Murmurs of Awe at Borobudur | Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Anytime you find your way to the world's largest Buddhist temple in the world, you feel like toasting your kismet for bringing you there. Just the mere fact of stepping foot on a structure built with oozing creativity dating back to the 9th century, is already a significant moment for myself. Borobudur is the primary reason why I journeyed to the city of Yogyakarta—which at the time was my longest train ride—from Jakarta. It was one of those place forever etched in my mind as something I must see.

Levy Amosin at Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia

My first sighting of Borobudur was against the open blue skies and as expected; a phalanx of rich details.  I stared at it for a long time, unmindful of the hot rays of sunlight hitting my face, as if memorizing its architectural patterns. I circled it with slow steps, eyes wide open, after climbing the stairs to get as close to it as possible, while murmuring in awe at the intricate stone carvings depicting scenes of Buddhist transformation.

Kara Santos in Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia

The first level of the multi-tiered Borobudur temple shows everyday images of Earthly life such as; a feast, daily household work and warfare. As you climb up the successive levels, you will notice the bass reliefs focusing more on Gautama Buddha's journey to enlightenment. Following that, you will come across statues of more than 500 Buddhas. At the uppermost platform, you will see the Buddhist cosmology story surrounding the temple is represented by 72 bell-shaped stupa (each one hiding a Buddha statue inside) positioned like night watchmen directing its stares at the lowlands and the nearby Mount Merapi. 

Michelle Lim of Cebu Pacific

A Swedish couple who I shared a van with asked me to be their unofficial photographer, I happily obliged with the intention of asking them to take a couple photos of myself as well. It turned out a fair trade since I never bother bringing a tripod. 

Marky Ramone Go

As a result, I have a few 'touristy landmark poses' on my memory card. I'm guessing the couple likes the photos I took of them based on their smiles. Their presence also highlighted a sad fact about being a solo traveler (this was my second out-of-country trip as a lone traveler), as it made me wish I was holding an adventurous girl's hand as we savor the wind coming from all corners while standing at the uppermost layer of Borobudur.

That what-if thought vanished as quickly as it entered my mind. Undaunted, I discovered new reasons to enjoy the location. As I continued my circle, I noticed a few pilgrims gathered near a stupa, deeply immersed in solemn prayers. I trudged carefully, taking care not to cause a commotion by tripping over one of them.

There's a lot to see around the Borobudur complex, and despite the crowds, one can still find a quiet spot to be still and even meditate. I sat on the floor taking a brief rest while fixing my gaze on the walls, which were richly carved with vivid images. It was like reading a graphic novel, with each section telling a different story. I swear I can hear chisel clippings from the finest artists and sculptures of the 9th century if I use my imagination.

Marky Ramone Go in Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia

I took another rest on one of the highest steps, this time looking toward Mount Merapi, an active volcano that threatened Borobudur during its last eruption in 2010. Strangely, the silent echoes of other travelers' low-voice conversations were muffled, and the only sounds I heard were the hissing winds.

Because Borobudur's endearing message is about discovering one's own enlightenment, I recognize that I have yet to find mine. Despite the fact that Gautama took a long time to accomplish it, he did so by taking a step closer among thousands more. As I walked away from the temple, I turned around and took one last long look at the massive Borobudur temple.

After a few minutes, a Chinese woman nudged me from behind and asked me to photograph her and her husband. When I looked through the viewfinder on her camera, I saw two smiling faces against a spellbinding background. As I handed back her camera, I felt a surge of happiness because I knew they were about to climb the temple and, like me, become one step closer to enlightenment.

Marky Ramone Go in Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia

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