I have never heard of Borobudur until I met an Indonesian visiting professor who brought a paperweight replica of the Buddhist monument. To address my curiosity he explained to me that it was located in Central Java Indonesia. The colossal temple was built between AD 750 and 842 and is the largest single Buddhist structure in the world, beating Angkor Wat which is a temple complex. After the restoration works it was declared a UNESCO heritage site.
I wanted to see this mystical place…. so I made up my mind to go on a pilgrimage to visit Borobudur. My next step was finding somebody crazy enough to do on an Indian Jones adventure with me. Chef Winnie who is a die hard yogi agreed to join. We scheduled the trip for Easter break and expanded our itinerary to include Singapore and Bali. After six days and five airplane rides I think Winnie and I are ready to join the amazing race! What an adventure!
From Singapore we flew two hours to Yogyakarta Central Java via Air Asia. A private car was arranged to pick us up at the airport and we journeyed another two hours to Magelang (Rp 250,000). I believe this was a wise thing to do since the local transport system is quite confusing; we were lost in translation and in the middle of nowhere. There was also no point in staying in the city of Yogyakarta if we needed to be at the temple by the crack of dawn.
Form our hotel in Magelang we rode motor bikes and got dropped off at the Manohara Hotel at 4:30 am. Manohara is the only establishment allowed to organize the sunrise tours. I was thinking for convenience it would have been better if we stayed in this hotel instead. Cost of the sunrise tour is Rp 300,000. The fee came with a sarong, breakfast snacks and a flash light. The sarong we had to return.
It was pitch dark as our guide walked us to the foot of the temple. Using our flashlights we climbed the stairs of Borobudur through the arches of Kala. At the top there were three circular platforms with rows of stupas. We found a spot facing majestic Mount Merapi and here we waited for the sun to come out.
I was in awe and humbled as the sunlight slowly revealed the magnificent structure. The 35 meters high pyramid brought me back to witness the story and artwork of an ancient civilization in 2,672 relief panels of lava rocks. The carvings on the wall also had all the positions we do in yoga classes. Amazing! To be one with nature and the monument, to experience sunrise with 504 Buddha statues was a once in a lifetime breathtaking moment!