The Manohara hotel is pretty much the only game in town if you want to watch the sunrise over Borobudur. If you’re staying in Yogyakarta, you’re looking at an hour drive to get to the place, and you need to be there by 0430, and then the sunrise tickets will cost you more if you’re not a guest at the hotel. For Manohara guests, the temple is literally a five minute walk outside the hotel grounds. What is the demographic for this experience? Apparently middle aged caucasians…. they represent 90% of the relatively small group there for the sunrise on the temple. There is a premium price to be there for the sunrise, but the experience is well worth it (We’re talking $25 here, crazy money for locals, not for travelers). You’re up there with at most a couple dozen tourists on a huge temple complex. The temperature is cool and comfortable, and the views are just incredible…. magical even, as the sky shifts through pinks and purples, bringing volcanoes wrapped in clouds and misty jungle into view. All in the setting of (arguably) one of the most incredible temple complexes in the world (it’s gotta be at least in the top 5 list of anybody that’s visited).
Now, granted…. there might be a few older ladies there that really, um, get into the spiritual experience of the place. Maybe they’ve taken a few Jazzercise yoga classes and figure they’re well on their way to enlightenment after a relaxing trip to Bali and a visit to Borobudur. As far as I’m concerned though, the accompanying chanting was a little distracting. It should be a rule that only locals are allowed to chant. Oh yeah, and I can’t leave out the clan of Russians having their wives/sisters/daughters posing provocatively in super short dresses with the Buddha statues.
Luckily though, pictures don’t come with a soundtrack… and their were few enough people there during our sunrise visit that the pictures aren’t cluttered with wandering tourists. A few hours after we left and had breakfast, trolley cars emerged one after another, unleashing endless loads of tourists into the hot, humid, mid-morning sun like a swarm of locusts. Well, we enjoyed our visit though, and visited a couple smaller temple complexes nearby. And for the record, if I was getting templed out, it didn’t feel that way at Borobudur.
Without further ado, here’s a few of the pictures from today, we’re hoping to watch another sunrise at the temple tomorrow morning before heading back to Jakarta:
And yes, the sarongs are mandatory. They literally issue them when you enter the temple.