Super Stupa

Trip Start Oct 31, 2009
Trip End Feb 25, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Friday, January 29, 2010

7am saw us comfortably seated on the executive express (as grand as it sounds) train service from Bandung to Yogyakarta.  This was a fairly uneventful 7 and a half hour trip, punctuated by a landscape of lush terraced rice fields (they never get less beautiful no matter how many you see) and misty mountain peaks.  Thankfully the volume for the television was kept to a minimum so we were spared a soundtrack of indo-pop/rock. 

A taxi from Yogya station takes us to the bus stop.  The bus to Borobudur is just pulling out but our driver heroically throws the car in its path to ensure we get on rather than have to wait a whole 15 minutes more.  An hour later and it is time for our fourth and final mode of transport for the day - Becak.  We were intending to walk to the hotel but our map has no scale and it is just starting to rain.  And the driver is very insistent...  Amazingly he wants us and our luggage squished into one and thus begins our slowest ever km of travel as he struggles to cycle us and our luggage to the hotel.  He gives up about 100m from the entrance and gets off to push instead.

We have chosen the Manohara hotel for one reason only - it is located with incredible close proximity to the great Buddhist monument - Borobudur.  This will provide us with valuable extra sleeping time tomorrow when we climb to the top of the temple for sunrise.  Manohara knows it's purpose in life and thus despite the hefty nightly fee the rooms and food are all rather mediocre.

Our alarm sounds out at 4.15 and by 4.30 we're walking over the the entrance, torch in hand.  Borobudur is floodlit so even at this time of night it's impressive size is clear.  The temple is built up and around a hill - on ten levels - 6 square ones at the bottom, topped by 3 round ones, then crowned by a giant stupa.  All the levels include intricate carvings telling Buddhist stories (getting more holy as you approach the top) as well as stupas and Buddha images.  We intend to explore these later but for now take the direct stone stair case to the top to suss out the best place from which to view the sunrise.

The circular upper levels have some unusual latticed stupas - inside of which sits (or used to sit for the most part) an image of Buddha.  These, combined with the exposed images of Buddha provide great silhouettes for early morning photography.  The views of the surrounding volcanoes and misty palm forests below add to the magic.

We descend to the bottom just as the tour groups and school parties (on a Saturday - at 6am!) start arriving.  We avoid the crowds by following the passages on the lower levels, admiring the carvings and different views afforded.

By the time we reach the top again the sun has risen proper - it is a clear blue day and the temple takes on an earthy brown hue in the early morning light.  Cue much more photography - by us and of us by the teenage school kids.

When we feel we have done the monument justice we walk to the bottom again to take in the whole impressive image - beautifully backed by a perfect blue sky.  We then return back to our hotel in time for breakfast.
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Sylvia Williment on

Early morning climbs seem to be quite a feature of your trip.

Clare Davidson on

getting up for work will feel like a lay in (for a while at least!!)!

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