Tag Archives: Jakarta

Little Cimaja

Cimaja is a little village 30 minutes outside of Pelabuhan Ratu right at the beach. It is quite small and the people are very friendly. They welcome you with everything they have. Almost the whole village felt like it was a big family. Everyone knows everyone and of course everything about everyone!

The first morning I went straight to the food market in Pelabuhan Ratu with Ben, whom I met at Leo’s little paradise. It was raining so once we arrived there at the market we walked ankle-deep through mud along all sort of things. From clothes to shoes and finally to my fruits. I was longing for this the whole time ever since I arrived. I have heard so many of my friends talk about the fruits in Asia and how different they are. I wanted to walk through the whole market and we came across the most interesting food I have ever seen. The way they preserve the fish was incredible. They put it in a lot of salt to preserve it and never before have I seen so much tofu. There were these chillies everywhere and I was allowed to try one. Knowing a little bit that they are very spicy I thought I just go for it and took a bite. Wow, not only did I think my mouth was burning but I couldn’t stop crying. So there I was laughing at crying at the same time. Of course all the locals at the market had a good laugh about the whole situation.

I wanted to buy so many different fruits just to try them, but I could never eat all of them, so I thought I bring some to the people at the hostel and share them. Who doesn’t like fruit, right? After bargaining down the prizes with Ben who speaks Indonesian we enjoyed our fruity breakfast back at the hostel. My friends were right, I have never tasted such a good mango and pineapple before. We enjoyed fresh coconut and dragon fruit, watermelon and matakucing – it was wonderful.

Ready and energized, we went to the beach and I had my first try at surfing. Since I windsurf and snowboard I thought I must get the hang of this pretty quickly, but once in the water I realized it is quite different. I am really ambitious when it comes to sports I won’t stop until I can do it. The feeling I had when I stood up on my first wave that day was incredible. There are no words to describe this feeling! I was hocked immediately. From that moment on I knew this is what I want to do everyday and become better and better. So the next day I was up at six am, ready to go see how the surf was. The locals were amazing, giving me tips and kept shouting: “Now, this one – go, go, go!” So, day by day, I could tell I was improving and the feeling kept getting better. But I wanted more. I didn’t care how much my board rashes that I meanwhile got on my legs and chest, were hurting. The bare feeling of freedom on that board and the absolute peace I felt in the water, were much stronger than the pain.

I believe I never had a feeling like this before in a sport and I was always very sporty. Already back in high school, I went to a sports school and the passion for sports is not new to me at all. Still, I reached a totally different level with surfing. I want to get up at 5.30 in the morning for it and I already missed the feeling that one day I was back in the bus to continue my travels.

A few days later a French couple joined us in the hostel and Vincent, what a coincidence, happened to be a surf instructor in France. I took my chance and asked him if he could give me later a few tips and therefore could improve my surfing. He wanted to go in first him self and then he would give me some tips. I wasn’t going to wait and went in with him straight to the big waves. He was quite surprised after I told him that it was my third day and said: “One thing is very good, you are not scared of going in to the big waves.”
I didn’t even realize it, all I did was I followed the locals. I kept watching them how they did everything, started to talk to them and simply believed they must know where it is good. Was my thinking naive? Was I without caution? No, I don’t believe so. I gave them my trust and they felt it. They always watched if I was doing O.K. and I felt safe.
That day I had a few acid drops (When you take off on a wave and have the bottom suddenly fall out as you free fall down the face), but I went back out every time. Vincent gave me the tip to go practice in the white swell. If I can manage to get up there, it would help me to get a better balance and control in the wave.
Immediately I went closer to the beach and I literally wouldn’t leave the water until I had it down! I just kept doing it over and over and wouldn’t give up. Eventually I got the hang of it and started to feel the movement.

That day a wind suddenly came up and the waves started to be flat. No chance you could surf. I found my self at the beach with no book no paper to write on – nothing! And for the first time I realized that I had a big problem with just being there and doing nothing. I was talking about this in my first post, that I wanted to go to Bali, learn how to surf, meditate and do nothing – just be. Well it turned out I wasn’t so good at the “just be” part!

I sat at the beach looked out in to the sea and could feel how my brain started to run in high motion. What was that? Why could I meditate and get to a state of not thinking and being absolutely in the moment but not while sitting at the beach? Did it have something to do with the fact that meditating is also doing something?
I believe that it is a something very healthy when you can manage to come down and just be in the moment. It is important to give your brain and body a break so you can recapture your energy.
The reason I think many people struggle with this is, because if you keep being in action and doing something you don’t have to confront yourself with certain feelings and thoughts.
I also found out that many of these backpackers don’t have that tranquillity. Even if you put in a day of relaxation and you “chill” there are always other people around. It is harder that one can imagine to end up alone and really be with yourself. There is always something happening and you always meet someone new. Plus most of them don’t travel alone. But may be not all of them have that desire like me to come closer to your self and really get to know who you are. Which is absolutely reasonable too.

