complex.
One funny thing about the ticket, when I tried to enter the temple, there were some staffs that waited at the gate to check the ticket. To my surprise, they interrogated me: “Where are you from?”; “Where do you live at?”; “Can I see your ID card?”. After I proved that I’m Indonesian, they admitted that they thought I was Singaporean. We don’t want to lose any profit, do we?
This is the sad thing about tourism in Indonesia. I remember when I was hiking in Merapi National Park, I just need to pay Rp 15,000, while foreigners have to pay more than ten times of that amount. In my opinion, it’s not worth it. I understand and won’t complain about double tier pricing like that, but one should use some reason and sensibility when setting the ticket price.
Visiting Borobudur again is an eye opener. It’s a lesson for me to never judge anything before I know better of something, and to never be blinded by what the others told me. There are so much things I haven’t seen in the world. This experience of Borobudur only intensifies the desire to see all the things in this planet.
Nevertheless, Borobudur has served my purpose. It’s still a nice place but the magic has lost for me.