Thursday, May 30, 2019

Javanese Temples and an Epic Ballet

We started our day off just the way I like: with a big breakfast full of weird stuff that I don't have to pay for.

We headed straight from the hotel to Borobudur, the world's largest Buddhist temple.

I like that moment where you first see a giant famous thing in the distance. It's like built in anticipation. It's giant so I can see it from pretty far away, and now it's going to take me a while to trek over to it, while it grows larger and larger in my view.

I looked up what "Pradakshina" meant and I was rewarded with a new word.
"Parikrama or Pradakshina refers to circumambulation of sacred places to imbibe their energy in Sikh, Hindu, Jain or Buddhist context, and the path along which this is performed. Parikrama means "the path surrounding something" in Sanskrit, and is also known as Pradakshina, representing circumambulation." I'm going to start slipping circumambulation into work emails.

There were lots of levels, each one covered in cool carvings. We circumambulated the absolute crap out of this place.

You may have noticed my sexy skirt. Let's be honest. We both know you noticed. The staff at Borobudur made me wear this cloth around my waist because I was wearing shorts and my luscious legs were making the gods jealous. Well they hadn't expected such a tall glass of 2% milk to walk in because the cloth was so small it didn't even cover my shorts.

The carvings were really fun to look at.

There was a war elephant situation happening here.

Each of these perforated stupas had a Buddha inside.

It was sort of a Buddha version of a Kinder Surprise chocolate egg with the toy inside.

I'm afraid I may have defiled the bathroom of this most holy of temples. This brings to mind a pretty amusingly horrible toilet experience that I had in Havana.

This is what I received in lieu of toilet paper.

They seemed to be doing the same thing they were doing in Angkor Wat where they put all the pieces that fall off the buildings into a big pile.

There were elephants.

After all the trekking around and hiking countless stairs I figured it would be ok if we had a nice lunch at the nearby Patio Restaurant by Plataran Borobudur.

The view was awesome. You could see Borobudur from where we were seated.

They had a telescope set up so I could spy on the other tourists.

Lydia got Nasi Gudeg Plataran, which consisted of "Indonesian traditional food, made from stewed young jack fruit with chicken, caramelized sweet soybean cake, tofu, krecek, and empal gepuk." It was pretty good but she was a little annoyed I think but it was a lot of the same stuff we had on our wild food tour yesterday.

I felt like I'd put my time in eating adventurously on this trip so I got myself a damn steak. No more snake hearts for this guy! 

I'm pretty sure this was the "Pisang Bakar Onte-Onte: banana flambé with caramelized brown sugar and grated coconut." I was impressed with the cool powdered sugar art on our plate leaf.

We were about to spend the rest of our night at Prambanan Temple. It was originally built in 850 AD, making it officially old.

It was a nice change of style because Borobudur was Buddhist but Prambanan was Hindu,
dedicated to the Trimūrti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Transformer (Shiva).

People are always like “this family photo is nice but.. you know what would make it better? A giant sweaty white man!”

Amusingly the word for temple in Indonesian is candi. Sounds delicious.

Grasshoppers also like piggy back rides...

We were going to get to spend a lot more time with the temple of Prambanan: they had a ballet nearby! I really like to mix in some cultural experiences on these trips. Otherwise I feel like I'm just walking around and eating all day.

Speaking of eating. The ballet had a buffet so we went for it.

A lot of the desserts were green, I assume from the pandan.

The Ramayana, according to my buddies at Wikipedia, is
"one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahābhārata. Along with the Mahābhārata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa." "Various recent scholars' estimates for the earliest stage of the text range from the 7th to 4th centuries BCE, with later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE."

Luckily there was an English synopsis that we could use to follow along. The short version is:

"Ramayana Ballet beginning with the competition conducted in order to find the right man to marry Dewi Sita. Rama Wijaya as the Prince of Ayodya at last win it. After winning the competition, Rama, Sity and Leksmana wanders in Dandaka Forest.

In Dandaka Forest, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana and take to Alengka Kingdom. Shoked by the bad news, Rama insists to get her back. He asks the monkey troops led by Hanoman to build a bridge to rescue Sita from Alengka. The great battle between monkey troops and the giants of Alengka occur afterwards.

The story ends with the death of Ravana by Rama's arrow. Then, Rama meets Sita again but Rama refuses Sita since he considers that Sita is not pure anymore. In order to prove her purity and loyalty to her husband, Sita the burns herself. Sita is safe from the burning fire and that is proof to her husband that Sita is still sacred. Finally Rama comes to her and they reunited."

Really I think we can all agree that any story that involves monkey troops is going to be awesome.

Some of the female characters had an interesting walk where they took lots of quick little steps. It reminded me of how women walk during a Japanese tea ceremony.

There were bats fluttering in the spotlights.

The walkway to our fancy VIP seats had some pictures of the carvings in the temple that depict the same story we were watching on stage. I thought that was pretty transcendent. Like we were enjoying the same tale as people thousands of years ago. And we, no matter how much time separates us, we can all friggin' agree that monkey troops are completely awesome.

The only thing I can possibly think of, that might be cooler than monkey troops, is flying monkey troops. That's absolutely the only thing that's cooler than monkey troops.

The monkey troops had a Power Rangers color scheme going on.

After the show they let us up on stage to hang out with the cast and see the orchestra's cool instruments.

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