Sun Serenade

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As someone who’s growing up in a tropical country such as Indonesia, I take the sun for granted. Many people deliberately hunt the rise and fall of this ball of fire, while the spoiled me cruising through with indifference (people, please hold your hissy fit until after you finish reading the whole blog, :D)
But then I happened to be present at something striking, reminding me again about its beauty. This entry is made to jog my memory and perhaps even useful to you who share my-once-apathy-standpoint.

Top 7 Most Memorable Sun Serenade

1. Karimun Jawa, Central Java

All of us were on our way back to Karimun Jawa Island after a full day island hopping. The constant motor sound of our dinghy boat sliced the peaceful sea and there stood the last sun’s pillars of the day. God was present that day, hallelujah!

2. Gili Trawangan, West Nusa Tenggara

The three of us made it to wake up for sunrise on our last day on the island. We were busy clicking our shutter when this late-party-couple decided to celebrate the morning by skinny dipping in front of us. Right on, lads!

    

3. Pantai Laut, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

Without any itinerary, we then hailed a public car. Our four thousand rupiah has taken us a round trip in the city and a stopover at this beach, Pantai Laut. Definitely the place to be for it gives us a wide variety of local snacks and a front seat to enjoy such brilliant sunset.

4. Paradise Bar, Labuanbajo, East Nusa Tenggara

Nothing beats a perfectly cold beer, friendly chatter, and a sunset view from terrace of Paradise Bar.

5. Kelimutu Lake, East Nusa Tenggara

The motorbike took us through a chilly mountain air to the base of Kelimutu Lake. Continued with a 15-minutes-walk to the top and experience this beautiful scenery.

6. Ayana Resort, Bali

It was the day of my best friend’s wedding. We were just standing in front of wedding chapel, waiting, when the sun gave one of her best show yet.

7. Puncak Tomia, South-east Sulawesi

Never miss to go to Puncak Tomia if you ever visit Tomia, Wakatobi. A vast space carpeted with green grass with a west side view of Tomia’s shore and Onemobaa Island   I don’t know about you, but this much open air gives me a sense of freedom and a sad realization that a human being is not perfect without a pair set of wings.

God Is In The Detail

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Ubud is quite well known as the place to be for the yoga aficionado and healthy life enthusiasts. As one of the results, restaurants and little shops stamped ‘organic’ are filling up its street and busy corners. I can’t escape the feeling that it might just be gimmicks, proved to be working at its best for consumerism. I might be right until I stumbled into Sari Organic and had a lively chat with Ibu Nila, one of its owners.

Ibu Sari Nila, Sari Organic – Ubud

After 25 years of an adventurous life outside Bali, she returns home circa 2000. Much to her surprise, many things have changed in the way Balinese farmers live. They use a lot of chemicals to make their crop grows bigger and faster.  “Kamu juga cepet matinya!” was her mild comment about the custom. Refused to be in the main stream, she started to cultivate her little borrowed land like in the old days, with no chemicals involved. She says, in the end it was so rewarding to harvest something that you plant yourself.

Back then, most of the products were for her personal consumption and sold some of it. Few of her expat friends also asked her to cook at their home. Then she gained recognition for producing fresh organic vegetables and good at processing them in the kitchen. Ideas came, she then open a small warung called Bodag Maliah. But now, nothing small can be said about her warung. Its seated among rice fields, with natural design that makes you feel right at home. Or should I say, a home with a good food supply :D.

When she saw my friends and me fascinated by her story, she invited us to visit her garden and house just across the street of her restaurant. She sometimes stops at one of the tree, picked the leaves or the beans and told us the story of that particular item. ‘Try this. This is what I used to make my humus, instead of chickpeas. You can eat it raw” she said that while she ate the green beans. We then made another 2-3 stops, and everytime she would pick it up, ate it, and offered it to us so we experienced it ourselves. With subtlety, she influenced us with her love for fresh food. She won me over raw wasabi. “This is wasabi?” i pointed to an-unimpressive-looking-short­-plant. Not explaining much, she grabbed a couple of leaves and gave them to us. It was surprisingly better tasted than any other wasabi I’ve ever had.

