Daily Archives: January 10, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #28: Prambanan Temple Compounds

Posted by on January 10, 2009

World Heritage Site #28: Prambanan Temple Compounds

World Heritage Site #28: Prambanan Temple Compounds

From the World Heritage inscription:

Built in the 10th century, this is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Rising above the center of the last of these concentric squares are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them.

Prambanan is very similar in architectural style to the early Hindu temples you can see in Angkor, Camboida or My Son, Vietnam. While it is often overshadowed by nearby Borobudur, it is in many respects much more impressive. Unfortunately, an earthquake in 2006 did significant damage to the entire complex. Restoration efforts are underway, but it was pretty obvious that major damage was done to the site.

Prambanan is even closer to the center of Yogjakarta than Borobudur and should be included in any visit to the city. There is also an opera which takes place at in the evening at Prambanan which uses the ruins as a backdrop. I didn’t get to attend, but it looked pretty cool. It is possible (but probably not advisable) to fly to Yogjakarta and visit both Prambanan and Borobudur from Bali and return in one day. Taking a day or two is a good idea and well worth the effort.

Awards Season

Posted by on January 10, 2009

In addition to Baseball Hall of Fame announcements this week, we have the Oscar and Golden Globes coming up. In the Internet world, it is also awards season. Unlike the Oscars, everyone can participate in online awards.

There are two big contests going on right now where I could use some support.

The first is the Lonely Planet Blogger of the Year Award for 2009. You can nominate me for best travelogue. The top five sites with the most nominations will move the final round.

The second is the 9th Annual Weblog Awards (Bloggies). For the first time they have a Travel Blog category. This is really THE big award for blogs, and it would be great to just to be a finalist in travel blog category. You can vote here. You have to scroll sideways which is sort of awkward, but it is pretty simple to fill out.

If you enjoy what I’m doing, please take a few seconds to fill out the form and hit submit. It would be a huge feather in my cap to actually win one of these….not to mention, bragging about being an award winning blogger would be a great pick-up line :)

McEmirate’s: McDonald’s in Dubai

Posted by on January 10, 2009

McDonalds in Dubai

McDonald's in Dubai

It has been awhile since I have been able to talk about McDonald’s. There were none in Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos (although there were KFC’s in Vietnam and Cambodia). Dubai, however, has everything manner of fast food you can think of. In addition to McDonald’s I’ve seen KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King and the oh so rare Taco Bell.

The McDonald’s here has a few things on the menu I haven’t seen elsewhere. They have the McArabia sandwich, which appears to be a normal beef or chicken patty with flat bread instead of a bun. They also sell chicken strips which are something like you’d see at a Long John Silvers. Just fillets of chicken, no bones, no sandwich.

Technically, Burger Emir or Burger Sultan would be more appropriate.

Technically, Burger Emir or Burger Sultan would be more appropriate.

As in Malaysia, hamburgers are not called hamburgers, so there is no confusion about there being pork in the meat. In many countries, the nutritional brochure you can get in the store will point out how the food is locally produced. Beef in Australia, fish in Japan, etc. As there isn’t a lot of ranching or farming in the Arabian peninsula, there isn’t much to showcase for local production. They do hint at some regional production of dairy products, but they don’t say where it is from.

Since I’ve been in Dubai I’ve visited the Mall of Dubai (which still seems to be under construction) and the Mall of the Emirates. Both are megamalls with ridiculous attractions like the indoor ski slope in the Emirates mall and a giant aquarium and skating rink in the Mall of Dubai.

I’ve noticed something in the malls here which I first noticed in Singapore about 10 years ago. The food courts are the mirror image of food courts you will find the US. In your typical US mall you will have some sort of ethnic food, usually Chinese, and a bunch of different western options: baked potato, pizza, sub sandwiches, tacos, etc. The food courts in Asia are the opposite. In Singapore you would find every sort of subdivision of Asian food: South Indian, Japanese noodle, Chinese seafood, Indian hot pot, Thai….and then you will find the generic western food stall. Usually something like a McDonald’s.

Kebobs are popular in New Zealand and Australia, but really popular in the Middle East

Kebobs are popular in New Zealand and Australia, but really popular in the Middle East

In Dubai, you see a lot of different Middle East or Mediterranean food stalls. In the Mall of Dubai I saw Iranian, 2 or 3 Lebanese booths, and Greek in addition to Indian, Thai, Chinese…and then the obligatory western fast food.

Many people flip out with the idea of western restaurants in non-western countries. They lament “globalism”, which is usually defined as elements of western culture in non-western countries. Whereas non-western cultural elements in western countries is considered “diversity”. It isn’t quite that simple.

Just because you have McDonald’s and Starbucks doesn’t mean a country’s culture has been destroyed, any more than Chinese restaurants destroy American culture. (and it should be noted that there are more Chinese restaurants in the US than there are McDonald’s, Wendys, KFC and Burger King COMBINED). You can add elements from another culture and still keep what is essential to your own.

I think the food court phenomenon is evidence of this. You can take something like a mall or a food court and put a local twist on it to make it your own. Dubai is a very modern city, but there is no doubt that you are in the Middle East.