Saturday, June 02, 2007

Prambanan caged

After being taken around by lots of tour guides in Bali, it was nice to get up to Yogyakarta, where I've been many times, and start roaming around on our own. Our first day there, we hopped on a public minibus to Prambanan Temple.

Unfortunately I didn't know the minibus was going to drive up and down every street in Yogya first, as a steady stream of students in uniforms, shopworkers in headscarves, and old guys in sarongs got on and off.

Nor did I know we were going to run out of gas just short of a gas station. Fortunately the driver was able to fiddle around with some stuff under the passenger compartment and get us going long enough to refuel.

It was quite an entertaining ride, but we were glad to get out and stretch our legs afterwards.

Prambanan, a Hindu temple complex dating back to 850 A.D. (or C.E.), was hit pretty hard by the Yogya quake last year. The three main shrines are still closed to the public, which was a bit of a bummer because those were the only shrines we had information about in our guidebook. The guards would have let us in for a small bribe, but I figured if the archaeologists didn't want me to be in there, then I didn't want me to be in there either.

It was still beautiful to look at, and the damage itself was kind of fascinating. You could see piles of stones everywhere, like puzzle pieces slowly being fitted back together.

Some of the support mechanisms seemed a little crude, but I guess they're doing the trick.

We ended up spending most of our time chatting with this teenager and his friend. Their English was very good - the first thing they asked about was the proper use of the phrase "let bygones be bygones" - and they talked about hoping to get jobs in the tourism industry. Things are pretty slow in Yogya these days; people aren't flocking to a place that's had a huge earthquake, a volcanic eruption and a deadly plane crash in the last year. That's too bad, because Yogya is a great town, and it's probably due for a stretch of good luck now, right?

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