Saturday, 25 July 2015

Wishes from Sailing City

Jakarta, 25 Juli 2015

Seperti yang sudah-sudah, saya tidak banyak berharap di hari ulang tahun saya. Termasuk di ulang tahun ke-27 saya yang jatuh pada tanggal 18 Juli lalu. Jangankan kado, ucapan selamat dan doa pun tidak saya begitu saya harapkan. Maklum, ultah saya tepat jatuh di Lebaran hari ke-2. Semua orang pasti sibuk dengan acara masing-masing. Keluarga saya pun sibuk bersilaturahim ke kerabat yang ada di Rawamangun. Dan langsung dilanjut lagi dengan memulai persiapan pernikahan adik laki-laki saya yang harus dilaksanakan sesegera mungkin.

Biarpun demikian, sebenarnya ada satu nama yang saya harapkan untuk sekedar mengucapkan 'happy birthday'. Nama yang pemiliknya kini tengah meninggalkan kampung halamannya di Kiel untuk menjalani pilgrimage ke Spanyol. 

Saya benar-benar lupa kalau expectation often leads to disappointment. Saya pun tenggelam dengan kesendirian dan kekecewaan tolol karena nyatanya tak ada ucapan apa-apa dari nama yang saya harapkan itu.

Tak disangka, seminggu kemudian saya mendapatkan notifikasi bahwa saya baru saja di-tag di foto yang diunggah salah satu teman saya.

Most of the time I get along with new people very well, but she is one of the coolest mbak2 ever! haha. Happy belated birthday mbak Sita! I know we only met a few times (and always work related) but you have inspired me in so many ways. 
Hopefully this time next year you could start your master degree here! :) 
Oh by the way, the sailing city, Kiel, is also sending her wishes for you.

Saya benar-benar terharu membaca postingan dari Dinda tersebut. Saya dan scientist muda yang tengah menjalani training di Jerman itu bertemu Desember tahun lalu untuk urusan pekerjaan di Semarang. Total jumlah pertemuan kami bisa dihitung jari. Yang paling intim cuma begitu urusan kerjaan kami beres. Kami habiskan waktu bersama di Toko Oen sembari makan malam, makan es krim, dan ngobrol-ngobrol santai. Saya tidak menyangka bahwa saya dapat memberi inspirasi dalam hidupnya. *blushing*

Saya pun membalas dengan ucapan dari Dinda barusan.

"Danke schoen, dear Dinda!
I'm so touched.
Someday... Someday I'll definitely go to Kiel, to chase my dream, and to close out some 'unfinished business'.
Enjoy your time there, in Deutschland!"

Anyway... The picture was sent from Kiel. Is there any hidden meaning behind it? LOL!

Nampaknya kami perlu nongkrong bareng lagi di Toko Oen lagi ni. Hehe.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Early June 2015

Catching the blue fire

MT. IJEN PLATEAU is a stretched-out volcanic region located at the southeast tip of Java Island and in neighbor with (Merapi 2800 mASL), and Raung (3332 mASL). It's legendary blue fire and beautiful turquoise sulfurous lake will easily seduced you to have eyegasm.

To catch the blue fire, you should start your hiking at around 2 PM. It needs around 1 - 2 hours to reach the crater's lips. You'll need another 30 minutes to descend the crater trough a gravelly path which is quite slippery if you want to get closer to the source of blue fire. (Actually visitors are prohibited to step down to the crater base. But in fact most of visitors disobey it. Moreover no officer is watching there.)

For your own good sake, please wear a proper shoes for hiking. And don't forget to wear mask to prevent inhaling hazardous gas due to active volcanic activity. For photographer, of course don't forget to bring tripod to hold the camera firmly especially while capturing the blue fire.

The turquoise lake

As one of the sulfur mining center, here we can see many traditional mining workers. They will go back and forth from the base to the crater 2 - 3 times during their 6 to 8 hours of working which started laterally at midnight. From the crater each of them will carry the 'yellow stone' in two baskets balanced on their shoulders by using a special bamboo stick. And each basket weights up to 80 kg. Some of them will offer you to buy crafted yellow stone they make as souvenirs which are are usually in flower, animal, and cartoon shapes. Each only costs 1 kIDR. If you want to take their picture, or to be photographed with them, it's necessary for you to give some tips or share your cigarettes.

Mt. Raung in distance

On sunrise, you can see the beauty of paddlepop-rainbow-colored sky becomes the canopy of the magnificent turquoise lake. And while going back to the base camp, you can see the sea of clouds and also mighty Mt. Raung (3332 mASL) stands dashingly in distant. 

