All of these SE Asian temples are oriented against the poles of the earth and the solar system so you can often get these symmetric shots, although I normally don’t do that sort of thing. This was shot from the top of Borobudur when the sun was burning down at about 100 degrees of hot waves of humid heat. Scaling my way up there through the jungle gloom was tough enough without the added burning factor!
The Buddhist Temple of Borobudur has several concentric levels, each going higher and higher, each level a more significant plane of enlightenment. Monks are supposed to start at the bottom and spiral their way to the top, contemplating the countless reliefs and 500+ Buddha statues. I spent almost the entire weekend there and made the walk more times than most of the monks. Plus I was carrying a tripod and not wearing sweat-wisking robes… I don’t know if this means I am more enlightened or just more tired.
The stupa is covered with Buddhas, most of which are encased in these bell-shaped cages. Early during the sunrise, I went around from cage to cage to peer inside with a flashlight. Every buddha is holding his hands in a slightly different arrangement. It was super dark and moody while I was there, and I was going to freak out if I peered in on one of them, and his pose was to block the flashlight from his eyes.
I was absolutely deluged by kids that had never seen a white person in person before.Â After the sunrise, when I was pretty much alone, a bus pulled up from a remote part of Java and tons of kinds poured out and started running all over the temple.Â All of them wanted their picture taken with me, as if I was some sort of goofy Baluga that had washed up on the temple steps.Â They were all very happy and fun, so I asked them to sit on the corner of Borobudur for a group shot.
I took an afternoon hike in the remote area of Java just outside the town of Jogjakarta to explore this temple. It’s called Prambanan, and it was built around 850 CE.
The rain was pouring down, which left me and Will there pretty much alone, except for a few wild deer in the area. I waited through the rain because I knew if it cleared there would be a great sunset. I had a little baggy over my camera to keep it dry until everything passed…
While waiting on the rain to stop, I walked around and did more up close exploration of the temples of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma, which were three of the largest in the complex. All the temple blocks were on the edge of collapse, after many centuries of Indonesian earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
This morning I got a wakeup call at 3:30 AM to head out on a distant trek to Borobudur to climb the temple before sunrise. I had a flashlight and a fully loaded iPod for the ascent. I stayed at the top and all around the temple for most of the morning, collecting shots here and there as misty clouds rolled in, through, around, and over the temple.
This temple laid abandoned and overgrown for about 800 years until it was rediscovered by the British.
You can see the distant volcano rumbing in the morning sunrise…