Friday, August 14, 2015

Pacitan - Hidden Jewel of East Java - Diary of the faux surfer girl

I'm a bad surfer. I flop many times in the waves, I catch little small small waves, I play with white water. Maybe the board is too big for me. But I really really really like surfing! When I do get up and going, gosh that rush! I wish I were a better surfer. I wish I didn't have to fly and spend 3 hours on the road just to get to a surf spot.  Which was what I did just to get to a fabulous surf spot that is kind to bad surfers like me.
Pacitan, in East Java.  A flight to Yogyakarta + 3 hours drive to the very edge, where you lose connection with the outside world for the whole duration you are there.  Internet connectivity is really scarce and bad. I didn't even try. Out of sight, out of world.  A chance read of an article brought my attention to Watu Karung, one of the best surf spots in the world.  Of course, I'm so not qualified to surf Watu Karung. That is a reef break with fucking crazy waves and currents and it was scary just looking at them surf there.  Heard many surfers with stories of broken board, reef cuts all over the body, lost boards, etc. But I'm sure it's a surfers' haven if you are a great surfer!
Watu Karung beach
Internet search on Pacitan ain't gonna get you much information, especially on how to make accomodation bookings or transport.  Likely I perservered and found Harry's Ocean Homestay.  Pacitan doesn't have big, high end resort (yet).  It does have lots of homestays.  And Harry's is highly recommended!  Bring your own board or rent from Harry's! I'm pretty sure only Harry's rent surfboards.  And I love love Harry's.  It is a simple homestay - bungalows (120K IDR), bamboo air con (100K IDR), bamboo fan (70K IDR) and dorms (30K IDR) each with their own bathroom and cold water shower.  Seriously, I don't even know why you need air con! The sea breeze is awesome!  They have a small kitchen for you to cook.  There aren't many eating places nearby, even if you rode the bike to town, there are only small warungs and a couple of nicer restaurants around.  But do ask at Harry's for recommendation.  We went to an All you can eat buffet of fish + shrimps for 50K IDR which is really good value for money.  It's at BBQ by the sea at Seaview.  For bookings, contact Harry, the owner, at +628123411595.  He can help to arrange transport: private pick up is about 650K or choose the travelcar with fixed timing (pickup at airport at 12noon and 5pm) for 90K return at 8am or 11am.  I went with the travelcar and though my flight landed only at 1pm, i still made it for the noon travelcar.  There is also a bus from Yogya bus station to Pacitan.  That bus probably runs more frequently.
Harry was a great host! He brought me around and showed me places.  I am a bad motorbiker, so he took me to the surf spots, and also to the mountains.  I got an instructor 200K for 2Hs and he's great!  Board rental is 50K per day.

Empty beach right in front of Harry's
What is there to do besides surfing? Well apparently lots! You can explore all the different beaches - there are tons! Some a lot further than others.  Watu Karung beach is worth going even if you don't surf.  There is a cave about 90mins away from Harry's.  There is a mountain 40mins away which we went.  There is also the longest flying fox in SEA (400m) about 1h away! I wish I had time to do that, but next time!
Surfing - morning surf has more foreigners and less crowded.  Evening surf is more crowded as the locals all come out to surf.  This time of the year is the dry season and the water is a little colder.  Wet season brings warmer water.  Pancer beach is surfable during this season.  In wet season, you go to the water right in front of Harry's or Teleng Ria.  The waves are good - not too dangerous but still good enough for even the experienced surfers.  And the best thing - NOT CROWDED! At most I saw like 15 surfers in the water.  Plenty of waves to catch for everyone!
Left waves

It is advisable to rent a motorbike, so learn to ride! As you do have to go to town to buy groceries or to the minimart which is a long long way to walk.  Or if you want to discover other places - unless you hire a driver. 
We went to the mountain, and it was a really good workout but the trails are quite steep and slippery.  Alot of rope climbing required and a some points, the trail is not very visible.  I got lost coming down.  Missed my trail and followed another trail down, and faced with an unfamiliar trail, I wasn't sure if I should proceed forward.  I saw the narrow crevice which I thought would lead me to the right way, but halfway through, I thought I couldn't possibly squeeze through the tiny way!  So I went back and tried other trails, and tried bashing my way down.  Because the only way is down and I though eventually I'd bash to the right path!  Sure, I almost killed myself! At one point, I just slid down and had to hold myself in place with my arms pinned on the branches, and the only saving grace being a branch just out of reach of my arm.  With everything I've got, I basically pushed and rolled myself to grab hold of that branch.  It was just an instant thing and if I had missed, I would have gone down to the bottom.  Good thing all that gym work paid off.  Just my arm strength I pulled myself up.  And seeing that I had no choice, I called Harry for help.  He came and sure enough, the right way was through the narrow crevice.  The one I thought I couldn't go through. Fuck it! Right at the end of that crevice, I saw the trail I came up with.  Hah, at that point, I laughed at myself.  And may I add I climbed in flip flops.  Not advisable. Please wear proper shoes.  What was to be an hour return took 2.  Up at the very top, the scenery was really nice, but misty.  So you had to wait a few minutes for the mist to clear and quickly snap that mountain greenery and rice fields.

Now when I was up at the top of the mountain, I did what I usually do in a place where no one else is around. Heee, Flashed the mountain! It was actually windy and cold at the edge as the wind blew.

Really like that place.  There are a number of other beautiful beaches to discover in Pacitan, between a 40-60min ride from Harry's.  Next time I shall explore some other beach and do the flying fox!

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