I found out later that at her territory, the purpose of plants is not limited to just food. She uses ‘klerek’ (soap nuts), to wash her dishes. And who needs hair conditioner when she has plenty of Kembang sepatu (hibiscus) at her front door. She then gave us Sambiloto leaves. She said that it was good for the skin, cleansed blood circulation, and healed any sore throat. I was quick to eat it after she mentioned about the skin, to regret the second after I tasted how bitter it was.

And we were again amazed when she showed us her little biogas plant to accrue methane from her cow’s waste. She has been self sufficient in providing gas for her home’s cooking stove. And her plan doesn’t stop there. She mentioned future plan of having bigger setup so she can provide cooking gas to her restaurant. Amazing!

Going back from her place, I appreciate my short encounter with Ibu Nila. For she showed me that her passion runs deep than just an organic stamp and how her full devotion into everything she has on her land proved to give her so much more in return. Like how she named her warung, Bodag Maliah which means overflowing basket.

Don’t worry Be Happy Pulau Weh – Diving Day 2

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We woke up to a nice morning.  Putting on our gear, load everything up to the boat and all of a sudden the west wind and rain came in full force out of nowhere.  It was so sudden, my dive mate was still holding a cold coke thinking that it was going to be a bright sunny day haha. Thank you God for your fresh morning shower! (Not!!) Determined, we continued our boat ride.

Our plan to stop at Batee Tokong (Strong Stone in local language) failed due to strong current. We went to Selako Drift instead. Paying homage to the name, we were literally drifting in the current. Taking picture (again) has turned out to be another challenge, especially when you had to hang on to your knickers everytime you stop from the commotion. My effort to immortalized moray eels ménage-au-deux was quite unsuccessful. I decided to just enjoy the ride and can’t wait for our way back to the boat.

We then asked Ampon and Robi, to just stayed in House Reef for the second dive and do some muck diving. Thankfully, it was an easy dive.

     

The best part of muck diving was you can just stay in one place and let the little critters reveal themselves to you. Hello, banded shrimps. And this OCD typed shrimps, came up to Ampon’s mouth , dying to clean it. But when I tried it, he won’t budge, guest my teeth were perfectly clean haha.

    

I also managed to see a couple of stone fishes perfectly blend to its environment, pretty scary considering the fact that they have such venomous thorn on their back. One can easily mistaken them for coral and just touch it without knowing. The highlight of this dive was ghost pipe fish! Robi found one pair underneath dying coral in front of a Moray Eel. Perfect moment to capture but my battery just decided to give its last breath and went into hibernation AAArrrrgggghhhh!!! Thus end our Weh’s diving trip.

    

After continuous request for an authentic Gule Kambing, Robi finally managed to arrange for an intimate dinner for us in Long Beach, Iboih, 20minutes from where we stayed. What makes it authentic is ganja, or bakung in local language. In the good old days, it is used to tenderized the meat. But it’s not as easily found or cheaply bought these days. I’m not quite sure what they put it in, but that meat was definitely tender that night and I was somehow so happy afterwards 😀

The War of Roses, Pulau Weh – Diving Day 1

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I am writing this entry with a gun pointed at my head. I’ve promised Elys, my friend, to write ever since we were in Pulau Weh, but I slyly managed to get away until her last days in Indonesia  :D. So here goes..

First Day Diving Pulau Weh

In the morning, Judy, Jerry, and me pulled out our underwater cameras, and each bragged about the superiority of our brand. There was a little war between Canon vs Lumix fanatics, which will be proven later under 22m of water and a hefty editorial effort.

Our divemaster, Ampon, a local guy with light brown eyes, was accompanied by Robi, who looks more like a reggae musician than a dive master. As usual, they were quite timid and formal. But at the end of our dive trip, we’ve become good buddies, bonded by our secretive intake of a little “sumthin sumthin” :D.

So our first dive was at Rubiah Sea Garden. I struggled with my underwater camera since i’ve never used it before. Especially on that depth, where ray of light and colors gone awol. Capturing the scene with its natural color became a challenge. Either it was monotone of greyish blue or red-ish white.

From our first dive, it seems that the underwater landscape of Pulau Weh mostly consists of boulders. Not too many colorful corals live here. There were several brightly colored anemones with clown fishes shaking their tail to lure some poor victims. We’ve also seen fair share of scorpion fishes, stone fishes, and its more beautiful sister, lion fishes, strutting in between rocks. Ah, and Moray Eels! Plenty! If you’re patient enough to look below every rock, I bet you’ll find every kind of moray eels known to mankind here in Pulau Weh :D.

