30 May – Pantai Parangtritis Hike

After the temple tours, Vita dropped me off at my homestay to change my shoes. I also made the most of the half hour break to have a mandi (wash) and put on runners and a fresh shirt.
I made it back to the Via Via office by 2pm but we didn’t get moving for another half an hour. This was lovely actually because it gave me a chance to introduce myself to the only other ‘bule’ (westerners) doing this ‘tour’. We pooled our information about what we were expecting and agreed that it was a 3km hike to the Parangtritis beach and we were the guinea pigs to test the potential of this walk as a possible tour.
We were given the “Ayo” and we all headed out of the office and towards the main street where we would catch a public bus. There were 12 guides, the Belgium couple and myself so it was a fair sized group.
We didn’t have to wait long before a bus arrived and we all piled on. The Belgium couple had only flown into Indonesia the previous day and at times the husband looked totally shell shocked. The wife commented as we were all standing, just how full the bus was and was amazed when I said they will fit many more on.
In fact it became like that children’s riddle. You are driving a bus. On the bus are a pair of elderly women, a mother and daughter, 3 men and a driver. At the first stop 15 people get on. Then the bus stops again and another man gets on. At the next stop another man gets on. Then the bus is flagged down and 4 high school students get on. A little bit further on, the mother and daughter get off. Then the 2 grandmothers get off and then finally the group of 15 get off. What is the bus drivers name? It was just like that, except that I didn’t know the bus driver! This bus driver didn’t have a money collector, so at one point when the bus was at its most crowded, the passengers getting off would pass their money to the driver with the help of other passengers. Then suddenly the bus stopped for no reason and the driver got out and came into the back checking where everyone was going and collecting fares!
We got off at the start of a small street heading up past sawah (rice fields) at about 3pm. It was quite hot and as the road quickly started to climb, we got hotter and hotter. Soon sweat was pouring down my back & I was regretting changing into a clean shirt! The road quickly deteriorated with many potholes and rocks where they had unsuccessfully tried to repair it. From that point I was so grateful to Vita for telling me to change my shoes. Those wearing thongs and crocs suffered from the stony surface.
We walked and we walked and it was almost all uphill with only short flat sections before heading up and up again. It was like the Ijen climb all over again. The group spread out with the fitter ones to the front and the slower ones towards the back. By 5pm we reached a point where it was suggested the tour would stop to watch the sunset and have something to eat & drink. It was nowhere near sunset and even had it been, the cloud was so thick, we wouldn’t have seen much anyway. Apparently the sunsets in the wet season are spectacular. Several guides pulled out snacks from their packs and we all had a little something to give us an energy boost. By this time we were all flagging and Vita said we were barely half way! In true Indonesian fashion, no-one really knew the details of our trek and those that did were vague! The energy boost and the feeling that we had reached the top helped us to head off again however this false idea was quickly destroyed when the road again began to climb up and up. The road also began to narrow and became more at times a motorbike track and was only wide enough for one person at a time. It also became muddy and slippery.
All the time we are treking, the view to the left was amazing. We could see the coastline in the distance behind a vast agricultural plain. As we climbed higher and higher up the mountain, the plain narrowed but the coastline never seemed to get any closer. We just seemed to get higher and higher! On the right appeared escarpment and occasionally we would come across ramshackle buildings which the guides thought were old w.c. or tempat mandi (bathrooms). The walk may have been incredibly exhausting but it was never dull. The guides laughing and joking, the beautiful scenery and the birdsong around us helped to distract me from my sore hips and shoulders.
U’un was using a pedometer on her phone which would regularly call out the distance we had travelled. When I heard that we had travelled 5km and we were not finished yet, we started talking about just how far it was. They had asked local women walking on the track who had thought it was about 5 km. When we finally reached the edge of the township close to the end of the trek, her phone called out that we had walked 9.9km! So by the time we finally reached the beach we had trekked 10km!
By this time it was pitch black and the Belgium couple and I were talking about how much fun (NOT) it would have been doing the last half of the trek in darkness had we been at the midway point for the sunset! We were also disappointed that we couldn’t see the beach.
So here we were at the beach absolutely exhausted and all I wanted to do was sit down when Vita lead us all out onto the sand and then through the sand up the beach. It was so hard walking through the soft sand and it is all a bit of a blur. Lights appeared on our left and Vita made her way towards them. We followed her, all of us dead tired, only to discover that we had to walk over a thin woven bamboo bridge across some water to what turned out to be a warung. It was pitch black and the only lighting came from the warung. I had no idea how deep the water was nor how strong the bridge was and being so tired I just followed the person in front of me before collapsing in the first chair I saw! U’un grabbed a mat which she spread out on the sand and several of them collapsed there. The rest collapsed into chairs as I did. After a while we started to revive and ordered our drinks. While waiting I struggled off to find a toilet. Under the roofline were a row off bathrooms and one toilet, all in total darkness. No light switch anywhere so I asked the Ibu in the kitchen for some light. It turns out I should have brought a torch! Must remember to pack that on my next trek! While someone was looking for a torch for me to borrow, another fellow offered me the bathroom in the rental ‘cottage’ next door. It was pretty flash with a western toilet and very well lit. Although probably too well lit because it didn’t have a door! Not knowing when I would have a chance to go again, I quickly used it and dashed outside not knowing if anyone was actually staying there!
Drinks thankfully started to arrive. Some had ordered kelapa muda (coconut drink in straight from a coconut shell) while the rest of us had es jeruk which is a little like watery orange cordial. It had ice in it which I thankfully ate much to the puzzlement of the Indonesians around me. We bule are a strange bunch apparently!
It started to rain so we all headed under cover and ordered various forms of noodles. Even though it was a fish warung, Vita said they had ordered fish there once and it took 2 hours before it was served. Thankfully Harry soon after we had finished our noodles, started making moves to head back to the truck that they had organised to take us back to Jogja. I gratefully helped him round everyone up. Raincoats appeared and we all began the trek across the sand to the car park where a truck was waiting for us. When I had first heard we were going back by truck, it was at the beginning of the trek and I was fine with adding that experience to the package however by the end of the trek, every bone in my body was aching and the idea of sitting on a corrugated truck tray for up to an hour was not appealing and I was wondering if I could pull seniority to take one of the seats in the cab. Luckily the Indonesians too were looking at the truck in horror and for once I was grateful for their belief that being out in the rain would guarantee getting sick. Vita didn’t hesitate to cancel her order for the truck and changed it to a small bus which appeared in front of us soon afterwards. We clambered onto the bus and dozed all the back to Jogja with a dangdut karaoke video blaring out over the speakers. Occasionally I would open my eyes to watch the dangdut video and was horrified at what the female singers were wearing. I realised that after 2 weeks in Java, you quickly alter your perception of what is acceptable clothing and what isn’t. One singer was wearing hot pants, high heeled shoes and a top with no sleeves: all clothing that tourists are warned to avoid while traveling outside of Bali. Made me wonder why the Lady Gaga concert was cancelled when Indonesian singers too wear risque outfits when entertaining. Maybe Lady Gaga was just a little too risque!
Needless to say that after the bus dropped us off at the Via Via office, I staggered home, had a mandi and collapsed into bed! I wasn’t the only one to sleep very well that night!

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3 thoughts on “30 May – Pantai Parangtritis Hike

  1. I thought it was hilarious that you found what the female dancers were wearing horrifying, because I felt the same way the last time I was in Indonesia and saw some dangdut video. What happened to Indonesian modesty, I kept thinking. Ah, well, time changes, bu Cathy …. I’m absolutely enjoying all your stories!

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