If you have some extra time, you may also wander the adjacent village in Bondowoso region. There you could stroll around the coffee plantation and even have a free tour at the coffee factory. You can also visit beautiful waterfalls named Kartimor and Bubble Waterfall.

How to Get There:

There are 2 (two) main accesses to reach Paltuding, the base camp at Mt. Ijen's foothill, i.e. from Banyuwangi and Bondowoso. Most tourist come by rented car/jeep from one of those cities (150 kIDR/passenger or 500 kIDR/jeep). Meanwhile the locals come by riding their own motorcycles. However, it's still possible for visitors to take public transport to reach Ijen.

1) From Banyuwangi

From Banyuwangi's Blambangan bus station you shall take angkot Lin 3 to Sasak Perot (5 kIDR). Then take a mini bus to Jambu (10 kIDR). From Jambu you can take ojek to deliver you to Paltuding (70 - 100 kIDR). Or, you can try to 'hitchhike' the miners truck which usually depart literally on midnight. For way back, the miners truck will leave Paltuding at around 11 AM.

2) From Bondowoso

From Bondowoso bus station, take elf (small bus) heading to Sempol Afdeling (3 hrs, 20 kIDR). If you're lucky enough the elf might deliver you few more kilometers up to Margahayu Afdeling. Please be noted that the last elf will depart from Bondowoso at 8 AM.

From Sempol, you shall continue your journey to Paltuding by ojek (motor-taxi) that will charge you around 100 - 150 kIDR. Meanwhile if you get off at Margahayu, don't believe when people there say that Paltuding is quite close, roughly 3 km only, and walk-able. Believe me, it's not true. It's better for you to take ojek (70-100 kIDR). My buddies and I were frustrated after 3 hours walking (with walking speed 4-5 km/hour) from Margahayu but not yet reached Paltuding. Lucky us that later on there was the forest fire fighter who gave us free ride to Paltuding.

Operational Hours:

In consideration of preventing hazardous sulfurous activities, the trek is open only from 2 AM to 2 PM. Some bule (foreigner) might get exception because they are considered to have stronger legs. So that the officer will let them to hike outside that official operational hours.

Entrance Fee:

Local: 5 kIDR on weekdays, 7 kIDR on weekend
Foreigner: 100 kIDR on weekdays, 150 kIDR on weekend

Camera fee: 15 kIDR

Where to Stay:

Many tourist stay at Bondowoso or Banyuwangi and come to Ijen for one-day trip.

However in Paltuding, there some some bungalows which are rented for the visitors. There is also camping ground at Paltuding and clean public toilets. Each tent will be charged of 15 kIDR per night. Since the night will be so cold, don't forget to bring sleeping bag when you decide to stay here.

Or, you could stay at nearby village in coffee plantation area (both in Kebun Belawan and Kebun Kalisat), Bondowoso region, where there are various kind of places to stay at (homestay, villa, bungalow, resort).

What to Eat:

In Paltuding there are some food stalls serving hot drinks, snacks, and even meals (fried rice and instant noodle).


Friday, 10 April 2015

PHOTO GALLERY: Mt. Prau 2565 mASL, Central Java, Indonesia

Mt. Prau, April 5, 2015

© Aulia Valencia (2015)

"I think the only way to get through life is laughing hard and constantly, mostly at myself." ~Shannon Hale~


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Meet The Bolang From Papan Island

Papan Island, Feb 16, 2015

Initially, delivered by Pak Nuir with his wooden boat, we had planned to move from Sera Beach Cottage to Lestari Cottage (both located in Malenge Island). But suddenly we changed our mind and decided to stay at Papan Island, which exactly located in the opposite of Lestari Cottage. Eventually, Pak Nuir had a colleague living on that tiny island. He referenced them to be a potential host for us.

Once we arrived at Papan Island, we were nicely welcomed by our potential. The one who was most excited was Rafli. That eleven-year old boy was the oldest kid on that family. Even he 'forced' his father just to accept us as guests when negotiation is still going on. "Come on Papa, accept them!"

© 2014 sita ariana pangestu
Finally we agreed to pay 60 k IDR/person/night to stay at their house. That price included meal 3x a day and free flow of water, tea, and coffee. While waiting for our room to be prepared, we had a rest at the porch of their wooden house built above the sea. Rafli was so enthusiastically talked with me. Proudly he said, "Ari, I am the Bolang from Papan?"

