Travelling

Karimunjawa, A Spritiual Journey Part Three

When I was still in Mexico, my boss gave me a task to accompany the director of sales of our compay to entertain our three guests who came from the United States. It was a meeting to look and review for a possibility of the cooperation between our companies. Our agenda were to hold a tour inside the factory and to visit some supermarkets in the city of Guadalajara. Before we commenced our agenda, I came first at the meeting room alone with all of these gringos. They were board of directors of their company.

Most of them were seemingly not interested with my presence, but there was one person who seemed interested to me. He was the vice president of the company and he was the youngest among all, 36 years old. He has a tall, slender posture and his face looked like William Fichtner. He came to me and shook my hand. He asked me about where I come from. I was impressed with his humility. I was an intern at that time who came thousands miles away from across the ocean and he was the vice president. Then he asked me a unique question that I would never forget for the rest of my life, “So you come from Indonesia, do you miss the Island life over there?”

I’m not sure what did he mean by island life, he got the fact right by knowing that Indonesia is the biggest archipelago country in the world. A country comprises of more than 17 thousands island. I do live in the coastal city, albeit I do hope that I can go surfing, swimming, or just sunbathing everyday, but that’s not the island life that I live on everyday.

***

Back to my second day of my island life in the island of Karimunjawa. when I woke up around 7.30 AM, Bangun already gone. The weather was cloudy that morning. I was really lucky at that moment because the weather was cooler than the last time I came to the island, so there was no need to use the air conditioner at that time, beside there was no air conditioner in Bangun’s quarter. Not long after, he returned and invited me to have breakfast. When we had a breakfast, we were talking about our plan for today. Mas Daniel told me that today, there would be a mangrove planting day at 8 AM. Bangun and I decided to participate to that event.

After we finished the breakfast, I used the clothes and shorts that I used to climb Bukit Naga yesterday to save my supply of clothes, we rolled out to meet Mas Daniel that according to the information that we gathered will be held close to the Sunan Nyamplungan  cemetery. When we arrived around 8 AM to the designated place, a football field near the Sunan Nyamplungan’s tomb, the event was not started yet. So I took the chance to explore the island deeper. I heard from Mas Daniel yesterday that there is a waterfall nearby, so I used that moment of waiting to look for the waterfall.

On our way to the waterfall, Bangun suggested that we should visit the elder of the island to grant us the permission to look for the waterfall. When we arrived at his home, he was sleeping. He wore a white shirt and sarong cloth to cover his lower body and a white head band. I’m wondering why the elders in all Java should dress up like this? Is there any philosophy behind this “uniform”? He was really friendly. He asked where we come from and we held a small talk then he granted us the permission. After we received the permission, we left the house.

***

The journey to the waterfall was challenging because the road was rather steep and rocky so it made Bangun’s motorcycle worked so hard to reach our destination. Then we found a wide and flat place, I think it’s a place to park our motorcycle. There was an uphill path next to the parking place. We climbed that path and on our way, we saw the tomb of Sunan Nyamplungan, a Sunan who was believed to be the founder of the settlement of this island. Not long after we through a path that was covered by the high trees that doesn’t look like an island anymore, it more resembles to the hill than the coastal area, we found the waterfall.

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This is the path to the “waterfall”

It’s a bit of disappointment because actually it wasn’t a waterfall, it’s more likely to a spring. A spring that flow from a far away and creates small waterfalls. I was curious with the source of the spring because we arrived at the pool created by the flowing water of the spring where the people use to take a bath over there. So I climbed that small waterfalls which is only one foot high that looked like a ladder that been filled with the water.After a 15 minutes walk, I found a small stone with the hole in the middle of it and a water came out from that little cave. This is my first time that I looked the spring water by myself.

After we relaxed a little bit, we returned to the parking area to catch Mas Daniel’s event. We thought that the event is held in Mangrove forest so we rolled out to the Mangrove forest which is located 10 minutes away from our current position.

***

When we arrived at the Mangrove forest, no one was there. We waited for 5 minutes then we asked the security who guarded that place. He said that the event is taking place at the forest but at the football field near the Sultan Nyamplungan’s tomb. It was the same place when we left Mas Daniel’s entourage who were waiting for other people to start the event. We speed up our motorcycle to reach that place as fast as possible because that field is located about 15 minutes from the forest.

On our way to the football field, we stopped by at one out of the three farmlands inside the island. It was a staggering view because when you see it, you don’t feel like you are in the middle of the small island. You just feel like you are in the other big islands in Indonesia like Java, Bali, or Sumatra.

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The rice field in Karimunjawa with me trying to capture the beauty of it. Picture taken from Bangun’s camera.

