Tag Archives: Pelabuhan Ratu

Cimaja – Pelabuhan Ratu – Sukabumi – Bandung – Pangandaran

I left at 5.30 in the morning to catch the first bus towards Sukabumi. As I left Leo’s little paradise I felt almost a little wistful about leaving Cimaja. This place really has grown close to my heart in only this short period. But I was also excited to see more of Java.

With the little ankot to Pelabuhan Ratu from there with the bus to Sukabumi. Change the bus in Sukabumi and go to Bandung, from there one more change and off to Pangandaran.

I had about a 12 hour journey in front of me. In Pelabuhan Ratu was my bus already waiting and it also left right away once I was on the bus. Strange, I thought, since when do these buses actually leave on time!? I said to my self, it must be the early hour. I was still very tired and felt safe enough to fall asleep in the bus. I read and heard everywhere that if you travel alone you shouldn’t sleep on the bus because your stuff will be gone. Also, my friend Walet told me the story that on this particular way people try to sell you rings in the bus and if you put it on your finger you will be falling asleep. Once you wake up all your stuff will be gone. I even saw the rings so I can assure that it isn’t a fake story. Never the less, I didn’t have any problems so far and I always fall asleep in these buses. Since the roads are so bad and it is extremely bumpy and wiggles you around like a baby in a crib. Just not as soft. But for me it works like a charm.

We arrived in Sukabumi and again there was my next Bus waiting for me and again left within the next five minutes.
This time I wasn’t as comfortable as before. The bus was so full that people had to stand. I was sitting with one buttcheek on the seat and with the other one in the air, because I squished my backpack on the same seat. I didn’t think that I was going to sit like this for the next 3 hours but I actually had to.

The bus stopped and a young woman came on and sat next to me. She looked like she was fifteen years old but as we started to talk later on, it turned out she is twenty. She also, like many others, works in a bigger city during the week and then goes back home on the weekends. Her mother was with her, and for almost everything she wanted, like for example food in the bus, she asked for permission. It made me think how I was with twenty or how the twenty something ones are in London. I don’t think any of them are asking for permission anymore.

We were getting closer to Bandung and I was expecting a huge city. As I was looking out the window and realised due to the traffic that we must be in the city, I couldn’t see that “huge” city that I was expecting. Shortly after we already stopped at the bus station and I realised I never really made it in the centre. I got out of the bus and stood in the middle of all these buses of which most of them were about to drive of. Everything around me was moving and I had trouble finding the name Pangandaran on any of the buses. After walking in a circle and asking people who seemed to keep pointing towards all the buses I decided to stand in the middle of the square and shout loud “Pangandaran”. A man in a bus on the left hand side already on the move, shouted back: “Here Miss, here Miss – Going to Pangandaran!!” I ran after the bus and while I was running I kept asking if he is going to Pangandaran. His answer was rather wage but I had to decide in a split second and jumped on the bus.

Once on the bus I realised that I was in an economic bus. Packed and full of men who were staring at me I tried to find a free seat. No luck! I had to stand for three hours straight and I definitely reached the moment where I left my comfort zone. Judged and stared at, I couldn’t help but think that every single person in this bus was thinking: “Ah god another traveler! Another Backpacker!” I tried to smile my way in to their approval but never ever did it take me so long.
I had to change bus again and finally I was on the one to Pangandaran.

After twelve hours of travel, I finally arrived in Pangandaran and made my way to find a hostel.

Pangadaran beach

Panorama guesthouse it was!
A little guesthouse more or less right at the beach run by Tika, a lovely local lady. It is a cute little guesthouse that is very simple but has a lot of charm and so far the best banana pancakes I had in my life!

Pangandaran is a village that has become a holiday resort for locals from Bandung or Jakarta. You can tell when walking through the village that tourism has taken over. Unlike Cimaja it is not rural anymore and the moment you arrive and step out of the bus you will be asked by plenty of men on their motorbikes if you need a ride. I was in the mood for walking after twelve hours of sitting on my bum, and it was quite a task to full fill, believe me!

The beach is a beautiful sand beach with great waves i the morning. If you get up early enough you will have the perfect break. After twelve noon it will be flat and you will have to wait till around five and if you are lucky you can have a late surf again. There are a lot of locals who have surf shops a long the beach and so I was fortunate to get again tips after tips. I had an amazing time with them and all I wanted to do was to get better. The feeling I had ever since the first moment I started surfing got stronger and stronger. There is only one place I can turn of my brain (which is kind of hard for me), be in the moment and feel that I am alive. I have absolutely no sorrows once I am in the water.

There is something about Pangandaran that is capturing even though it is not as beautiful as Cimaja in my opinion.
You can take day trips to the green canyon and green valley. Or you can go to paradise island and see amazing animals and a beautiful white beach. But right here is the thing about Pangandaran. All those places lose their appeal, in my opinion, because all the local tour guides ruin them with their trips. It is all about money! Of course I understand that this is the way they are making their living but it is also them who don’t take care of their own land. The amount of trash that they are throwing on the ground is shocking!

I wanted to go by my self but it is not so easy to do, because faster than you can blink you have one of them on your side and they wont leave till you paid them. I still went for one trip and decided I wanted to go see the waterfalls in green valley. I expected a hike and huge waterfalls, but as we got there the way was plastered with stones so that every one, no matter how out of shape, will eventually get there. When I wanted to walk to the second waterfall a bit further away, it was more of a hike and my tour guide was the one who was out of breath.
Even though I was a bit disappointed, it was still very beautiful and worth my trip!

One thing that impressed me in Pangandaran was how much the locals love their village. The ones I met and surfed with all worked in Bali for sometime or still do. But all of them every single one, said they want to come back and live here in Pangadaran. For them it is the best place to be.

All my live it impresses me when I meet people who love their home town so much that no matter where they go in the world, they know they will eventually come back home. I never had that feeling to the place I spent my childhood. It was beautiful for sure, but I know for a fact that I will never go back there. On the other hand I have learned that home can also be in one self. If you are happy and content with yourself and you know who you are, you are basically home everywhere you go.
Nevertheless, I think we all search for that place and person that we can call home. For some it is where they grew up for some it is a new place and for some it is a person. More importantly it is the ride that counts and that makes us appreciate “home”. Without the ride we wouldn’t know what we miss, love or want.

The stories of those guys reminded me on my ride and how grateful I am for being able to do this. Little by little I know more what it is I want for my home!

I spent a memorable time there. Meet amazing people, learned a lot about my self and surfed for the first time a 6ft short bord.
Thank you Pangandaran!

Beautiful wave in Pangandaran

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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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