A few weeks before our flight to Indonesia, I received an email from the organizer that there will be some changes in the itinerary. Some places were removed due to volcanic activity, so instead we went to Yogyakarta. My heart beat fast because of excitement – Borobudur, the 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple has been a long-time dream of mine.
Coming from Bandung we arrived dinner time to Yogyakarta (usually pronounced and written as Jogjakarta). It is another busy city in Indonesia, home to half a million people, and the most popular destination in Java. Due to the tight itinerary, we only had a limited time in the city and hoping to see the best in less than 2 days stay.
“Our wake-up call is 3:00 a.m,” says the organizer. Most of us got crazy counting the hours left for sleep, but my excitement overshadowed my tiredness. Thinking that I was just a few miles away from one of my dream destinations, to watch the sunrise gave me trouble sleeping. I was so excited that I was very energetic in the middle of the night.
With a lack of sleep, I woke earlier than my alarm clock and prepared for one of my favorite destinations on our 12-day travel in Indonesia. Less than an hour away from Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel, we reached Borobudur temple.
As we walked towards the temple, the darkness was absolute. The weather was cold and I could hear birds chirping. I thought that we were too early since there were only a few people walking towards the temple. To my surprise, hundreds of people were already sitting inside to catch what is considered to be one of the world’s most spectacular experiences – Sunrise at Borobudur Temple.
Here’s some quick fact about Borobudur or Barabudur temple that you should know so you will understand why visiting this temple is my dream come true.
- The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues
- The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa
- It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple
- It is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world
- It has the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world
- It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
After an hour of waiting, Borobudur bell-shaped stupas rose out of the darkness, out of the charcoaled clouds, the golden light from sunrise was slowly shining. I let this magical moment sink in until the rays touched my skin. This was truly one of the best sunrises I witnessed in my entire life. It symbolizes that a new beginning is always possible and all I can visualize here was hope.
For us to understand the life in the village we were given a chance to cycle around. I can’t remember the last time I rode a bicycle to the view of native houses and rice terraces. It felt like cycling in a province in the Philippines. The view, vibes, and the people are pretty much like the same here. I felt at home biking around the streets and small alleys of Borobudur village.
To end our bike tour we had the chance to have batik making. Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, or cloth made with this technique. Batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a canting or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap. Batik has a great part in Indonesian culture and arts. In fact, UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This is something you shouldn’t miss the next time you visit the island of Java. The art of Batik is most developed on this island.
Probably, the best way to end our visit in Yogyakarta was to watch the sunset at Ratu Boko. It was once a luxurious palace built in the 8th century. Its architecture is a mixed of Buddhism and Hindu. The palace was initially named as “Abhayagiri Vihara,” which means “monastery on a peaceful hill.” While the majority of sites found in Java are temples and shrines, Ratu Boko is more like a ruin than anything else.
Due to ruinous condition, you can hardly see the glory of this luxurious palace aside from its beautiful main gate, which was a popular spot in this 16 hectares property divided into 2 hamlets. Until today the main purpose or functions why Ratu Boko was built was still unknown.
Thank you, Ministry of Tourism – Indonesia for bringing me here and make me believe that dreams do come true. I would be forever thankful to everyone behind this #wonderfulIndonesia trip for showing me the magical sunrise and sunset from the temple and palace of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I will treasure this breathtaking experience forever.