We arrived at the  football field and the event is already started. We asked the people who was sitting around the road next to the field about their location and they told us to look for them on the field beyond the football field. We crossed the football field and we encountered the bushes that blocked our way. We were looking for a way to get through the bushes. Our lead was a noisy voices made by the participants of that event who were mostly children. When we found them, we saw some children already returned to our direction. They told us that the event is over. We missed the event, what a shame.

There was nothing we could do and it was still 10 AM. The day is still long to over. Bangun asked me, “where should we go now?”

***

“How about going to the Annora Beach” I suggested him because I never been there. Bangun agreed but he told me that he was kind of forget the way to reach the beach. I responded his hesitation by following answer, “we have all the time in the world, why should we bother if we get lost?” So we move to the Annora Beach.

The journey to Annora beach is a little bit far. Maybe we took about 30 minutes to reach from the football field in the west side of the island because the beach because it located in the other part of the island, on the east side of the island. So it’s like crossing the whole island. It’s a remote place and the path to reach the beach it’s a little bit difficult but the view was worth it.

The water subsided so there was an extra amount of beach next to the original beach. So I can walk across this extra amount of beach in the middle of the beach that looks like a cape. I was lucky again because today the sky was clear. I could even see Muria Mountain from the beach. What a majestic view.

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Annora Beach when the water subsided with the extra beach. Can you see the Muria Mountain over there?

After I took some pictures, I asked Bangun to climb the cliff located next to the beach. When we climbed that cliff and reach the edge of the cliff I was stunned with the view of that cliff. It was one of the most beautiful scenery of my life. There was a two gazebos on the top of the cliff then Bangun told me that he wanted to take a nap. So here we were lying our  body in the different gazebo. Bangun lied inside the gazebo far from the edge of the cliff, meanwhile I got the one with the beautiful view, close to the edge overlooking the sea.

I don’t know why, since I returned from Mexico four years ago, I couldn’t do siesta anymore. I must have as tired as f— to be able to do siesta. So I spent the time while waiting Bangun taking a nap by reading a book that I downloaded from the playbook in my smartphone. It was so quite. Almost no one  was there beside Bangun and I. I never felt so calm like that day. Moreover with the view that I don’t see it everyday from my room. The warm breeze flowed over my body and made me feel sleepy and I fell asleep eventually.

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The view from the cliff next to Annora Beach

Not long after, there were a bunch of local kids made up to the top and made a noise that woke me up. I think it’s time to give up my throne to these children, the real owner of this island. I moved to Bangun’s gazebo and woke him up after I pissed on the bushes because the toilet is really far away, I had to descend the cliff in order to get there. I didn’t have a time for that. Bangun asked me, where should we go after this? How about Tanjung Gelam beach? I’m kind of miss civilization because Tanjung Gelam is the famous beach on the island, the main attraction for the tourists and travelers who came to Karimunjawa to relax.

***

As I predicted, there was a life at Tanjung Gelam Beach. Although it wasn’t crowded but at least I could see couple of tourists were sun bathing and snorkeling, ships docked, and people at the restaurants next to the beach chilling out. We landed at one of the restaurant around and there were a couple of Polish tourists opened up a conversation with us. What a lovely tourist because the man spoke to us in Indonesian, I was mesmerized.

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A clear sky from Tanjung Gelam Beach

Here where I spent almost six hours chilling out at this beach. I ate, drank, swam, snorkeled, played with the sand. It was a time well spent. It was our objective to see the sunset from this beach. It was 4.45 PM and the sky was clear so we thought that we were able to see the sunset from here. Unfortunately, our luck ran out. The cloud was shrouding the sun on the moment of the sunset. It was 5.15 PM, the sunset should have occurred at 5.30 PM, 15 minutes remaining from that time but the beach was already dark. So we decided to return to Bangun’s quarter to clean up and did what we did last night, accompanying Bangun at his store.

***

After we cleaned up and had dinner, we left Bangun’s quarter at 7 PM to his store. There was the closing of Barikan event. there were a several performance being played by the local children such as dancing and story telling. It was a time when Mas Umam’s, Wayang Tenda show took place. It’s the moment of truth for the children who already exercised for a week to come up at the stage to perform. Bangun told me that I could leave him alone at his store in case I wanted to see the performances. So I took the liberty to see the shows.

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The stage of the Barikan event. There was a child who performed a storytelling about the history of the island.

They were interesting shows with the funny MC who could bring up the mood of both performers and the audience with his jokes. I didn’t spend my whole time to see the shows though. I was strolling around the village square. I always curious with the taste of the newly catch fish that been sold around the village square. They looked really fresh. I heard that a fresh fish has a natural sweet taste. So I ordered the one big blue fish that I forgot it’s name and sat on the carpet close to the stall to wait the order.