Safety stop. Always been my favorite place. Red has now back to my camera. Elys and I found ourself in between schools of fusilier and red anthias. The blue sea has turned to red, literally. It was a feeding frenzy and Elys crazily trying to break up their formation :D. Another nice surprise was when we saw this huge hawksbill turtle lazily swim in front of us. Managed to captured her in a movie and this is the war breaker between 2 cameras. Canon prevails!

From Panggang Island With Love

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Pak Wani

A charming guy whom i met during my several trips to Pulau Panggang. Back then he rents his boat for our island hopping trips but now he expands his business to a bigger boat to transport material from Pulau Panggang to Jakarta or vice versa. Going with him is such an entertaining boat ride. Most memorable time was when he said in his most raspy voice “Terryna, every island here always has a host..” Here in indonesia, host can also means a ghost that lingers at one place. It terrified us all, especially when he said it @midnight and one of my friend just point a dark corner on the island, where people usually sense some discomfort. Pak Wani then continues, still in his hoarse voice “like this island for example, the host is Pak Amsori!” hahaha Pak Amsori is definitely still alive and he takes care of the island. We were just being paranoid and Pak Wani who knew  that we were scared, successfully reduced our fear with his joke  .

Pak Yanto

Pak Yanto is the son of Pak Wani. His demeanor might be rough around the edges, but it is evident that he’s kindhearted. One of his traits is how strong he was underwater. Like when we made our coral garden in front of Semakdaun. All of us went up several times for a new supply of fresh air in between duck-dives. But he was just sitting, literally, on seabed, taking an underwater picture and video. Well, i guess some people just lucky to have extra gills under their ears 😛

Go Deep in Gorontalo

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I dove in Gorontalo based on a hunch and a few stories from fellow travelers on our ferry from Togian Islands. I arrived in Gorontalo with one mission in mind, to find the famous Salvador Dali coral. People say this particular coral only grows in Gorontalo and nowhere else on earth. So I reckon, one day dive should cover it.

But then Yunis, our dive master showed us that Gorontalo is more than just beautiful corals and spectacular landscape. Some of the local delights are Orang Utan and Pom-Pom Crab.The crab was not very happy to see gigantic objects hovered around her, but I decoded her tantrum-pouty-mouth-and-fists-throwing act as jovial as the next cheerleader 😀 .

And to top it off, I finally did my very first muck dive. The first five minutes was kind of maddening, since the visibility was only 2-3m and all around us looked like a waste land forgotten by its inhabitants. And it also didn’t do us much good when the three of us fanned the silt with our fins and clouded our masks. But after we quiet down, we were finally be able to spot all of these bottom dwellers underneath their marvelous camouflage. First you saw a red dot then a twitch, and suddenly it all made sense and you can see a Dragonet was sitting there the whole time.If you’ve ever seen a 3D stereogram, you would’ve gotten this whole sensation of doing a muck dive. For those of you who missed out one of a fun phase of growing up in the 80’s, I’ve put here an example of a 3D stereogram. If after you get cross-eyed and people start to give a funny look for thinking that you are (still) watching Ariel video and you still cannot decipher the 3D picture then you are helpless.

The camouflage was not the only appeal to a muck diving. Spotting a microscopic species has its own fascination. Several times, Yunis pointed out this tiny specks and I gave him a blank look and an OK sign just for the sake of it haha. Fortunately, Yunis is a persistent DM, or rather the stupid look in my eyes were such a giveaway*doh*, he stayed until (again) its movement indicated that it was a living being. The half cm long baby pufferfish gives a new meaning to the word baby.

If only the diving price was cheaper, we would’ve stayed longer. Nevertheless, our 2 days dive was a good teaser of how impressive diving is here. It has also converted me from landscape to macro. My name is Terryna, and I am a muck-dive addict. It has been too long since I last did it. How about you?

Lalajo Labuan Bajo

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Keberuntungan tahun ini ternyata belum berakhir. Menjelang akhir tahun, saya dapat ajakan untuk eksplorasi Kepulauan Komodo dari Kemenparekraf bersama beberapa teman blogger. Jangan bingung, Kemenparekraf itu nama baru untuk Kementrian Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif. Rasanya tidak perlu pikir panjang untuk mengiyakan ajakan tersebut, mengemas baju, dan segera terbang ke Pulau Flores.

