When my friend Pamela came over to Yogyakarta to visit me, I told her about an idea of watching sunrise at Borobudur Temple and she was completely over the moon with the idea. After several searching I found out that you couldn’t actually enter the temple until 6 AM, except if you stayed at some of the resorts who did a sunrise tour. I asked around and my friends told me of a hill called the Setumbu Hill where you can see a gorgeous sunrise over Borobudur temple. I was ecstatic, although not so much about the waking up at 3AM part.
I live around an hour from where the temple is situated, I decided to hire a driver since both of us couldn’t take the car (yes yes it’s a New Year resolution for me to learn how to drive a car PROPERLY). The driver didn’t exactly know where this hill is, and I wasn’t sure either but being that kind of person who loves getting lost, I thought we could just go and ask some random local on our way there.
As we entered the Borobudur area, my driver slowed down to see some signs or anyone to be asked. And there they were, a group of men in their motorbikes, at 4AM in the morning, practically shouting at my car, saying they would take us to the hill. I quickly spotted a sign of Setumbu Hill directing straight ahead. I sensed they weren’t really locals waiting there to help us but were men who were trying to charge us some ridiculous amount of money to take us there. I told my driver to go straight ahead and we ignored the over enthusiastic men and hoped that once we were near the area we could pull over and ask a local.
We were followed. Yes, followed. Three men on motorbikes followed us. We couldn’t pull over to ask a local because they were there forcing us to use their help. Once in a while one would come up to our window shouting we were going the wrong way (which was true). We did get lost, I couldn’t find anymore of the sign that I saw earlier on. We were at a dead end. I was scared. My driver, a tough woman, went out and spoke in Javanese to the men. They asked who were inside, I had to speak up in Javanese, to show that we were locals. I have to salute my driver, she was calm and told them that she didn’t like the way they followed us. They asked for a wooping 100K IDR to take us to the hill and after some haggling, it went down to 50K IDR – which was still too much.
We finally made it. It was actually not that hard. If I followed the sign earlier, go straight then take a right turn, I would’ve got there just like that. It wasn’t hard to find. It turns out that some people actually took down the sign pointing to turn right so that these men can take advantage of lost people looking for this sunrise spot! I was annoyed, I felt robbed. It was the way they shouted at me through my window and the way they pushed me and forced me to pay for them. I hated the way they shut down every possibility for me to ask a local by following my car. I have never been so annoyed in my whole life.
The hill itself was gorgeous. I got there around 5 AM at last. It was peaceful and the view, although quite foggy, was spectacular. I could see an outline of the Borobudur temple for afar and was blown away by the simplicity of this view. I could see some people were there way earlier than me to catch the sunrise. The day was a little bit cloudy so the sunrise wasn’t as good as expected but still to be up there was simply amazing. It was also a good hike up, although it was only around 400 metres.
This spectacular place might be one of the many gorgeous spots there are in this area to enjoy a good hike and a breathtaking view. I wonder how many places like this there are which are accessible for us to enjoy, and I couldn’t help but wonder, how many are being used by these “locals” to gain money in an inappropriate manner, like in Setumbu Hill. It seems that the local government did try their best to expose these places by putting up signs but there seemed to be no support from these people.
However, this hill is definitely recommended. I would go back here again on a brighter day with no clouds to see a better glimpse of the sun. The cost to go inside this place is only 15000IDR for locals, and a little bit more for foreigners.
Have you ever been to Setumbu Hill? Did you have the same experience as me?