September 2000 - Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia

This first introductory walk around a new city is always enlightening.  We decided to take a liesurely walk through the Pasar Ngasem (Bird Market).  The market did contain many beautiful and exotic birds, however it was everything but the birds that made the market so interesting.  After the birds, the next thing that caught our attention was the bird food, which were very large trays of live maggots, ants, larva and grasshoppers.  Backing away from that, we stumbled upon cages full of large bats.  In Pangandaran, we saw many bats flying so gracefully high up in the sky, far away from us, but it was a totally different experience seeing them up close and personal.  They are amazing creatures but they look so damn evil, really they do.
The main market in Yogyakarta.
shivers down our spines.    We then wandered deeper into the market discovering many other animals including squirrels, snakes, monkeys and even a komodo dragon on display for a price.  Basically, the bird market was an Indonesian pet store.
Indonesians have a very playful sense of humor.  As we were walking through Yogyakarta's main market, a mischievous elderly woman pelted Brian in the back of the head with a garlic glove.  As he turned to see what had happened, he found her quickly hiding behind the counter and laughing.  Brian good-naturedly laughed and kept walking when from out of nowhere another garlic clove hit him on the back.  Being in the vegetable section of the market gave him some pretty good amunition and he playfully threw a small piece of ginger at the garlic lady.  All of the vegetable sellers had a good laugh that followed us through the market.  You never quite know what will happen to you on your introductory walk around a new city, that is what makes traveling so fun.
A cultural performance at the Sultan's Palace.  The man is performing a scene from the ancient Hindu epic, The Ramayana.  Yogykarta is considered to be the cultural and artistic heart of Java.
Large guardian statue protecting the entrance to the Kraton or Sultan's Palace.
A becak driver fixing his three-wheeled wonder.  The becak drivers in Yogya have a well earned reputation for touting to the extreme.  They can get quite annoying but they usually stop following you around after 15 minutes, just be patient.
The walls of the Taman Sari or Water Palace used as bathing pools for royalty.
Prambanan, Central Java, Indonesia

A short bus ride from Yogya lies the awe-inspiring Prambanan Temple Complex, the largest Hindu temple complex in Java.  Built between the 8th and 10th centuries AD, Prambanan consists of several temples surrounding a main temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.  Rising 47 meters above the central Java landscape, the main Shiva temple is difficult to describe in all its grandeur and architectural gracefulness.  We were fortunate to have the temple complex virtually to ourselves and the few visitors who did show up managed to scurry through the complex in about an hour.  We easily lost track of time climbing these monuments and wound up spending the majority of our day here.  Although it is often eclipsed by the more popular Borobudur Temple to the north, Prambanan has a quiet, mystical presence.
Remains of 244 temples have been identified around Prambanan but the main attraction is the central compound (pictured above) with the ornate Shiva Temple rising in the middle.
One of the many intricate stone carvings depicting everyday life and the actions of the gods at the Prambanan Temple Complex.
A stone guardian in the same style as the guardian at the entrance to the Sultan's Palace (pictured above). The Javanese state was one of the great Indianized civilizations of Southeast Asia.  This carved figure on a door lintel in Prambanan can be seen in other great temple sites around Southeast Asia such as Angkor in Cambodia, My Son in Vietnam and Wat Phu Champasak in Laos.
Although some damagehas occurred over the centuries, a majority of the friezes and statues are in good condition.
Detail of one of the many carvings that adorn the walls of Prambanan.
Through every doorway stands another amazing view of the temple complex and its majestic towers.
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