Daily Archives: January 10, 2009

Prambanan Temple Compounds

Posted by on January 10, 2009

World Heritage Site #28: Prambanan Temple Compounds

Prambanan Temple Compounds: My 28th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Prambanan Temple Compounds:

Prambanan Temple Compounds consist of Prambanan Temple (also called Loro Jonggrang), Sewu Temple, Bubrah Temple and Lumbung Temple. Prambanan Temple itself is a complex consisting of 240 temples. All the mentioned temples from the Prambanan Archaeological Park and were built during the heyday of Sailendra’s powerful dynasty in Java in the 8th century AD. These compounds are located on the border between the two provinces of Yogyakarta and Central Java on Java Island.

While Loro Jonggrang, dating from the 9th century, is a brilliant example of Hindu religious bas-reliefs, Sewu, with its four pairs of Dwarapala giant statues, is Indonesia’s largest Buddhist complex including the temples of Lumbung, Bubrah and Asu (Gana temple). The Hindu temples are decorated with reliefs illustrating the Indonesian version of the Ramayana epic which are masterpieces of stone carvings. These are surrounded by hundreds of shrines that have been arranged in three parts showing high levels of stone building technology and architecture from the 8th century AD in Java. With over 500 temples, Prambanan Temple Compounds represents not only an architectural and cultural treasure but also a standing proof of past religious peaceful cohabitation.

The Prambanan Temple Compounds are very similar in architectural style to the early Hindu temples you can see in Angkor, Cambodia 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 Yogyakarta 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 Yogyakarta 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.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Indonesia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 9, 2017 @ 11:35 pm

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.