Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sweet, Quick Getaway: Sawarna, Banten

Last week after finals, Raras, Angga, Daffa and me went to Sawarna village in Lebak, Banten. It is a village that has several beaches and caves located in the south of Java island, two hours away from Pelabuhan Ratu. I've planned this trip by myself since I read a blog about Sawarna some day between studying. I've wanted to go in a small group since Sawarna is pretty far from Depok, so it'd be easier to manage. So I asked Raras, who's easy to travel with and also happened to be my sister; Daffa, who's everyone's most wanted travel-buddy since he has a so-called great sense of direction and he's super chill to travel on budget; and Angga who stayed on the computer almost all day long and got on my nerve because of it. Oh, he's my brother, too.

There weren't lots of articles that talked about Sawarna on the internet. If there was, mostly they did the trip recently, either in 2014 or 2013. I found out later that Sawarna is a pretty new tourist attraction, about three years been commercialized. In the past, there were only foreign tourists came for surfing. Which is common because of its location that faces the Indian Ocean, makes it has big waves.

From Depok, we boarded on a train to Bogor Station then took angkot 03 to Baranangsiang Terminal then bus with Bogor-Pelabuhan Ratu route. The first mistake happened here; there were two buses going to Pelabuhan Ratu. So I asked a man nearby, which one left early? He pointed on the non-AC bus. So then we got on it, instead of the MGI AC bus which parked beside it. As soon as we sat, they immediately asked us to pay. First alarm went off: there was no one but us on the bus and they asked for money so soon meaning that they wanted to ensure that we'd stayed. Then Raras whispered to me:

"Mbak, ini kan kayak bis roti tawar yang di Purwokerto, yang ngetemnya lama banget terus jalannya ugal-ugalan"

Jeng jeng! But I tried to think positive and assured her that we weren't in hurry for the first day and we'd eventually get there and prayed so that nothing bad would happen. Yeah, that made us sitting on the bus for 5 hours and my brother vomiting his stomach off. Not recommended. Better take the MGI AC bus which is faster and smoother for only IDR 10,000 difference.

After we got to the terminal, we took a rest in a warung to eat our home-packed lunch, and of course to let my blue-faced brother drenching in sweat sit for awhile. I asked people how could I get to Sawarna and if the Sawarna elf still there. The Sawarna elf is like a van and is the cheapest way to get to Sawarna. There is only one elf which means if we missed it, get ready to dig your wallet a little deeper. Everybody in the warung said that the elf had left since 9 am. Another said that the elf left at 11 am everyday. Then they offered me another option; by angkot or by ojeg. Basically people who were at the warung were drivers of either angkot or ojeg. They were hovering all over us. They charged from IDR 60,000/person (angkot) to IDR 150,000/person (ojeg). I was skeptical about them, I believed that there was another cheaper way than those optins. So I went to an officer and asked him. To my annoyance, the angkot and ojeg drivers followed me. Then one of the officials pointed at one elf in the corner and said, 'Isn't it Icep?' We went there and yes! To my relief, the Sawarna elf is still there! Yay!! By the way, Icep is the elf driver.

Good thing we met Pak Icep. He had a warung by the beach and then I decided to camp in front of his warung. Yay! Our camping location solved even before we get there!


The rest of the day went by with us sitting by the beach watching sunset. The beach was deserted, the warungs (there were LOTS of them by Pasir Putih beach) were closed. Pak Icep's wife told us that most of the warungs only opened from Thursday to Sunday. No tourist on Monday through Friday. Good thing we came on Thursday, we got to enjoy the quiet and peaceful beach :)

On second day, we went to Lalay Cave. An ancient cave that has this eerie feeling to it (or is it just me who was never caving before?). To get there from Pasir Putih beach, we went out to the main road and walked about 2-3 km to the cave. The fact that Sawarna is a pretty small village with relatively few tourists makes the villagers recognized us instantly! We had breakfast by the main road, and one guy who sat there greet Raras and asked if we were heading home. Raras answered accordingly, but then I told her afterward that he must've recognized us by the way of his question.

We walked along the main road and didn't have any idea what would indicate the location of the cave. We were just greet the villagers whom we passed and asked about the cave. When we were walking, a family on a motorcycle stopped on the other side of the road and told us that we'd missed the cave. I mean, that's just awesome! It was as if the whole village knew that we were going to the cave! Haha!

Or most probably they knew because we greet them and asked... Still it was very kind of them to take the effort to get there and tell us :)

To reach Lalay Cave, we passed hectares of rice fields with hills on the background. That's the unique thing about Sawarna. It has different soil, the kind of soil that could be planted by rice fields yet it's only metres away from the ocean. It has freshwater, too, right from the tap. Not the salty water that usually happen in other area.

