There’s a curious little icon on the map of an old fort. It meant that there’s a historical site, sitting on the north eastern side of El Nido, just right smack in the town of Sibaltan. I would ask some people in El Nido town but not many people know about the significance except my landlord where I’m staying. “There’s a Balay Cuyonon Museum there you should see. It tells all about the history of the place”. When we got settled in Sibaltan’s Guard House, our caretaker, Bulanday led us to the grounds of the museum situated by the beach.
I felt a tap on my right shoulder. It was the bus driver signaling me we’re near the last stop. I didn’t know I already dozed off in front of this mini-bus on my way back to Yogyakarta. I had an early start that day visiting Candi Borobudur before sunrise and now I head back that afternoon to Yogyakarta this time for Candi Prambanan. One of the UNESCO Heritage Sites in Central Java, often times shadowed by the nearby Candi Borobudur.
After a full day of exploring Jumog Waterfalls, Sukuh and Cetho Temple outside Solo, I decided to take it easy that morning at Istana Griya Hotel. Dabbing my wounds with ointment the night before I can still feel the sting and the soreness underneath the skin. It’s a good thing today is about transit, going from Solo to Magelang for Manohara Hotel Borobudur.
It’s a 9km ride to out next destination coming from Sukuh Temple and Jumog Falls. We go higher up the slopes of the sacred Gunung Lawu and the views just keeps getting better. The afternoon light illuminates the vast tea plantation hills and we pass by a few tea harvesters going up and down the slopes. We are now 1400 meters above sea level and I see the gates to the Cetho Temple (Candi Cetho) bathed in warm light with stone guardians to welcome us.
“Who are you again? Where did we first meet?” asked my driver, Wazit, who seemed to have his senses knocked out of him. He has been asking me this question for the nth time after our motorbike accident in the highway midway to our destination – the slopes of Gunung Lawu for the Sukuh Temple. Suddenly my bruises on my left arms, waist and knees seems so minor. Do I continue with my trip to Gunung Lawu?
I really have no concrete plans on my 2nd full day in Solo. The night’s full rest with no alarm to wake me up made me feel rejuvenated. Originally, I was planning to stay in town but during breakfast, I was approached by a man named Wazit who offered his motorbike service to Sukuh and Cetho. He seemed okay and the price was reasonable. I was looking into going there as well so I agreed to tour with him later after lunch. But that morning I wanted to continue my walk and this time at the inner streets of the city towards one of the Kratons (Palace) in Solo – The Surakarta Kraton or Keraton Kasunanan.
The great glory of travel, to me, is not just what I see that’s new to me in countries visited, but that in almost every one of them I change from an outsider looking in to an insider looking out.
The gentle early morning chill accompanied us as we climbed the ancient stairs of this 8th century monument. Flash lights beam on our path as we made our way on the top of the largest single Buddhist monument in the world, the Borobudur. Like the other great monuments in Southeast Asia like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Luang Prabang in Laos or Bagan in Myanmar, Borobudur has also been one of my dream destinations. And here I am standing on its upper levels, marvelling at Borobudur under the dawn sky, waiting for the light to reveal your magnificence.
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