All posts tagged: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Up and Down the Temples of Prambanan

Just an hour or so away from Borobudur lies another temple compound that’s a must-visit while in the vicinity of Yogyakarta. Prambanan is considered the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia, and like Borobudur, it’s landed a coveted spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Having just been to Borobudur, it was impossible not to compare the two. While the former gave me that staggering, surreal feeling of “Oh, I’m finally here, and it’s even more amazing than I expected,” Prambanan snuck up on me slowly. Yes, there was that burst of whoa when I got my first full view of it from across that long stretch of grass and plants, but it was calmer. Quieter. Instead of stopping me in my tracks, it urged me to come closer and gained more of my admiration with every step I took. Despite its misleading name, Prambanan Temple, or Loro Jonggrang, is actually composed of 240 temples. If you look at its original model on Wikipedia, you’ll see that it follows a square plan with more than 200 small temples enclosing the main temples and …

Finding enlightenment at Borobudur

I can’t pinpoint when it was that I first realized I wanted to see Borobudur, but it’s been on my list for a while now. Sometimes, when you dream about something for so long, you build it up in your head and end up disappointed when it turns into reality. This wasn’t the case here. The hostel was dim and quiet when I walked down to the lobby five minutes before 3:40 AM. I’d gotten probably two hours of sleep, tops, but I wasn’t about to let that get in the way of my plans. The car arrived late enough that I’d worried they’d forgotten about me, but it all worked out. I sat beside the driver and watched the night pass me by as two men chatted in the backseat. Despite the early hour, life stirred on the streets of Yogyakarta, and as we drove closer to Magelang, the more I saw people going about their morning routines. The sunrise can be viewed from Borobudur itself via Manohara Hotel’s exclusive Sunrise Tour, which gets you inside the temple an hour and …

Trekking and temple climbing in JOG

It’s the end of my second day here in Yogyakarta, and I had a blast. Trekked up Setumbu Hill at 4:30am to see the sunrise over Borobudur. It was quite foggy and cloudy, but the view was nice all the same. The main attraction was Borobudur Temple itself. Check it out— If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be. This is simply mind-blowing. Angkor Wat was amazing, yes, but this is another kind of awesome that everyone should experience. Also saw Prambanan Temple— And I met some really cool people along the way too! Will share more of my experiences and photos when I get back to my laptop. Last day tomorrow. Why is it that time flies faster when you’re traveling? ‘Til next time!

Manila Mania: Architecture, religion, and history galore

I confess, Manila has always intimidated me. It, with its jeepneys and pedestrians and ever-present buzz of activity. And the traffic. I’m used to EDSA and C5, but Manila is a whole different ballgame. Thing is, Manila’s the capital of the Philippines. It’s steeped in history. If I wanted to learn more about my heritage, this was the place to start. Plus I really, really wanted to go to San Sebastian Church. So I enlisted the help of my architect friend Macy. We spent last Sunday walking and commuting around Manila, and that was the day I learned to love this city. I finally realized what I’d been missing out on. There’s so much beauty amongst its chaos, so many stories in its worn-down buildings. One day was far from enough time to explore everything it has to offer, but it’s a start. Here are some of the places we visited—and I wholeheartedly recommend you visit them too! San Sebastian Church This right here made the commute worthwhile. San Sebastian Church’s towering spires and bright façade looks so out of place among the …

Banteay Srei, Cambodia

I just realized that I never got around to continuing my posts on Siem Reap—and what’s worse is that I didn’t cover my favorite temple of them all. Since it’s about time that I revive my Flashback Friday series, I decided to give this gem the spotlight it deserves. So without further ado, I present to you the beautiful Citadel of Women, Banteay Srei. Banteay Srei is located in the Angkor Archaeological Park, but since it’s a long ways out from the main cluster of temples that includes the Angkor Wat, it’s often passed up for its more popular counterparts. But if you’re staying in Siem Reap for more than a weekend, you should definitely add this to your itinerary. You don’t even need to worry about the admission, since it’s covered by the Angkor Pass. The trip from town takes about an hour via remork, and it’s a great way to see more of the fields and small settlements housed in the park. It’s best to go here bright and early in the morning, so you can get the farthest destination …

Siem Reap Day 2 (Part One): Sunrise @ Angkor Wat

Early mornings aren’t my cup of tea, but considerations must be made for special cases. When faced with the opportunity to witness the world’s largest religious moment come alive in the first light of day, is there really any need to think twice? For us, there was only one answer. The night before, we’d made arrangements for Vannet to pick us up at 5 AM to give us enough time to get ready for sunrise, which was expected at about 6:20 AM. Now, I usually have a hard time waking up, but it seemed so easy that morning. Funny what anticipation does to you. We found out that Vannet couldn’t make it, but he sent over a replacement driver, Shen. That particular drive was memorable because it was so dark, and suddenly, we’d see a remork or a van appear behind us. It wasn’t until we neared the park entrance that we really got an idea of what an event it is to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Despite the early hour, the entrance …

Siem Reap Day 1: Angkor National Museum, Bayon, Ta Prohm & Pre Rup

My first impressions of Siem Reap were: 1) there were no people; 2) they had a whole lot of hotels / guesthouses; 3) it was hot and dusty. Later on I’d find out that #1 was not true at all, but both #2 & #3 were right on target. We arrived in Siem Reap well past 10:30 PM last February 7. It’s a little under a three-hour flight from Manila, but Cambodia is an hour behind our local time. Upon exiting our plane, we were greeted by a gust of warm, dry air. I remember thinking that it wasn’t so different from back home, at least in that regard (it’s just more humid-hot in the Phils). Though their airport is small, I loved how they utilized traditional architecture to make it unique. I think it’s the only airport I’ve been to that isn’t modern and isn’t interchangeable with any other airport. It’s a good introduction to the small but definitely memorable city of Siem Reap. We headed straight to Ta Som Guesthouse, where we were …