Borobudur Day 2 (12 May 12) – It was well worth it: Sunrise at Borobudur

Our alarm clocks went off at 4.30am today, being awake, we are still discussing whether to go for the sunrise tour. Well since we are already awake, might as well just go for it. My friend and I quickly washed up and went to the reception at around 5.30am, just in time for the sunrise tour as we thought. At first we had the impression that there will be a huge group getting ready to go towards the temple, and that the places available are limited for the tour. However as we approach the reception area, it seemed to be very quiet there. We asked the receptionist if there are still spots for the sunrise tour, she replied there are plenty of slots. At this point we realised that the so called sunrise tour is merely the hotel sells you the tickets to gain entry into the temple before sunrise and we are pretty much on our own! After payment, the receptionist gave us our tickets, a couple of torch lights and sarongs. At this point I was telling my friend, I didn’t realise that we need to wear a sarong into the temple, as the day before we entered the temple without wearing sarongs and the staff checking our tickets did not bitch about it. We were instructed by the receptionist to wear our sarongs before heading towards the temple. Now wearing the piece of batik looking cloth seem weird, however since everyone is doing that, we did likewise. After we donned on our sarongs, the guide gathered whoever is there waiting to depart the temple, and off we go, we are on our way to the temple. The walk towards the temple at night was rather cooling, in contrast to the heat we experienced the day before when we were at Borobudur. Soon we found ourselves at the gate, got our tickets verified and standing before us is Borobudur temple. The temple looks solemn at this hour, as though a giant still in his slumber. There isn’t alot of visitors at the temple at this hour. Most of those whom were here are here for the sunrise, mostly photograph enthusiasts. As there was little light for us to explore around the temple, we made our way to the levels where the stupas are situated, patiently waiting for sunrise.

Our tickets to the sunrise tour
Borobudur at dawn
The temple at this hour looked erie
Climbing up the temple
Buddha Statues watching over the land at the wee hours of the morning

As we were waiting, we went around taking pictures of the surroundings, which was rather tranquil at this hour. As we were walking around, we chatted with some of the staffs there. We came to realised that the so called Mt Merapi that we were photographing yesterday isn’t Mt Merapi! It is actually Mt Sindoro, our guide generously pointed to us where Merapi is, and told us that the sun would rise in the direction of Merapi. Since there was some time before sun rise, we continued our photography session around the top levels of the temple. There isn’t much activities at the surroundings at this hour, even on the temple there are less then 20 visitors. I can imagine the peace and tranquility of the temple when it was first built or even prior to its rediscovery, before tourists came to know about its existence. I took the time to enjoy the peace and the unpolluted air that the temple and its surroundings offer. At this hour, visitors were either waiting patiently for the sun to shine across the lands, or busy taking photographs of the surroundings and the pre dawn scenery. Soon the first ray of the sun hits Mt Merapi, the view was stunning. With the sun ray, the surroundings are now covered with a blanket of fog, as though we were floating in the heavens! This is the time I begin to realise and appreciate the value of visiting this monument for sunrise. It totally debunked my preconception that this was a waste of time. I turned to my friend and told him luckily for his perseverance, if not we would not have been able to enjoy such a sight. All eyes are now gazing in the direction of Mt Merapi, where the sun slowly rising as though someone whom just had a late night and reluctantly waking up. All visitors spared no time wasted and quickly snapped their cameras away.  

