I kept this diary of things we have done in Singapore for 2 years. I have now moved some of it to other travel pages but you can still find links to many of our activities here. I have also created a reading list of books we have read about the region.

Western Japan

Birds in Singapore

Kuala Lumpur stopover

Thai Diving

Singapore Liveaboard

Local Residents

Beijing Summer

Diving with Sharks

Shanghai Heatwave

Taiwan Tourists

An Indian week

Where U bin?

Island hideaway

Steamy running

A Trip to the Zoo

Gardens by the Bay

Jakarta

Singapore walks

Mind the bus

Flower power

Melaka

Early weeks

 

Vicky's Blog

 

Our friends the Craggs told us about Borobudur and it sounded familiar. When we visited Ankhor Wat in 2006 we heard about a huge Buddhist temple in Java and this is it. You can do it in 3 days from Singapore so it seemed a great weekend break.

The holiday starts on a good note when we are upgraded to business on the overcrowded Silk Air flight to Yogyakarta and when we get to Borobudur we find we are upgraded to the prime villa ("Kayangan"), two bedrooms, a big living space and terrace, and fab pool, all high on the side of the hill looking down on the town.

Vicky by the pool

We are delighted to find that Villa Borobudur, where we are staying, is rated the best place to stay in the area and it feels like it with private staff at our beck and call.

First outing on Friday after lunch is Candi Selegriyo, a small Hindu temple, about one hour's drive away reached through a walk through the rice paddies. Our super cautious driver points things out as we go and we learn about everything from harvesting tobacco and papaya nurseries to how they race pigeons in Java.

The walk to Candi Selegriyo starts in a little village in the hills and we meet friendly ladies and children before setting off up a windy brick path through the rice terraces. We branch off the path to follow a more 'adventurous route' and Vickyand I are soon balancing our way between paddies before a steep flight of steps takes us to a little temple nestled at the foot of a mountain with beautiful views down the valley.

Walking through the paddies

Next day we have decided to get up for the sunrise at the temple. Our alarm, set for 4am, turns out to be unnecessary as we are woken by the muezzins at 3.45! A quick cup of tea and we off to join other tourists finding their way by torchlight up the steep steps to the top of Borobudur. This huge, 7 layered monument was built in the 9th Century but then buried by volcanic eruptions and found in the early 19th Century when Sir Stamford Raffles was governor of Java. After a couple of bodged restorations and quite a bit of looting it was restored to its current glory by UNESCO in the late 1970s and is now Indonesia's greatest tourist attraction. For sheer scale it reminds me of the amazing Kailasha temple that I saw on my trip to the Ellora Caves in February.

Borobudur

We don't get the full sunrise special, due to some cloud, much to the disappointment of the many photographers waiting at the top but it is still very special to see the stupas and buddhas appearing in the morning light as the surrounding hills and countryside also come into view. We make our way down the monument exploring the hundreds of carved reliefs set into the corridors of each level before heading off for a quick look round the local market.

There are two other, smaller temples in town - Candis Pawon and Mendat - and we decide to explore these by bike. This proves rather nerve-racking as Vicky hasn't cycled since her operation and the traffic is a bit hairy in places but we make it there and back with another charming guide who runs the local art gallery.

Vicky by Candi Pawon

So highly recommended as a trip from Singapore. Unfortunately the direct flight to Yogyakarta only goes quite early in morning so we are back in Singapore by lunchtime on the Sunday. Just in time for the Grand Prix!

See the slideshow below for more ...