We awoke far too early this morning. Something that is becoming a recurring theme of the trip.
However, for once we weren’t transferring to a train or another bus. This time we were going to see something truly spectacular.
There are not many places that I will get out of bed a 4:30am and wear a dress for (ok a sarong) but Borobudur Temple is one of them.
Found an hours drive from Yogajakrta, Borobudur is the worlds largest Buddhist temple.
Arriving is unremarkable. A large car park, a small visitors centre through which you enter and that is it.
But the moment that you walk out the door at the other side you are aware of a total change of environment. The grass is fresh, green and manicured. Flowerbeds, flawlessly arranged line paths that lead you to your fist glimpse of the temple.
What a sight it is. Towering over all, almost glowing as it basks in first light, the morning mists surrounding it and giving an even more supernatural feel.
Were it not for the rows upon rows of Buddhas looking down on you, it may even be described as ominous.
I split from my group at this point. They proceeded with a guide, whereas I wanted to be able to explore on my own so that I would not have people standing in my shots.
Photography can be a lonely and precocious mistress at times.
I started to climb the huge staircase to the first level.
I turned to look back and saw the gardens, surrounded by mountains disappearing into the mist.
Before me was the temple. So detailed. So intricately carved. The light creating shadows on all directions as it reflected off of the reliefs.
Time started to pass, and our monopoly of having the place to ourselves came to an end.
Despite the early hour, crowds were starting to arrive, and the temperature began to rise dramatically as well.
I climbed to the top and found it swarming. The newcomers did not explore, did not walk the grounds. They aimed straight for the prize of the bell towers.
They gained a fine prize, but it is much sweeter when saved for last.
I cannot give you a history lesson. I cannot tell you the significance of the idols or the reliefs in any greater detail than even the most perfunctory google search will bring.
But I can tell you that to stand and look out at the sun burning the mist away. To stand in wonder at the scale and beauty of this place is something special.
Walking the tiers of the temple is up there with walking the Great Wall, hiking the Grand Canyon and sunset on the Massai Mara.
It is something extraordinary to behold and I don’t think any photograph I can take will do it justice.