On the first day of July in 2013, I ventured on a day trip to Borobudur from Bali, Indonesia. For some unknown reason, I diverted to Prambanan and the city center of Jogjakarta before visiting the UNESCO world heritage site of Borobudur. One would think that if Borobudur is my main reason to travel, that would be my first place to visit. But at the same point, I thought it would be a nice way to end the day with sunset at Borobudur.
Now I am usually pretty good at checking for the weather forecast of the day so I can dress accordingly. Yes I am that practical, I dress for the weather and event of the day and pay little attention to the fashion trend of the day. I still think back to the day when I climbed to the top of the roof at Duomo of Milan, Italy and dropping my jaw when I saw 2 women decked out in stilettos and skimpy cocktail dresses while I wore runners and jeans. But I digress.
On this day in July, I failed to check the weather forecast. The skies were blue with a bit of cloud, however, the weather changed not long after I climbed onto my first of 2 buses to get myself to Borobudur. The skies turned a dark shade of gray. Thunder. Lightning. Torrential downpour – tropical style. My brain started to worry. How will I get any photos when I arrive? I do not have a waterproof camera, nor a plastic bag to protect my camera!!!
Another concern flying through my head was will I have enough time to spend in Borobudur?
The weather is out of my control – I can only hope for the best possible outcome. I lost track of time at Prambanan and Jogjakarta – it is what it is, I can only make the best of what time I will have at Borobudur.
After transferring onto a local bus headed for Borobudur, the rain started to dissipate and I felt a bit more at ease. However, it was close to 4:30pm and I was not sure what time the doors closed. I was looking around the bus to see if I can ask someone and noticed the person across from me was looking up something on their iPad. I asked him if he could look up the information for me and found out he’s also headed to Borobudur with his family and was about to look up the hours of operation. What coincidence! Serendipity in full effect!
Once again, the Universe has sent me a helping hand.
Agus and his wife Suharni lives in Borneo and are on vacation with their 2 beautiful daughters and visiting the local sights in Java. They took me under their wings and we all headed to Borobudur together. I did not realize we would have to take a motorized rickshaw to the entrance of Borobudur from the final bus station. Luckily Suharni was there to haggle and procure the ride for us. As it was raining earlier, there were men offering to lease us umbrellas when we arrived at the parking lot. I wonder why not more entrepreneurs think of this business idea, it’s a lot more cost effective than selling umbrellas at a tourist location.
The kindness which Suharni and Agus showed me was immense and unfathomable. They paid for everything (rickshaw, umbrella, entrance) and would not take my money. Well until I opened my big mouth and the authorities realized I’m really not Indonesian (but I looked the part) and required me to pay the Foreigner price. Locals are charged less than $3 CAD while Foreigners have to pay $20 USD. I paid the difference between Indonesian local price and the Foreigner price and we headed for the temple.
The sheer size of the monumental site is immense! It is not a wonder that it has been on the Seven Wonders of the World list several times. Borobudur is a true 3-dimensional Mandala – representing the different stages of enlightenment. The reliefs carved onto the building blocks at the lower levels of the monument are intricate and life-like. I wished I had more time to explore the site, however, it close at 6pm and it was close to 5:30pm.
I walked around the main stupa 3 times, in a clockwise direction while reciting my mantra. This was my moment to connect and allow my mind to rest after a full day of activities. It is essentially my walking meditation of the day. It helped me ground and connect with nature, with the Universe. I was so grateful for the experience and the opportunity to connect with such a historical site. I felt very fortunate to have had received help from all the friendly Indonesians who helped me along the way – it was a hectic day in some ways. They helped make the day more manageable and easy to navigate. Thank you all.
Granted a self-guided day trip is fun and adventure-ful in a foreign country. An open mind, flexible schedule and willingness to accept help when help is need makes the day a lot easier and smoother. Though I believe this applies to anything in life on a daily basis.
Be open. Be fluid. Be grateful.
Safe Travels! XO