I was still looking out in the sea and thought about my journey. I am extremely thankful for what I have been able to experience so far. It was full of excitement and new things that I forgot a little about what was missing in my life in London and why I went on this journey. On the right hand side was a couple in the water taking a swim. They were adorable how they forgot everything around them. The share amount of love between them was blowing in my direction and therefore evoke the feeling of love inside of me. It has been a long time that I felt that way and was able to share it with a special someone. I had to smile and while watching them and it made me think of one of my favourite quotes:

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you desire, and at last you create what you will.”
George Bernard Shaw – Playwright

I absolutely live after this and I believe it works. I imagined my self on this trip far before I thought that I actually will be able to do it. But every day while meditating, at work, in the tube or in the shower, I would imagine my self in Bali. Sometimes still can’t believe that I am actually on my way there right now.

Suddenly a voice behind me took me out of my thoughts. Rudi, or Walet as the locals call him, asked me if I am interested in going to the hot springs. Of course I was! I read about them before and wanted to go see them anyway. Quickly I hoped on the back of his motorbike and off we drove up the hill to the hot springs.
Directly from the lava underneath the ground comes hot water up in the air and drizzles down in the little river that is cold. The perfect spa session in pure nature right in front of me! Amazed by what I saw I walked behind Walet in the river and stood underneath the hot water. That was perfect after the surf this morning. I could feel how my skin and my muscles enjoyed the hot water. The locals take a lava stone from the river and rub their skin with it. Your dead skin gets rubbed off and it becomes super soft.
We laughed and talked with a mixture of English and Indonesian till our hands and feet looked like “grandma-skin”. It was the perfect day.

Another moment that I will keep dearly in my heart from Ciamja was, when I was on my way with Ben and Peter to sunset beach. They wanted to stop to have some soup. At a small place right next to the road we made a quick stop. Suddenly there were all these school girls around the age of 16 on motorbikes giggling and looking at us. Finally they came over and with all their courage they asked us if they could interview us for a school project. We were happy to help them in any way.
The group leader (at least that is what I sensed) kept apologizing for her English. And when I told her that her English perfect and she is doing a fabulous job she blushed and hid with a big smile behind her hand.
They asked us all sorts of questions about where we were from, what we are doing here and what we think of Cimaja and Indonesia. They also asked us what our profession is and Peter responded and said: “ I am a medical student.” They only understood student and nodded with their heads, so I quickly jumped in and said that he is a doctor. And there they was their big “Awww’s” and impressed eyes.
It was my turn and I told them that I am an actress and a writer. Risa, the leader, couldn’t believe what she heard and kept asking me if I am an actress and I kept saying yes. Once she translated it to her friends, they all started to laugh, jump around and scream as if I was someone known. For them this was a big deal and the girl immediately wanted to know everything about me. Moved by their reaction I asked Risa what she wants to become one day and she told us that she wants to be a teacher. I told her that this is a very good and important profession and she was thrilled to hear that. The last question was what is you most memorable moment in Cimaja and we all said: “This interview!”
After our short photo session we hoped in the next ankot to sunset beach. We were talking in the bus about the girls and how wonderful it is to see that a teacher here encourages their students to practise English and be courageous and interact with other people.
I only learned later that it is not obvious that every child can go to school here. The government won’t change that on purpose and I think it is so sad to see that a change in that matter will still take many years!

I had such an amazing time in Cimaja that I decided to stay one more night and will enjoy the surf the next day.
For my last evening I went with young Mr. E (That is how he calls him self because it is more simple, he said.), a local from Cimaja, to get some traditional food. I was in the mood for fish and he took me to a cute little place where they literally fished the fish out of the water killed it and grilled it! I would say it doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Cimaja is a must in my opinion if you travel through West Java. It’s charm will take you in immediately.
A place of tranquility and fun with locals – a place that I can only recommend!

School girls who interviewed Peter, Ben and me

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Jakarta – Bogor – Pelbuhan Ratu – Cimaja

It was a bit before noon when I finally left the hostel and made my way to the train station. It was warm, humid and all the motorbikes on the street gave the city a sound to it as if it was a huge “honeybee farm”.

