11 November 2013
Surviving looting and earthquakes, Prambanan still stands
It happened again: the frenetic chase of some Indonesians, mainly school groups, requesting photos with any friendly-looking Westerner. I do point out “friendly-looking” because it was hilarious to observe those who at all cost tried to avoid interacting with locals, too busy with their own schedule or just wanting to be left at peace (which I can perfectly understand, since I also dodged girls elsewhere). After all, I also had fun taking shots of vividly colourful Indonesians on a backdrop of ancient grey-brown stone blocks.
With Borobudur’s temple, Prambanan’s temples are another of the must-see landmarks of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. For twelve centuries, they have survived destruction, caused by treasure hunters, locals looking for building materials, and earthquakes, the most recent of which – only seven years ago – caused hundreds of stone blocks to collapse or to crack. Fair enough, I’m only talking about edifices which, in light of the destruction caused by the typhoon in the Philippines, may seem a little out of place. I do however tend to generally stay away from the instant emotional reaction inherent to sudden natural (or man-caused) catastrophes – even if it doesn’t prevent me from feeling compassion, especially as I have visited the Philippines last year (http://goo.gl/pnQerY), finding the Filipinos I encountered to be among the kindest people I have met (competing closely with Jordanians)... but I’m digressing, as usual. I may only, after seeing various efforts and photos, tweak my post title: “Surviving looting and catastrophes, humanity still stands”.
So, back to my temple complex in Prambanan, which is said to be the largest Hindu one in Java. Numerous carvings run all along the sides of the main structure, among which is depicted the story of the Ramayana (for a – hopefully – funny account of that epic, check out my version, together with photos of live dancing). As I implied it, it’s not just one temple but a whole array of temples which extends over several kilometres – and yes, I was again on a scooter to be able to go to the other seldom visited temples that still allowed to take a few interesting shots, but also observe, with a smile on my face, those children playing hide-and-seek.