One of the seven wonders of the world is actually in my home country (or at least used to be one of the wonders). Candi Borobudur (or Borobudur Temple) is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reason why I went to Yogyakarta was especially for Candi Borobudur. My parents told me that we’ve been to Candi Borobudur before but I can’t recall any of that. This time, my trip was more than just a simple visit Candi Borobudur.
I’ve been getting a lot of recommendation during my time in Yogyakarta, that I should go to Punthuk Setumbu before going to the Borobudur Temple so that I’ll be able to see the silhouette of Candi Borobudur from Punthuk Setumbu. I got up at 3am, went to the location (Punthuk Setumbu) and once I got to the location, I still need to hike about 15-20 minutes to see the silhouette of Candi Borobudur. It was a very bad idea to go to Punthuk Setumbu with sandals.It was very slippery, fell down several times, and I got dirt all over my pants, legs, hands and bag. I definitely recommend you to bring a proper footwear, depending on the weather. Everything was kinda spontaneous and I didn’t really know what to expect from Punthuk Setumbu.
I knew that everything was worth it once I reached the point where you can see the Borobudur Temple silhouette. Not only the silhouette was worth seeing, the very lush greenery was very enchanting. I’ve never seen so much of nature/trees in one point of view before. As you can see from my pictures, I didn’t really zoomed-in that much and I was a little bit sad that my camera was not able to zoom in very much to capture Candi Borobudur Silhouette, but I guess I got more reason to come back then.
Gereja Ayam Bukit Rhema (Chicken Church)
If you’re Indonesian, I bet you know the famous movie “Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? 2”. The movie setting location was in Yogyakarta and one of them is the Chicken Church. It’s about 15-30 minutes from Punthuk Setumbu depending on the slipperiness of the trail. When I was there, it was freaking slippery and I fell most of the time (even when the guide was holding my hand the whole time). This church is still on construction and have been constructing for so many years. It’s because the owner of this church is the one who finance it by himself. I actually met the guy, who owned the church. I asked “why here out of all the land in Indonesia?” and he simply reply that one day, he was meditating/praying and he found peace or like an epiphany in this area. This church is actually supposed to be a dove not a chicken, but people think it looks more like a chicken than bird, so there you go the story of the Chicken Church. He also work closely with a foundation that helps young troubled kids (who did drugs mostly) and helping them to rehabilitate. There’s a small entrance fee, but it’s like not even a dollar if I recall. I would recommend you to go to the rooftop (the crown of the church) and see the best view of thick, green, forest. The reason why everything’s so lush and green is because there’s a volcano nearby called Gunung Merapi (Merapi Volcano) and it’s still very much active.
Candi Borobudur (Borobudur Temple)
After Punthuk Setumbu and the Chicken Church, it’s time to go to Candi Borobudur. It was around 9am when I went to Candi Borobudur and there were so many people already. Like damn a lot. Mostly school kids who were having a school trip. But it seems like the entire schools in Yogyakarta were having school trip. I couldn’t get any decent picture alone or without any photobomb from them. I forgot how much is the entrance fee to borobudur, but I remember the tour guide fee and it was Rp. 100’000 (convert it yourself). He was the nicest tour guide and he can speak several languages so don’t worry about language barrier. Of course he was talking in Indonesian with me and he explains everything very well, just like in History Channel haha.
Another reason why you have to pay for the tour guide is that he’s quite good at taking picture. I was traveling with my mom only and my mom is not that fond with my camera (Fujifilm X-M1) or iPhone (she uses Samsung). But the tour guide took my pictures when I was in Candi Borobudur and the results are amazing! Not as top notch like a professional photographer but it was nice. He also knows all the corner where there’s not a lot of people and really know the story of Candi Borobudur.
I would love, love, love to retell the history of Borobudur Temple but my memory sucks. For the whole one hour (or probably more), he explained why the shape of the temple is like this, the myths, the stories of the carving in the stone wall, the way the architect of Candi Borobudur merge the Buddha, Hindu and Java culture together (this one is my favorite) and the cool mathematics of stupa (if you count, everything will relate to the number 8). Everything, every single corner, has something to tell in Candi Borobudur. For me, a day was not enough to get all the details about Borobudur but it’s enough to know the basic stuff. History lovers should come here!
You might have seen some of the Buddha statues does not have a head. That’s because during the restoration time by Van Erp (Dutch guy), a lot of the heads were taken and being sold to collectors. Why not the whole body of the statue? Because it’s damn heavy. The head is the easiest and probably the most valued at the time. Inside the stupas (the closed mound-like structure) at the top of the Borobudur temple are mostly closed and the statues are bigger and still attached. The biggest stupa at the very top, it’s closed and no one can get in (or out) of that stupa. During the restoration time, Van Erp (the Dutch guy again) restored the biggest stupa and some says that there was a strand of the Buddha’s hair (Siddhārtha Gautama) and something else but no one can confirm it. After the restoration, they closed the biggest stupa so no one can get in. Every floor of the Borobudur temple represents something and the several highest floors represents somewhat like a nirvana. I also heard about a myth from my mother that if you touch the pinky finger or toe of the buddha inside the closed stupa, you can make a wish or something like that. There are so many myths relating to Borobudur Temple and I love to hear every single myth.
In the end of the tour, there’s a museum nearby Candi Borobudur. Borobudur is actually a huge area complete with hotel as well. If you stay in the hotel (where you stay inside the Borobudur area, but not in the temple of course), you can get an early pass to see the Borobudur Temple to catch the sunrise. Once you’re going toward the exit, there’s a long street market where there are vendors selling local souvenirs. Don’t forget to negotiate if you don’t want to get “rob”.
Either you’re a local or foreigner, you should definitely go to Candi Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple on earth. The tour guide told me the best months to visit are April, May, June and July. I definitely had the best time in Candi Borobudur and hopefully you will too. Also, check the weather first before planning your visit to Borobudur because it’s very annoying if it raining or raging storm. There’s still more blog post to come about my Yogyakarta trip. And if you’re wondering where I stayed, I stayed in the best eco, boutique hotel in Indonesia and I made a blog post about it you can click here.