As we were leaving the Borobudur Temple, we saw a lady crawl up on a buddha statue that was 1000-years-old, give or take a century. She then proceeded to take a selfie.
“We have to get out of here,” my wife said.
As we walked past a raging river or tourists and noisy Javanese school children, I began to sweat profusely in the sweltering heat. It was 7am.
Reader, you may be thinking that we had a terrible experience at Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple which is located in central Java. Nothing could be further from the truth. We were smart. We woke up at 3am, which at the time was very painful, and we paid extra money to be allowed in at sunrise. That too, stung a little. But getting to enjoy the temple at sunrise with a small group of likeminded tourists was well worth the effort. We even saw Mark Zuckerberg there. That guy is really smart and has 3 billion friends, so we were in good company.
As a result of my efforts to get up early and take these photos, you can see photos of Borobudur without the crowds.
I Like Big Buddhas and I Cannot Lie
Like barnacles on a ship, the temple is encrusted with 504 Buddha statues. The pyramid-like temple consists of nine levels, the first six are square, with the top three being circular. On the top levels, there are 72 perforated stupas concealing Buddha statues. See photos below.
Every square inch is art
All around the lower six levels are stone carvings of Buddhas, naked women, elephants, and things I don’t understand.
Sunrise, Peace and Dangdut
At sunrise, naturally everyone is clustered on the east side waiting for the light. This gave me a chance to shoot photos and walk around in peace. Peace, except that someone was playing some dangdut music really noisily in the distance. Otherwise, it was tourist free in most areas and totally enjoyable.
Sunrise from Penthuk Setumbu Hill
The next morning, we took motorcycle taxis to Punthuk Setumbu Hill and watched the sunrise below. Borobudur is a little hard to see silhouetted in the bottom left of the top photos. Mt. Merepi rises nearly 10,000 feet, or 3000 meters behind it to the left. Stunning.
I hope you enjoyed these photos and appreciate that I woke up in the middle of the night not only once, but TWICE, so that I could photograph it for you. You are welcome.
Have you been to Borobudur or any other ancient wonders of the world?