Borobudur at sunrise
She led me down a light-filled river
Up curved sails of an ancient temple.
She led me across the tenuous borders of myself
Into silver vastness of a breath.
We joined hands before the morning spoke
Waited in mist for her first words.
In the darkness we crossed many thresholds,
Desire, like a humid jungle filled with treasures
Struggle, a deep tangled ravine
Solitude, where we no longer sought but knew
Each pink shore and blessed wave, and the
Heart that is pulled to rest by morninglight.
I knew I wanted to start the year and celebrate my birthday with a special trip. A short weekend trip, somewhere close to Singapore, a soulful destination where I could review the past year with peaceful objectivity and deep gratitude, and set my intentions for the next 365 days with optimism and trust. Borobudur called out to me and who could resist the pull of one of the greatest ancient Buddhist monuments in the world?
Borobudur at 6.30 am
The temple is located on the Indonesian island of Java, about 40 km or 1.5 hours drive from Yogyakarta where I decided to stay at the lovely Phoenix Hotel. There are many ways to experience Borobudur – solo or with a guide, at sunrise or sunset or anytime in-between, as a tourist, a photographer or a pilgrim. I wanted to be there with the intention of seeking, what though I wasn’t sure, perhaps a message or clarity. And I knew I had to be there for sunrise. Unfortunately, January is rainy season in this part of the world which means the likelihood of seeing a sunrise, or any sun at all, was minimal. The tour agent and hotel reception and my travel partner all thought it was unwise to make the journey at 3 am only to risk rain and gloomy weather. Of course I didn’t listen to anyone but the tugging of my soul.Borobudur
Every stupa contains a Buddha statue
We arrived before 5 am at the site and it was pitch dark (we were given torch lights to navigate the hundreds of steps). Up we went the temple, which my guide informed was a three-dimensional mandala (diagram of the universe) and a visual representation of Buddhist teachings. I could only make out the dim bell shapes of the stupas but my mind was blossoming like a rich tapestry at the history and teachings of the site.
The many steps to climb up Borobudur
We arrived close to the top and found a quiet spot with a view of darkness. It must have been an hour or so before the first hints of light appeared, tentative and shy like a child meeting a stranger for the first time. First the stupas revealed their details then the darkness took the shape of mountains and misty forests. Against all odds, the rain stayed away and we had a respectable sunrise. It was an amazing way to welcome the new year and I’m glad I heeded this call.
Watching over Borobudur
The Daily Post Photo Challenge Against The Odds
PS: I finally bought what I consider an adult camera – the Olympus Pen e-pl7 for my travels (it’s an upgrade from taking photos with my iPhone)! I think the photos turn out quite well, what do you think? 🙂