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Saturday, February 22, 2014

A 9th Century Time - Throwback to Prambanan


After suffering from temple overload around the same time I attained a visual high zen state of mind at the 9th century Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur, we proceeded to another throwback of that century, but this time to a Hindu temple compound called the Candi Prambanan. My interest level in seeing more temples that day fluctuated within .50 mark. Upon stepping out of the van however, as I saw the sharp towers of the Prambanan temples highlighted by the tallest, the Shiva temple, I felt a new wave of anticipation as I march closer to the temple compound. 

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It was scorching hot during that day and as I come closer to the gate, one of my tour group mates, Yeen, a South Korean, motioned to ask me to take a photograph of her with the pointed and towering Hindu temples of Prambanan in the background. I ended up shooting half a dozen shots of her in various poses which includes a jump shot, after reviewing the images she gave me a thumbs up sign and asked me if she could take a picture of me, to which I reluctantly obliges.  

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Like a kid inside a toy store, everywhere I looked are like eye-popping toys and candies. I snapped a couple of pictures before deciding to let my memory do the documenting. I separated myself from our small tour group which was composed of Yeen, a young couple from Portugal, a honeymooners from Netherlands and Switzerland (whose original idea of a honeymoon was a week-long trip in Phuket, Thailand - until they decided to screw the idea and continue traveling around Asia, which they've been at it for six months already) and two middle age ladies from England. While on my own I went to climb the first temple south of the entrance and rested briefly while I let everything I'm seeing to sink in.

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The temples at Prambanan have more intricate designs as shown by its surrounding pointed spires but has lesser intricate bass relief narrative panels than in Borobudur, this is not to say there aren't much, it's just that Borobodur is wildly surrounded by it. Here, however you can enter each temple and almost at the instant of stepping foot inside Shiva temple, I was shut off from the world as I felt a deafening silence and It felt like some hidden eyes from the shadows behind the statue were watching me. While I stare at the Shiva Statue I momentarily thought I would come out of the temple in a different time. 

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Hurriedly I got out and almost tripped down the stairs before I regained my balance. I sat at the bottom step and just stared at the other temples as I gulped half of the mineral water inside my drinking bottle. Though, I acknowledged the emergence of starvation as my rumbling stomach suggests, I couldn't deny at the rush of visual feasts coming my way. 

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It's not only the satisfaction of having another UNESCO World Heritage site stored inside my memory vault that provides a personal joy, there is also this grand accumulation of elation as I walk around and touch the walls of these temples which has stood the rugged test of time, the volcanic eruption of nearby Mount Merapi and other forces of nature. Although, since its rediscovery by the surveying group of Sir Thomas Raffles in early 19th century, it has undergone massive restoration to replace original sculptures and stone foundation stolen by natives. Still, being here still makes the experience special and somehow connects me to generations past dating back to the 9th century when Rakai Pikatan ordered the construction of Prambanan to symbolize the power of the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty.

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A couple of hours later as the sun hovers above head and the heat intensified, I felt lethargy forming in my legs and my skin starts to cry for a shade and a ten minute sit down rest. Satisfied with what I've seen so far, I started clicking away to take photographs. On the way back to the parking lot where our tour operator Anjeeni (spelling?) was waiting for us, I stopped by the rows of canteen near the exit and ordered myself a random dish on the menu, which turned out to be spicy chicken with fried rice. 

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Anjeeni is a college student and works part time for a tour agency and she told us how she likes what she's doing on her spare time because she get to practice her English speaking skills, which is good and I must say better than myself as I'm still not used to speaking the language fluently without making a figure 8 knot of my tongue. 

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Some might say these are just structures, no different albeit from the architecture perspective, from modern buildings and places of worships. One could say that, but once you've set foot in these archaeological sites such as the ones in Angkor Wat, Ayutthaya and Bagan you will definitely question aloud "What temple overload?" because you really won't get enough of them.

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