Moonlight over Borobudur (and how a PWD climbed up to the top)

June 24, 2014 ASEAN Backpacking

The moonlight over
 Borobudur temple

 a vision of the cosmos in stone

a world
by actions

of passion and desire

the glorious past
 is celebrated 6
with ships 
dancing girls
 warriors and kings

the pilgrim's walk 
prepares us for the practice of

Look out across the valley

ponder upon Nothingness

Reaching through the stupa

to touch the finger or foot
 of the Buddha
inside will surely direct
 our thoughts 
and motivate us
to take steps
 away from conflict

Up until the time we landed in Indonesia, I was determined to see Borobudur from afar. I didn't want to put too much pressure on my left leg. Six months before that trip, I had an accident that severely fractured my left leg, and I was still using crutches to walk. Though I wasn't fit for stressful travel, I couldn't resist joining our annual ASEAN backpacking trip.

Journey to Borobudur

Our first stop was Jakarta. After a day of gallivanting in Jakarta, we took an 8-hour train ride to Yogyakarta, where we stayed at Edu Hostel. 

On our first day, we dressed in traditional Indonesian costumes for a memorable photo session. This has become a tradition for us; we did the same in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2012, and at Wat Arun in Thailand in 2013. However, our excitement got the better of us, causing us to deviate significantly from our planned itinerary.

Originally, we intended to visit Prambanan, but we had to forgo it and rush to Borobudur.

After Sunset

We reached Borobudur after sunset and obtained our sunset pass for 380,000 Indonesian Rupiah. 

We had less than an hour to explore the the world's largest and one of the greatest Buddhist monuments. 

Borobudur consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, with a main dome at the center of the top platform. The most enchanting features are the 72 stupas that surround the main dome, located 35 meters or 115 feet above ground level.

The fee included the rental of sarong and flashlights. It was supposed to cover refreshments and souvenirs as well, but unfortunately, we couldn't obtain them due to our driver's mood.

Regardless, considering my condition, the receptionists were kind enough to allow our van to take us to the gate. The guide even permitted me to ride on his motorcycle up to the temple grounds.

Upon reaching the temple grounds, my friends were already having their photos taken with Borobudur as the backdrop. It was a spectacular sight, and we couldn't resist capturing the moment, especially with the waxing moon shining over the temple.

Reaching the Main Dome

Some of my friends were already making their way up the temple while my photo was being taken. Without thinking, I started my ascent, propelled by adrenaline, the glow of the moonlight, or the sheer desire to see what awaited at the top. I focused on climbing.

The steps were high, and while handrails helped a lot, many times, I had to use both hands to pull myself up. It was a challenging climb, but with the assistance of my friends, I made it to the top, proving the guide wrong in his doubts.

The stupas were stunning, and I spent a moment alone admiring each one. Although the moonlight wasn't sufficient to emphasize the details of the temple, it provided enough illumination for us to appreciate its magnitude and splendor.

Yes, we missed the sunset, but the waxing moon provided its own magical ambiance. I was happy that I exerted the effort to climb up.

Leaving Borobudur

After a solo shot beside a stupa, we began our descent. Going down was just as challenging, but it was accompanied by the joy of knowing we had seen what we came for. There was also a hopeful feeling that we could all return and experience Borobudur once more.

Hope to see you again Borobudur!

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