"Really?" I got amazed. As per I know,  Si Bolang has been one of TV series knows as 'provocator' not only for kids but also adults to explore each inch of Indonesia's beauty. Even 'ngebolang' has been a slang (phrase) for traveling + adventuring.

"Yes!" he answered proudly. "The shooting was taken last year but I forgot on which month. If you want to see the video, my teacher has it." Then he ran into his room. Once he was back, he brought his Bolang uniform and showed that t-shirt to us.  He said that through hom-pim-pah, cap, slayer and the bag had been distributed to another kids who were also filmed for that episode.

"How come you became The Bolang?" I asked.

"They (the film crew) gathered all the kids in one class. They interviewed us about our daily activities. And in the end they ventured us to dance in front of the others. I stood up, came up front, and danced. So they chose me because I was the fussiest and bravest one," he answered with proud smile on his face. I became proud of him too and felt lucky for having chance to get to know him.


Once I arrive in Jakarta, I searched on YouTube and found this video capturing Rafly as the Bolang at Papan Island. Enjoy the video :)

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Papan Island, Feb 15-18, 2015

© +sita ariana pangestu (2015)

Papan Island is so petite. It covers an area of 1 kilometer square only and inhabited by few dozen families who mostly build their wooden houses at the perimeter of the island. There are 3 large stone mounds there. The highest peak is considered as 'mountain'. It's said that there's phone signal at that peak. But we found nothing when we were there.

The island is connected with Malenge Island via a sturdy wooden bridge, approximately 1 km long. The bridge has just been built to replace the former bridge which had already been old and broken. The main users of that bridge are Papan Island kids who go to elementary school located in Malenge Island.

During our stay, Om Jos and I loved to walk along the coastal village both in Papan Island and Malenge Island. When we were passing, almost all kids would enthusiastically greet and approach us. "Hallo Mister!" they said to Om Jos.

Since I walked next to Om Jos, automatically they greeted me," Hallo Miss!" 

Kids on both islands really love to be photographed. Once they saw a camera hanging around Om Jos' neck, they directly asked him to take their photographs. "Mister photo! Mister photo!" they said while giving their best poses and smiles.

© +sita ariana pangestu (2015)

The water around Papan Island is so clear even wit naked eyes we could see the beauty of sea life on it. Be careful if you want to swim and snorkel around the Papan Island because there are quite a lot of sea urchin and mambo snakes (sea snakes with black and white stripes and super sticky, living in shallow water seabed). If you want to swim safely, come to one segment of the bridge near the Malenge side where there is a wooden stairs toward a shallow water paved with white soft sand and is free from coral reefs and sea weed.

© +sita ariana pangestu (2015)
© +sita ariana pangestu (2015)

For more adventurous thing, try to swim across the 'strait' between Papan Island and Malenge Island. At first I was not sure for doing that because the distance looked so far. But after being provoked and challenged by Om Jos (plus given a life jacket by Rafly), I finally ventured myself to take the challenge. It turned out that crossing that strait was not that difficult. The sea was so calm and our body could easily float. With huge self determination we finally could swim from in front of our host' house and safely arrived at Malenge Island.

Eventually our host' house is located in the opposite side of Lestari Cottage. But our host highly recommended us not to step our feet there because the place is guarded with 'fierce' dogs that would bark and even bite the unwanted guest. Fortunately, there was a separated tiny beach located next to that resort area where we could have a rest for a while before swimming back to our host' house.

© +sita ariana pangestu (2015)

In the afternoon, it's best time for canoeing while waiting for sunset. We were so lucky because our little host, Rafly, lent his family's canoe to us. Initially he had planned to join us canoeing but since the twilight almost come he cancelled his mind. He was afraid to miss the communal evening pray time at mosque. So, it turned out that only Om Jos and I were together paddling in the sea of love. LOL!


MALENGE STAY: Sera Beach Cottage

© +sita ariana pangestu (2015)

Sera Beach Cottage. After having been through a tough negotiation, finally Om Jos and I (and also two couples who became our impromptu travel buddies from Wakai) got the price of 150k IDR/night/person to stay at that cottage located at the north side of Malenge island. That cottage has just been operated since mid 2014. It consists of 7 small wooden cottage unit and 1 big wooden building functioned as common room, dining venue, and also living place for its staffs.

