The spooky bathroom with holes on the roof. I keep looking at the ceiling while showering in case someone was looking through
View on top of the temple at sunrise
The carvings on the volcanic rocks of the temple
From Yogyakarta, we took a train to Borobudur. Based on the dodgy experience getting on 15-hour train in Vietnam, we were prepared for anything, but were surprised by the fact that the train was well maintained and clean. They even had a massaging service throughout the ride at a very reasonable price, for you to kill the hours on the train. The ride itself was quite scenic – you’ll pass endless paddy fields and villages, set around beautiful green hills.
If you think Yogyakarta was mellow, Borobudur brings it to a whole new level. It is a small town, centered around what else, the famous Borobudur temple. We checked in at small homestay called Lotus 2, which was at a walking distance to the temple. The homestay looked like the perfect setting to a murder mystery movie. There were only a few rooms, with wooden walls and a standing fan to keep you cool. The bathroom was huge, with a bath that looked like somebody died in it. The bed was surrounded by mosquito nets, a subtle warning that at night, the place would be swarmed by those bloodsucking bugs. But whatever the place lacked in, it made up through its character. It made you feel like a local, staying at a local’s house. The boys who ran the place were absolutely friendly, chatting you up like you were old friends. The balcony was open and overlooked paddy fields, and there was a bookrack with things to read as you hang out on the wooden benches.
As early as 3.30 am, we got up and walked by the dark streets to get to the temple. Note here that as a precaution, you should find out how to get to the temple during the day, so that you wouldn’t be lost walking at night. This is exactly what happened to us and believe me, nothing is more annoying then trying to find directions to a temple in the wee hours of the morning while you’re sleepy and cranky.
But when we got up to the temple, the view was… well there’s no other word for it but magnificent. It really was. It was quite enchanting, standing on top of a big, historic temple as the sun emerged, and you’re surrounded by beautiful volcanic hills hiding behind misty fogs. Everybody was quiet as we sat there, enjoying the mystical air. The carvings of ancient people on every inch of the temple walls, the bell-shaped stupas with statues cleverly hidden inside them, they made me feel like Indiana Jones stumbling upon a 9th Century discovery.
When you’re up at the temple, you should take your time with it. Don’t be one of those travelers who are rushing through things and are too busy taking hundreds of pictures. Walk around the compound and marvel at the intricate carvings that tell a story of princes, kings and goddesses. Check out the worn statues of lions and meditators. Sit and watch the sun go up. It’s an experience you’ll definitely remember.
Where to Eat: There are local shops everywhere, but for dinner we decided to blow off some cash at a fancy restaurant at a nearby hotel. If you walk towards the entrance of the temple, you’ll find a nice café owned by a lady, right by the street. The place has about twenty different types of coffee, so you should definitely get some caffeine shots here. The banana fritters are also really good.