HIKING GUNUNG API PURBA, GUNUNG KIDUL, INDONESIA
After leaving Borobudur, we continued our drive towards Gunung Kidul area. This was an activities filled part of our journey, almost like a little ‘Things to do in Gunung Kidul guide.’ From the Nglanggran hill to the Jomblang Cave, Kelisuci river and the various Gunung Kidul beaches to end off at Ratu Boko Palace. Daniel said we had one more destination to go to before we called it a day. We were going to try to catch sunset this time. Gunung Kidul is a rocky area and along the way, the scenery changed and we were surrounded by many huge rock formations. Finally we arrived at our last destination of the day, Gunung Api Purba.
Honestly, though we did not seem to have done much climbing, but the days of walking were beginning to take its toll on my poor legs. But Daniel assured us this was an easy climb.
There were some signboards around and Daniel told Sara and I to pick out 5 beaches that we could go to the day after next. It was a long stretch of beach and I saw the areas where they did paragliding too. I started studying the small and faded photos. Unfortunately after we discussed and picked our 5 beaches, Daniel told us we were looking at the wrong stretch and those were too far off from where we were. So disappointing. 🙁 He set us a smaller boundary and asked us to pick from within that. By then, I had lost interest and was more interested in the hill ahead of us.
It seems that there were several ‘peaks’. This was a hill and not really a mountain, so I was hoping that it would be a relaxing walk. In comparison to the other mountains we had been to, this was more like a local park. The area was very clean and very well taken care of with plenty of signboards around. According to Daniel, the villagers were the ones who were taking care of the hills and they had gone the extra mile to make it clean and enjoyable for all.
It was really an interesting walk up given the different terrains and the huge huge rock formations. There were many signboards with quirky phrases but they were all written in Berhasa so I could only rely on Sara to do the translations.
This was one of my favourite section along the whole route. It kind of narrowed up and as I looked up towards the end of the ladder, there was a boulder just barely held up by the 2 walls. Well, it would be interesting to do a little jump and see if it would fall through, hopefully with no one underneath it.
And we were all lucky. 🙂 No one had to deal with a rolling boulder. Yes, the scene from Indiana Jones came to my mind. Beyond this point, the path opened up to an amazing view point. The years of rain and sunshine had washed away the top vegetations and loose soil to reveal a hard stone wall. Not really sure what the formation process would have been but I thought it looked as thought the rock had split and slid away to form a wall as such. It was pretty dry so the grasses were all brown. I wondered if there was a wet season when it was green all over.
From this point, we had an unblocked view of the terraced fields right ahead of us. But this was not he highest point. We had reached one of the few summits that was named on the signboard at the bottom of the hill. Still early for sunset, so we spent some time posing for photos and enjoying the view and breeze. The sky was so blue that afternoon and we could see the moon in the distance. It was quite a cool scene.
After a short break, we continued our journey uphill. I thought it was a narrow path earlier on till we got to this point. This might not sound right but does this mean that anyone bigger would not be able to go beyond here?
From afar, it looked really bad, almost like a little slit but when we got to it, the opening was not as narrow as I had imagined it to be. In any case, I managed to squeeze through it. We soon got to another rest point. I had thought this would be where we would be viewing sunset from but I was wrong again.
It was a little cloudy and the village below was shrouded with a layer of mist. I jokingly said that the view from the opposite rock would definitely be much better. And it was covered with a layer of moss so it should be pretty nice and soft to lay on. Dani was egging me on to jump across. I guessed I was not as well-liked as I thought I was. Don’t think I would make it across that huge gulf in between. 🙁
And this is 5-fingers hill. On close observation, the shape of the hand with five fingers pointing upwards as though holding a golf ball could be seen. There is a legend that the village could only house 7 families and disaster will strike if there were more than 7 families at any point of time. So if a villager had 2 children, one of them would have to leave the village when they decided to start a family. Till today, it is a tradition that is still practiced.
In the distance, we could also see the Nglanggran reservoir. It was apparently a very popular tourist spot and the view was supposedly beautiful along the walkway around the reservoir. But given our schedule, we would not have sufficient time to go take a look.
And this was the final leg to the true summit.
