Borobudur, Yogyakarta

I’d always wanted to go to Borobudur. It could be true, I said so myself.

The real truth is, I hadn’t thought of visiting Borobudur at all. Then one fine day as I was flipping through magazines, I came across a travel piece on Yogyakarta. It mentioned that Borobudur was in real danger of being wrecked by volcano ash, and one should make the trip sooner than later.

Something clicked in my mind and we booked the trip. Or something like that; it’s been two years, one’s memories may be muddled.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta -0520 view at the temple

We dropped some money to stay at the Manohara Hotel, the only lodging right next to the Borobudur temple. As hotel guests, we get discounted rates (now it’s Rp250K, less than RM80 each) to join the sunrise tour. Well, more like a ‘come along’ rather than tour. Once you’re gathered at 4.30am and received a sarong to wear, you’re silently led to the temple where you walk up the stairs and are left to your own devices.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - 0533 view before sunrise

It seems like a hefty price to pay, especially if you’re not sure if the sunrise would be clear or not. There are some who found out how to enjoy the same view without paying the sunrise package price. Feel free to google for those resources.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - 0537 stupa in the morning

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - 0545 before sunrise

Personally I felt the extra price was worth it, for sanity of not having to rush around like a mad person. The sun generally rises around 5.30am, and the temple is open to public at 6am. I’d say you get the temple to yourself for about 40 minutes. When you see the morning crowd come rushing in, you’d appreciate the brief moments of solitude to enjoy the temple.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - 0602 quiet temple

You could see by now that it was a cloudy morning when we were there. No visible view of the sun rising. Some people were visibly disappointed, but whaddya know, nature.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - 0604 cloudy morning

I thought it was AMAZING, the cool air accompanied by small gusts of wind, and us standing on this ancient hand-me-down overlooking the morning fog cottoning the feet of mountains.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - 0617 still before crowd

My uncle who visited in 1973 probably thought so too, hah!

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - December 1973 stupas
December 1973

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - overlooks Mount Merapi range

I was on a mega project to scan old family photos when I came across these. My uncle worked in Indonesia for a few years, that was probably when he went exploring the country. Cool, eh?

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - December 1973 near main stupa

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - Suanie and Joyce near main stupa

You would have figured out by now that this post is not an authority on Borobudur, the 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple. There are other great on-line resources for that.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - temple grounds

I knew that each wall relief told a tale, some I could recognise such as Gautama Buddha’s life story. Others, not so much.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - wall carvings

I saw this image in the photo below… uhm, well I *did* take the photo. But I didn’t know it was famous until I got back, and learned it was the image of a Borobudur ship.

There are books that tell you stories of each wall relief. The mega price they cost and my interest in the subject do not match.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - carving Borobudur ship

Stairs are bad for the knees, thankfully they installed steel railings. It took away the feel of authenticity, but safety first!

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - stairs

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - Suanie and Joyce at base

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - December 1973 base

The morning crowd, then it starts to get busy. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I were surrounded by so many other people #introvertproblems

Borobudur, Yogyakarta - public entrance

It was a lovely visit, though I did not get the ‘feeling’ as I did at Candi Sewu. But it was not my intention to go to Yogyakarta for a spiritual awakening, so that was okay.

Follow the entire Yogyakarta trip here: Yogyakarta 2014



  1. The comparison photos are really cool. I too visited a couple years back and, if I’m not mistaken, stayed in the same hotel! This post is making me miss Southeast Asia very much!

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