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Wayang Tenda is performing on the stage.

I was sitting alone waiting for my order. I saw Hakim in the middle of the crowd looking for the interesting moment to be caught by his camera. I called him and inviting him to come over. He looked at me and told me to wait for a moment. Not long after Hakim came at my table, I saw two girls from Mas Umam’s Wayang Tenda group also ordered some food and sat next to us. Their names were Lilis and Erna. We joined our table. They ordered shell and a lobster. When our orders arrived, we tried each other foods. I always curious about the taste of the lobster, what makes it so famous and expensive. I was reluctant to try it because I’m allergic to shrimps, but I tried it anyway. Then my tongue started to feel itchy, It was a the time of the allergy stroke on me. I managed to covered it up to the rest of the guys who sat next to me even though Lilis said that she brought anti-allergy medicine.

We were able to finish the fish and the lobster but there were a lot of shells left on the table. Then Lilis had an idea to invite Mas Umam to join us too, because Mas Umam is really fond of shells and he’s a fast eater of shells. It was true that not long after Mas Umam came with his friend, Adit, he could finish all of the shells in the short period of time. After we finished with the food we were talking to each other until almost 11 PM afterward I returned to Bangun’s store. We closed the store a little bit late that night because the customer kept coming even after the closing time. After we closed the store, the closing ceremony of Barikan already over. Then we returned to Bangun’s house and sleep.

***

I was awaken at 4 AM due to the storm and the noise made by the waters falling from the sky on our roofs. It was so cold that morning. I never imagined that I felt freezing in Karimunjawa. When I completely woke up at 6 AM, the rain still falling with. This is our last morning in Karimunjawa. After I woke up, I took a bath, packed up my stuff, had breakfast and say goodbye to the Bangun’s quarter and the family who lived next to our place and go to Bangun’s store for the last time before we leave the island. Luckily, the harbor is located not to far from Bangun’s store so it’s possible to walk from Bangun’s store to the harbor.

It was 11 AM, one hour before the ship leaves the harbor. We tried to find some place to have lunch first before we leave because the ship doesn’t provide the lunch during the voyage. We were borrowing the motorcycle to the fella next to the Bangun’s store to go the fisherman’s village to find the place to eat. After we finished our lunch, we rushed to the store next to the Bangun’s store to return the motorcycle and this time we had to run again just like our first day when we had to catch the ship. But this time, we were running not because we almost late, but because it the rain was pouring over all over the island. I could see the island was covered with the fog, because the rain was a torrential.

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Some part of the island was covered by the fog after the storm.

Finally we managed to entered the boat. The sailor instructed us to sit according to the seat number written on the ticket first and after the ship set off to sail, we can change our seat. I saw 7 Russian tourists that we saw at the Tanjung Gelam beach yesterday. Apparently, they were accompanied by the Russian guide who could speak Indonesian fluently. As usual I sat at my favorite spot inside the ship. On the outer deck on the back of the second floor.

When the ship were sail of from the harbor I entered the ship because it was raining outside. But somehow I became sensitive to the vibration of the ship inside and I thought I could manage to sit inside the ship for a long time. I began to feel dizzy just by sitting there for 15 minutes meanwhile the journey is still two and a half hours remaining. I returned to my favorite spot once more and I didn’t feel dizzy over there. So I spent the rest of the voyage on that place until the ship reached Kendal harbor.

On the voyage, I sat next to an Indonesian. Not long after, two Russians tourists and their guide came to the deck. The guide was sitting on the seat in front of me, next to the Indonesian guy. I had the chance to speak with the Russian guide because I was wondering where did he learn Indonesian?

He came from Moscow, he studied Indonesian at the Moscow University and it was his second time visiting Indonesia. It appeared that the Indonesian guide who sat next to him was his partner. So actually, these group of Russians tourist was part of Indonesian tourism promotion program. A cooperation made by the Indonesian Embassy in Moscow and the ministry of tourism and culture of Indonesia. The Russian guide came from the embassy meanwhile his local partner was the representative of the ministry. We talked to each other for quite a long time. Not long after, his boss came up and joined us. It was a nice time speaking to those fellows.

***

Finally the ship reached the harbor at 3 PM and this is where our journey over. For these three days, I’m not only having a good vacation and relaxing time but also a great time to learn about the culture and history of the island. Now, I know this island even better than before and I think there are a lot more to explore on this island. Three days are not enough that make think that I’ll be back to this island one day. It was a such a spiritually enriching journey.

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