This entry should have been written and posted eons ago, but it took me until now to finally have the chance to publish it.
I did this solo trip to Berastagi, Medan about a year ago and it was a spontaneous one that took place over the course of just two days. Surprisingly, it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve had despite my very short stay there.
If you don’t know, Berastagi is akin to Malaysia’s Genting Highlands or Cameran Highlands, sitting at an altitude of 1,300m in the super picturesque Karo highlands of Nothern Sumatera. That also means it has cool temperatures all around the year, especially during the rainy season.
It’s about 3 hours away from the Medan Kualanamu Airport by car. But if you travel in the day, the trip may be cut short as heavy transports are prohibited from going up the highlands during daytime.
Below I put together 10 amazing things you must do when visiting Berastagi.
Before my gateaway to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, I did a bit of research online and read that one could catch actually sunrise at Borobudur.
Borobudur used to serve as a Mahayana Buddhist temple that was built around the same time as Prambanan – in the 9th century. These two UNESCO-endorsed ancient sites are approximately 52 kilometres apart.
I was very much intrigued by the idea of enjoying sunrise at Borobudur and had thus quickly made an arrangement with the receptionist at my homestay – Delta Homestay – so that someone would fetch me to the site at 5am.
Unfortunately it was pouring when I woke up to get ready for the visit, and I thought my plan to visit Borobudur would be ruined. Thankfully by the time I arrived at the Borobudur entrance – it was 10 minutes before 6am when the site was opened to the public, the rain had subsided! But that was also when I realised the sun had already risen.
Sunrise at Borobudur? I don’t think so.
Not unless you book with Manohara Hotel that provides tickets for a special sunrise tour and pay a whopping fee for a tour that is solely monopolised by the said hotel.
Either that, or unless you bribe the guards at the entrance. Which I personally find is a shame to be happening.
Nevertheless, I was still satisfied with the “normal” ticket that I purchased, which cost me some 215,000 rupiah (approx. RM60) if I didn’t remember wrongly. Also, I didn’t regret to have woken up and gone there early.
My driver Pak Man and I were among the earliest persons to arrive, so once ticket office opened, we immediately went in to purchase my ticket and enjoyed ourselves a cup of free coffee before other visitors gradually arrived. Pak Man then showed me the way into the Borobudur compound, and from that point onwards everything was on my own.
At the park entrance leading to the Borobudur temple:
The monument consists of three levels, namely the lower, middle, and upper levels that respectively represent Sphere of Desire (greed), Sphere of Form (free from greed), and Sphere of Formlessness (liberated from all earthly things).
At the lower level:
I believe this was taken at the middle level (kindly note the carved stone panels behind me that illustrate the life and teachings of Buddha):
At the upper level, the sight gets more and more interesting. Though no elaborate stone carvings, you can see statues of Buddha everywhere, sitting in various positions. It is said there is a total of 504 Buddha statues!
Surrounding the main dome at the center of this monument are 72 Buddha statues seated inside their respective perforated stupas.
The view from the upper level of Burobudur was awesome – the morning mist that shrouded the park and view of the nearby mountains was really tranquil and one of a kind, something I think I can never easily forget!
I was greeted by occasional drizzles while at the top of Borobudur, but nevertheless it turned out to be a golden opportunity to take photos. Why, when the rain is absorbed into the surfaces of the stone panels, it only enhances their details!
Thought not being able to see Borobudur during sunrise, my overall experience was still a positive one. The entrance fee if RM60 may sound a little costly, but I think the effort that UNESCO and the Indonesian government put into restoring and maintaining the ancient monument really does it justice.
There is a museum within the vicinity of the monument and I got to witness in it a picture depicting the ruins of the ancient temple before it was restored. I was totally stunned to see how well the temple had been restored and the vast difference the restoration work had made to the monument.
I hereby declare Borobudur to be one of the great monuments to see before one dies!
Before I end my post below are some pictures of the Delta Homestay I stayed in during my time in Yogyakarta. It actually belongs to a group of hotels that also operates Duta Garden Hotel and Duta Guesthouse and is the most budget of the three.
I especially like Delta Homestay’s Javanese tropical style. There were plants throughout the surrounding, which made it cooling. At night, there was no noise and no disturbance and it was an ideal condition to have peace of mind.
The room at the corner (right hand side in the picture below) was my lodging – it was so homely I didn’t want to check out!
There was a small table with chairs right outside each room, so when having nothing to do at night, guests got to chit-chat while enjoying the night view and sipping on the coffee.
Also, there was a pool in front of my room. It was a shame however that I didn’t get to use it due to my short stay there.
With that this second blog entry on my Yogyakarta travel has come to an end. To read the first entry on Prambanan, click here.
I’m Ken, a passionate traveller from Sarawak on the exotic island of Borneo. Currently a teacher in a rural town in Southern Thailand, from time to time I share on this blog my experiences teaching the kids and living a laid-back lifestyle here. With its focus on all things Thailand, mrdefinite.net also features a handful of stories about my travel adventures in other Asian countries.