Palayangan River Rafting Adventure in Situ Cileungca, Bandung: An Adrenaline-Fuelled Ride of a Lifetime

Hellen Keller once said, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

We live in a wonderful world filled with exciting things to see and do.  Life is meant to be lived to the fullest and by living life includes taking risks and daring yourself to explore and savour new experiences anywhere and everywhere life takes you.

 

What was the most exciting, adrenaline fuelled, emotion-filled adventure in your life?

I’d have to say mine was the Palayangan river rafting adventure at Situ Cileungca, Pangalengan, in Bandung. Days before the trip, I googled the location and saw great, stunning action packed photographs of the adventure. I had never been on a river rafting before, so I knew this would be exciting.

 

Before the rafting adventure, we were taught of safety measures and commands on how to work it as a group. The orientation took a while as we were all cheering and laughing.  Most of us were beginners and we were so excited for this adventure. After the safety orientation and prayer, it was time to step into the raft and start the journey.

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There were six of us in the raft, including our guide. Our guide was a small, skinny man and that actually made me a bit hesitant. In my mind, I was thinking of how this man could possibly save all of us in case our raft turns upside down? However, left with no choice, I trusted him. I knew he is experienced and well trained so he surely is acquainted and aware of the possible obstacles along the way.

 

I adjusted my helmet, tighten my vest, and glanced excitingly at the rolling, churning river in front of me. When we climbed into the raft, I honestly had mixed emotions – I was excited but nervous I wasn’t scared until our guide told us to ‘ berdoa dulo” (say a prayer to God first). I was scared of being thrown overboard, colliding with rocks, getting bruises, and other worst case scenarios I could think of. Nonetheless, I trusted God that he would protect us and keep us safe. One more final instructions and the river took us to one of the most memorable adventure in my life.

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As we navigate through the waters, large rocks that seemingly appear from nowhere tried to snag our raft. There was no one paddling except for our tour guide. Well, I was also surprised about that and at first I didn’t understand why bringing a paddle was optional because I really thought it was vitally important to maintain stability of the raft. Little did I know bringing a paddle would cause us more harm than safety as the rapid waters push us to and fro.

We were enjoying the calm area of the river and the beautiful scenery along the way when the guide suddenly shouted ‘BOOM!’ (This is a command for leaning in, heads down, hold firmly to the rope, squat on the raft’s floor. If executed correctly, this should keep you in the raft.)  I gripped firmly into the rope, squatted, and waited for what was going to happen next.

A waterfall awaits us!

Wait, what?

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In a blink of an eye, we went vertically down the waterfall, dumping all of us in the rushing water. It was as if the world stopped for a second. I have no clue what just happened. Then I realized I was still alive! I thought I fell out of the raft as I could feel the raging waters fell heavily on my back! But no, I was right there, in the raft. Sadly though, my friend Dicey got her chin cut. She accidentally bumped into my helmet. We had to stop for a while and got her first aid. One of the aides handed us crushed leaves to help stop the bleeding.

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After the first aid treatment, we continued the journey. We have still a long way to go. We stopped at the rest area for some snacks, water, and of course rest. The crew there also gave Docey bondage for her cut.

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We really never know what lies around the bend of the river. One moment you’re enjoying the swirls of the river and admiring the scenic view, the next time you are stuck in between rocks, with the water coming down from waterfall filling your raft.

When this happened to us, the guide told us to not panic, although I did. But yeah, panicking is a waste of time. In my mind, I keep on praying that we will get through it. Then our guide commanded us to get up and threw all our weight to the other side of the raft, until we were finally fine. An aide also arrived and pulled our raft downstream. By that time I think the guide just wanted us to go for an unplanned swim or drink the water from the river!!!  Trust the experts, they say. Yes, the guides knew exactly how to handle any type of situation encountered while on the river.

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We had quite a lot of exhilarating ‘BOOM’ moments! Amidst all the terrifying rocks and wild waters, it was so much fun that we still managed to shout and smile through the splashes of the water and through the flashes of the camera we never knew where. What a pure adventure that was!

 

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The moment we get to the end of the adventure, with eyes closed and a grateful heart, I thanked God for his protection. On the way back to Jakarta, we had so many stories to tell. What a memorable, adventure-fuelled Palayangan river rafting  – truly a ride of a lifetime.

Glamping: A Luxurious Escape from Everyday Life

Green Destiny

Glamorous Camping or Glamping has been an undeniable trend nowadays not just for outdoor lovers but also for travelers who want to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury.

Glamping is an upgraded camping. Yes, many would still want to opt for camping, especially the outdoor enthusiasts! No doubt about that. However, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Many of us love and want to explore nature, but uncomfortable negatives, the mess and hassle that camping brings are not very attractive to all kinds of travelers. Yes, you can even bring your little ones here!

