Thursday, 9 November 2006

Intriguing Sojourn at Green Canyon

Being inspired by an article I found in the Internet, I planned to visit Green Canyon with my friends in the week before Ramadhan festive season this year. The Green Canyon trip was finally realized on the third week of September. Since there were only four persons confirmed their participation at the beginning, we were hesitant of carrying the plan on. Few days prior to departure, other three friends joined in and another one decided to join in the last minute, four hours before we left for Tasikmalaya.

We left the office at around 17:30 on Friday afternoon with two taxis en route for Kampung Rambutan bus station. We took the super-executive “Budiman” bus to Tasikmalaya, which costs Rp. 50,000 each. Despite the high price of the ticket, the decision was right. The bus departed the station at 20:00 and we were stuck in the traffic toward the entrance of Cikampek toll road for about one hour. It took approximately 6 hours ride from Jakarta to Tasikmalaya. We were so tired that we slept along the way until the bus stopped in a small town for temporary break. It was almost midnight when the bus continued the trip to Tasik. Finally, at 02:30 on Saturday morning, we arrived at Tasikmalaya and directly went to the hotel by renting public transportation (commonly known as “angkot”). We arrived at 03:00 in the morning where there was nobody in the front office!!! What should we do then? Sleep in the lobby??? Fortunately, few minutes later, the receptionist came out and gave us the room keys.

At 06.30 a.m. on Saturday morning, most of us were ready at the dining table to have early breakfast with nasi goreng telur and hot tea…hmm…appetizing! Half an hour later, we were already on the bus routing Tasikmalaya – Cijulang. It cost us about Rp. 30,000 each. Since none of us has been to Green Canyon, I felt that it was really a never-ending bus ride. After three-hour fast ride passing the villages and Pangandaran beach, we arrived at Cijulang bus station. We rented eight ojek which costs Rp 3,000 each to take us to the destination. Green Canyon, here we come!!! There was an accident on this trip, when Charlene’s skin was burnt by the ojek’s tailpipe. No wonder, it was her first time riding ojek, therefore she did not have any idea where the tailpipe is.

Using two boats which cost Rp 70,000 each, we crossed a natural jade-colored Cijulang river. Several biawak were seen sunbathing at the river’s edge…such an amazing scenery! It took us around fifteen minutes till we saw a huge cave with big rocks in between and natural green-colored water flowing over them. Two boat operators accompanied us and became our guide to show the paths as all of us got into the fresh water. We were swimming along the river towards the upstream and saw a small but beautiful waterfall. It was a real excitement swimming in such natural place like Green Canyon, among the bulky rocks with small waterfalls here and there…what a splendid place…

Close to the waterfall, there was a five-metre high huge rock where you can jump into the 3-metre deep water. Helen, Julie, and Charlene were very interested to try but they were hesitant to jump in due to the distance between the rock and the water ... but all of a sudden, Charlene jumped into the water…splasshh!!! Wow, what a brave girl! At the end, she admitted that it was good she could not see the distance clearly as she did not wear her glasses, therefore she did not think twice of made the leap. Viva Charlene…

We had much fun there… swimming back and forth against the water flows, splashing the water, climbing the rocks, getting down to the river, posing on the rocks, taking pictures, laying down on the water, and jumping into the water. We spent almost 3 hours there before deciding to continue other agenda. Compared to the excitement we had there, extra Rp 130,000 for both the boat rents and the guide’s fee was nothing. One of the guides told us that Green Canyon was always occupied by domestic as well as foreign tourists on the weekends and holiday seasons, therefore they limited the visiting time to the Canyon up to 15 minutes only per boat. Following the tsunami occurrence in Pangandaran, the tourists’s visits were drastically declined, thus inevitably affecting their income. On the other hand, we were very lucky coming to the place at the right time since we have a lot more than 15 minutes to enjoy its natural landscape. It was 14:30 p.m. when we decided to have late lunch in one warung close to Green Canyon entrance gate. We ordered sweet-sour spicy squids, grilled fish and kangkung ca for the lunch, hmm… mouthwatering…sluurrrppp!!

