As someone addicted to sunsets, sunrise has never fascinated me until the morning of March, when my partner and I woke up at 3:00 AM in a rusty hotel in the middle of a ricefield, as our tourist car waited outside.
It was the morning after a rainy day, and so the 22-year-old driver slithered our vehicle carefully on the muddy streets across the sleeping city of Yogyakarta.
I knew that were were no longer in Manila, but Indonesia looked and felt like home. One would go out and hear dogs barking in the streets and smell the fusion of street food and smoke-belching vehicles. Houses were sitting closely along highways, along with business establishments with giant, colorful signboards.
After a 30-minute car ride, we have finally arrived at our destination. With our flashlights on, a dark, cold, and cloudy park welcomed us. The hauntingly mesmerizing chant from a nearby Buddhist shrine harmonized with the giggling and chattering of excited tourists.
There before us stood Borobudur Temple, completed in 825 AD, it is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, as well as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.
I have been to nine Asian countries but that was the first time I felt nervous and ecstatic. It was probably the thought that a hundreds of years ago, a man my age had certainly walked that same ground, looked at the same moon, and went to the same temple.
We climbed its nine flatforms and roamed around each one. Every flatform had its own beauty; as the temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.
The main attraction, we were told, was the majestic view of the sunrise. Together with the countless tourists from around the world, I sat on top of the temple, optimistic that we would witness what the locals were bragging about.
And so I saw it, like the smile of a mother to her child. Gently, the yellow, orange, and red light broke free from the dark horizon, and danced beautifully with the low clouds. It was pure magic! It was a scene I have only seen at the end of epic movies.
I sat there quietly with my imaginary popcorn, while listening to Enya’s “May It Be.” In my heart, I wished that I could put that very moment in my pocket, and go on with life with that burst of ethereal joy and amazement!
Something in my life story has changed that day while I was away from the menacing beauty of Manila.