Prambanan's silhouette

When I first read of Prambanan, in my mind there was an amazing structure that overwhelmed everything. But my expectation of it proved too much. I felt too many words had romanticized blocks of big ancient rocks.

Please do not get me wrong. Prambanan, from afar, looks amazing, mysterious. It imposes itself on its surroundings.

It is just that the experience of actually being there erodes the very air that makes it out of this world. It likes being awed by a rainbow but once you have learned that it is merely an interaction between light and water vapor, it ceases to be mysterious. It becomes just physics. And here was Prambanan representing the gods of Hindu built by the Sanjayas, once rival to the mighty Sailendras and Srivijaya: a pile of ancient rocks.

It does not help that I have been to Siem Reap. There, reality was grander than anything I had imagined. Rightly or wrongly, experience informs expectation and Angkor pushed my expectation of everything else that came from that particular era of Southeast Asian history even higher. Whatever expectation I had of Pagan, Borobodur and Prambanan got pushed up no thanks to the Angkor temples.

My expectation was Icarus. Reality was the sun. Prambanan is not as impressive as I had first imagined.

But I am glad that I visited Prambanan anyway. As always, it is always good having something concrete to back up the stuff I read in books to reaffirm that things out there are not just some fancy imagination concocted by the human mind. They are real and once upon a time, they were the centers of the world.

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