At the train station I decided to buy an economic train ticket not because I wanted to spend less money but because I wanted to travel like everyone else. So I thought! As I was waiting on the platform I quickly had to realize that there is no chance I could understand which train is the one I am supposed to take. I turned around and asked the women next to me if she speaks English. With a very big smile she answered with a no! I took out my Lonely Planet and went all the way in the back to the very small phrasebook part. I mumbled a few broken Indonesian words: “Di mana kereta api Bogor? Jam berapa berangat?” The face of that woman lid up and she started to talk as if I understood every word. Not only Mary did, but also the man sitting next to her started to jump in and took great pleasure in talking to me. I tried to follow and flipped through the book as quickly as I could. Finally I got at least that the trains here don’t have different wagons with the different class it is an entire train that defines the class separation. Business class is faster and has air condition, plus the doors close. While on the other hand an economic class train has no air condition and the people sit and stand everywhere plus on top of each other and there are no doors.
Mary pointed to the train that was like mine for another direction and said: This is you, you bought an economic class thicket. Are you sure you want to go on this train?
I looked at the train, then back at her and then back at the train and mumbled out a very vague, yeah!
Another business class train to Bogor arrived, by now it was the second and I couldn’t go on it. Mary got up because she had a Business class thicket, waved me goodbye and left with the train. As I watched the train disappear I realized that Mary is like everyone else here and despite me on the train to Bogor. I ran downstairs back to the thicket office and asked if I can change my thicket back. The man behind the window started to laugh when he saw me and handed me quickly the money back I spent and gave me a business class thicket, which I gladly paid. I ran back up and there it was my train to Bogor. I was finally after one hour and a half on the train.

In the train I met Buriman, a cook who works 3 days a week in Bogor. So far I recognized that Indonesian people are very open and want to get to know you. He asked me the same questions I get asked all the time when I meet somebody here. Where are you from? Are you traveling alone? Are you married? I told him I am traveling alone and because I didn’t want to get back in to the conversation of why I am not married I invented a husband. I came up with a whole story. Where he is and what he works and why we are not together on this journey. I did feel a bit bad but I couldn’t bare that look again as if I am damaged goods or something. After that story he was pleased and told me he would make sure I would get to the bus station in Bogor so no one would rip me off with the ticket. I was really happy for his help and I quickly followed his lead once we arrived. We jumped in one of these ankot buses. They are quite small and always have one direction. So you can hop on and then once you want to get off you just tell the driver, pay him and jump out. I really like that system, how practical is that!
In the ankot Buriman asked me if I had lunch or if I was thirsty. I could use something to drink, I thought. A bit worried to say yes I trusted my cut and said: “Yes why not. I am very thirsty!” He smiled stopped and paid the bus and we jumped out. At the restaurant he offered me a coke and I drunk it as if I passed the Sahara. Soon we went our way, with his friend joining us because apparently he knew more about the buses to Pelabuhan Ratu. Once we left to the next ankot we walked towards a bus station that looked rather shady. I saw nowhere even one backpacker or tourist. But I wanted to get to Cimaja and so I went along with my two new friends. Finally we found the Bus and there was also Andrew who was in charge of the bus. A very skinny local who had an extremely long and strange nail on his left pinkie. Buriman made sure I had not to pay too much and that Andrew would make sure I get to the right bus to get to Cimaja in Pelabuhan Ratu. I thought it was so adorable how they took care of me I couldn’t believe it. After a quick photo session, they left and I went on the bus. Turned out I was the only person on that bus so far. So I waited a while to see if there are more people coming or if we would leave soon. After a while finally some people came and I asked someone when the bus would leave. They answered with the head tipping to the side: “In have an hour.” OK, I thought, that is perfect. After a have an hour we didn’t leave and so I asked again. “In have an hour”, said Andrew. I didn’t say anything and thought you can’t change it Sarah you might as well go with the flow. Another have an hour later we still haven’t left and once I asked again he said: “We are just waiting till the bus is full!” Fantastic! I feared to be sitting at this bus station till the next day. But out of the blue suddenly people ran in that bus and we were ready to leave!

The drive was nothing like I expected. The roads were so small and so terrible. Sometimes the wholes were so deep I flew through the whole bus. But here and there suddenly someone jumped on the bus and sold fruits or something to drink and then jumped back out. That was so great even the food was coming to you! It started to rain and the ride was long and slow due to traffic.

I had enough time to look out the window and let my thoughts go. Suddenly I had to think of John and how crazy this whole thing was. I realized that I literally took a plane and a train to go see a man I barely know to spend with him an evening!! That is not nothing I would say!
It was getting dark outside and I started to feel a bit lost in the middle of nowhere in West Java in that bus, in which no one really spoke my language.
What was I actually expecting from John? Was I fooling my self by pure romanticism that this was supposed to evoke a reaction out of him?

