Intention on having to blow out birthday candles and drink up v**** by the sea – but not too far from Jakarta – brought me to Tidung island, one of the so called 1000 islands in Northern Jakarta bay. Leaving the Muara Angke port, also a large and prominent fish market in North Jakarta and took the traditional boat cramped by more than 90 people (my quick count was about 100) by 6 am, and by 6.30 the motorboat started the engine and we began the journey across northern up, and prepared ourselves with anti-seasick pill. No seat ticket included in this Rp 33,000 ticket (in-fact, no seat! Haha), so you are free to just mark your territory, either by putting up your bag or just sit on it! My friends and I had a row with hippi-youngsters-they think they own the boat-group when we happen to sit on one of the spot – where they put the luggage – and no man was there. But hey. The roofdeck is free to sit on too, if you don’t mind the waves and the sunburn…
Sea of garbage
The sea journey was not really that thrilling when we faced up the piles of garbages, trashes in the sea, right there, on the way to those islands. I could see unilever products and other household products floating with no shame as if it was meant to be sea avant garde nouvelle deco and got sick of the all coca cola, fanta, pepsi cap bottles (and the bottles) raced among the other trashes.
Big Tidung Island
Almost 3 hours later, and felt bit fresher, thanks to the pill, I gotta to see the island in ahead of us. The sky was so blue, that I couldn’t believe my eyes that it would stay that way whole day – since we had warnings from others friends and Indonesian Meterology site stated the weather would be not as friendly for the week, especially on the islands. My wishes were only the weather to be on our side, hot and blue sky on that particular day till the date moved to September 15 – miraculously answered! Sunblocks, swimsuits, and sunglasses, are ready for action.
Despite the not so far away located from Jakarta, but there are some rules to be obeyed here, and that’s outfit and behaviour instruction – so make sure bikini is out, the very short shorts are out, no drugs and no liquors.. well. I kinda smuggled the small bottled ones, so i wasn’t that much worried.
Walked about 10 minutes to the place where we rented local 1 bedroom- house for the night at Penginapan Pak Ma’ruf, and that accomodated 5 of us. Not very big, but enough just to stay put and sleep well, especially it’s equipped with aircon. Cool. With the tourists boom in the past one year to this island, more people initiated to convert their living room and houses into homestays, and small inns. One people can make like 2-3 rooms or 2 houses for homestays and it’s guaranteed to have full booked rooms on weekend. Fantastic for this small island. Populated with 4000 people in Big Tidung Island, it welcomed 5000 tourists in last idul Fitri holiday! I can’t imagine the busy boat trips and the litters…
Anyhoooo. We got there around 10 am, and the sun was shining, but we must have full tank stomach before we started getting around. The package we have along with this homestay includes the meal, that you can pre-select the timing, for brakfast-lunch-dinner or plus BBQ night out? One meal costs only Rp 15,000/pp. And for the breakfast we got chicken soup, the sauted shrimp with chilli and fried mendoan tempe. Nice! The homestay alone costs Rp 350,000/house. With 5 people sleeping in, the share cost is much more than efficient!
Bike, failed me
Best to discover the island is by walking or just grab a bike, which can be easily rented on the island, and costs only Rp 17,000/day (don’t ask me about the odd number there), and start pedalling!
I took the red bike with the little cute basket in front, which was quickly cramped by my beach bag and my snorkling goggle (rent Rp 35,000/day), which made me hard to manouvre (not to mention it’s been a looooong time since I biked – I mean, really biked, not just pedalled and stumbled). Took me about 15 minutes to get me on the pedal and strolled along the small alleyways, and sometimes I was just lazy pedalling and walked with the bike a la Flinstone, which put me way behind my troop. First time straight track, it wasn’t really straight for me, and i successfully crushed the bushes on the right. There went second, third, fourth attempts, that forced one of my friend as ‘lifeguard’ on my back. And that wasn’t just it. I found it difficult to stir it straight, and came worse when we face a troop of other bikers or motor cycles or even street walkers. Well, we didn’t have problem, I did. And bushes, again, was my very best friend. I kissed it many times. Cup!
The love bridge
Biked around 30 minutes, and we arrived at the bridge, you would never believe it’s called love bridge – i didn’t feel or find one there – that connected the big Tidung island with the not populated small tidung island. That bridge alone is a nice catch to have photoshoot taken. Or prewed-photos. Assumed all Tidung photos were taken here. We parked our bikes at one coast, the parking rental is Rp 1000/bike, and walked past the bridge.
It was hot sunny day, so it was actually perfect to see the glistening sun reflected on the green clear waters. So different to what we had encountered before, the greenish sea was so tempting to dive in right away! We hurried to find a place to start jumping to the sea, but the only pier was occupied by some groups already so we looked around more. Not to forget to pose by the bridge..click!click!click! nice. Looked like small Maldives island decks in Northern Jakarta. Passing the bridge took about 15 minutes (not so fast pace, but not too slow-just medium), and you could see the reef underneath, where flocks of fishes gather round maybe they seeked for the sun…
Where’s the nice beach anyway?