In glamping, you don’t need to pitch a tent yourself, bring your sleeping bag, or cook your own meals ( although you may still). It’s like camping plus the complete comfort of travelers. From having standard to luxury tents to stay, to comfortable toilet and bathroom and other amenities you can enjoy, glamping far exceed…

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Angke Mangrove Natural Park: An Alternative Weekend Destination in the Bustling City of Jakarta

Green Destiny

The Angke Mangrove Natural Park in Kapuk Jakarta is the last mangrove forest in Jakarta. Located in Pantai Indah Kapuk area in North Jakarta, the park is developed purposely for mangrove conservation and preservation.

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Natalia (my Indo friend) and I have been planning to explore the mangrove forest in Jakarta, Indonesia. Natalia who is an Indonesian hasn’t been here so it’s actually our first time to visit the place. Since she is living in Tangerang and I in Kebon Jeruk, we decided to just meet at the park’s entrance.

The night before our visit, I browsed about the park’s reviews and pictures. There were not a lot of pictures really the reviews said it wasn’t worth the fee especially for the tourists/foreigners. The entrance fee was a huge 250,000 IDR for tourists!!! Wow! That is more than ten times the fee for the locals which only cost 20,000 IDR. Natalia…

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Glamping: A Luxurious Escape from Everyday Life

Glamorous Camping or Glamping has been an undeniable trend nowadays not just for outdoor lovers but also for travelers who want to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury.

Glamping is an upgraded camping. Yes, many would still want to opt for camping, especially the outdoor enthusiasts! No doubt about that. However, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Many of us love and want to explore nature, but uncomfortable negatives, the mess and hassle that camping brings are not very attractive to all kinds of travelers. Yes, you can even bring your little ones here!

In glamping, you don’t need to pitch a tent yourself, bring your sleeping bag, or cook your own meals ( although you may still). It’s like camping plus the complete comfort of travelers. From having standard to luxury tents to stay, to comfortable toilet and bathroom and other amenities you can enjoy, glamping far exceed any experience a camper would have. Whoever founded glamping, I knew many are thankful! I am one of them.

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The view of the pond and the tents from the dining area

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My first glamping experience was in Legok Kondang, Ciwedey. This was during the AES Sunday School teacher’s retreat last April. It was a much-needed break from the stress of the daily grind in school.

Right when we arrived, I fell in love with the place. The campground is located in the middle of a forest. It was so serene. The surrounding trees, the sound of the birds and the rushing of the water from a small creek where our tent was set was a totally great experience. They also have hot shower, TV, and free Wi-Fi!

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One of my three most favorite memories was our evening devotional and testimony sharing in the campfire area. While listening to God’s Word and to testimonies shared, the kids enjoyed roasting marshmallows over the campfire while others enjoyed devouring roasted corn. After a while, it started to drizzle so we had to transfer to the dining area devoured the dinner prepared for us. When the sky was clear, we went back for group games.

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Balloons for the games!

The only negative thing happened that night was the noise coming from a group/corporate activity that lasted even during the wee hour of the night.

My other favorite thing was watching the sunrise on the balcony and taking a short nature walk after. Sunrises are always magical. I am not a morning person but when I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t want to miss catching a beautiful sunrise in the mountains. After greeting Mr. Sun, looking for critters and beautiful scenery wrapped up my morning.

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The view from the balcony

The Legok Kondang Lodge also offer a lot of activities such as team building, paintball, trekking, fishing, animal feeding, lampion, and strawberry picking, and rafting. Because of the limited time, we only choose rafting which was my third favorite thing on this trip! The rafting adventure was one of the most exhilarating experiences I had that I need to feature it in another blog.

See you then!

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) : Explore Indonesia In Just A Day

When friends asked me what would I recommend to see if they visit Jakarta, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) is undeniably on my top list. Why? TMII is like ‘Indonesia in a small scale’, with each and every famous tourist attractions in Jakarta and all over the country represented; the beaches exempted.So when you visit the place, it’s like you’ve explored the whole of Indonesia already.

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) or Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park (when translated in English) is one of the most popular destinations in Jakarta. Located in East Jakarta, this recreational park is 150 acres, so huge and wide, that it would take you a day or two to enjoy everything this park has to offer.

The park has a replica of the iconic Monas, the National Monument and also real-life sizes of traditional houses (pavilions) of the different provinces in Indonesia, among others.

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The Monas Replica in TMII

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Museum Timur Timor

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This culture-based recreational park also features several museums with various collections of Indonesian arts, dances, clothing, and architecture. By visiting TMII, you will get a glimpse of how other races and ethnic group live and how they deal with their daily lives.

