This week’s adventures came as a celebration of our fourth wedding anniversary. Jasmine, Jack and I, decided to flee busy Yogyakarta and head down to the south coast to get some fresh air, have a swim and escape a little. We hired a car and prepared for what was as an epic journey like no other (see Aduh Aku Bingung!) of about one and a half to two hours.
Setting out Friday after my intensive four hours of one-on-one language schooling, we set course for Wonosari and eventually Pantai Indrayanti. Wonosari is a town (perhaps city) located 40kms from Yogyakarta, and Pantai Indrayanti is a further 18 kilometres. The roads were tight, windy and mountainous; the drivers mad, erratic and suicidal and the company friendly but mildly motion sick. The secret to staying alive in these conditions is assuming that everyone is going to do what they shouldn’t (as they usually do), including overtaking up a crest around a tight bend, half way up a mountain, with a truck coming the opposite direction. Thankfully traffic speeds rarely top 80km/h and after a while, the lunacy of the situation becomes normality and you adjust.
We eventually reached our destination and settled in to our quaint, simple and comfortable thatched hut, 50 metres from the surf. Our hosts were extremely hospitable, Pantai Indrayanti seemed quiet and clean and we were ready to relax! Then, news of the earthquake in Japan and impending tsunami, coupled with a lack of access to reliable (any)information and concerned contact from our mildly overanxious (perhaps apocalyptic) family took a little shine off being “by the seaside”. Jas struggled to sleep properly on our first night with a large coastal storm arriving to stir up the sea doing nothing to help her nerves. A night spent mentally prepared to flee a highly unlikely tidal surge left her a little rattled and weary come dawn. Anyone that knows about my sleeping abilities, combined with the fatigue of driving plus my language class would be unsurprised to hear that I slept like a corpse. Sorry Jas.
The next day, one of us feeling refreshed and ready to explore, one being on the brink of exhaustion and myself, weary but rested; headed out to have a swim, look around and enjoy our time. Pantai Indrayanti is one of a string of beaches that has only recently been opened to the public. Waves break on to the substantial reef that runs the length of the beach, slowly rolling up on to a short strip of clean golden sand, wedged tightly between two large jagged rock outcrops. Birds and monkeys living in the surrounding low lying coastal forest compete loudly with the waves, in a concert of nature, not ceasing for nightfall nor sunrise. Our accommodation (the only accommodation) also ran the restaurant (the only restaurant) situated on the edge of the beach. Meals were fresh – generators running at night provide the only power for both restaurant and cottages, ruling out refrigeration. We ate a large reef fish (those that also know my sleeping abilities would also know I know stuff all about fish) caught by two fisherman off the reef, literally an hour before, grilled over hot coals.
We also explored one of the other more popular beaches in the area, Pantai Krakal. Jack found an abundance of potential new friends in the form of the older ladies running the many warungs along the beach, tanned beach comers searching for potentially valuable shells and the local children, shy but far too curious to stay away. We swam, ate a beautiful meal from a small warung and soaked up the sun. The beach was largely devoid of other tourists, being the wet season and considered a long way to go for most tourists doing the three-day jag in and out of Yogya (Borobodour, Prambanan, Kraton, Malioboro, then off, onwards to Bali or Jakarta).
Our final night brought an even larger storm after dark, with howling winds and pounding surf lashing the coast. A large group of young Indonesian day trippers were caught out by the ferocity of the storm and holed-up for the night in what limited protection the twenty-four hour restaurant and it’s thatched huts provided. They sang in to the night as if attempting to scare off the rain and cold with badly sung, and poorly remembered renditions of Radiohead and other mid-nineties melancholic rock. Their unbridled enthusiasm had not worn off in the early morning despite their obvious lack of sleep, lack of shelter and apparent lack of food (out of money and no ATM’s down here). Having harmonised poorly through the night, they were already frolicking amongst the waves in the way many Indonesians tend to swim – fully clothed and flailing in the shallows.
Alas, our time at the beach was up and we bid farewell to our relaxing break away, the kind hosts and friendly locals, and of course, the daft Indonesian youths and headed back up the hill to Wonosari and onwards to Yogyakarta, re-joining what is, for now, our real world.