(Written by Her)
The Manohara Hotel
The Manohara was very elegant, giving us welcome drinks and serenading us with gamelan musicians. As paying guests our tickets to Borobudur at sunrise were half price and we were given free daytime tickets. Furthermore, the entire hotel was dedicated to informing guests about the temple so from the moment we arrived we felt totally immersed. In our room was a huge photo book detailing the carved panels on the temple. There was a channel on our TV dedicated entirely to explaining the story of Buddha's life and the hotel even had its own private entrance to the temple. It was entirely worth paying to stay in the Manohara and we would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of visiting.
The following morning we rose at 3:45am to prepare for our 4:30 trek. It was pitch black outside and a little chilly. We went to buy our tickets and were given a small hand held torch to help us climb the stone steps in the dark! Armed with jackets and torches we walked down the private path and were met by a make-shift security hut where our bags were searched by guys in hoodies with flash lights before being granted access to the temple. It was so dark you couldn’t see the hand in front of you, the torch illuminated just enough that you could see about 2 feet in front of you.
At about 7am we descended quickly and went for a bite to eat feeling glad we made the effort to stay in the Manohara and get up before 4am. Full of energy we decided to hire a local Andong (horse and carriage) to take us to the 2 smaller temples associated with Borobudur. In the 9th and 10th century pilgrims would have walked in a straight line from the first temple (Pawan) to a second temple (Mendut) probably to rest before wading through 2 rivers to get to Borobudur and finish the pilgrimage. Some Buddhists still do the pilgrimage to this day.