Borobudur Sunrise


Everything I felt was of no importance compared to the grandness of this place.

June 13, 2014

Hope and the Hopeless

Darkness. The first thing I saw was darkness. My phone blinked beside my pillow while playing Where Have You Gone by Carousel. I thought about snoozing it but willed myself to get up. If I wanted to see the sunrise, I had to be early.

Budi arrived at the front gate just as we discussed the day before. He’s one of the caretakers of the guest house where I’m staying and he agreed to take me to the temple that morning. When I introduced myself to him, his face lit up. “Melody Ghina!” he exclaimed. I laughed and told him Adi had the same reaction.

It was still dark when we arrived at the Manohara Hotel. The sky showed signs of rain. We were provided a torch and a sarong before we could enter the gates of Borobudur.

While I was asked to pay a hefty sum to enter, Budi said he did not need to pay to get inside. I asked why, and he said that he used to work there for many years.

Budi found us a great spot to see the sunrise. I thought things were going well until I felt a cold drop of water on the back of my hand. Then there were a couple more drops. It started drizzling, and I knew my chance of seeing sunrise was gone.

Disappointed, I took a walk around the top level of the temple hoping to soothe my thoughts. I had an internal monologue about how I shouldn’t keep expecting things to happen the way I want it—that I have no control, that I should enjoy where I was—in a beautiful temple full of history, that everything I felt was of no importance compared to the grandness of this place.

As my monologue continued, I happened to look up and saw this. Even without the picture-perfect sunrise, I was still blown away.

Some of the stupas got damaged due to an earthquake that happened a few years back. Inside each stupa is a buddha facing outward.

There is a story behind the carvings and statues of the temple, but it was difficult to know where to start. Closer inspection revealed their eerie expressions.

Borobudur Park is huge. There's a lot to explore aside from the temple. My feet took me to an elephant camp. A closer look revealed my suspicion—that they were chained to the ground.

One of the elephants tried to pull its chains using its snout. When it saw me, it stopped what it was doing, waved its slender trunk in my direction, and moved closer to look at me. I stared at its eyes for a while trying to understand its thoughts.

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