No visit to Jogjakarta is ever complete without paying homage to the world-renowned Borobudur Temple. Situated in Magelang, about two-hour car ride away from Jogjakarta city, Borobudur Temple is worth the journey – it is after all the biggest Buddhist temple in the world and at one point in time was one of the seven wonders of the world.
We made a grave mistake of visiting the temple not only in the weekend but also on the eve of an Indonesian public holiday. Which was definitely not the wisest thing to do since Borobudur is one of the cheap destinations for pretty much everyone living in Java. Also, because we are not the earliest risers in the world, we only got there at around 11 AM. Considering some dedicated photographers would have already been ready with their tripod set up at about 5 AM, we definitely deserved the huge line forming at the ticket counter, not to mention the baking hot sun.
At least among the things we did wrong, we got a couple of things right. Like the fact that one of my friends is non Indonesian and could get her ticket at the Borobudur International Visitors Centre. Check out the queue for that.
She did have to pay for the price for that, being a foreigner and all. Her entry ticket was USD 20 while ours was less than USD 3. Reminded me of my time in Taj Mahal when I had to pay a much higher ticket price as a foreign tourist (750 Rupee or USD 12) while my Indian friend paid close to nothing (20 Rupee or USD 30 cents). The best part of this arrangement was that we had the spillover effect from her being a foreign tourist and a very kind guy in the counter helped us to get the local tickets through the backdoor and did not even want to receive any tip! Truly hospitality at its best.
Another thing we did right was getting a guide for our visit. Not only was Mr Jean a very patient guide, he was also a decent photographer and knew his way round the sea of people so we could get an unperturbed spot for pictures. We were able to appreciate the stone carvings a lot more thanks to Mr Jean.
(One interesting observation, Andy seemed to be the popular choice for names among souvenir sellers. We met at least three of them introducing themselves as Andy.)
No matter what, going to Borobudur itself is never a mistake. The place is just grand and majestic, no matter how people studded it is.
And of course, the thing we knew we did right was picking each other as travel companies. We had lots of fun in the sun, even when we were up there being shoved around by people and our photo spots were invaded all the time. I hope I did not accumulate a lot of bad karma making faces to all these people at a sacred temple. I feel I can fairly blame it on the heat.
Apart from being harassed by Andy the souvenir seller at the end of the trip, we actually had a splendid time there. However, I certainly wouldn’t mind visiting the temple again when there are much fewer people. I’m sure the atmosphere would feel very different, and I would most probably be less grumpy.
Although, seriously, it is nothing a silly photo can’t cure. 🙂