6 May 2012 : Vesak day or Buddha Enlightenment day in Borobudur temple, the 9th century Buddhist Temple in Indonesia. The ceremony coincide with once-a-year cosmic event of the perigee moon. Also known as the Supermoon, where the moon is the closest to Earth.
The Vesak event was celebrated with buddhists from all over South East Asia, making their yearly pilgrimage to this tourist site. It rained heavily for the whole day and magically stopped just as the ceremony started. The crowded event had buddhist monks circling the Borobudur temple and releasing lanterns at the end.
After 6am, the official opening time of the temple, streams of tourists started climbing up to the temple. The crowds were still managable and I could still have some space on my own to discover the temple.
In a more godly 7am, a sudden wave of local indonesian tourists flooded in. It was quite heartening to see local tourists visiting their national sites. These indonesians are quite lucky to have such beautiful historical sites to call their own.
Coming from Singapore where either most of our historical sites have been destroyed by progress or ruined by urban planning, I felt a little envious that they preserved their cultural sites that encouraged local tourism.
Borobudur Temple in Central Java has one of the most beautiful bass reliefs in South East Asia quite in par with Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Sri Lanka. Borobudur is one of the smallest ruins but still it would take you at least 2 hours just walking around and looking at the beautifully restored temple.
It’s worth your while spending 1 hour walking around and viewing the reliefs where it tells the stories of Buddha and buddha related stories.
I met a gifted wedding photographer while briefly at Borobudur during the late afternoon. He came with simple equipment and a beautiful wedding couple dressed in rather expensive batik wedding wear (about us$2000 for the gold embroidered wedding dress).
This place makes great backdrop and I am envious of him being there.
I hovered around quietly, watching him work, and the end of his shoot, bravely asked if I could take his photo and much to my delight, he not only agreed but generously offered the use his lighting equipment as well as giving me instructions on his camera settings.
I revisited Central Java and the Borobudur Temple recently in June 2008. This time while in Borobudur, I spent more time walking around and viewing the beautiful bass reliefs rather than rush through them. The last time in 2005 was a little rushed and whirl-wind type of photo tour.
Stayed in Manohara Hotel (445,000rp, sg$70) to get a nearer access to the temple. Did the sunrise tour, which wasn’t really much of a tour, but of paying the extra 110,000rp (sgd$16, us$11) for someone at the hotel to open the gates 1.5 hour earlier than the usual 6am for normal entry.
Was it worth it you say, well yes in a way it was. I took quite a lot of photos pitch black and waited for sunrise with a handful of tourists. The sunrise wasn’t spectacular, it was quite hazy covering the sun most of the time. I sure enjoyed snapping photos while it was a touch of dawn and the only light available was my torch.
It was great that for a brief period, the Volcano Mount Merapi revealed itself beyond the horizon before hiding back into the clouds.
Here’s some photos I took, this time I brought my cokin color filters, not much of a photoshop addict, I made some curves and level adjustment and the color filters and nature’s light did the rest of the magic.