Tuesday, February 28, 2006


It seems that sometimes I look at some ancient wonder or breathtaking landscape and think, "I've got to bring ------ (a loved one) here!" I flash on the logistics of such a visit, and it will seem totally do-able. Within even just a year or two.

Or I'll be at one of these places and think, I really need more time to fully appreciate this. I'll bet I can come back next year, but then I'll spend a week here. It seems to be logical at the time.

It took me 26 1/2 years to get back to Prambanan, a Javanese Hindu temple complex left over from the 12th century. Just an hour outside Jogjakarta, Prambanan was a ruined mess. It was roped off from anyone who was hoping for a close look at the friezes, but served as a backdrop for Ramayana dance performances at night.

Jay and I went to one of those dances in the first week of our honeymoon. The Javanese dancing was bold and theatric, the acrobatic men's dance contrasting beautifully with the graceful women's. There was fire onstage, too, pyrotechnics being something you don't see too much of in the US. I recall that several hundred European tourists were there to see the performance with us. Enormous, gleaming white buses took them out to the site. And many of them were staying out at the nearby Sheraton.

Of course, Jay and I were either at what's now the Natour, or else we'd moved down Jalan Malioboro to stay in actual air conditioning at the Mutiara. But the Sheraton seemed to me like plush pampering, perhaps too removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.

But in the company of my dad and the tour guide Popo (seems to be a common Javanese man's name, like Bambang), I revisited a revamped and clean Prambanan, one I could walk all around and upstairs and view closely all the reliefs. Being Hindu, it was a little more exuberant than Borobudur's meditative format. And the Ramayana comic book panels all around the walkways served as more entertainment than religious lesson. But there were stupa shapes all about, something I did not remember from 1979.

Clearly, my dad loved Prambanan and was glad we didn't spend another minute in Jogja looking for silver or batik.

We left before sundown, had an airport meal, and caught our plane back to Bali. Cakra picked us up and we were back at home by midnight.

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