While it was clear blue skies in the afternoon, it seems pretty cloudy now. Sara and I had never had much luck with sunsets. And it seems that this time, we would end up with a pretty misty sunset too. With the sun setting, it was getting windy and chilly again. We decided it was time to head down since we would most probably not get much of a sunset view.
As we headed down, it seems that the skies were clearer on lower levels. And we eventually caught sunrise at the pavilion where we took a rest earlier on. We were literally half running to get this view. And who would have guess that sunset from a lower point would be clearer than on a summit. It was an amazingly beautiful view.
Next on the list would be finding a place to stay for the night. We were heading to Jumbling Cave the next day so we wanted somewhere near enough so we wouldn’t miss our time to get to the cave. It was dark and I could only remember that we drove into somewhere pretty big along the main road. I was definitely looking forward to the following day, the heavenly cave. Wouldn’t want to miss it. 🙂
ABSEILING JOMBLANG CAVE, GUNUNG KIDUL, INDONESIA
And so the following morning became the first morning with no sunrise climb. I had a good night’s sleep and was all excited about our next destination. We set off early with ample time in case we lose our way. This was like a best kept secret kind of place and it did take a bit of effort to get there. I was a bit surprised at how the main administrative building looked. Pretty impressive actually. There were quite a number of other tourists so we had to wait for everyone to get there before we could start the briefing. It was not a big group, probably around 12 of us. After the safety briefing, we were getting our gears ready.
Unfortunately, they did not have enough harnesses so Daniel had to wait for one to be passed to him after someone got down to the cave. I had thought we were going to abseil down the hole on our own or with a guide but it seems that the guys would be lowering us down instead. To protect the cave, we were lowered down away from the walls.
We had quite a wait as we decided to let the others go ahead first. The time we had was well made use of …. photo taking time 🙂
And it was Sara and Daniel next. Smile for the photo, guys!
And we were up next and we would reunite with our friends in the cave down below.
The view from below was one from a different world. I could see the almost perfect circle where the top had caved in to reveal the entrance to this underground cave. We turned on our torchlights and took our steps into total darkness. At that moment, I thought the scene resemble one from Jurassic Park. It was damp and muddy and we were told to keep to the path so we did not destroy more than we needed to.
And there it was, the light at the end of the tunnel. There was a small opening at the top which allowed the afternoon sunlight to stream right in. As we were behind in line, I could take a photo of everyone going up towards the ‘heavenly light’.
Timing was the key essence here as we had to capture the noon sun for this to happen. Totally immersed in the view, I was lost for words. All I could keep mumbling was how beautiful it looked.
Flowing water would be the key to a cave forming and we could see the underground river from above here. It must be the lighting and the surroundings that the water looked absolutely blue from above, almost a sapphire blue.
And of course, we needed to do a whole series of these. Photo taking time. Poor Daniel was so busy directing us and taking our photos, I realised he did not have many photos of himself. But he did have a good time posing when Dani took his photos for him. That I remembered. 🙂
Water was tricking down as the light streamed in and the result was an amazing light washed view. It was wet and muddy and I could hardly walk without slipping. It was really miniature steps, one at a time.
From the higher point in the cave, I could see the round opening above with the clear blue sky and tree canopies. The rays were slowly fading off, so I took a few more shots before it disappeared completely.
Yes, mother nature is amazing and the wonders of nature never fails to amaze me. I could definitely understand why this was also known as the heavenly cave.
Although it was not a huge cave, we spent a long time down there. The guides had to round us up and told us it was time to go. We stayed around a little while as the others made their way up first. It would take a while so we had that short little luxury of having the caves to ourselves. But we had to leave eventually and I was actually sad to leave.
Lunch was provided and they took this time to show us photos they had taken. We decided to buy a set of the photos since we did not have one of ourselves going up and down the cave. It had been an amazing morning.
TUBING @ KALI SUCI RIVER, INDONESIA
Next we were going for a different activity and I was all dressed to get wet. Tubing at Kali Suci was top on the list for Dani and it was very near the cave. I had no idea what we were in for and it was also a first for Sara. Hopefully we come out of this in one piece.
As we were going to be wet, I had to put away my camera. All the photos taken came from Dani’s Go-pro and I had to give him all the photo credits. Thank you, Dani. And because we were going to be wet, Dani borrowed my little dry bag and got an additional ziplock bag from Sara for double protection for his handphone. I couldn’t remember why he wanted his phone with him but he definitely was sure he wanted it with him.
