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Steps to enlightment in Borobudur

INDONESIA | Tuesday, 15 May 2012 | Views [703]

I have to get up real early at 0600 to get my 0750 train to Yogjakarta, my transit point to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borabadur. The Indonesians have figured out a way to squeeze even more money out of the rich (assumed) foreigners by offering a sunrise or sunset tour for the low low price of Rp335k. The tour is only available from the Manohara Hotel who have a monopoly on outside visiting hours and are located inside the archaeological site. I, as a fool, am ready to pay for this.

Back to the train; I've noticed now that platform system in all Indonesian train stations are somewhat rudimentary. There are no bridges or tunnels to get from platform to platform. You actually have to cross the tracks to get to the correct platform:

Although the trains are non too shabby:

Just like the journey between Jakarta and Bandung, the scenery is fantastic. Despite my tiredness, I even managed to stay awake long enough to see some of it:

Arriving at Yogjakarta train station, I'm outraged to discover that I have to pay Rp200k for a taxi to Borabadur and even more outraged that this is a fixed price for all taxis. Then to really round off the day, when I arrive at Manohara Hotel at 1800, I find out that my booking was never confirmed despite their confirmation email. At least I managed to find another hotel within walking distance of the site.

The next morning, I've set my alarm at 0500 for the sunrise tour, promptly stopped the alarm thinking, £$%^ the sunrise tour and went back to sleep. I still managed to get to the site by 0800, at least an hour before the hordes of tourist descend.

Man O man, even from afar, I thought this temple was amazing:

The temple is supposed to the largest Buddhist structure in the world, more amazing there's no cement or any glue. Nothing holding this building together but joints in the rocks. The temple has survived floods, earthquakes and being buried under volcanic ash for hundreds of years. There are I think nine levels, with the various levels representing the different realms of Buddhist cosmology. When re-discovered, it was in a pretty bad state until UNESCO chipped in to pay for the restoration work. The place is just packed with tourists, which I'm told makes conservation more difficult. The kids love to touch the statues and morons love to vandalize the walls with graffiti. Still, the conservationists are doing a great job and the building is beautiful:

I spent about 2 hours just viewing the different levels of the building. I'm done and the hordes of tourists are making their presence known, making me glad that I took the effort to get in early.

One thing to note. The touts here are bloody persistent. Even when I'm plainly ignoring them, it take a couple of minutes before many of them get the message.

With nothing else to do in Borobadur, I get a taxi to Yogjakarta, but not before making one final stop at Candi Mendut:

Tags: borobadur, buddhist, hindu, indonesia, temple, unesco


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