Borobudur Sunrise and the Ramayana

22 August 2009

The phone rang at exactly 4:30 in the morning; it was room service calling as I requested for a wake-up call for the Borobudur sunrise activity. First thing I did was to go out of our hotel room and check whether the sky was clear or not, after all I would not want to waste 150,000 IDR (per person) for the activity. As the sky was clear, we decided to give it a go.

We were in the lobby before five to collect our flashlights and tickets and meet the guide, who will lead the group on the way to the temple. There were other guests, as well, who will be joining us to watch sunrise from the top of Borobudur. Shortly after, we were on our way to the temple. As it was still dark, we made use of the flashlights to stay within the paved path. And in less than 10 minutes, we were once again on top of the massive Buddhist temple.

It was somehow cold while we were waiting for the sun to rise. Unlike our adventure last week in Siem Reap, there wasn’t any coffee available to help keep us warn. I had to settle with rubbing my hands against each other. We found a good place on the eastern side, and from there we waited patiently for the sun.

the sun rising from Mt Merapi

the sun rising from Mt Merapi

At first we thought that the sunrise would disappoint us, (just like our sunrise tour in Cameron Highlands several months back) – fortunately for us, we got lucky this time. The sun rising from Mt Merapi was a beautiful sight to behold. Taking advantage of the very good light, we took snaps randomly as the sky was beginning to change color. Since we didn’t hire a tour guide this time, we just made use of my tripod. The morning mist hanging over the surrounding hills was a sight to behold.

noticed the mist in the mountains?

noticed the mist in the mountains?

a row of headless Buddha statues

a row of headless Buddha statues

As the sun was inching higher in the sky, more and more tourists were beginning to appear inside the temple. We took it as a sign to go back to the hotel and enjoy the buffet breakfast waiting for their guests. Sadly though the breakfast was nothing special and I was disappointed with what I ate.

finding enlightenment from Buddha

finding enlightenment from Buddha

I managed to catch up on my sleep and woke up at around 11, with just enough time to pack things up. We checked out at exactly noontime. It was still very hot outside so we decided to stay a bit in the lobby. There, it was very relaxing as breeze just simply flows from everywhere; the sounds coming from the bamboo chimes were like a lullaby that was tempting us to sleep in our comfortable chairs.

i will miss you Manohara...

i will miss you Manohara...

We left the Manohara compound at around two in the afternoon. It may have an imperfect breakfast but everything else there was fantastic. It was truly a good place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of living in the city.

We found our way to the main road and started looking for our transportation back to Jogja. The idea of taking a bus ride was scratched out and we decided to take a private car going back to the city. Best bet to get some ride was the entrance of the Borobudur temple; upon entering the gate we were immediately surrounding by persistent touts who sell various kinds of stuffs. They were very persistent such that after saying “no” and “thank you”, they would continue doing the sales talk in Bahasa (as if we understand a word they say).

Finally a vendor who can speak English approached us; he asked us if we are looking for a ride back to the city as he has a friend who can take us there. I asked him the price and he quoted 300,000 IDR. I blatantly told him I am not falling for that outrageous price. I quoted I will only pay 125,000 and we walked away. To make the long story short, we agreed on a price of 150,000 IDR after ten minutes of negotiation.

A few minutes later, we were on a dilapidated van going back to the city. Apart from the brief stop-over at the Mendut temple (located a few kilometers away from Borobudur), it was a straight trip to Jogja.

the monastery in Mendut

the monastery in Mendut

We were dropped off in Jalan Sosrowijayan and headed towards Gang II to inquire about the place we wanted but unfortunately it was still fully booked. I asked for a recommendation on where we could stay and they pointed us towards this place in Gang I called Hotel Merbabu. Upon checking the available rooms, we found it to be good enough for the next two nights and so we took it. Rate was fairly cheap at 160,000 IDR per night, which comes with free breakfast.

Wasting no time, we got ourselves a hotel room and quickly inquired about the Ramayana Ballet. The tour operator told us that the last show for the week would be tonight, so we immediately bought tickets (50,000 IDR) and as well availed of the transportation service going to the program venue (another 50,000 IDR), which was near Prambanan Temple.

Since we still have enough time, we decided to have an early dinner at Bedhot Resto in Gang II. It was a simple restaurant but it was clean and has an excellent ambiance (think rustic beach restaurants in Boracay with a Reggae theme). The food was okay as well, with a whole range of choices. Unfortunately, I was not in the mood to experiment anymore on local dishes so I opted for a steak – such a steal at a cost of less than 5 SGD if converted.

