Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, yet its immense size is not detrimental to its ethereal presence. This ninth-century temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts of 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. It has nine platforms, the lower six of which are square and the remaining three are circular. It is made of andesite stones, some of which are adorned with very detailed bas reliefs.
Virg and I signed up for a trip called “Borobudur Exotic Sunrise at Setumbu Hill and Prambanan” the night before. A very big vehicle courtesy of Kresna Tourist Service picked us up at 330am at The Wayang Homestay (I woke up at 210am). We picked up our six companions for this very early trip, even with nine people (including the driver), we were very comfortable. I slept through the entire 1.5 hour trip. I woke up when we stopped at the foot of Setumbu Hill, gathered my wits and hiked to the top of the hill to watch the sun rise over Borobudur. I am not the most physically-fit person, and with a bottle of water, DLSR camera, bread, Thai skirt and other feminine stuff inside my bag, I was gasping for air halfway through the hike. It was by no means a difficult climb. I just had more than enough nasi goreng in Bali.
We arrived at the top at 515am, and stared at a distance where my eyes had a hard time adjusting to the vastness of clouds that covered the area where Borobudur was supposedly located.
After 30 minutes, the clouds were still hovering over the general area of Borobudur. By this time, we had several attempts at taking a decent photo, so we decided to trek back to the car to proceed to Borobudur itself.
Within five minutes of arriving in our car, our other companions arrived. We had an almost 60-minute drive to Borobudur. Of course, I slept again. We arrived in Borobudur a little before 7am and had breakfast: strawberry toast and tea.
Virg and I bought the tickets for Borobudur and Prambanan at Borobudur’s gates and got a huge discount. Instead of paying IDR 250,000 (US $19.35) for Borobudur and an additional IDR 230,000 (US $17.80) for Prambanan or a total of IDR 480,000 (US $37.14), we paid only IDR 375,000 (US $29.02) for both temples. The staff of Wayang Homestay told us about this. 🙂 Each ticket comes with a free 300-ml bottle of water, a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. I chose the first because it was too hot outside. They provided sarong for those who were not dressed appropriately.
Our driver gave us 1.5 hours to explore the area. It was far from being sufficient to go up and down the stairs of Borobudur and admire its magnificence so we walked faster. The area is well-kept; there was a cleaning crew on the grounds. The air was fresh and everything was green or gray.
A vendor approached us and told us to go to the left side of the temple to take photos from a different angle and to capture Borobudur in almost its entirety, so we did. And he is correct. Thank you, kuya.
After the vanity shots, we proceeded to the main road and made our way to the top of the nine-story temple. It looked daunting, but after my Angkor Wat experience, my fear of stairs has abated.
Borobudur is a highly-detailed temple. Its hundreds of bas-reliefs showcase the flora and fauna in ancient Java region, scenes from daily life and images of people from all walks of life–from the powerful king to the lowly commoner. The designs that were made in situ (on site/premises) centuries ago are very much well-preserved.
The road towards the main exit at Borobudur temple is filled with stalls and roaming vendors that sell overpriced items. Just keep on walking.