There it was my first movie moment that I was talking about in the beginning and not like in a big picture but rather very much like ordinary life it is not as romantic or dramatic. There is no one running across the big screen because he just had an epiphany moment when he realised that he actually does like you.
Fact is when I met John I was attracted to his energy. It was so positive and full of life. The way he talked about his travels and surfing involved so much passion, that I wanted to find more out about it my self. In a way I guess, I should thank him. Because I could have also been jealous and negative about the whole thing since I was working almost everyday in rainy London. It pushed me in a way and here I am today traveling alone through Indonesia, getting to know an entire new culture, country and beautiful people. I am finally surfing and writing. Happier than ever I’m doing everything I love.
So I guess I don’t have to expect anything from John. I want to thank him. Even if I will never see him again, and I hope that wont happen, I will never forget him.

Two month before I left London I changed something essential in my life. My attitude! I decided to be happy. This may sound silly and strange but it literally was that simple. The grey, cold and rainy London made me see the things more deconstructing than they were. Finally I got so sick of my own feelings, that I decided: “Enough with this I want to be happy!I want to do what makes me happy. I want to be with people who inspire me, who think positive like me. I want to earn my money through work that I love.”
I started to listen to upbeat music that put me in a sunny, shiny and happy mood. And it worked!
If you would have asked me 5 month ago if I think I would be here in Indonesia, I would have probably said no. Everyday I learn new things about my self. Like for example that I can be patient. I learned that through the bus rides here in Indo. You never really know how long they are going to be and take once you are on them and since I don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time I learned to just – sit!
It can happen that your thoughts wander off in to the negative when you sit in a bus for 12 hours.And I think that is absolutely O.K. The one thing I learned in these moment was, do I want them or not!

No, I don’t know what John feels and if it evoked anything. In the end if we are meant to meet again we will. It would be absolutely fantastic, but until then all I can do is trust, believe and be patient!

Those three words: Trust, believe and patience, are big words that we sometimes underestimate. I think if you can manage to really truly live them in everything in your life, you will eventually get what you want. You must only know what you want!

Finally in Pelbuhan Ratu I was lucky enough that Andrew told his driver that they were going to drop me off directly at my hostel in Cimaja. Thankful that he held his word I sat in the front with them and they started to smoke. Never in my life have I seen people smoke so much like the Indonesian men.
Twenty minutes later we reached Leo’s little paradise and I was finally in Cimaja.

Sunset at Sunset Beach in Cimaja


Pipit – 4.6.2013

I met Pipit in the plane to Jakarta. Only at the end we started talking and he seemed very nice and welcoming. As I passed immigration and made my way out there he was again asking me where I am going. I told him I am looking for the bus to Gambir. It took him not even a second and he offered me to help me to find my bus. Gladly I accepted his help. As we were walking towards the bus station we started talking and he told me that he is on vacation here in Jakarta.

Pipit was born and raised in Jakarta and is working at the moment in Helsinki in a hotel. The reason for that is, that he makes approximately $1000 a month in Helsinki, while he would only earn $150 a month here in Jakarta. I was shocked by the number, thinking that $150 would not get me very far in England. He told me that he is very excited to go home because he will finally see his baby son again. After he was born he soon left for work to Helsinki to be able to support his family better. Now his son is more than one year old and has not seen his father since he was born.

Of course he asked me if I am married and I had to say no. He was a little surprised but I quickly changed the focus through asking since when he was married. Then he started to tell me how that works here in Jakarta: You meet a girl, you like her, you start to date her, then you bring her home and if your parents like her and her parents like you, you get married. And all that happens within one month!! Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Of course this is a completely different culture but nevertheless one month was unbelievable for me! I was very moved by his story. I had to think about if a man in England or lets say Switzerland would even consider going so far away for his family so they have a better life! Or even commit in that way. I wasn’t sure…
Pipit waited with me till my bus arrived. He gave me his number and email and said if I ever need something in Jakarta I should call him or his family.

In the huge traffic jam I thought about Pipit and my very first moment in Indonesia. What a warm and lovely welcome. I would say this was the perfect start!

Once I arrived in Gambir I wanted to hire one of these motorbikes but then these two Dutch guys wanted to share a cab, which of course was a lot cheaper, and so we hoped in the cab and drove towards my hostel.

The hostel is run by two twin sisters with their husbands, whom are from England and Ireland. Very quickly I felt a bit back in London. It was a funny feeling sitting with them on the rooftop drinking a Indonesian beer and making jokes while looking at the skyline from Jakarta.
But before that I went across the street, which is an adventure for it’s self, and tried for the first time in my life authentic Indonesian Bakmie Goreng. I love this food, the people and the vibe.

On the rooftop we were people from all around the world. I was amazed by how quickly you built a connection whilst traveling alone. The next day I almost considered staying a night more because I had such a great start. But I wanted to get to the beach and therefore towards Cimaja!


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