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INDONESIA TWO – JAVA – PRAMBANAN

One important part of this travel to SE Asia was to visit two ancient archaeologic temple sites near Jogjakarta,…on the island just west of Bali… we flew to Java on Christmas Day. Java is predominantly Muslim, while Bali is mix of Hindu & Animist.

Borobudur is Buddhist. Prambanan is Hindu. Both were built in the 9th century. Each is unique to the style of religious, philosophic or artistic  manner… particularly in silhouette… yet with notable resonances in detail suggesting notions toward friendly co-existence at that time, in this place…

Our cab driver from the airport offered us a two day package including both sites… plus, as it turned-out, several more adventure-not-predicament stories!

We accepted… he delivered us shortly at Prambanan.
Remember, this was Christmas Day [look at the left side of this photograph]…
… at a Hindu Temple complex…
 …in a Muslim country…
 We were antique or at least aging moderns in free-fall…

In the orientation pavilion there was this handsomely stylized model of the 
basic architectural form…
 Another model shows the scope of the entire site, a series of terraced courtyards enclosing the three main towers, 
Devoted to Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.
In all there were some 200 smaller temple structures surrounding the central towers, presently still seen as piles of unsorted stones awaiting restoration.
This ninth century Hindu temple complex is a Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site which has been only partially restored after several huge long ago earthquakes tumbled its un-mortared stone towers. 
Particularly on a day dancing under lively lovely clouds these make a sharply jagged silhouette with the tallest being some 47 meters 
[approximately 140 feet] in height. 

All the surfaces are elaborately carved with borders & decoration. 
An impressively huge effort, both in the original building & in the reconstructions during the last century by a series of international archaeologic efforts.
 Steep high steps lead up through several levels of narrow terraces 
around which one can circumambulate to view the distant landscape between sculptural elements or 
look down 
to  carved stone panels
 telling stories from the Ramayana… 
an ancient Hindu holy history.
 Near the top were deep dark chambers housing large sculpted images
 We took our turns at the crowded doorways to allow others to enjoy their arrival inside the heart of these structures. My eyes needed time to adjust, coming in from the bright sunlight, also I enjoyed sharing some intimate moments.

Because of the universal end-of-year holidays the sites we have come to visit are quite crowded… mostly local tourists, rather than western ones… many families & student groups… assuredly almost none celebrating the holiday we were there to avoid, yet all knowing the nearly universal aspects of the commercial Christmas Mythology.

Universality…

We, being the rare westerners, attracted attention… numerous shy smiles from young students… encouraged & emboldened by our own easily responsive smiles… demonstrated they were eager to practice their English.

They inevitably began by asking where we are from.Upon hearing “USA” they got even more excited & wanted to have us pose with them for selfies… or… grouping around us, one trading places in turn with another, to join the merriment of spontaneously friendly photographic moments.

We must accept we are millionaire stars of some variety…

I think of the old notion that photographs could “steal” souls… which might then suggest that part of our souls are captured in faraway albums doing this kind of cross-cultural work!

Nearly everyone, older as well as young, has a cell phone & were making frequent shots just as I was doing with my Nikon.

While we all were collecting soul from the ancient art, we were collected as well in the present opportunity enjoying how humans naturally communicate.

Happily we were also captured by a group of young men to pose in their shots… Stephen handing his phone to the one shooting saved that moment’s soul-energy for ourselves!

Some groups were wearing identifying tee shirts or hats, but also many dressed beautifully in lovely, fashionable color-coordinated head scarves, Stephen caught some of them in a candid moment…

Echoing the interesting contrast of graceful curves gentling the very steep steps.
Some details were happily almost whimsical!
I found these illustrations of the several restorations quite interesting, showing various modes of reconstruction techniques:

The site is quite impressive, complex in it’s original construction & even more so in its reconstruction & restoration. It will long remain to be a huge puzzle!

Our driver asked if we were interested to stop at a batik shop, which indeed we were… wanting more shirts in this complicated craft of wax-resist dying for which Indonesia is famous. It turned out to be the same place Joel & Nirgrantha had suggested we visit!

We spent a happy hour with two helpful women wearing matching headscarves… the uniform of the store… finding gorgeous additions to our own wardrobes of shirts… these being very well made of high quality work in both the lovely dying & fine tailoring… we also bought a few for gifts. It is easy to spend our millions!
 
At last, after hours from our early start, long drive to the short flight, tour of the temple, we arrived our hotel, where we were happily gifted our room earlier than usual… we were ready for a nap!