9 Mar 2008
|Monday 10 March 2008
Finally arrived at Pangandaran following a very long journey by train and bus from Jakarta. But the journey was well worth it.
We set off from Jakarta bus station in a tremendous storm (having flown in from Singapore the afternoon previously). Along the bus journey at the various stops, we were visited by hawkers trying to sell us their various wares - fruit, pastries, savouries - even musicians joined us, or just plain poor old beggars. The bus was quite full and for most of the journey I had a local lady fall asleep against me with small child in arms who kept falling onto my lap! Needless to say the seats on these buses are not too big!
Arriving in Pangandaran late on Sunday the weather had dried out - parts of the journey were absolutely beautiful, with dramatic landscapes of the Indonesian countryside - even in the wet!
We couldn't see quite how beautiful our location was until the following morning. The hotel was great - right on the beach. "This is going to be a perfect place to relax and unwind for a couple of days", I thought. Having thought that I immediately booked in a Jungle Trek for late that afternoon/evening, and on Tuesday it was a trip to a place called the Green Canyon, with believe it or not a Green Lagoon!
Pangandaran is a small town in West Java, Indonesia - located on the southern coast of Java. Pangandaran is a popular tourist destination, having a beach which is considered to be one of the finest in Java and which offers excellent surfing. However at this time of the year it was devoid of any other tourists apart from our Intrepid group!
A tsunami hit the area on 17 July 2006. An undersea earthquake measured at 7.7 on the Richter scale triggered a three metre high tidal wave. Extensive damage was caused and hundreds of people were reported to be dead or missing. Fingers crossed!
So after a breakfast dip in the warm hotel pool it was time for a walk of exploration along the west beach, very sandy and packed out with colourful fishing boats. The sea water was beautiful and clear - and so very warm. A few surfers successfully braved the mighty waves as they crashed down. Local music echoed around the deserted bars and cafes - not loud and obtrusive, but gently playing in the background and livening the place up just a little. Locals went about their daily chores. A few street peddlars tried to make an honest income selling souvenirs, sarongs, shirts, fresh fruit, juices and Bubur Ayam (rice soup) along with other Indonesian dishes.
Mopeds, bicycles and trishaws drove past. Locals smiled and greeted me with some curiousity. A few tried to speak to me in broken English, and then burst into a fit of giggles with their mates - probably either just amused at the "foreigner" or at their own embarassment at trying to find the right English words to express themselves. They finished their sentence in their local tongue. I smiled with them.
Two lads drove past on a moped - the rear passenger strumming a guitar and singing a few strained notes over the roar of the noisy broken exhaust. The streets are swept by ladies in conical hats ( the area is surprisingly clean), trishaw drivers are seated on a wall, shaded from the sun by palm trees and doing their best to remain cool before theit next fare. A dude with dreadlocks ambled past, just like surfers do, clutching his board. We exchanged nods.
The sun continues to beat down. It is turning into a hot day. The sand is too hot for bare feet. I sought refuge in a sheltered bar called The Bamboo Bar. I downed 2 glasses of water in quick succession and then take a bottle of the local beer, Anker, more leisurely. I wandered back to the hotel and took a dip in the refreshing waters of the pool. God, that feels good!
After lunch it was a trek to the jungle in the Penanjung Pangandaran nature reserve with our guide Sutar. We spotted (well he spotted and pointed them out to us) mischievous grey abd shy black monkeys, scorpions, porcupines, large millipedes, monitor lizards and the sunset exodus of bats from their cave in search of their nocturnal feast.
The sunset here was glorious.
Anoter dip in the hotel pool, a tasty BBQ fish supper, a couple of "sociable" drinks and then off to bed having walked back in the pouring rain!
Tuesday 11 March - Pangandaran
This mad photographer was up at 5:45am for sunrise - and worth it. Then it was back to bed until 7:30. Another dip in the pool (I know, I know - it's getting boring now!)
After brekkie it was off to the Green Canyon - but more like the Chocolate Canyon after all the rain had brought down mud and silt from the mountains. It was however still very spectacular. Saw some local trades, a local puppet maker, and then went off to a waterfall and hidden cave for another cool down, Strong currents here made this swim a little interesting - especially as the currents headed down to a waterfall. Best said that all turned out well in the end!