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Published: November 6th 2009
Prambanan Temple Complex
Too early to check in, we were whisked from the airport to our 1st Yogya temple. Spent the whole morning till high noon as our shirts clung to our skin and sweat drops ran down our necks.
As soon as we landed in Yogyakarta, I received a text message from Paul. The message read: "I guess it is not that difficult to spot a long-haired man with a beard."
And it wasn't. Piece of cake.
Paul drove us straight on to the Hindu temple complex in Prambanan . Just before entering the complex, we decided to buy our hats. This is when I remembered I forgot to bring my sunscreen. Oh well, let's hope the hat does the trick. Best sunny than wet.
This ancient masterpiece is unquestionably the greatest Hindu architectural wonder in all of Indonesia. Just like the temple at Borobudur, Prambanan is adorned with bas-reliefs depicting the Ramayana epic. Built around the same time as Borobudur , this 9th century heritage site is only 17 kilometers from the city center. Paul entrusted us to a local guide, Sabarno, who promptly showed us a book he co-authored about the site. We listened as he repeated what we just learned from the materials I downloaded from the Net (for my travel buddies to read) about the story of a man's love for this maiden. Wishing
Give us a break!!!
Too tiring on this humid day. More so since we woke up early to catch our 7:30 am flight from Jakarta to Yogya.
to refuse his love, Roro Jongrang asked Bondowoso to build her a temple with 1,000 statues in one night. By the time Bondowoso completed the 999th statue, the maiden panicked and asked the villagers to pound rice and set up a bonfire to resemble sunrise so that she need not be committed to her promise to Jongrang. Feeling cheated, Jongrang thus turned the maiden into the 1,000th statue! Serves her right to play with a man's heart, don't you think?
Anyway, Sabarno minced no words in describing Prambanan as the most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia. This monument confirms the triumph of Hinduism in this land during the 9th century, right about the same period when Borobudur, a Buddhist temple, was built. There are 3 main temples in this complex: Shiva, the main temple, and the smaller Vishnu and Brahma Temples. Again, the outer walls of Candi Shiva depicts the legendary story of Ramayana. Prambanan also has reliefs depicting the Kalpataru
tree. In Hindu, this tree symbolizes the tree of life, eternity and harmony with the environment. It is interesting that this very tree is currently used as the logo of the Indonesian Environment Institution. My friend Beth commented
What more can I dare say?
how Indonesians seem to love trees. Beth is a lover of trees herself (and all other animals - - she has 16 dogs back home), and she observed how very old trees are carefully tended in this country. When we visited the Sultan's Palace , it thus came as no surprise that the same Kalpataru tree is also seen in the gunungan
in the opening of the wayang kulit
--- the traditional puppet show where characters have bulging eyes, ornate customes and staccato moves. We were also not surprised to find many birds in the relief panels. If these Indonesians love their trees, it's a no brainer to assume they must also love their birds! In fact, their Garuda
which is the national bird is also their national carrier! This half human, half-bird is a mystical bird in Hindu mythology. Indonesia uses the bird as the symbol of their country.
Ramayana Ballet @ Prambanan
It was still hot when we went for the 8pm performance. Just a very small crowd, all of whom were probably concerned about the wet stage (it rained just a few hours earlier) being ready and apt for the evening
Ramayana Ballet @Prambanan
There was only a thin crowd of tourists watching this show. The backdrop actually threatened to steal the show .......
The orchestra included 2 senior singers who sang all throughout the performance while dancers in very colorful costumes played out the story of Ramayana. But the ballet is really just an excerpt of the entire legend..........mainly concentrated on the marriage of Rama to Sita (or Sinta?) and the abduction and rescue of Sita with the help of the monkeys.
Quite honestly, we were disappointed with the performance. Even from a distance, we felt the performers doing their dance very routinely and without passion. Except for the Monkey King who is my favorite. The rest were just acting out, or should I say dancing out? When performing as a group, the dancers are not even doing their routine in tandem. If they do this almost every night, surely they should be dancing 'together' by this time. Thank God for the lovely, impressive backdrop which consists of the 3 main temples of Prambanan. Oh, the colorful costumes and lighting were quite impressive too.
We did not wait to finish the ballet. During the break, we left, and trooped back to our lovely Phoenix Hotel. Errr......not exactly, as we stopped by Suharti Restaurant to sample and take
Me on a Hot Seat!
you bet it was hot.....
away the famous Ayam Goreng. Hmmm, that was good advice from Bellongg , our local guide and driver.
Tamansari, Bird Market and Art and Handicraft Shops
Tamansari is the Water Castle. Much like the Roman baths, the ancient Indonesians had their Tamansari! It was a walk through narrow alleys before reaching the Water Castle. As we zigzagged through the many alleys, we passed by the Bird Market. Again, we delighted in learning how Indonesians love their birds. And where there are birds, there are worms. As we searched through the narrow paths, we found ourselves in a dead end where a group of men were whiling away the time just before the sun set. We felt like we invaded their privacy, or rather their private space. We found the men quite friendly though, and we simply got our of their hair and proceeded towards the Tamansari. I was disoriented upon seeing a group of men strumming their guitars , seated on the rooftops of some houses. This is one scene played out in many areas back in our country. Especially at this time of day. Curiously, the Indonesians and Filipinos share a
Just Before Sunset
Strumming a guitar, seated on a rooftop.
lot of things in common. Even our languages have quite a number of common words : we both say anak
for child, lima
for five, and while our salamat
means "thank you", it means "peace" here in Indonesia.
Before we called it a night, we made a stop in this art and handicraft shop. The shop is really more a house than a store. And it is situated not exactly on commercial space. There were masks, there were puppets, there were leather bookmarks, batik sarongs, paintings, and other novelty items. Off its corner, we also found an elderly lady selling something I couldn't make out. But the kids who crowded around her must like what she is selling as they partook of what we presume to be some traditional Indonesian snack.
As we headed back to our hotel, we passed by Malioboro Street. This is the main road in Yogya where one finds many more hotels. We're glad our hotel was not anywhere near here. The road was festooned with some kind of decor and lined with many stalls selling various merchandise. As we passed, we couldn't help observing how tidy the alleyways were. In fact,
all over Yogyakarta it was clean. These Indonesians surely love their environment. Admirable.
As soon as we entered, the guide introduced herself. She said "You're from the Philippines. My name is T___".
My apologies, but she actually said a very obscene word in our language. It was difficult to hold one's laughter. Not her fault, for sure. But neither is it ours, if we can't help ourselves giggling. That episode started us off on a cheerful note as we roamed around the Sultan's Palace. The grounds and museum containing the Sultans' (the most famous is Sultan #9) memorabilia and gifts received from all over the world were all well-kept. But either we were not up to it, or the Palace didn't meet up with our expectations.
Before long, we were making a beeline for the exit. Enough for the day. 😊
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