And we were all geared up once again. Instead of a harness, we now hard on a life jacket. I was excited.
Initially Sara was a bit worried but I think we all slowly got the hang of moving around in the huge rubber tyre. Once we were all in, we were told to line-up to form a single file as the gushing waters take us down the river. It was an adrenaline pumping experience and we came to the end of the first section.
Photo taking time once again as we struggled out of our rubber tyre and climbed onto the huge rock in the middle of the river. Definitely one point you wouldn’t want to bump right into.
At this point, Dani had the saddest news to share. He had wanted to take out his phone to take more photos but realised that only was my dry bad entirely filled with water, even the ziplock bag that was provided by Sara as an additional safety net was also all wet. In short, he had everything all soaked in water. We were all shocked and didn’t really know what we could do. At this moment, we could only let things be and continue with the rest of the journey down the river.
Thank goodness Dani was a good sport and he didn’t make a big fast. To my surprise, he was still smiling and seemed to be really enjoying himself.
And once again we were back into the waters, this time struggling to get back into the tyre. This was definitely much more difficult than jumping out of it. Unglamorous as it could be, I managed to push myself right back in. Time to go again…
After another round, we were back into the waters for some photo sessions. The guide made us do some formations and I thought we did a better job than him. 😉 Silly looking but definitely great fun and tons of laughter here.
And finally after the final section, we were all glad we are still in one piece. It was pretty scary at certain points as the rocks were protruding out from the river bed and where it was really shallow, it was literally lifting up our butts so it didn’t hit ‘rock’ bottom… yes, pun intended here.
Dani and I took our time and let the others go back out first. If you look closely at the photo, you should be able to spot a string of rubber tyres being pulled out of the water and going back up to the start of the river. The river was amazingly blue but I had no idea why it looked the way it does. But it was super clear. I definitely had loads of fun.
And time to get cleaned up and off to our next destination. Not forgetting Dani’s wet phone which we would have to get all dried up and hopefully working again real soon.
We were back on the road again pretty soon and this time it was a short drive. Dani was still unable to revive his phone and it was then he realised he had lost all his photos taken the previous days. Back in the car, we had another set of problem. The car smelt really bad from the Carica fruit which we had gotten from Dieng. It was rotting in the car but Sara and Dani were supposed to bring the seeds back to try and grow it. So we all had to put up with a smelly car interior.
BEACH HOPPING @ GUNUNG KIDUL, INDONESIA
Gunung Kidul coastal front is divided into different sections of beaches and there were some which were more accessible than others. Some of the stretches were also more developed with resorts, hostels and restaurants. We had come to a slightly more touristy stretch in an attempt to find a place to stay for the night. This was not an easy task and it took us quite a while before w could come to a unanimous decision.
After settling down in our room, we went out to look for a restaurant for dinner. As it was late, most of the places were either closed or closing. But we eventually found one and had a hearty dinner. We were discussing if we wanted to wake up early for sunrise the next day and Dani and I decided to sleep in. It had been days of early mornings so I though it would be nice to catch up on some sleep. Sara and Daniel would be waking up early to catch sunrise over the beach.
Unfortunately, Sara and I were kept awake because the alarm of our car kept going off in the middle of the night. But the boys did not seem disturbed. At least no one came out to check out the situation. I really pitied the guards sleeping on the ground floor next to the car.
Almost a sleepless night, so I was really tired and grouchy. The need to sleep in had escalated to a level unfathomable. I heard Sara leaving the room and probably talking to the boys about the car. Finally the alarm went off and I managed to sleep in for another hour or so.
I popped by next door to see if Dani had gone out with them but apparently he was still in bed. I decided to go out on my own and see if I could find Sara and Daniel along the beach. This was the early morning view from the corridor of our room.
This stretch of beach was Indrayanti Bach and considered the most touristy section of all. We had come in late in the night and right now, it was still early in the morning, so the beach was kind of quiet. In fact, I was the only person on the beach. The water was crystal clear and the waves huge. From the beach, I saw a little restaurant built on the top of a boulder. Not sure if it was opened but I decided to head up for a better view from the top.
The view from the top was amazing. From here, I could see the intermittent waves crashing in forming a layer of white foam as they hit the shore. Though the restaurant was not opened, it was not locked up too so I could sit down and take in the beauty before me.
