Pangandaran, West Java, Indonesia, 2006

Pangandaran Travel Blog

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Having had so little time for a trip (due to, what else?!?, work load & lack of opportunity to take leave), I immediately said yes when a good friend of mine ask me to join a trip to Pangandaran, West Java during a long weekend. I'd never been there, and so an opportunity to come & explore the area was interesting.

24 March 2006

So there I was, very late at night, having left the nearby Plaza Senayan (where I had dinner & some coffee, alone by myself!), wandering around the huge Senayan complex in Jakarta looking for particular spot where those people who'd be my new friends in the next 2 days during the trip Pangandaran would gather.

With the exception of my friend, I knew nothing about these people -- I hadn't met with some of them who organized the trip, the arrangement was made only by emails, sms, and phone calls. Never mind, I got to meet them anyway!

Ah finally met them, started to introduce myself to anybody within sights, and without my realizing it, I was already conversing with them about the trip and starting to know their background -- and my friend was still nowhere to be found. What a quick way to make new friends! :-)

After some more introduction & chit chat with more people coming (in total there was about 40 people participating in the trip!), it was about time to go. We left Senayan about an hour after midnight, heading straight to Pangandaran. On the way, well, there wasn't much to do but sleeping anyway.

25 March 2006

I had no idea where i was nor which routes the bus took, having spent most of the time sleeping. So it was just great to wake up and saw the greenish area along the road. It turned out that we were heading first to Green Canyon. I'd known about Green Canyon before, but never had I the chance to visit it. Glad I joined this trip! and so did my friends who seemed to be impatient to get off the bus. They surely couldn't wait to get on the boat!

There were already many people at the entrance waiting for their turn to get on the boat, not surprising since it was saturday, and saturday meant people's day off! The Green Canyon's real Sundanese name is actually Cukang Taneuh. However, most people would only recognize it as Green Canyon. Before the 90s, this was a quite area about which only very few people knew.
Slowly but sure, by mean of word of mouth, it became more and more popular.

We took a boat trip up the green-colored Cijulang river (boat costs around Rp 70,000 and can carry 8-10 passangers). The river is lined with dense forests on both edges and the water itself is actually green. Don't know why it is. The boat journey lasted about 15 minutes until we got near the river end marked by greenish high cliff on both sides of the river. At the river end, there's a huge cavern full of huge rocky stones, stalactites, and stalagmites, which is amazing to see. Got off the boat and made our way through scattered huge stones, and voila! we saw before us a lagoon big enough to swim. Or, better yet, climb up a 4-meter high cliff on its side, get your body ready, then jump off into the lagoon.
Definitely a must!

After swimming around, we all decided to explore deeper into the cavern, trying to find the opposite end. But how? The boat operators who were our guide that day came to help. They suggested instead of swimming upstream, which was quite difficult, why not climb up the rock wall sideways? of course, sometime we did have to swim. The climbing was, well, quite difficult. Why we managed to do it was something about which we still talked about long after we got home :-))

It was rewarding anyway to get through the hardship. We finally saw the opposite end of the cavern, where there was a huge stone awaiting us to climb it. I did, and enjoyed a very natural massage (and one of the best ever): lying on the stone's flat surface, my back facing upward, and let the waters pouring down from above massage my back & legs.
What a relief :-D

After enjoying this natural massage for several minutes, it was time to go back. This time, it was relatively easier because it involved less climbing. Instead, most of the time we'd just be floating on the river and let the stream take us back to the lagoon (we'd all given a life-saver jacket).

Taking some more photographs before going back by boat to the entrance, we regretted none of us taking underwater camera.
Well, anyway, it was time to leave Green Canyon anyway and head straight to Pangandaran, which is not too far from here.

Pangandaran, located southern area of West Java, near the border of West Java & Central Java provinces, is famous for its beach, and a popular spot for many people living in Jakarta (the Indonesia's capital) and other cities in West Java wanting to take their family for a weekend by the beach.

The beach itself isn't very special nor unique. Just like any other beaches in southern West Java overlooking the Hindia Ocean, it's not really suitable for swimming, although some people do manage to swim or just play around in the water nearest to the beach.  So, I guess what makes it so popular is that it offers an amazing sunset -- and people love to walk around seeing sunset, dont they? :-))

For safety reason, swimming is limited up to short distance from the beach (there're signs floating on the water's surface marking the limit) and is allowed only in the morning to afternoon. In addition, a squad of beach patrol & rescuer (think Baywatch!) routinely inspects and watches the area.

We all stayed in a modest guesthouse -- owned by local whose house was big enough, and just like any other locals they had also tried to gain benefit from tourism in the area.

Naturally, we didn't spend much time upon arriving at the guesthouse, and after putting our stuff in the room, we left for a sightseeing. The beach was definitely the place to go to see the sunset. There were so many people that evening, very crowded, they must have had the same idea as we did. And there we were sitting on the sand, watching the sun slowly disappear from the horizon while the reddish/magenta hue sky still abound above. Very beautiful...

26 March 2006

Wake up quite early in the morning, as the night before we'd made agreement to go to the beach for a swim & taking some more pictures. In the meantime, the owner's wife was preparing the breakfast. Feeling hungry after swimming, of course the breakfast was fully consumed within a few minutes, plus a cup or two of coffee to be had.

Shortly after, we all prepared ourselves to do some trekking in the nearby nature conservacy park -- no, just because I said 'nearby' it didn't mean we could walk to get there; instead we had to take a boat to get there. A traditional wooden boat.  Although the boat trip would only take about 15-20 minutes, I was actually a bit scared because the waves weren't so 'nice', plus, knowing that we sailed on above the water of one of the deepest seas in Indonesia didn't make it any better either.

Thanks God, the weather was great and the skills of those fishermen navigating the boat were excellent. The boat landed safely in the park and thus began our trekking into the woods. It wasn't that big, so only in few hours we'd reached the starting point. Shortly after, we got on the boat and back to Pangandaran beach.

After lunch, off we go to the nearby beach -- one that's known among locals, but no one seemed to be interested in visiting. It's called Batu Hiu (Shark Rock) because in the middle of the sea you can see a rock that looks like the shape of shark's fin. The sandy beach is great for walking/running -- it's so clean! The water, hmm well, people say it's even more dangerous for swimming and it's actually forbidden to do so.

We spent hours there, sitting on the rock, taking some more photographs, simply just playing around on the beach, enjoying the breeze, before we left for a search for another beach. We managed to get there finally, but noone remembers the name. Oh never mind. Its sandy beach stretches several kilometres long, and again, this is most suitable for running/walking/lying down only. Not recommended for swimming.

And the visit to this unknown beach marked the end of our trip that day.

We went back to the guesthouse, and prepared our stuff as we had to go back to Jakarta the next day. Last dinner there was followed by a gift exchange among us, the new friends -- a token of newly formed friendship :-) Well, it was fun, especially that I got a bottle of nail color! What a gift :-))

In a way, I felt lucky to have visited the area early in 2006, because months later it was swept away by the tsunami which destroyed everything. I think the guesthouse where we stayed in was also damaged by the tsunami as it was located just some walks away from the beach.

Of course, yes, it has been re-built ever since, and from what I've heard, the area is getting is neater & better & more organized, and the beach cleaner.

But the number of visitors coming to the area is still declining :-(


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photo by: Ils1976