Yogyakarta, 2011-10-27 12:00 by Laerke
We took a trans Yogya bus from the city center to the Prambanan bus stop, the ride took a bit longer than anticipated, and while driving out of the city the sky started to look increasingly gloomy. When we finally arrived at the Prambanan bus stop it turned out that there was actually a bit of a walk along a highly trafficked road to the entrance of Prambanan. We had really been looking forward to seeing Prambanan, suspecting that it would be the highlight of our Yogya trip, but when we finally reached the entrance (13USD per person) it had started to rain ever so lightly and the sky was looking really ominous. We made it to the main temple area and there were quite a few tourists around, right outside the temple compound a big group of tents had been erected, it looked like a school group had gone camping (?) and they played really loud pop music. On the other side some workers were chopping down a tree with a big chain saw, so it was quite a soundtrack to our exploration of the ancient temples. Not exactly what we had hoped for.

We decided to pretend like it wasn’t raining and we ventured off to see some of the outlaying temples. One was quite small, another was missing its top, but at least it was a lot quieter here. No other tourists and only a handful of kids playing soccer and shaking the mango trees to try and get their hands on some of the yummy mangoes. We kept walking towards the last temple, it had now stopped raining, and when we came upon Candi Sewu as it is called we were amazed! This temple was drop-dead gorgeous, it was like a combination of the main prambanan temple and Borobodur – and there was no one around! A real sense of adventure set in as we explored the temple and took in the carvings, it was fantastic to stand there in the largest Hindu temple complex in Java dating back to somewhere between 8th and 10th centuries AD. As we turned around and looked up we realized that the sunset was going to be a great one, we settled into a nice spot and just sat there and took in the show that mother nature put on for us, it was one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. It was a truly magical experience to have the beautiful, ancient temple silhouetted against the sky that turned from yellow to orange to pink to red to purple, and then in the end into a deep dark black of the tropical night. We definitely got what we had hoped for – a truly special time :)

It wasn’t even over yet, we had decided to see the Ramayana Ballet. It is held at the outdoor theater just west of the main temple complex; here the story of Rama and Shinta unfolds under the open sky with the temples lit up in the background. It is said to be Java’s most spectacular dance drama. For two hours we enjoyed the elegant and delicate dance of the many talented dancers, their costumes were so beautiful and we were seated very close to the stage so we could see every detail. At one point in the story Hanuman breaks out of a burning castle – and most of the stage was set ablaze in flames!

We had a fantastic time at Prambanan and it truly turned out to be the highlight of our Yogya trip!