Going back down, I was torn between going back to the hotel or just walking on. I had not seen Sara or Daniel. They could be right ahead of me or back to the hotel. I decided I would just head on as it was still pretty early and if they were heading back to the hotel, I would bump into them along the way.
I went up another boulder rock and that was where I spotted the tow. They were chatting along the edge of the cliff so I decided to go down a different way to catch their attention. Meanwhile, I felt like a paparazzi at work, secretly taking photos of them.
And I finally got spotted. 🙂
It was nearing 9am in the morning and the beach was coming to life as people started streaming in from all directions. Business owners were also opening up stalls along the beach. It was as though the beach was coming to life right before our eyes. We could hear children’s laughters and women’s chatter amidst the sounds of crashing waves.
Since the shops were opening, we decided to have breakfast before heading back. Buns and a hot coffee made a great start for the day and we got one for Dani before heading back too.
Back at the hotel, we packed up and had another round of breakfast, much to my delight. We then discussed on the beaches we would like to explore for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, Dani had managed to turn his phone back on but all his information and photos saved on the phone memory were all gone. We also figured that the alarm must have gone crazy because the control had gone into the water as well. Amazingly, Dani and Daniel had slept through the night without even knowing that the car alarm was sounding off the entire night.
PANTAI SIUNG – WEDIOMBO BEACH
It was a short ride to the next beach. I had thought we could walk the entire stretch of beach but apparently the rocky nature of the land formation would make this impossible. So it was more a road trip for the rest of the day.
It was low tide when we reached the beach and I was fascinated with the huge mangrove tress and the root formed pretty good shelter if it was ever needed.
I had thought that the waves were huge this morning at Indrayanti beach but here, they were enormous. I would not want to be in the waters in this sea conditions.
Unlike the previous beach, this beach housed a fishing village and the formation of the beach front gave it a natural bowl which was sheltered from the waves where the villagers could berth their fishing boats. We or rather, Sara and Dani spoke to a local fisherman and it looked as though the seas were too rough for them to go out fishing that day.
We continued along the beach and Daniel were way ahead of us. He was the only one who had been to the beach before and he was eager to show us the best view of this stretch of the beach. But we were too distracted by the beauty along the way and I couldn’t help but take more and more photos as we strolled along the beach.
And Daniel was right, the higher we got, the view got better. We stood there for a long while, just watching the waves crashed in and rolled backwards, forming little streams of mini waterfalls as they hit the rocks.
The blue and white of the ocean formed a nice contrast against the black volcanic rocks. And I love the splatter they create with every wave that rushed in. The waters had so much energy, they were forming mini whirlpools everywhere in between the rock crevices.
From where we were, the beach formation was much clearer and it made sense how they could have a village so near the water front. The rocks and created a natural bay where the village was shielded from the huge huge waves. I wondered if this was all natural or if part of it was human construction. I was leaning more towards the former though.
Our next stop was Jorgan beach. I was the one who had insisted on coming to this even though Daniel had said I might not really get to see what I was here for. I had read on the board that this was the beach where fresh water meets salt water and it formed a waterfall where the river flowed into the sea. For a long time, I had been fascinated with this idea and since there was one so near where we were, I was determined to come check it out.
And Daniel was right. It was the dry season, so there was hardly a water fall to be seen. I would call it a trickle of water. The boys were laughing but I was putting my imagination to work and making do with whatever I had here.
When it was the right season, that would be the edge where the water cascades into the seas and there was a little cave behind the waterfall. the smoothened out edge of the cliff was an obvious clue to the size of the waterfall when it did happen.
Since there was nothing more to see on this side of the river, we decided to cross the little stream and explore the rest of the beach front.
Like the other beaches, there were huge volcanic rocks everywhere. I started looking through the porous park of the rocks and it was interesting to see how it magnified the view.
And of course, I still imagined my waterfall where it should be. 🙂
We walked up along the waterfront and decided to go down through a little ‘rock garden’.
By the time Sara and I headed back, I could tell the boys were getting bored with Dani entertaining himself on the swing and Daniel squatting over the ‘river’ and gazing out to sea. Time to go… and for me, it would definitely be a reason to come back again when the volume of water increase.