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West Sumatera Pavilion

IMG_0520Moreover, they also have other numerous recreational facilities like 4D Theatre, Imax Theatre Keong Mas, Train Aeromovel, Science and Technology Center, Cactus Garden, Jasmine Gardens, Orchid Gardens, Bird parks, and even different houses of worship – temples, churches, and mosques- for the five official religions found in Indonesia. If you’re travelling with kids, you can visit the Children’s Castle, Snow Bay Waterpark, Fishing Ponds Mina, and a lot more.

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The Children’s Castle

Another great place to visit in the park is the iconic miniature lake archipelago of Indonesia. You can sit by the lakeside and just enjoy the view or you can take the sky lift so you can have an aerial view of the lake and the whole of TMII.

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The Iconic Lake (Map of Indonesia)

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As I’ve said, TMII is huge! Wandering around on foot can be very tiring although this is also the best way to check out each and every attraction. There are bicycles for rent but they can be very expensive, you have to rent per hour. Not worth it. For those who wanted to stay for the night, there are restaurants and hotels nearby.

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Friendship of the Non Aligned Countries Museum

The entrance fee to Taman Mini is only IDR 10,000 per person. However, most of the attractions such as museums and parks have entrance fees as well. Ooops! Don’t fret!  If you’re on a budget, a lot of attractions are free!

How to get there: You can use the Transjakarta Bus but it can be difficult as you have to endure the many stopovers. If you want a more comfortable, fast,  just opt for Grab Car, Uber, or Taxi (which is more expensive) or you can rent a car to take you there.

TOP 7 Things to Do in Sawarna Beach, Banten Province, Indonesia

Sawarna Beach used to be a hidden, isolated beach paradise in in the province of Banten, Indonesia. Located in a small village in Bayah, Lebak, the beach which previously can only be accessed only through crossing a bamboo bridge from the narrow road, is now becoming a famous weekend destination in Banten province. Yes, too famous that the crowd can be overwhelming.

Like many other white beaches in Banten province, Sawarna has some of the province’s (or maybe the country’s) whitest beaches with the finest sands – this claim is no idle boast. I’ve experience it myself when we went there last January 2017. Aside from its stunning beaches, Sawarna also captivates adventurers with its spectacular caves.

So if you’re planning to visit Sawarna Beach and you’re compiling your list of activities, my top 7 things to do in Sawarna Beach list might be helpful.

7. Frolicking on Ciantir Beach

 Ciantir Beach or the White Beach is probably the most famous in all of Sawarna. It is a long stretch of fine, sandy white beach.

The downside of visiting during the weekends or holidays is the overwhelming crowd like you really couldn’t have a decent picture on this beach without being photobombed!!! And yeah, LITTER. My heart actually broke when I saw litters everywhere on this beautiful beach. I wanted to pick all those garbage and start a clean-up but oh boy, there were too much of them.

My Indonesian friend just said, ‘Oh geez! This is Indonesia.’

No further comment. Case closed.

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The crowded Ciantir Beach

 The good thing was after the rain and when the crowd was away, we had a few minutes to enjoy the beach.

Ahh.. patience is really a virtue.

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The calm and crowd less Ciantir Beach

6. Watching Spectacular waves at Ciantir Beach

 According to some travel blogs, Ciantir beach is haven for passionate surfers. Even though I didn’t see any surfers during our visit, just watching the giant waves pushing everyone back to the sand, I could say that it is true. Maybe, luck wasn’t in our side that day.

Children and adults alike enjoyed the big waves as the lifeguards were on the lookout. When it suddenly poured, we took our umbrellas and started walking to the shore, looking for some shelter. Nah, I didn’t really enjoy that moment until the rain stops. Again, luck wasn’t in our side that day.

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The not so huge waves in Ciantir Beach

 5. Tasting Local Dishes

No trip to any tourist destination is complete without tasting an authentic local cuisine.  There are no big restaurants in Sawarna village so rest assured you will have experience pure flavours of their traditional dishes.

A lot of food eateries and food stalls lining up the shore, a few meters away from Ciantir Beach offering very affordable but delicious meals –  from simple dishes like nasi goreng (fried rice) that come in different flavours, seafood, chicken, vegetables, and even noodle dish, you will never go hungry.

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4. Take a coastal walk to Tanjung Layar

The ten minute walk to Tanjung Layar from Ciantir Beach will take your breath away.  Too bad the weather wasn’t on our side that time we went to see these famous rocks.  From drizzle to raindrops, we headed to see the magnificent two big rocks I’ve been dying to see since I googled it.

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It took us a while before we could have this solo photo.  Lol. 

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The Tanjung Layar  view from afar

Walking in the rain was definitely worth it though. Tanjung Layar is no doubt a very famous photography location – it is definitely stunning. Whether from the beach or from atop the hill, its view is drop dead gorgeous.

