Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Prambanan fender-bender

On the eastern outskirts of Jogja sits the very impressive Prambanan temple complex, a 9th-century collection of lava rock towers dominated by a towering temple to Shiva. Damaged in a 2006 earthquake, the big temple's closed to the public but you can get in and around a couple of the smaller buildings--walk up some stairs into an enclosed worship space where, unlike at Dieng Plateau or at Candi Mendut near Borobudur, the altars and statuary are missing. Big, dark, damp rooms.

Very gray.

The exteriors, though, are impressive: Ornately carved, almost over-ornamented, multi-hued lava stone spires reaching jaggedly toward the sky. They're a wonder, to be sure, and sit in a visitor's park like slightly shambolic totems of a more severe and mystical time. This describes a lot of Central Java, I suppose, but Prambanan, with its fore-fields of stone, feels more precarious than a place like Borobudur. It seems ready to topple if given a stout enough shove.

We grabbed a cab out to the ruins and, on the way, were involved in our first Indo fender-bender. The old-timer driving our cab--who may or may not have been moonlighting in someone else's car (the driver ID on the dash was of a man several decades younger)--got to daydreaming and didn't notice the minivan that stopped short in front of us during a decent little rainstorm. Cabbie hit the brakes, Talya let out an alarmed cry from the front passenger seat, and we skidded about 30 feet before slamming into the left rear end of the minivan with a thwack. Two guys were quickly out of the minivan and the cabbie was all smiles and laughs. Sorry! He shook everyone's hand who would take it--although didn't offer us a shake--and left the meter running while he got out to deal with the man he'd hit and with the cop who showed up briefly after about 10 minutes. Talya paused the meter and we waited while the Indonesians sorted things out.

Talya stops the meter.

As far as I could tell, no police report was taken. Insurance information may or may not have been exchanged. Everyone crowded around the minivan's bumper but no obvious damage was visible. The whole delay lasted maybe 20 minutes. The cabbie hopped back in the car, fired up the meter, smiled and sort of shrugged his shoulders, and then we were on our way again. Back to the past in Jogja.

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