After having finished our lunch, some friends talked about the ideas of visiting Pangandaran beach before going back to Tasikmalaya and moreover, my other friend wanted to see her parents’ house which was destroyed by earthquakes and tsunami waves. So, we thumbed a lift of a pick-up minibus to take us to Cijulang bus station and later took the bus leading toward Pangandaran. Arriving at Pangandaran bus station, we rented three pedicabs to take us for sightseeing at Pasir Putih. It was funny that rather than going through the common path to Pasir Putih, we climbed the rocks to reach the place which, in some ways, was much more difficult! The water was very chilly when we stepped into the water for swimming. We stayed there to see the sunset and waited until other two friends joined us at Pasir Putih.

We had dinner at one food stall in Pangandaran. In the aftermath of tsunami occurred last July, we saw quite a lot of temporary shelters established few kilometers from the coastal plain. The current situation was completely different from previous years when Pangandaran was occupied with domestic tourists every weekend and holiday season. On the way back to the bus station, we saw damaged buildings and falling debris everywhere due to the impacts of earthquake that hit the area. It was obvious that tsunami gave serious impacts toward the tourism activities in Pangandaran. Even though it was Saturday night, not many hotels were occupied and not many people were hanging around. We reached the bus station at 19:30 and rented a minibus to take us back to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel at around 22:30 and directly went to our own rooms for taking a shower and later going to bed. My roommates, Alia and Julie fell asleep few minutes later while I still woke up until around 00:30 a.m., thinking about tomorrow’s agenda to visit Galunggung volcano.

The next morning, we went out of the hotel
at 07:00 a.m. toward the western part  of Tasikmalaya, where Galunggung volcano is located. We rented angkot, but unfortunately the driver was not quite trustworthy as we the rental price was quite costly. Therefore we decided not to take the same angkot on the way back. Instead of taking ojek to go uphill, we chose to walk. In the middle of the trip, my friend could not walk due to her twisted ankle. We got an ojek for her. Unexpectedly, another seven ojek came by and sounding their motor engines near us. I and my friend chose to take ojek as we were too tired to continue walking, while the others chose to walk up to the mountain. I felt very sorry for them the since the ojek drivers kept following with their noisy and smoky motor engines and insisted the to ride the ojek. My friends were very upset and warned them to leave...sorry guys for this terrible incident         

The Galunggung trip was started by walking over 620 stairs before reaching the upper plain
and later went down to the lake. When I decided to explore some parts of the lake, I did not think that the trekking condition would be very difficult. Walking up on the black-sandy paths on the way back was not quite an easy task, especially for me. Every time I tried to walk one step forward, I went back two steps behind. It took approximately one hour to go up and later went down the stairs, pfiuhhh…very tiring!!!!. We had had instant noodles and hot tea for lunch before we left Galunggung. It was already late noon when we were on the way back to the hotel. We packed our luggage and were ready to go to the bus station.  

It was time to go back to Jakarta. We took “Budiman” bus routing Tasikmalaya – Jakarta through Garut, with scenery of beautiful villages and paddy-fields along the road. Having spent almost 6 hours on the bus, the bus arrived safely at Kampung Rambutan terminal at 22:00 p.m. After visiting Green Canyon, it crossed in mind to organize a second trip there…someday. We really had a great weekend…great places, great companions, and great trip for sure

Thanks to my lovely travel companions: Alia Febriana, Charlene Tan, Helen Langenhorst, Herve Gazeau, Julie Calafat, Nicola Bugatti, and Siti Rachmania (Itot) who made this miraculous weekend trip happen.

Best time to visit Green Canyon: May – September (prior to rainy season)

Where to stay:
Hotel Mandalawangi, Jl. LLRE Martadinata 177 Tasikmalaya Jawa Barat
Ph (0265) 331 347 Fax (0265) 332 920
Price: Rp. 80,000 – Rp 150,000/night

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