Rumah Dharma at Borobudur
There is a Chinese idiom “The old man lost his mare, but it all turned out for the best”.
When we started to plan our Java and Bali trip from 2 months ago, we set Borobudur to be one of our key destination. To see Borobudur at its best, we have to be there at dawn. Also, I read Lonely Planet Indonesia Guidebook ten years ago and we knew Manohara Hotel is a hotel set within the grounds of Borobudur with an unrivalled location and they organized sunrise and sunset tour in cheaper rate for in-house guest. At that time, the idea of staying at Manohara has already stick to my mind. Because of this, it really frustrated me when I knew Manohara Hotel was fully booked even 2 months before our trip.
[Rumah Dharma is situated in the middle of paddy field]
Fortunately, this frustration did not last for more than 2 days. I found another gem later on from TripAdvisor. Rumah Dharma is hiding under the specialty lodging category and it is ranked as No. 1 in that category. The photo attached did not look too attractive to me but it has received almost 100% of excellent rating and you can feel all the comments are genuine happy with the place and it is not something make up. We decided to give it a try. To stay at Rumah Dharma turned out to be one of our highlight of our trip.
[Bushes and mountains from far]
The quick response from Rumah Dharma for my room reservation and also to my subsequent follow up queries is my first good impression about Rumah Dharma. I later found there are quite a lot of things to do around Borobudur. I made a hard decision to reduce one day at Yogyakarta and increase another day at Rumah Dharma. This turned out to be a very good decision even though we have to travel quite late (after the Ramayana show at Prambanan Temple) and the journey took about one and a half hour to reach Rumah Dharma from Prambanan Temple.
[To see the villagers walking pass is one of the best pass time in Rumah Dharma. A group of students walked pass the main path while I was sitting at the resting area at Rumah Dharma].
Really this is okay. We reached Rumah Dharma at around 11pm. The rooms were well prepared and ready for us to stay. The room is a lot more than our expectation. With the rate of RP500,000 (around USD50), we have a nice room with elegant wood furniture and four poster bed. The bed is nice, big and comfortable. The room is with air-con. There is a balcony with a little sofa chair, wooden and rattan chairs for you to relax at your door step.
[Nice decorated and simple room in Java style]
Not until the next morning, we found another wow effect. There is a big piece of paddy field surrounded Rumah Dharma with a number of mountains from far. We had our breakfast, lunch and dinner facing the paddy field and admiring and nature dance performed by the paddy with the wind blowing across the field. Am I just so lucky to have all this? By losing a chance to stay Manohara Hotel, I got this big piece of paddy field for us for whole day. Not only this, Borobudur is just about 500m away from Rumah Dharma.
[Resting area and where we our breakfast and dinner]
[A centralized place for breakfast, dinner, gym, reception, bed, TV, music and watch the world goes by]
[Watching sunrise from Borobudur]
We borrowed the bicycle from Rumah Dharma and we rode slowly in the dark along village roads to Manohara Hotel to join the sunrise tour. This was another highlight to stay at Rumah Dharma. Not only you are surrounded by paddy field, anytime you can just get wild and soap into the village life by cycling around. You need to pay more for the sunrise tour for non-Manohara guest but you save more with your accommodation to stay at Rumah Dharma.
Medi, the owner of Rumah Dharma is a good singer. To hear he sang –
Medi is a nice owner. I started to contact him 2 days before our trip to ensure the booking. Just when the time I wondered in which way we should use to go to Prambanan Temple (I just felt so reluctant to follow tour agent), Medi provided me an advice to just follow his pick up transport for the trip. Guntur, the pick up driver actually picked us up from where we stayed in Yogyakarta in the afternoon and sent us to Prambanan Temple. Guntur also waited us till we finished watching the Ramayana Show. We had also requested him to stop us at the famous fried chicken restaurant (Ayam Goreng Nyonya Suharti) for lunch on the way to the temple. Medi has helped to reserve the Ramayana show ticket. Just a side note. You definitely have to make reservation for the Ramayana show at least in the morning and preferable one day before. We have all the lower class seat fully booked in the morning and force to buy the super VIP class ticket. Thanks to Medi for securing the super VIP class tickets for us because it turned out to be full that night. We almost missed the chance to watch the incredible show. With all these, Medi just charged us a minimal fee on top of the pick up fee. He also called me at least twice to make sure everything was alright and also ensured we enjoyed the trip. Even travel agent does not provide this type of service.
[Medi’s son – Dharma. Rumah Dharma is named after him. In English, Rumah is “House”. Rumah Dharma means House of Dharma].
I would also like to appreciate the kitchen staff. Apparently is one of the lady who can cook very well and Medi said she is the best cook in Borobudur. The kitchen is small. But the food she prepared is really very nice. The nicest Indonesian food we had through out our 11 days trip (including Bali!). We had 2 breakfast, 1 lunch and one dinner there. There was no repeat of the food.
[Soup served in a nice white bowl and plate. It is served in professional way!]
[A very generous portion of tempeh for our lunch]
[Even local Indonesian raved about the food of Rumah Dharma based on the comments from TripAdvisor]
The life in Rumah Dharma was simply like –
- Wake up early morning
- Rode bicycle to Borobudur.
- Watch sunrise at Borobudur.
- Hearty western and local breakfast facing paddy field
[Relaxing breakfast beside paddy field]
[We all like the Mee Goreng – Fried noodle of Rumah Dharma].
[Colourful kueh and snack from local market for our breakfast]
[Healthy local food for breakfast]
- Took a nice shower
- Rested and read book at our balcony (I chose to edit photo and continue to take photo around Rumah Dharma)
[Red ginger ice tea by Rumah Dharma]
[To read book facing paddy field – another happiest thing to do in Rumah Dharma]
- Observed villagers worked and kids played around at the paddy field
- Delicious lunch and facing paddy field
- Talked to Medi
- Listened to Medi’s song (he is a good singer)
- Played with Dharma (Medi’s son)
- Rest and slept, read book again
- Watched students came back from school and walked along the bank of the paddy field
- Had afternoon sunset tea at Amajiwo (a famous high-end accommodation at Borobudur, with USD800 per night the cheapest, David Beckham and George Clooney stayed there before)
- Another looking forward delicious dinner at Rumah Dharma.
- Paddy field was already dark during dinner but the nature symphony performed by frogs and insects from the paddy field was the next program prepared by Rumah Dharma.
- Woke up and cycled and climbed to Setumbul Hill for sunrise over the Borobudur monument
- Cycled around the villages around Borobudur specialized in different skills. Example, based on Lonely Planet Indonesia guide, Karang is prime tofu-making terrain. Nglipoh is a ceramics centre, where locals say claypots have been made for over 1000 years; everyone in the village is involved in production in some way. We just freely cycled around and visited some of them.
[Sunrise view from Stumbul Hill]
[A visit to surrounding village].
What could I say.. Rumah Dharma is a place with soul and with nature life. In fact, we think what Amajiwo is lack of is soul and Rumah Dharma has it all. What Monohara lack of is cosy feeling and Rumah Dharma make up for it. We feel we are the richest men in the world by having all these in Rumah Dharma. It is a place I would like to stay again and find out more about the region.
[A really nice stay with Rumah Dharma – a group photo with all the staff of Rumah Dharma]
Should you wish to contact Rumah Dharma, you can write directly to Medi at email@example.com or contact him at +62 813-9225-2557 (he’s on whatsapp which is so convenient!).
Guntur, a nice driver. In case you need any transport in Jogja (Yogyaarta) or Borobudur, his contact number is +62-815-36165144. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.