Sticky note from June 25. The journey itself took place on June 23-4. If I were to sum it up in a paragraph or two with the highlights and turnoffs, that’d be it. Where did I go for only 1N2D, from which I contracted prolonged lethargy from, collapsed with throbbing headache and full-body achiness/heaviness several days later, and had mixed feelings of? Pulau Seribu. Pulau Pramuka to be exact. It was the weekend getaway out of town I’d thought I needed to refresh my mind, body, and soul. Which turned out to be… nah, not so great. Well, not as grand as I’d expected it to or had pictured in my mind, thus the opening statement.
For a few hundred thousand trip I clearly set the bar too high. I definitely need to start practicing expect-low so it’d most likely be a pleasant surprise. There were 7 of us: two guys and five girls. I didn’t know three of them before this trip but the guys were chatty/crazy enough they livened up the atmosphere that might otherwise be full of awkward silences.
I googled the destination several days before and read tips on what to prepare/wear etc so I should’ve seen it coming. Yet somehow I let my mind wander wild that not until we trudged across the fishy fish market and stepped into the fishermen’s boat(?) did I realize what I’ve gotten myself into. It took us approximately 2 hours to get from point A to B, which doesn’t seem that long till you get stuck in a small boat fully-loaded (overloaded I believe) with people fighting for a space on the hard wooded deck to sit on/lie down you can barely move an inch or you’d brush against next person’s body. And got swayed from side to side thanks to the high tidal wave throughout the sail.
Every time the boat listed to a side my heart skipped a beat out of fear that it’d topple. Besides, I was pelted by a strong wind blowing from every boat’s opening, had to bear with cigarette’s smoke puffed by inconsiderate people onboard. Seeing people throwing up, started getting dizzy and gotten sleepy, I couldn’t bring myself to lie down like most passengers and my travelmates did
due to hygiene reasons and lest it’d worsen my imbalanced state – there wasn’t much space left for me anyway. I couldn’t even stretch my legs out. I could only hug my legs and sit like that, shifting every now and then till the boat docked.
The inhabited island was flooded with day-trippers like us. It wasn’t clean per se as I could see trashes lying around by the wayside or floating on the seaside – not a sight you’re looking for in a place you’re at to freshen up. The guide then ushered us to our lodge… passing medium-sized, nice-looking houses till we stopped at a not-so-convincing-looking guesthouse with smeared white walls, greasy-felt tiles, cobwebbed ceilings, and minimal furnishings – luckily air-conditioned. The first thing we did was took a toilet break and found out that the water was super clean – murky and briny it emitted unpleasant odor. After all of these findings, I doubted the linens were clean and ‘safe’ to lay on… x_x
My friend was kinda hysterical upon discovering that it had squat-toilet with no shower. Well, at least the bathroom was clean. I mean, how can you expect housing like this to have a shower? This ain’t a starred accommodation. Although it shocked me that there’re Jakartans who don’t know how to bathe with a dipper – what kind of privileged life she’s living? – also are clean-freaks.
After gulping down the provided lunch and took a brief noon nap, we set off to the open sea to… what else? Snorkel! :DD
Huddling in a small fishing boat off we went… erm, dunno where we headed to as we followed instructions quite obediently. When our guide and the boatman dropped the anchor around the nearest coral (eek!) and told us to jump in, we adhered to it… With minimal instructions on how to wear the breather and put on the life jacket, we jumped right into the water and followed our instinct as to how to snorkel properly.
Well, it might not be their first-time experience with this – it was for me – so I spent some time struggling with the device and surrounding before bracing myself to submerge… and bask in the marine life and coral reef beauty. Too bad (1) I couldn’t fully enjoy and soak up what’s laid before me thanks to my shortsighted-eyes; (2) though would love to, I didn’t dare to explore/buoy past the reefs near the surface lest it’d scratch my exposed skin – they’d warned me how hurtful it’d be. The nearer, the clearer, the prettier, but they freaked me out (- -”); (3) my camera isn’t designed for underwater usage; otherwise, I’d be busy snapping here and there.
We went to three different spots to snorkel. They offered similar subaquatic pristine views, tho how cushily the boats threw their anchors at the reef or disposed of liquid/solid waste into the water cringed me. Is this how they treat the environment which is essentially their source of income? The ocean seems tranquil and unperturbed, but with one swoop it could swallow all of us in. Just look at how those small waves toyed our boat – and to a certain degree, our lives. To the very least, show respect to those from which we derive life, will ya?
No towel provided to dry and warm our body after getting doused – duh, this is no Bhaya! – instead, the wind did the job while the boat rowed from one spot to the next stop, wherein the cycle repeated: wet – airdried – shivering. Hoped my immune was strong enough to handle these extreme conditions. When we finally got back to our lodge, we cleansed, ate our dinner, and slept…till awoken to have BBQ by the seaside, under starry sky – a tray of fish only till we ordered fresh coconuts. And got pestered by a couple of mewing cats.
There wasn’t much for us to do on the following day since we’re leaving at noon. However, we visited sea-turtles breeding plant (till they’re big enough to be released into the wild where they truly belong). On the way back we stopped by a local store to buy cold drinks (for them) and souvenirs (for me).
My coworkers had nudged for souvenirs – shells or accessories preferably – I spent time to look for them. There weren’t many places displaying souvenirs to go, while that store offered poor selections. The items weren’t enticing or pretty per se – some had defects or even rusty *ughh* – so I sifted through the hays to find sparkly silvery needles. Bought half a dozen tokens with almost no discount (the price was rather expensive in my book for such quality) but paid it anyway.
Filled up our belly before packing up. Anyway, the journey back was longer probably because the boat went against the wind – and the wave – with higher and stronger tide @_@ I took a starboard spot this time and tried half-reclining position but soon my bone and bottom got sore T_T The boat got tossed around so much that I was on the brink of getting seasick and nearly nauseated. In the end I didn’t lie down at all and ended up shifting my utterly uncomfortable sitting position every few minutes.
Well, yeah… at least I managed to arrive home safely and without a scratch this time *yeay*(!)(?) All I remember now is how greatly relieved I was when finally stepping my foot on a flat, solid ground after the seemingly endless sea-voyage and got my hands on a familiar dipper. Full of fresh, odorless water this time =)
We never realize how fortunate we are till the things we take for granted were taken away…