Like what I said, Lalay Cave has this mystique atmosphere to it. It was kinda scary and exciting. We walked about 300 metres inside the cave in knee-deep water.

Then we walked up and down the hill heading to Legon Pari beach. It was far, farther than what it took us from Pasir Putih beach to Lalay Cave. In and out the forest, passed drying rice fields... Then we got there! Legon Pari beach. It was HOT. But I didn't really feel it until later I realized that I got sunburnt...

Anyway, the plan was to do beach trekking from Legon Pari back to Pasir Putih which took us the whole day, plus one hour where we had lunch and took a nap in one and only warung in Karang Beureum. The beach between Karang Beureum and Tanjung Layar was rocky. It was really hard for me because I was the only one who wore flip-flops. It got slippery at times.

Sawarna beaches are beautiful. We passed Legon Pari beach, Karang Beureum, Tanjung Layar beach then Pasir Putih beach. Each beach has its own uniqueness to it, and it's just awesome.

We played with the waves right after we got to Pasir Putih beach. As usual, a local whom we greet earlier came to us and warned us to be careful. That was what locals had been telling us since our tent stood: be careful of the waves. Don't get too far into the water. It's just natural, I guess, since the waves were seriously big all the time and we were new there.

The rest of the evening spent by chit chatting with Pak Icep and her wife in the warung. It was also raining and our tent was flooding. So we stayed overnight in Pak Icep's warung. It was really peaceful, sat in the warung made traditionally by bamboos, talking about the history of Sawarna whilst listening to the sound of the beach.

I went home the next day with fond memories about Sawarna and its serene life.






Saturday, December 20, 2014

Explore

We were just done caving at this mystique cave and continued walking to the beach. Went through a forest with no one around. The road was long and narrow, until we got to the top of a hill and look out at the horizon... And vast fields with the ocean far away.

"How can we get there? It's so far.. It didn't feel like we walked out this far,"

Then we walked... And walked... And walked... 

And at one point we knew that we were just one step away from being lost, but then a friend said,

"Just walk ahead. Explore."

And that's the truest expression of its kind. Explore.

Thankful for another chance to travel and explore the richness of my homeland.




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Challenging Myself

I've been challenging myself in the past months in the form of joining Model United Nations. What is that? Model United Nations or MUN for short is a simulation of United Nations conference. I represent another country and I have to dive in and get to know the country's stance of the issue on the table, as well as another important information about the country. For instance, who are their enemies, how is the culture and what is important for the country. The keyword is diplomacy. We have to negotiate to solve the problem.

I'm a novice in MUN, still green. So far from being a good delegate, but I'm trying my best. There are a lot to learn from MUN, and even though at times I'd got headache in the conference, I got a great experience.

Today I've given myself the most important event of the MUN Challenge that would be one of the highlights of my (second) senior year: joining Yale-NUS College Asia Pacific MUN.

God, do I know how to embarrass myself… And how to expose myself to new things that would broaden my knowledge and connected the synapses on my brain.

I have butterflies on my tummy right now, but oh God it feels exciting! And scary!

I've joined two MUN conferences so far, both in Universitas Indonesia. The first MUN, UN Day 2014, was held by International Relation major back in October. I was there with my classmates. We didn't know a thing about MUN at first and just jumped on the boat. It was the beginning of my MUN Challenge.

The next day after our first MUN, the four of us boasted our MUN experiences to everyone who would listened. Yes, boasted. Because on the D-Day it felt like I just couldn't wait for it to end. But after it really ended… Then I got a clear picture of what it just gotten me into: friendship, knowledge, experience. Great things, indeed.

So we got several more people on the boat, excited to join the second MUN. It was General Grand Assembly 2014 held by MUN Club UI. It was… Challenging. Still a challenge for me who have got a LOT to learn about MUN… Though it was my second MUN. I was kinda down after that because it got me thinking… Am I gonna ever be good at it? Am I joining this because I like it or because I like the idea of it? But my mom assured me that this is a great event to join and she believed that MUN would gain me personal development. I knew it would, I just need to put my mind more into it. I know I can.

Oh, challenging myself feels good! Really looking forward for the event!!

First MUN with Bundo, Fajar and Babot

Second MUN!

Been with Babot from the first MUN and he'll most possibly join the Yale-NUS MUN, too! He is the mastermind for the first Smansa MUN loh! It's still an idea but it has begun to form into real thing! Semangat, Bot!!!