We arrived in Borobudur just a little over six in the morning. Our van driver told us that if we hurried, we would be able to catch “a beautiful view of Borobudur in the early morning.” The temple itself was a couple of kilometers away from the Tourist Center where we parked so we walked as if we were competing in a walkathon.
When we finally got to the temple’s base, a group was already there. Thankfully, they weren’t the typical rowdy tourists one often reads about in guidebooks. Instead, two Buddhist monks in their distinctive brown garb led the group in prayer. So we were able to explore the complex in relative quiet.
Borobudur was everything I imagined. It was a magnificent sight to behold, especially in the early morning. The structure, built in the 9th century, is set between twin volcanoes and two rivers. At 869 feet above sea level, it is the perfect place for contemplation. I’m not sure if it’s because of the 504 Buddha statues that surrounded the temple or the dents on the stones left by pilgrims past, but something about it forced me to look inwards.
By the end of our short exploration, I, too, offered a prayer. I prayed for my loved ones and their continued health and peace of mind. I asked for forgiveness for past sins. I gave thanks for being here with my husband just as I imagined. And I offered a special prayer for a friend who has been dreaming to come here for quite a while now. I remember talking to her a few days before we left for Indonesia. When I mentioned the word “Borobudur”, her eyes lit up with excitement but quickly grew sad. When I asked her why, she said Borobudur was her dream destination but she couldn’t imagine seeing it in the near future. There were too many things going on in her life, she said. And too many bills to pay. So for now, it remains a distant dream.
She need not worry, though. Borobudur has been here for more than a thousand years. It has withstood abandonment, volcanic eruptions and even looting when it was rediscovered in 1835. Yet it remains and will undoubtedly stay a few centuries more. When she’s finally ready to take that trip, Borobudur will just be here waiting.