Borobudur and Mettaloka Guest House

Many travelers who come to central Java, Indonesia, stay in Yogyakarta (locally called “Jogja”) and make a day trip to Borobudur to see the famous Buddhist Borobudur Temple, which dates from the 8th and 9th centuries. It was rediscovered in the eighteenth century and restored in the nineteenth century. But before I go any further, let me say that I think many visitors have it completely backward. The small town of Borobudur is totally worth staying in for several days, and Jogja, maybe a day or two. I’ll explain toward the end.

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The approach to the temple.

 

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Ready to climb some stairs.

I have already written a post about how much fun I had on a bike tour around Borobudur, but I did so much more! I met Desmond, a Brit who was also staying at Mettaloka Guest House. He and I enjoyed several meals and walks around our part of town. We also spent a delightful day at Borobudur temple, and he was a knowledgeable and fun guide. As a practicing Buddhist, he knew quite a bit about the ancient carvings surrounding almost every level of the temple.

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Detail of one of the thousands of ancient carvings on the temple.

I traversed each level clockwise, just as the ancient worshipers did so many centuries ago. When I reached the top level, I was met with stunning views of the valley and surrounding mountains, dozens of Buddhas sitting peacefully and silently in their stone bells, and Buddhas facing out over the scenery, looking as peaceful as the day the carvers put their finishing touches on the smooth stones.

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View from the top of Borobudur Temple. There are stone Buddhas in each bell-shaped structure with diamond-shaped holes in them.

 

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Buddha, still watching over the ancient Indonesian landscape.

A bonus was that Mettaloka Guest House and Art Space where I was staying is just a fifteen minute walk from the temple, so after a perfect day of climbing and circling, wandering among the luscious grounds, and enjoying a tasty lunch and ice cream, Desmond and I strolled back to one of the nicest places I have stayed to date.

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The grounds of Mettaloka Guest House and Art Space.

Noni, the owner and host of Mettaloka Guest House and Art Space, is a wonderful young woman who made me feel very comfortable and helped me take care of several errands. Her place is truly exquisite. It is quite close to many good restaurants, a laundry service is right across the street (5000 rupiah, or about 37 cents), and bicycles and scooters are available for rent.

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Mettaloka Guest House and Art Space.

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Mettaloka.

Not only that, but breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus are available for a very reasonable fee. (Meals varied from just over a dollar USD to about $2.75.) The grounds of the property and the surrounding area are just gorgeous. Mettaloka is located just outside of the busy town of Borobudur and is surrounded by lush gardens and mountain views. Noni invited Desmond and me to join her each morning for a half-hour meditation on a balcony overlooking the gardens.

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The view from the meditation room at Mettaloka Guest House.

One evening Desmond, Noni, and I rode bicycles to a nearby dance studio, where I was invited to join the class and learn traditional Javanese dance. I even had a lesson on the gamelan instruments!

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Yes, I am sweating more than I ever have in my life. But I didn’t care!

The entrance fee to Borobudur Temple is 280,000 rupiah, or about $20USD. There is also a special sunrise viewing you can do for 400,000 rupiah ($30), but that was a little out of my budget.

You can get to Borobudur by local bus from Yogyakarta for 25000 rupiah ($1.85) and get off at the Borobudur terminal. (You will, however, put your life in the hands of some crazy bus drivers.) Mettaloka Guest House is easily reachable from the bus terminal. I took a pedi-cab for 30,000 rupiah, or about $2.25, right to the door. I had booked five nights for $69, but I loved it so much I stayed another two nights.

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Me, Noni, and Desmond, another world traveler.

You can book Mettaloka Guest House through Agoda.com. I highly recommend staying at least three nights to enjoy all that Borobudur has to offer!

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