Friday, December 27, 2013

Road Trippin' To Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta

When I told my uni friend Aneen that I was going to Cirebon, she asked if I could stop by Yogyakarta or Solo. She also suggested that we took a road trip to the beaches along Gunung Kidul shores in Yogyakarta. So I asked my colleagues if I could take a few days off after the Cirebon trip. They said it's doable, and so I submitted my leave form.

Almost everyone who knew I was taking another leave was shocked. Didn't you just took leave a month ago? You already took 5 days of leave in November, you still have days of leave? But you have just worked in the new office, they allow you to take leave? The answers are yes, yes and yes, my friends:).

Gunung Kidul is a regency in the southeast part of Yogyakarta Special Region. Literally means Southern Mountains, Gunung Kidul is part of karst region. The regency has been subject to extensive drought and famine as water shortages and poverty remain serious problems there. 

However, when we visited the region in the fourth week of December, it was wet with rain, green with healthy plants and the air felt so pure. The rainy season may be the right time but also the most dangerous time to visit the region, because not all roads are well-constructed. Most roads leading to the beaches are not paved yet, and the combination of karst rocks and mud are not safe for first time drivers. Definitely not recommended for drivers with little to none driving experience. Sometimes during our trip, we faced such a difficult road that we questioned our sanity on doing the road trip in the rainy season.

We started our road trip from Sri Gethuk waterfall and body rafting along Oyo river. Then, we ventured the beaches: Baron, Kukup, Krakal, Drini, Sepanjang, Indrayanti, Pok Tunggal, Siung, Jogan and Sadeng. Off all beaches, I think Siung tops the list for its scenery and secludedness.

We spent one night in Baron and another night in Siung. At night, we could hear waves crushing to the shore amidst the sound of heavy rain. Unless you're going to spend the night in Indrayanti, brace your heart to stay in a humble abode. After all, you are lucky to have a place to stay.

Road tripping in Gunung Kidul is like having an intimate conversation between yourselves and the nature. The region is not densely populated so you don't see too many people as in the city. It's just you and the majestic landscape that envelopes the region. It really is hard to imagine what it looks like during the drought season. 

I didn't spend a lot of time chatting with Gunung Kidul people, but  I could tell that while they are poor, they are hardworking and proud. During our trip, almost all Gunung Kidul people were out in the paddy field or walked with bulky load on their backs. You don't see people hanging out on the road, they are all out in the field. After all, it's the rainy season, the perfect time to plant the seedlings.

Aneen and I would stop from time to time to ask directions to the people. Aneen speaks Jawa kromo (the polite version of Javanese language) and they would reply enthusiastically. It seems that in places where life is hard, the people are willing to go the extra miles to ensure that you will be alright on the road. Prices are mostly low. We got a place to spend a night that required us to pay Rp 40,000 (around US$ 3.28 with the current currency rate) and bought two lobsters for Rp 170,000.

We often left the motorcycle (and our backpacks) on the empty roadside and ventured to the beach. And the motorcycle and backpacks would still be there when we returned.

Most of the times we faced rain, heavy rain. We couldn't stop and wait for the rain to subside because the rain could last the whole day. All we got to do was to put our rainy season gears and got back on the motorcycle. Although I had worn the helmet, the rain would make a way to reach my chin. So I looked up to the sky and licked the rain:).

It was a trip that was a feast to the eye and a food for the thoughts.

A view of Gunung Kidul regency, Yogyakarta

 Me and the tree on Rancang Kencana cave

Sri Gethuk waterfall

You jump, I jump. Cowabunga!

Panorama of Pok Tunggal Beach

Panorama of Jogan Beach

 Siung beach

These guys remind me of Larry in Spongebob Squarepants

The best treat on a rainy day: a cup of tea served with lump sugar

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