Stupas on the top of the temple
Stupas stood solemnly watching the town awaking to another day
View of Mt Merapi at dawn
Shadows of the Stupas
Stupas at dawn
Stupas at dawn
Stupas at dawn
Buddha in the Stupa watching as the town awakens to another day
Buddha statue sitting in the stupa for centuries since the temple was first built
Borobudur solemnly welcoming another day to arrive
Borobudur and the surrounding mountains
The pinkish sky from beyond Mt Merapi
Borobudur at dawn
Panoramic view of the temple and the surroundings
Waiting for the sun to rise
Me at Borobudur at dawn
Awaiting for the sun to creep from beyond the clouds
A blanket of mist covering the ground as day breaks
Blanket of mist covering the ground
The sun is slowly rising from beyond Mt Merapi
The sun is slowly rising from beyond Mt Merapi
As the day breaks, the fog slowly disappears from the ground
The sun is slowly rising from beyond Mt Merapi
Borobudur at sunrise
The fog gives the area a sense of mysteriousness
Fog is still visible from the ground
Sunrise at Borobudur is simply stunning
Buddha statue in the stupa welcoming the arrival of another day
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Rays of the morning sun penetrating the temple
Borobudur at sunrise
Sunrise from Borobudur
Sun has cast light on the statue
Borobudur at sunrise
Me at Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Buddha inside the stupa
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Close up of the Buddha Statue inside one of the stupas
Close up of the Buddha Statue inside one of the stupas

It was soon around 8am, as the gates opened for the rest of the visitors. As the first batch of visitors arrived at the temple, the peace and tranquility that we experienced just mere minutes ago was broken with hordes and hordes of visitors, ranging from tour groups to student groups. The eager visitors rushed straight to the top of the temple to marvel the surroundings, just as what we did for the past 2 days. As the top floor became rather rowdy, I ask my friend if he was done with photo taking. He too find it too noisy to stay around, and we decided to explore the bits that we have missed out. As we were moving down to the floors with carvings, all we did was to trace out the carvings from the video that we saw last night at the hotel auditorium and see if we can find something resembling the story of Buddha. We managed to spot some, but the rest were just not apparent to us. As we were scouring through the temple, we spotted some blocks which does not seemed to fit into the building structure. I turned around and told my friend that these seemed like some misfit jigsaw puzzles, where the staff just chucked them there in a fit of frustration as they can’t seemed to find the place that they belonged to. We continued taking pictures, making sure every corner and every turn was not missed. The amount of visitors grew like wild mushrooms after a season rain, it was too crowded for us to bear. I suggested that we descent to the base of the temple and perhaps walked around the base. My friend agreed and we spare no time getting to the base. Now it is rather challenging getting down as opposed to going up the temple, we found ourselves walking against the crowd, whom kept pouring into the temple. At times we even had to “fight” our way down. It was certainly a challenging 5 minutes down the temple.

The grandure of the temple never fails to astound me
Borobudur Temple

At the base, we walked around the temple and found that the back of the temple (the side that does not face the garden that visitors has to pass by to get to the temple) was rather quiet. Except of a group boys, whom appear to be students from a school excursion trip riding on the guarding statue. As my friend was interested in taking picture of the statue, he asked the boys if they could be excused from the statue. Without hesitation, the boys cooperated and even told their friends to not block my friend’s picture taking opportunity. After walking around the grounds for several more minutes, the past 2 early morning waking ups has taken a toll to me. I suggested to my friend to get back to the hotel for breakfast, rest awhile and then head off to Yogjakarta, where our next stop is. He agreed and we soon found ourselves having breakfast at the hotel grounds. The breakfast was worth mention here, not as in the food is fantastic, but the location of our table. It is as thought we were having breakfast in the gardens with Borobudur gracing her appearance, having breakfast together with us. This is indeed a memorable experience. After breakfast we retired back to our rooms and started to pack up. It did not take long for us to pack up and my friend soon find it restless. He asked if I am interested in joining him to visit the smallish hill we saw at the top of the temple. As I was rather tired, I told him I prefer to stay in the room and rest. My friend went on his own, and upon his return, he told me that I had missed much as there was a museum nearby the temple, showcasing the history and the restoration process…. Damn I should have joined him.