Bedhot also offer tour packages to various sights in and around Jogja. Since I noticed that prices of the tours being offered are more or less the same, I decided to get our transportation for the following day to Prambanan Temple from this restaurant. This included a sunset side trip to Parangtritis Beach. The price for this was 260,000 IDR – somehow expensive but I tried to justify it because the entrance ticket to Prambanan was already included (this normally costs 12 USD).

Just immediately after dinner, we were picked up by the van which took us to the Ramayana Ballet venue. The ride took more than an hour as we picked-up several other tourists as well. We reach the place just before 7:30; just in time for us not to wait for a very long time before the program started.

The Ramayana Ballet is currently one of the most popular performances in town. On the night we watched it, it was held at an outdoor theater 16 km east of Yogyakarta, with the magnificent Prambanan Temple as the background. The program is based on a popular Hindu legend with gods, mortals, giants, monkeys and beautiful women as characters. Basically, it is an epic about good triumphing over evil. The hypnotic music from Javanese traditional musical instruments and the dramatic stage lighting makes this performance a must for any traveler in Jogja.

the Prambanan Temple at night

the Prambanan Temple at night

a scene from Ramayana

a scene from Ramayana

The program ended two hours after; we managed to get some quick photos together with some of the Ramayana casts before we went back to the city.

goofing around with Ravana

goofing around with Ravana

the lead star, Rama

the lead star, Rama

While on our way back, all I can think off was to get into my bed and call it a night. It was a quite a tiring day as we started it very early and I was terribly exhausted with all the time spent on the road. Tomorrow would be more relaxed as the tour will not start until after lunch. If we can manage to wake up early, it might probably a good opportunity to explore the area near Jalan Sosrowijayan & Malioboro Street.

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15 Responses to “Borobudur Sunrise and the Ramayana”

  1. Pasyalera Says:

    Great photos! I love the headless Buddha statues. They look cute. Haha! I hope I can also get to travel on these places. (Maybe once I’m done with the Philippines.) LOL! 😀

    Btw, thanks for droppin’ by our blog. 😀


  2. Although it’s been dwarfed by the popularity of Angkor Wat, Borobodur is one of the world’s greatest monuments. Great sunrise pictures!


  3. I really enjoyed your photos, thank you for sharing them with the world.

  4. coach hire Says:

    Great post many thanks

  5. earl Says:

    Hi Sir. Is a stay in Manohara Hotel a must-try? I plan to just stay in Yogyakarta and get the sunrise tour offered by Bedhots. Thank you


    • Doc,

      Not really a must try but it has some advantage of being there like you don’t have to travel more than an hour at dawn in order to catch the sunrise in Borobudur. If you are traveling on a tight budget, get a room from Bedhots and avail of their tour packages. However if you want to avail of some luxury even for just a day, get a room in Manohara…

      If ever you decide to stay in Manohara; don’t book it directly from their website as it is more expensive, instead book it from online travel agents as it will come out at least 20% cheaper than published rates.

      Hope this helps… 🙂

  6. earl Says:

    Doc talaga, haha. Anyway, I’ve tried booking Manohara thru those online agents a few weeks back but no available slots na daw sa kanila. So I reserved directly sa Manohara for 575,000.00 rupiah a night (roughly 8,000 pesos) Payment is on the day of check in pa naman so I’m still thinking of other options. Another concern ko Sir is the transportation from Borobudur back to Yogya. Is it hard to catch a bus going to Yogya along the main road say around 9am? Ive read kasi in your post that you hired a van nalang kasi a bus ride is out of the question. 🙂


    • Try booking either the double bed room or twin bed room… Initially I had a few decline when I booked for a double bed, tried thrice but failed. However when I tried the twin bed option, it came out positive. Manohara at 575,000 is okey already (as I paid roughly the same amount) although it is equivalent to just around Php 2,900 when converted. 🙂

      As for transportation, there is a bus… But we did not take this option. I cannot help you though with the direction but you can ask around from the hotel staff. It should not be too far from the hotel compound. And definitely this is the cheapest way to go back to Jogja.

      If you opt to take a private van, ask around for one in the Borobudur entrance gate but I have to warn you about haggling big time… 😉

      Goodluck bro! and do enjoy…

  7. earl Says:

    Thank you pala for the response. Really appreciate it. 🙂


  8. […] The Ramayana Ballet was highly recommended by Marvin and Babes, so signed up for it as well. Decided to splurge and got VIP tickets (IDR 250,000). Transport […]


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