Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UNESCO SITE: BOROBUDUR TEMPLE OF JAVA, INDONESIA


A day left before we leave Indonesia and we haven’t been to the icon of the country.  Tagged to be the world’s great ancient monument and the single largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth, who wouldn’t be enticed of making that mandatory visit.

The rain fell so hard on the morning of our intended visit.  The heavy downpour was accompanied by episodes of lightning.  Our beds were our ally, and so we continued to sleep, relax and watch TV after breakfast until past lunch came and it was still raining.  If not for the empty stomach we wouldn’t mind staying at the hotel the whole day.  And so we heeded the call to visit Borobudur Temple, one of the main reasons why we’re in Yogyakarta anyway (at least for me).


From the city center of Yogyakarta, take the 2A or 2B Trans Jogja bus (0.27 USD) and alight at the Jombor Terminal.  From the terminal, walk for a few minutes and a bus (1.5 USD) bound for Borobudur awaits.  Travel time of approximately one hour and a half to Muntilan Bus Terminal follows.  Upon arrival, there are insistently repetitive becak drivers on queue offering a ride to the entrance of the Borobudur temple.  Not knowing its exact distance from where we alighted towards the temple complex, we accepted one of the offers but at a definitely bargained fare (0.75USD for three) as it was our last day and we have no sufficient local currency bills/notes on hand.  It was then we realized, walking could have been the best option had we not been pressed for time.

 

The rain stopped. We arrived almost an hour before the entrance to the temple closes. A wide parking area served as the gateway to the Borobudur Temple.  Separate ticketing booths are provided for foreigners and for locals.  We paid 230,000IDR each (approximately 20USD) as foreign visitors which comes with a free bottled water.  Local rates (2.25USD) are too low and how I wish I could have passed as one.

With time constraints, we have to make every minute of wandering worthwhile.  A much higher fee awaits for the sunset viewing and it shall happen a few minutes after.  We don’t want to be paying a premium on an overcast skies.

It is such a rewarding experience to be finally on a destination that you only get to know of in school because of Asian studies.  The images of Buddha and the stupas registers in my mind while I climb that narrow steps to the topmost platform.




The Borobudur Temple is not only about the stupas and the huge image of Buddha, noticeable are the intricate reliefs carved on each platform and walls surrounding the vast complex.  They say it would be advisable to utilize a guide for an overview of such reliefs but we didn’t avail of one (as expected).  Based on readings nevertheless, the reliefs are said to be a large teaching graphic recounting the life story of the Buddha, his teachings and progress to Nirvana.

 





As soon as we reached the topmost platform, it was a rewarding treat.  The panoramic view of the mountains in a late afternoon breeze made us stay in one corner while taking photos of every detail.  The Buddha statues that surround and the stupas complemented to produce a proof of a great ancient civilization showcasing the rich culture and the arts on this part of Indonesia.

Locals dubbed Borobudur as a “sacred place” and the “garden of Java” due to its high agricultural fertility.  It is strategically located in an elevated area between two twin volcanoes and two rivers.








The site is open to the public from 6AM to 5PM.  We arrived around 4PM and was requested by the guards to move down at exactly 5PM while we see some visitors armed with a special pass for the sunset viewing in the form of bracelets.  And so we requested for a few more minutes of picture taking which the guards have agreed.  We were the last one to vacate the area.




How to go home?  That was the next issue we are about to face.  We don’t one to spend the night in the vicinity.  The last trip from Muntilan to Jombor Terminal for the Trans Jogja is 4PM.  Left with no options, we have to ride a cab and charter the same. Motorcycle drivers started to offer us a ride in quite a high-priced amount and it will just take us to Jombor Bus Terminal.  We opted to be dropped-off at the Marlioboro District.  Hitchhiking could be a good option.  But it was getting dark.  We dropped by a nearby police station for assistance and we were directed to a taxi driver.  We ignored him at first for the relatively high rates contrary to our budget.  Then we walked towards the main road where motorcycle drivers continue to follow us.  We walked in another direction to let them know we’re not interested and the group decided to take a cab (chartered or not).  Another taxi passed by and it turned out he was the one we have rejected first.  He offered again his rates and we counter offered with the desire to be dropped-off directly at Marlioboro.  And so we heeded with the lowest fare possible yet reasonable for the driver as well.



Sunrise or sunset viewing may be the best time to visit Borodudur as they say.  For me, I am already contented.  The afternoon breeze was perfect along with great travel buddies making the trip relaxing, manageable and hassle-free on whatever situation we are into.  I am glad we made it in a nick of time.

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