Kami mendarat di Bandara Bajo Komodo Airport setelah sebelumnya transit di Bali. Begitu keluar dari lambung pesawat, mata langsung disambut dengan pemandangan berbukit khas Flores. Di akhir Oktober 2011 ini, permukaan Labuan Bajo berwarna coklat kering. Berbeda dengan perjalanan saya Juli tahun lalu yang dipenuhi nuansa hijau dan awan bergulung berat dengan uap air sebelum hujan.

Hanya memerlukan waktu 15-20 menit untuk pergi dari Bandara menuju pusat kota. Jangan lupa untuk membuka jendela dan mendapatkan pemandangan pertama saat menuruni bukit dan memasuki kota. Rumah berbaris sampai dekat mulut Pelabuhan Tilong terus disambung Laut Flores dan beberapa pulau terdekat. Begitu memasuki jalan utama Labuan Bajo, Jl. Yos Sudarso, kita bisa melihat deretan restoran, penginapan, dan tentunya dive shops. Agak kaget dan kagum melihat pesatnya perkembangan Labuan Bajo. Baru 1 tahun lewat dari kunjungan saya terakhir, tapi sudah begitu banyak bangunan baru. Dan pembangunan masih terus berlanjut sampai di ujung jalan menuju keluar kota.

Mendapat kejutan yang menyenangkan waktu tahu bahwa kita akan menginap di Green Hotel. Kamar-kamarnya terletak tinggi di atas bukit, dan sebagai bonusnya, cukup dengan membuka tirai jendela kamar, kita bisa langsung melihat pemandangan pelabuhan dan Laut Flores. Saat euphoria menjela-jela,mendadak hujan turun. Hujan pertama sejak Labuan Bajo didera kemarau yang cukup lama. Hoorah!!

Sambil menunggu hujan yang datang tanpa malu-malu datang bergerombol, kami makan di salah satu restoran pertama dan favorit di Labuan Bajo, Gardena. Saya belum pernah mampir disini sebelumnya. Asumsi saya sebagai backpacker dengan uang terbatas, restoran ini memerlukan rogohan dompet yang cukup dalam. Ternyata salah total! Makanan utama berkisaran di angka 20-40ribu. Masih terdengar mahal?  Tunggu sampai makanannya datang. Porsi Flores memang terkenal luar biasa. Porsi kuli dikali dua! Steak saya diisi dengan 5 (ya, Lima) potong daging. Bagi orang-orang yang tinggal di Jawa, perlu ekstra lapar atau ekstra ruangan perut untuk bisa sukses menghabiskan satu porsi sendiri. Satu lagi fakta menarik tentang makanan di Flores adalah sambalnya. Cabe flores mini dengan ledakan rasa pedas,
dicampur dengan perasan air jeruk dan kadang diisi dengan daun kemangi. Wajib coba bagi semua pencinta makanan pedas. Kalau muka sudah mulai merah dan perut mulai panas, tutuplah dengan jus nanas atau mangga. Buah legit dan berair cocok untuk menenangkan ubun-ubun.

Setelah perut padat dan hujan berhenti, pertanyaan berikutnya adalah ‘Apa lagi yang bisa dilakukan di Labuan Bajo?’. Berhubung Batu Cermin terletak cukup jauh dari kota, akhirnya kami putuskan untuk tetap tinggal di kota dan mengejar sunset. Dan dimana lagi tempatnya kalau bukan di Paradise Bar. Bagi orang yang sudah sering jalan dan mengejar merahnya senja, lama-lama kegiatan ini memang agak membosankan. Tapi tidak di Labuan Bajo dan Paradise Bar-nya.

Pertama kami bergerak ke arah selatan kota. Sekali lagi kaget karena melihat pembangunan sudah sampai disini. Pariwisata sudah lewat fasa menggeliat dan sekarang sedang lari sprint. Hal baik mengingat angka pengangguran yang relatif tinggi (30% menurut http://www.nttprov.go.id). Mudah-mudahan pembangunan ini bisa ditranslasi jadi pilihan penghasilan warga lokal.