3. Chasing Sunrise at Pantai Karang Bereum

Karang Bereum (Red Coral/Red Rock) is one of the coral beaches in Sawarna. It got its name from the corals or rocks that turned red when struck by the early morning sun.

In most blogs that we read, they recommend Pantai Karang Bereum to watch the rising of the sun. Although the weather wasn’t really good, we still want to hunt for Mr. Sun. On the way, I was praying to God it won’t rain and that the sun would show up.

The terrain up and down the hill to Karang Bereum can be terrifying and unappealing for travellers especially if this would be their first time on a motorcycle, but this is definitely an adventure you won’t forget.

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It was still dark when we arrived. Though it didn’t rain, Mr. Sun though was so hard to find that morning. However, that never ruined our morning. We just enjoyed dark blue skies, the waves crashing the rocks, and the beautiful scenery.

Note: It is recommended to visit the beach area during the summer, around May to August.

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2. Relaxing at Pantai Karang Taraje

From Karang Bereum, we went on a scenic motorbike ride to Karang Taraje, in the eastern part of Sawarna. What I love about this ride is that you will pass by the sandy beach before reaching the coral coast.

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We passed by this beach to Karang Taraje on a motorcycle!

Karang Taraje is a coral coast that boasts of its beautiful panoramic view. According to our driver-guide, it is named after its structure that is similar to steps of a ladder (Karaje means ladder in Sudanese language).

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Climbing the wooden ladder just to see the beautiful seascape and the vast ocean, and listening to the sound of the waves smashing the rocky cliff was so pleasing to both the ears and the eyes. It was indeed a very relaxing moment. Though unfortunately we didn’t get to catch the ‘waterfall-like’ photos we’ve seen on a few blogs, this was my second favourite thing.

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DSC_0457By the way, the ‘waterfall’ like photos of this beach can be seen during the hide tide hours, when huge waves blow the cliff rock.

Karang Bereum and Karang Taraje can only be accessed by a motorcycle or on foot if you’re up for hiking/ walking long distance.

1. Exploring the Goa Lalay

  Also known as Goa Kelelawar (Bat Cave), Goa Lalay was by far the most favourite thing I did in Sawarna.

It was around 2 km from our homestay but we decided to visit the place on foot. It was very tiring and the heavy downpour was discouraging but it didn’t deter us from exploring the cave.

The entrance of the cave look so small but wait till you get inside. We could still see the light a few meters from the entrance of the cave and then it became so dark inside. The only light we have is from our tour guides.

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The cave is worth exploring. You will see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites and you will also be greeted by the excited bats. You have to be careful though as the grounds are muddy, you could get submerged in the mud so don’t let go of the guide’s hands. Hahaha.

By the way, there were no other tourists that time, only Natalia and I. I think this time we were lucky there was no crowd or we won’t enjoy caving that much.

Perhaps, A Hug Is All I Need

I woke up to the sound of my vibrating phone and looked at it with my blurry vision. What flashed was a bible reading plan notification – it was about forgiveness. Then suddenly I remembered my conversation with my mother just very recently over the phone. She told me she and somebody who had hurt her so badly saw each other, shrugged off what happened before and they just hugged.

Over the phone, I asked her to narrate to me what happened during their meet up and she gladly did. She was so relieved and overwhelmed of what happened that day and I couldn’t help but be happy for the both of them, especially for the other side, since I knew very well my mother hadn’t had any grudges toward her.

My mother doesn’t hold grudges. She never did. She is so full of generosity and love even to those who have been abusing her kindness and to those who had accused her of terrible things she didn’t even do. She’s been to worst, but she never hates. As per my brother, she is the strongest person in the world.

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I hate to reminisce unfortunate moments, but as she narrated to me what happened, everything flashed back. I was there. I was there when it all happened. Well, their sort of ‘fight’ didn’t happen in person. It was rather a ‘text message ‘war. It wasn’t a petty thing for her since it involved the family.

I read all the messages. In fact, I was exactly beside my mother reading the hateful and hurtful text messages. I was there and even replied to those messages. Yes, I was very much involved in it. I had to take over my mother’s phone just because my mother was upset and she didn’t know what to say, or should I say how to fight back.

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My mother is like that. She shuts up when she believes it’s better to stay silent.  But not me. I could still remember I was so furious that I responded to this person to ‘get out of our lives’.

And then years later, God provided a way for them to meet… in person.  It might not be the most fortunate place and time to reconcile yet I believe it was the perfect time. God’s time. All’s well that ends well – at least for the both of them.

I have never met this person, but I hope soon. I didn’t hate her.  I used to but I forgave her already. I believed I already did. But just like them, perhaps, a hug would seal it all.

Peace to all!

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