Borobudur Temple
The quieter side of the temple
Temple ground at ground zero
Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple
The gardens around the temple
Borobudur from the hotel grounds
On our way back to Yogjakarta

 We checked out of the hotel at around 12 noon and our transport towards Yogjakarta was already waiting for us. On our way back, the knowledgeable driver shared most of the sights along the way, despite his lack of knowledge in the English language, that did not deter him in sharing his local knowledge with us. We are really grateful for his generosity in sharing the information. It took us a couple of hours to reach our hotel in Yogjakarta. The rustic looking hotel looked like a museum from the outside and throughout the hotel! There are pieces of the local history scattered around the hotel. Every turn and every corner we would be able to find a piece of historic artifact. The hotel was tastefully decorated with a well balance of history and contemporary theme. Our room was equally fantastic. After settling our luggage in the room, we headed out to grab lunch. On our way towards the main entrance of the hotel, my friend pointed to something which caught my attention:

“Look at that” he exclaims

“Wow, the world’s most expensive coffee” I replied

“Shall we try it later?” He asked “It would cost at least SGD65 back home”

After I have done the maths (which comes to about SGD20), I replied “Why not? We should try this since it is 3 times cheaper here”

“On, let’s try this at night after we came back from town” came the reply from my friend

“Okie” I said

On our way back to Yogjakarta
On our way back to Yogjakarta
Ornamental trishaw of the hotel

And we were on our way out to find food. After grabbing food to fill our stomachs, we headed for the so called shopping street of Yogjakarta. I mean from our touching down to our way to Borobudur to coming back from Borobudur, I did not see any shopping malls around. When we asked the receptionist in the hotel, we were told that the shopping street is just a stone’s throw away from where we put up. We were given a map of the city by the very helpful receptionist, we followed the map heading towards the shopping street. After about 15 mins walking, we still do not see any shopping mall. At this point, my friend was wandering if we had been tricked or missed the turn towards the shopping mall. Upon closer study of the map, we realised that the map isn’t drawn to scale. As we walked further down, we spotted the train station that we are supposed to come across. This confirmed our theory that the map isn’t drawn to scale. After crossing the railway crossings, we came upon the start of the shopping district. Here is where we saw hundreds of stores lining up the road side, selling mostly souvenirs to local tourists and foreigners alike. Along the side of the road lined up horse carriages. I suppose this is for the tourists more then a mode of transportation for the locals. Along the way and back we kept getting locals asking if we wanted cab. I was a bit perturbed by this, but soon learnt to ignore them. After passing the train station, we came upon a shopping mall some 10 mins later. Though modern, we find the shopping mall does not have sell stuffs to our liking and decided to get out of it after spending some 10 mins inside.

Streets of Yogjakarta
Streets of Yogjakarta
KFC for lunch
Around Yogjakarta
One of the monuments in the middle of the road
Streets of Yogjakarta
Train Museum
Streets of Yogjakarta
Hotel at night

As we got out of the shopping mall, we thought the rest of the walking street looks more or less the same. We decided to head back to the hotel for dinner and then rest up as we were pretty worn out after 2 days of waking early, moreover we had to wake up pretty early for our morning flight back home the next day. We decided to head dine at the hotel instead, as the rest of the town seemed to be closed to us. After dinner, we headed towards the cafe for the most expensive coffee in the world. To be frank, the coffee don’t really taste that bitter unlike the other coffees. We saw this gift pack that came with the mug, which I quite like the design, bought one each. As we were buying, we chatted with the restaurant manager. We came to learnt that the hotel don’t sell the coffee a lot, as demand mostly come from tourists due to the relatively cheap pricing in Yogjakarta. The sales of the gift packs are even lower. After chatting for around 1 hour with the manager, we decided to head back to our room and rest for the night, after all we have to wake up early tomorrow morning for our flight back home.

The hotel we stayed in also doubles up as a museum
Time for dinner
Dinner time
One can find phoenixes around the hotel
Most expensive coffee in the world – Kopi Luwak
One of the displays in the hotel

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s