My Time Capsule: April 2016


Indonesia: Welcoming Sunrise At Borobudur Temple

Magelang, March 2016

I was actually planning the trip to Borobudur last December. Let's say, an impulsive travel plan.

One morning I woke up and thinking, Hey welcoming the first sunrise of 2016 at Borobudur temple sounds like an excellent idea, aye? Just like that, my eyes wide awake and I jumped out my bed to grab my laptop and started browsing. It was only 10 days before the new year. Unsurprisingly finding tickets and hotels wasn't an easy task. Not to mention that prices were almost 3 times higher. But I didn't care and was about to pay it anyway. Told ya, most of the time I'm very impulsive when it comes to travel and food. I ran out my room to discuss the trip with my ultimate travel partner aka my sister for about 10 minutes. Back to my laptop and clicked the purchase button.

"Voila! Yogyakarta, I'm coming!" I said it loud with a big grin on my face.

But....wait what? Your transaction can not be processed. My jaw dropped as I read it on my screen. Tried to redo the booking process and found out that someone has snatched the last tickets at the very last minutes. No more tickets available. Dang!

view of Borobudur from Manohara Hotel

So the trip was postponed until March. I joined a 3 days food tour around Semarang (will blog about it later) and thought why not extending my holiday to Magelang and Yogyakarta as well. And because March is not a peak season, I managed to book a room in Manohara hotel which is very convenient because it's less than 5 minutes walk to Borobudur temple.

walk through the dark

To join the Borobudur Sunrise tour, everyone is informed to gather in the hotel lobby at 4.30 in the morning and walk together to the temple. It's a good thing I stayed in this hotel, I only needed to wake up 30 minutes before and still have ample time to get ready, plus saved me from the hassle of getting a transportation at the wee hours.

When I reached the lobby, there was already a bunch of people who joined the tour. We walked to the back of the hotel and passed a connecting gate to the temple. It was pitch black and I'm glad the staff has given me a flashlight otherwise I would have toppled while climbing up the steep stairs. Not too many people joined the sunrise tour, perhaps less than 30 person. We all spread out to find our preferred spot and sat in silence. Last night as I went to bed, I worriedly thought that they would cancel the tour because it had been raining cats and dogs the whole evening. But thankfully the sky was clear in the morning that I even managed to catch a glimpse of mount Merapi and mount Merbabu afar.

Borobudur at 4.30 am

pre-sunrise twilight 

mesmerising sunrise in Borobudur

The sky's hue slowly lightened as the sun rising, from charcoal black to the dark blue and purple of the twilight sky then to beautiful gradation of red, pink and orange. And soon the first rays of the sun sweeping through the stupas and Buddha statue. Earlier they were just dark silhouette and now their stunning details appeared gradually. Wow! Such an overwhelmingly breathtaking experience I nearly teared up. I've been to Borobudur temple a couple times before but never during sunrise. It surely gave me a different perspective, a better way.

With a better appreciation, I can easily understand why Borobudur is stated as one of the most visited landmarks in Indonesia. It is believed that Borobudur was built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty. This largest Buddhist temple in the world consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome (which is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa). In total, the temple is decorated with 2672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Gobsmacked! I can't even imagine how much time and effort they went through to build this stunning temple. My photos definitely don't do it justice.

the main stupa of Borobudur

eerie Borobudur enveloped by fog

My favourite part was when the mist or I'd rather say the fog - came down slowly. As if the entire temple was swallowed by white smoke. It's pretty thick that I could barely see through it. I found it eerie, mysterious yet very tranquil because I couldn't see other visitors around and the only voice I heard was birds chirping.

Buddha statue in Borobudur


one of the reliefs

headless Buddha statue

Borobudur temple

Though the entrance ticket is quite pricey, I would love to join the sunrise tour again on my next visit to Borobudur. Oh! And if you are interested in deeper story about this magnificent Buddhist temple,
you may want to check Bama's blogpost. I'm a fan of his blog because he writes beautifully and is really good at taking gorgeous photographs :)

one last pose before back to the hotel :D

Borobudur Sunrise tickets
(Includes tea/coffee, light snacks, entrance to Borobudur temple from 4.30am before public open time and a souvenir.)

IDR 400.000 / person for foreign visitor
IDR 275.000 / person for domestic visitor
IDR 250.000 / person for Manohara hotel in house guest


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