And the next beach was the one that Daniel had said we needed to go to, Timang beach. I had seen some of Daniel’s photos of this structure that the locals built to enable them to get across the sea to a small island where they could fish. It was the structure that really caught my eye. But of course, we had to explore the other side of the beach first before we headed to the highlight of the place.
As we walked towards our left, I noticed that the sand was almost pink in colour. And there really wasn’t anyone else but us, so we left our first footprints on the otherwise flawless beach.
It was then we spotted a small human figure standing in the waters. It was very shallow where he was standing at but the waves that crashed in could be twice his height. On closer look, he seems to be finishing, casting little traps into the seas.
And we stood there observing how it was done. The entire exercise called for precise execution and timing. Wait for the right moment, get out there and lay the trap, then make a run for it before the waves come crashing in. Seems like a terrible way to fish to me.
And the waters were so clear we could see right through it. There were sea slugs and sea spiders all over, some hiding beneath the seaweeds and some in the crevices of the rocks.
Dani and I had so much fun spotting the little creatures, we almost forgot about the waves coming in. It was funny when Dani suddenly screamed run. We made a dash for the beach and luckily we made it without getting ourselves all wet.
Meanwhile, Sara and Daniel were signalling for us to make a move and we were running short of time. We started making our way towards the right side of the beach.
And there it was, the flimsy looking wooden structure that would take the local fishermen out to the island daily. As roughly built as it looked, I was pretty sure the construction of it was not simple at all. Someone would have to brave the roaring seas to get across the to the island to set up the wooden structure and rope at that end. Daniel was saying that with tourism coming to the area now, the locals would also take tourist out to the island on the structure for a fee. He added jokingly that no insurance included though. I also notice a little viewing platform on the right of the structure and I guessed that was the perfect photo taking spot.
Although tourism would bring about a better life for the locals but I was always a bit skeptical as it would usually come with a price and in this case, it would be a lost culture altogether. I do not have an answer nor do I know where that balancing point is. I simply hoped that the place do not lose its raw beauty and the fishing village not lose their original identity too.
As we stayed around for a while, a villager came over and asked if we would like to try going across. I guess we were all hesitant and we were all not prepared to take the risk. The crashing waves below looked too scary. We left the place with enough time for one more beach and lunch so the decision was to head to somewhere where there was food.
And so we decided on Kukup beach, another slightly more touristy beach. It was really different from the previous beaches and there were lots of stalls all the way from the carpark to the beach area. I had always love local snacks and Sara and I simply could not resist picking a few packets of tidbits to eat along the way.
From the signboard, I could see the old photos when there were no man made structures. The bridge and the little shelter were all non existent and it was just plain raw beauty. This was also nice but in a very different way.
This was supposedly our last beach for the trip and we took some time taking photos so we would all have a keepsake of our happy memories. Lunch was at a little stall near the carpark and there were so many of them, I got a little curious as to why Daniel picked out the one we would eat at. He just laughed and said he chose the lady who smiled at him. Lunch was simple but excellent.
I had initially thought that this would mark the end of our trip since we had to be back at Yogyakarta the next day.
SUNSET AT KERATON RATU BOKO
But Daniel suggested that we still had time to make it to Ratu Boko for sunset. Sara and I were laughing to ourselves because we knew we never had much luck with sunsets. But still Dani agreed we should give it a try.
And just as we thought we found the entrance, we realised we needed to be at the other one where we could drive right up. The one we found ourselves at were apparently the wrong entrance. And so we might really end up missing sunset after all.
We literally ran to the entrance to get our tickets and when we entered the sun was slowly setting just right behind us. Though we were just in time for sunset but the skies were a bit too cloudy to get that famous sunset shot.
With the chasing of sunset out of the way, I decided to walk round the palace compound and for some reason, I spotted the moon and thought maybe a moonlit shot would be nice. So I headed back to the front entrance and decided to try my luck.
And I did prefer my moonlit photos over my sunset ones. 🙂
It was almost closing time when we gathered back at the entrance. The security guard were trying to get everyone moving along and leaving. Lucky for us, we managed to get a few shots just as the crowd cleared away.
It had been an amazingly tired day for all of us. I would think especially so for Dani who did all the driving. We headed back to Yogyakarta where we had more plans for the last part of our journey.