1. Sunrise - Borobudur TempleThis is the largest Buddhist temple complex in southeast Asia. The sunrise at Borobudur temple, or the sunrise over Borobudur temple, is magical, and makes its way to the top of the list for that very reason. Waking up at 3, hitting the road by 4, getting there by 5, and melting in the moment - that's what it takes.There are 3 ways to see the sunrise, as locals, the hostel, or your hotel will likely tell you. One - to stay at the Manohara Hotel, because it is apparently the only hotel that offers travellers a special sunrise tour of the temple. Two - take your own scooters, don't listen to everyone who says that Option One is the only way to do it, head to the gates of the temple by 6, and make your way to the top. Three - go to Bukit Barede for the sunrise. Bukit Barede is a hill that offers a view of Yogyakarta and Borobudur, with Mt. Merapi looming in the distance.
The dim stream of light illuminating the path from your guide’s flashlight shows a neatly kept park leading to the entrance of Borobudur, an ancient temple complex that was forgotten and abandoned for centuries. The sky begins turning pink, lavender, and pale blue as you ascend through the three stages of the temple to prop yourself up, legs dangling over the side, in your own little corner sharing the space with multiple Buddhas housed in stupas. At 4:30 to 5:00AM, there aren’t as many fellow tourists sharing this experience with you as the massive flows of tour buses usually arrive much later, but with a park opening at 6:00AM, the Sunrise Entrance into Borobudur you have an extra premium experience and great photo opportunities.Sunrises can be hit or miss, with the sight you behold completely at the whims of the weather and the sky, and the forecast can be fickle. Too much clouds and you may not see the sun as it rises, and even a clear sky doesn’t give the same auspicious reflections of the various arrays of color a sunrise in its full glory is capable of. But there is a special something you can bank on if you chose to do the Sunrise Tour experience at Borobudur that makes the early morning trek and premium cost worth the experience. There’s a mysticism that engulfs Borobudur with layers of clouds on the ground with the forest peaking through. Off in a distance you see in a 360 view of Java’s great volcanoes including Mt. Merapi which floats above the clouds. And following sunrise, the majesty of the mountain reveals itself.
Ahhh the famous Borobudur Sunrise.. The beautiful postcard image of Buddha against the backdrop of the golden sun. Well, we weren't so lucky. We sat and waited.. and the sky just turned bright and that was it. However, it was lovely waiting in the cool morning air, and getting to slowly explore the temple before the heat and crowds came in. I guess witnessing sunrises is all about luck with the weather. At least it wasn't raining! It was very peaceful and I felt as if I could sit on the steps and just gaze at the landscape for a long time.
It's one of those temples where any camera lens won't do justice to it's stone patchwork beauty. An early morning headstart with tiny torches guaranteed to make you feel like you're one of the Secret Seven. After a walk of about 10-15 minutes (based on how inactive you are back home), your first view of Borobudur is going to be a promising one. With sun that's only now ascending and a cool breeze to wipe away those wisps of hair from your face, the temple stands patiently, welcoming you.