Local people pointed out there was a hidden gem beach at the other tip of the small tidung island, so we walked there, and ran through some tourists who sat by the pier, but that was the dirty tip, where again, you could see the garbages! Aaargh! That, was a big turn off to dive from that point, and we kept looking the ‘cleaner part’ of the beach. Got lost in the a place with hammock, and coconut seller under the shady tree, plus tired of 30 minute walking from the bridge, we decided to try out the sea water from there. But again, the coconut and other eco-garbage – well, I still saw it as garbages, no matter how ‘green’ they were – and we decided to keep walking like Johny Walker.Mission : locate the clean white sandy beach!
We found one hidden tip, it wasn’t that big spot, but enough for 5 people, but the thing that was it. The only way to walk to the pointed beach was through the water. Means we had to go back soon before the high tide. Minus the knowledge of the track, stirred us back to the pier at love Bridge, and that was another 40 minute walk, just to fund out there was no stais on the pier to climb on to. So if you jump from there, you have to keep swimming till the other bay… the idea was not sext at all. We meant to lounge by the beach, swim, snorkle, not to race in 500 m swimming competition.
Then we got around the pier again, to nestle down at one tip, where there was only one small but quite shady tree to sit under, where we could sit, talk, swim and snorkle. Finally. It wasn’t really a beach, but more like piles of sands grouped together and divide itself from the other bay. Not perfect but we could at least place our sandals and put the sunblocks on.
Tried to ignore the garbage there, and soaked into the cool water right away, phiiyuh. Snorkled a bit, and got hit by shoe. And other stuff like – shampoo-softener-soap-other packs of food – aarrgh. We could even spot a sofa dumped in one of the bay. And the water contains high level of salt, don’t know why, so we could fake floating like in dead sea! But that, horrendous idea to snorkle, once it leaked into the mask, we got soreeyes right away. Then I decided to leave the snorkle and just swam. It was 12 PM, so imagine the heat. Instant suntanning.
Couple of hours later we managed to leave the place, and headed home. Means, we have to cross the bridge again. Man. We could win twinpack of plates and umbrellas for crossing it over and over. Kinda hungry so we stopped by the small warungs lined up near the bridge where you could snack up siomay or dumplings, baso or meatballs, noodles, instant noodles and some ice. The wind whistled smoothly and we kinda got carried away with it.
Pedalled back to homestay, (no need to write down here that I again, fell off the bike), but must admit I started to get a grip on it (oh so lying).
Sunset at tanjung baratan
Resting a bit, then we got back on the track again, to Tanjung Baratan, the spot for catching the sunset. Aha! quite far, 35 minute biking to the west, and it was so worth it! We passed the nice greenery costal line, pedalling in cool breeze in one small track in your beach suit, in one late afternoon before turning older – was a great idea. It was like biking in Ubud terasering paddyfield. And this time, I improved my biking performance, I fell off only twice.
The white sandy beach, well not so clean, but at least there wasn’t garbage line spotted. This is like the best end of the island. When we finally got there, it wasn’t full yet of people, and could have had the paradise for our own. But not so long, closer to 5 o’clock many more came and we had to mark the place before it was claimed by others. Come on troop, sit on it!
And we just sunked ourselves in the sea, watching the sun set gracefully, not completely since there was a sudden cloud hovering, but gracefully. The day of my old age is nearly came to an end and I overlooked the new age. (literally).
Soon the sun set, we grabbed our bike and headed home before it went dark. And lucky for us, we still managed to run through the twilight before it was totally went dark. This is important for those who don’t bike well, and can’t see in the twilight zone. I’m talking about me.
Empty night out
We had dinner with sayur asem, chilli anchovies, and chilli fish – all good, but all hot and spicy. I couldn’t help tearing up tears since I’m non-hot-food person. Looks like the chilli price doesn’t fluctuate much here, eh? Then we were off to see the night out in the island, which turned out to be..NONE. Not much to see. Or nothing to see. So we just walked around the island, no bike this time. The bike doesn’t have lamp. And I was against night-biking.
There was a local wedding happening, with loud music sung by local artist played by local musician, we sneaked into it, and slid to the night tried to find our ways back to the bridge. Since there wasn’t much light (electricity got here 2 years ago), and the bridge was quite far without the bike, so we just sat down by the coastal line by the parked ship, under the coconut tree, along with night breeze turning into harsher wind, and talked and call the night by lighting the firecrackers to mark my new age at midnight! Twelve firecrackers were lit, and twelve wishes were sent to the stars. I couldn’t thank enough my friends for having been there that night!
Rain like there’s no rain tomorrow
The next morning, the island was all wet and drained of waters, the rain hadn’t stopped pouring since dawn. Gosh. God gave me full sunny day the day before and now seemed the rain wouldn’t ever stop. Best thing to do when it rains was : drinking hot black coffee or kopi tubruk at the local warung and trapped yourself there. It was kind of another il dolci far niente in the island – the sweetness of doing nothing. Who says you have to go to Roma to do that, coffee, rain, sitting with folded legs, doing nothing, talk rubbish to your friend…. quite a moment to not to think.
We packed up our bags at 10 and headed to the boat pier to catch the next boat back to Jakarta mainland. Thanks to the rain, it delayed some schedules and we ended up waiting there for almost 3 hours and had to transfer to other smaller boat in last minute before finally took off again to the sea.Rain dropped again in the middle of the sea, and we had to open up umbrella in the dock becuse it leaked, and tried best to over up the body from the harsh wind. But this time, i didn’t take the pill. I wanted to ceherish the sea. The waves. The wind. The rain. The sunburn. Even the garbage….