Kembali ke proses berburu senja. Sampai di dekat Hotel Jayakarta, kami bisa mengintip sedikit merahnya matahari dari balik pohon-pohon kering. Tidak bisa berhenti lama demi mengejar puncak atraksi senja di Paradise Bar. Bar ini terletak jauh di atas bukit arah utara dari Labuan Bajo. Sempurna dengan teras terbuka dan sudut pandangnya. Dari sini kita bisa melihat ujung barat laut Pulau Flores, Pelabuhan Tilong, Pulau Kukusan Besar dan tentunya semburat merah matahari sebelum ditelan Laut Flores. Saat terbaik untuk mengabadikan pemandangan ini adalah di bulan Mei- Juli, karena posisi matahari tepat di depan bar. Untuk sekarang kami cukup dipuaskan dengan warna, bau tanah yang tersiram hujan, dan secangkir kopi Flores hangat.

Nah itu pengalaman saya, kalau pengalaman kamu gimana?

Batu Karas

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It was the kind of trip with no itinerary which takes me by a storm, literary. Many times rain came down heavily accompanied with strong wind, but when it cleared up, it was awesome..

One great thing about having no itinerary is no expectation come with it and in the end even the little things were enjoyable. The motorbike ride is full with adrenaline rush and my big grin stayed intact under the invasion of the bugs and the rain. The home cook meal, surprisingly tasty and cheap. And yes, i ate jengkol and proud of it hahaha.. The hospitality of the people warms my heart everytime, even when they laughed at my bike riding style.
Batu Karas and the area nearby has so many things to do and see.. Surfing, tracking, biking, body rafting (which unfortunetely i havent tried, yet). And the view just wow, the pictures don’t do any justice to it,i know, guess you just have to come and see for yourself 😀
That’s how i experience it, how about you?

Kiluan Bay, Lampung

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After being infected by a virus from my friend about being a responsible travel, i am now more aware on how i travel (thank you endro). There are many gimmicks and definition about responsible travel but i think basically its consciously minimize the negative effect of your travel thus preserving its authenticity.Who wouldn’t love to see majestic landscape, warm water, soft sands, and those sparkling white teeth from local people who smiles back at you when you visit their place.. again.. and again.. and even share it with your many grandkids in the future… Like Kiluan Bay and its many islands..

With its beauty and uniqueness (Kiluan bay is known as the place to see many dolphins), i believe it’s just natural if we, as traveler, would like to come back, many times after and still see its beauty. But how to do the right action sometimes not as natural hehe.

To reach Kiluan Bay, we have to travel 14 hours from Jakarta. Using means as car, ferry boat, through smooth asphalt road to steep muddy street. We then crossed the bay with jukung boat to land on smooth white beach and greeted by Pak Dirham family, our guide leader, who is responsible for tanah ulayat (adat) there.

One thing that surprise me is that they have power supplies such as generator and a solar panel. Incredible huh? Although, it didn’t work due to bad battery but they definitely have the right idea of using the abundant alternative energy, sun shines. Ah, and the second amazing thing is, they have abundant fresh water, not a common thing for an island that small. The third amazing thing is the local who lives in the villages around Kiluan bay. After several tests, i am confirmed that no matter how angry or hard their faces are, if you pull up your hand and smile, they will instantly smile back. Here, smile is our currency :D. The fourth amazing thing is of course the dolphins. There were so many of them, who just love to play around. Our jukung got bumped couple of times because they are such eager mammals who love to show off haha The fifth amazing thing.. ah well, why bother to count .. it’s simply amazing..

Back to the question of being responsible, well we tried to do a couple of things. For example, we brought our inorganic waste back to town. We eat local foods and washed our utensils with sand. It might sound gross but hey it cleansed our plates just fine haha. We rent and shared our reasonable new car from jakarta. It seems a bit far off, but it supposed to reduce the carbon emission. Imagine if it was an old diesel which shoots off black cloud of CO2. Scary huh? And hey, our habit of swimming across 2 lands, instead of using boat, can also be considered good. I admit, our motivation was for fun, but isnt it perfect to have fun while doing right 😀


Come to think of it, it’s quite easy on starting to be responsible.. Of course there are other things which can be better. But at least for now, we left Kiluan Bay and its islands with good memories, smiles, and no plastic waste. That’s how i see it, how about you?