© +sita ariana pangestu (2015)

In front of the cottage, there is a tiny beach with soft and white sand. The sea has blue shades that calm us down as far as we could see. You could just jump on it if you want to swim and snorkel. The water is clear, the feasibility is good, and coral reef and fish living there are beautiful. Even if you're lucky enough, you could find sting rays and baby sharks which occasionally pass through. If you want to go to a better snorkeling and diving spots, you could rent a wooden boat from the cottage to bring you to Reef No. 4 and Reef No.5 locations. If you're just too lazy or tired, you could relax yourself in the hammock installed on each front part of each cottage unit or in benches under the coconut trees near the sea shore.

In orange cocoon

Toward dining time, all the guest would be gathered in the common building. We would sit around a long wooden table where the food is nicely prepared. For breakfast, usually they will serve sweet cake or pancake and slices of tropical fruit like pineapple. For lunch and dinner the main menu is grilled barakuda fish with slices of fresh tomatoes and onions. In this common room, there is also a small wooden shelf consisting of some books left by previous guests. Mostly are novels written (translated) in German. There are also some chess sets. You could borrow them any time you want.

Pak Nuir
Coconut crab

The best feature on this cottage is Mr. Nuir, a native of Malenge island who becomes the operational manager of this new-built cottage. He is so informative and talk-active to guests. He has fluent English. Besides giving us useful information, he also tries hard to satisfy the guests staying at this cottage. On our first night staying there, he showed us the presence of plankton scattering the beach that would shine once we stepped our foot on them. On the second night, he showed us a coconut crab, one of signature animal living in Togean islands. In particular, he told me and Om Jos about the hidden beach located not far from the cottage.

This cottage also provides a free shuttle boat from and to Malenge local jetty. Meanwhile for moving to another island, we could charter the wooden boat owned and sailed by Mr. Nuir with a negotiable and affordable price.

With all those mentioned quailities it has, I personally really recommend Sera Beach Cottage for you who wants to spend holiday at Malenge island.



You may call this number for making reservation at Sera Beach Cottage +6285145906028

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Togean Islands. This tourism destination is the heaven for beach and sea lovers because it has beautiful spots for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Even for just relaxing, this place is the best. But... It needs huge determination if you want to have vacation there because the access to go there is not quite easy and fast. From Sulawesi mainland, it needs many hours to reach these islands located in Tomini Gulf. But... Once you get there, you'll be so resistant to leave.

There are 2 main accesses to reach Togean Islands i.e. from Gorontalo and Ampana. From Gorontalo, we'll need around 13 hours of sea voyage to reach Wakai, central of Togean Islands. Meanwhile from Ampana, it only needs 6 hours. But, since Ampana couldn't be reached through airway, inevitably, we should fly to its neighboring city first such as Palu and Luwuk. From those cities we need several hours of road trip to reach Ampana. I personally suggest you to go from Gorontalo.

Waiting for our departure from Gorontalo to Wakai

#Gorontalo : To reach ferry port, from Jalaluddin airport Gorontalo, take Damri bus Airport - Port with daily departure at 11.30, 13.15, and 21.30. Sea voyage duration from Gorontalo to Wakai, the center of Togean, by using KM Tuna Tomini is around 13 hours. The fare for economy class is 54k IDR per person, and for business class is 89k IDR per person.

#Ampana : In average the sea travel time from Ampana to Togean is 6 hours. But, since there is no airport in Ampana, we should fly first to its neighbors such as Palu and Luwuk. From those cities, it requires a quite long road travel time to reach Ampana.

  • From Mutiara Airport Palu, take bus to Palu Bus Station, there are buses with route of Palu - Poso - Ampana departing at 10.00 and 17.00 (with duration of journey for about 10 hours.), or travel agent serving route of Palu - Ampana such as Touna Travel (Jl. Sam Ratulangi, 0451-454808 jam 08.00 dan 16.00), Sansarino Travel (Jl. Sisingamangaraja, 0451-425807 jam 09.00), Togean Indah Travel (Jl. Suprapto, 0451-422829), get off at Ampana port.
  • From Bubung Airport Luwuk, take bus to the Luwuk Bus Station, there are buses serving route of Luwuk - Ampana departing at 21.00, or to travel agent Kesayangan Anda (Jl. Yos Sudarso, next to Rosalina Hotel, 081341009960, 0852566267368), get off at Ampana port.

Below is the boat schedule from and to Togean:

Note(s): All the time stated above are in Central Indonesia Time, GMT+8

Once arriving in Wakai, there would be several boats from the resorts located in Kadidiri Island, the most popular island in Togean Islands, such as Kadidiri Paradise, Black Marlin Dive & Resort or Pondok Lestari Kadidiri. While if we want to go to another islands, without relying on public boat, we need to rent the wooden boat from the local people with negotiable price.