Day 213: Another Day – Another Sunrise

Thur. 14th March 2013

Dawn over BorobudurWe are up at 4:00am once more and ready for our 4:30am pick up from our hotel for the two minute transfer to Manohara Hotel and our tour of the Borobudur temple. Manohara appears to be the only hotel that does sunrise tours as it has its own private entrance to the temple complex. Our driver takes us through the hotel grounds and completes the formalities of getting a sarong and a torch for us before we head off to the entrance gate. On the way, our driver asks if we want a guide as he has a mate he can call! Along with about thirty other tourists we climb the steps to the top and wait not sure quite where is best for sunrise.

First lightBorobudur Temple is a Buddhist temple in a country where everything else we have seen is either Muslim or Hindu. It was built around AD750 to AD850 from two million stone blocks and is on a hill. It has six square terraces at the bottom with three circular ones at the top. We forgot to take our guidebook but on later reading the pilgrims walk around each level (going clockwise as you do in any Buddhist temple) which is a 5km walk past many decorated panels carved with Buddhist doctrines. The lower levels are everyday living rising to the top circular level signifying never-ending nirvana.

Every carving tells a storyWe walked around the top two levels to work out where the sun will rise and we wait for a glimpse of it. There is something quite serene and eerie about seeing the first signs of the rising sun as it peeps through the darkness and watching it get progressively lighter.

Stone stupasAround the top level there are 432 serene Buddhas in open chambers as well as 72 big stone stupas (lattice bell shapes) each contained a Buddha. There is one with the stone lattice missing which clearly shows one of the stone Buddhas.

Stupa with covering missongWe try and ignore the drops of water that land on us but when a rainbow appears and the drops get more frequent we have to relent and out with the ponchos once more. Perhaps we should invest in an umbrella but they are annoying to carry around. The sky gets progressively greyer and although the main gates do not open until 6am so it is relatively quiet, we decide there are no more decent photos to be had and we have seen enough.

First breakfastWe make our way back to the Manohara Hotel for our free coffee and light snack of banana fritter and chocolate cake. It is a short walk back to our hotel and after a bite of breakfast we have an hour’s kip. On waking we are ready to try again for some photos of outside of the temple as the rain has stopped and the light is much better. Inside the temple it has certainly got much busier with the mass of people making their way up the steps straight to the top without taking the 5km walk! OK so we also did less than a km of walking around all the levels but without having more knowledge of the doctrines behind all the carvings they do all seem the same after a while.

View of Borobudur Temple in better lightWe stroll back through the tat stalls but cannot find any fridge magnets for our collection and are not ready to eat any of the cheap Indonesian food. Once back at the hotel we pack (yet again) and leave for the bus station to head back to Yogyakarta (Jogja). It is just too far to walk we get a lift on a two seater bike taxi again, but this time the poor driver has to peddle carrying us and our backpacks. The bus station is almost deserted and we turn down the offer of a private minibus ignoring the driver’s plea that the next bus is not for ages.

Loads of minibuses but where do they go?As we thought, it was not long to wait and two buses came at once amid much shouting and arm waving to try and persuade us onto their bus. We picked the least rickety one – not that that was not saying much – and installed ourselves on the back seat to try and keep us and all our bags out of the way of all the coming and going of other passengers. The bus station in Jogja is about 4km north of town and we decide to splash out on a taxi to our hotel as there is no easy alternative. The Ibis hotel is as colourful as showed and it is good to have a comfortable room as we will be here for three nights.

Off we go again with all our possessionsOur three priorities for this afternoon, whilst exploring the area round our hotel, are: 1. Laundrette – across the road and £4 for our three kilos to be done in 24 hours; 2. Restaurant for tonight – good selection just around the corner; 3. Supermarket for essential supplies – Also just round the corner. Sorted!

The time difference with the UK means it is difficult to make evening Skype calls as that is when we are sleeping. We catch Steve mid morning in the UK, which is just before we go out for supper. The restaurant we select for supper has few tables outside which are in front of a small hotel in the next street. We settle down and order pizzas – you can have too much of the local favourites Nasi or Mie Goreng and Cap Cay. This hotel turned out to be the one where Maclean & Taylor were staying in. Whilst we wait for our food they walk in on their way to their room and it was great to chat with them again. The coincidences of meeting them so many times, in Gilli T, in Ijen, up Mt Bromo at dawn and now here (although we did know they were heading west from Bromo like us) is on a par with our meetings with Chris and Graham from Tassie . They are off to do Borobudur (and Prambanan) tomorrow and so we tell them that they are in for another treat.

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