New Year Eve at Gunungkidul

Updated on 19 November 2018

Entering December, rain frequently falls on dull ground left by the long dry season. In Javanese, the word 'ampo' is used to describe the smell of dull soil showered by the first rain, which acts as an energizer for us to welcome the long-awaited rainy season. Also, since long ago I've planned on engaging in an adventure of finding springs on the upstream and following it to the ocean, where the water flow will end.

Good weather and clear blue sky with only few clouds assured me to begin the adventure. I had packed my supplies and equipments into my carrier, while my motocross had been ready to cross Gunungkidul's limestone hills. Not to forget, safety riding equipments had covered my body and soul. The adventure began with a prayer asking for safe trip. At 9 am, we-me and my 2 best friends-eagerly departed from Kotagede.

The first destination is Sri Gethuk waterfall. Situated in Bleberan, Playen, Gunungkidul, the waterfall is a very attractive tourism destination. Of course it is; the waterfall runs from 3 springs, namely Kedungpoh, Ngandong, and Ngumbul-all situated near the waterfall.

To get there, we had to go through both smooth and rocky, winding roads, up and down. The smell of cajuput trees along the road and the faint rain offered a true sense of nature. This might be the dream route, or even cure, for those who had long been stressed out by traffic jams, vehicle smokes, burning sun, and high buildings that had produced a feeling of being confined and suffocated.

Forty five minutes later, our trip ended at the entrance gate of Sri Gethuk. Having parked our motors, we headed directly to the waterfall. There are two ways to reach the waterfall; first is by a unique raft, rented for IDR 30K per person, and sail across the salm current of River Oya. Second is by foot, through a footpath between the quiet River Oya and a spread of green farms. The sound of water drops increased our curiosity-the closer we were, the more gurgling the sound was. Finally, Sri Gethuk waterfall was seen, falling swiftly from up the limestone walls. The high frequency of rainfalls had increased the volume of the water. The water flowing down and trapped by rocks eventually overflowed and went down to all directions, through levels of rocks, and down to River Oya. It tempted everyone to get wet. We tested the freshness of water coming down from those three springs. Enjoying the swift and cold water from a waterfall is incomparably fresh.

Done playing with water, our stomachs felt empty. Various menus of snacks served by sellers along the path within the area seemed so tempting. Hot fried snacks freshly fried would be a perfect choice when rain is falling and your wallet is dying. Once full, we continued our trip, back through the heavenly path, and into Wonosari.

Finished with playing in the upstream, we moved on to find the downstream. Yes, Jogan Beach was our next destination. From the city of Wonosari, we went through winding smooth asphalt roads across Gunungkidul's distinct limestone land. Levels of terraces on fields, created from beautiful rocks, implied that we're getting closer to the beach. We kept riding to Siung Beach as it is in the same line with Jogan Beach. Having reached the beach retribution station meant that the downstream of Jogan Beach is just about another 1 kilometer to go.

Approximately 45 minutes from Sri Gethuk, we finally arrived at Jogan Beach. Upon arriving, we were mesmerized by a very rare view of a waterfall flowing from a river and directly falling to the sea, greeted by curling waves ready to wind the water into the ocean. To feel the falling water, we would have to go all the way down. We can do it either by rappelling or through a bamboo stair. Here are the worth-seeing views: the sun started going down, hiding behind the horizon beyond the Indian Ocean; the splashing waves crashed against the hard corals, while the sound of the dripping waterfall on the seashore falling from hidden, untouched rivers. Compared to other common beaches, Jogan Beach offers a different atmosphere to anyone visiting.

The journey from upstream to downstream had been achieved, yet we continued our trip to a quiet white-sand beach, where we would spend the New Year's Eve. Jungwok Beach was our last destination. Half of the sun had set; we hurried up and ride our motocross through smooth asphalt roads to Wediombo Beach, just adjacent to Jungwok Beach. The track from Wediombo to Jungwok Beach was rocky rough soil, inclining and declining and winding all along the way, and could only be passed by two-wheeled vehicles. Our motors ferociously roared, crossing the darkness and the silence. The natural condition is what has preserved Jungwok's natural harmony.

We were greeted by a white-sand beach covered by sea pandans, about 1.5 kilometers from Wediombo. We've reached Jungwok, the last destination in our list. Wasting no time, we set up a tent to spend the night, opened supplies we've managed to obtain from Kotagede traditional market, and prepared to cook. We cooked watercress and mushroom soup, and fried chickens. Yeah, that's a luxurious menu for a humble camping. PARTY!

At precisely 12 pm midnight, we lit up fireworks to signify the change of year. The universe joined us in the celebration, showering us with thousands of stars that looked like stardusts pouring from a fairy's magic stick. This was a perfect moment at year end to capture some photos of the Milky Way or star trails. That night, the tide was at its lowest. We saw someone looking like walking on the surface of the water. It turned out that it was a local fellow wearing a headlamp and carrying a simple spear, about to hunt for fishes that might be left by the waves and trapped among the corals. Curious, we joined his search. Various beautiful, unique marine biotas are there to see. Unrecognized, the sun had peeked again from beyond the horizon. We had been waiting for it, and now the first sun of the New Year had appeared.

As the sun rose, the tide got higher. Coral reefs were again filled with water, while the fishes again swam freely. The holes in the reefs looked just like a natural pond. These holes, once filled with water, may be used as a place for snorkeling around, accompanied by small fishes and other marine biota-so fun. Yes, snorkeling! Done playing water, we wandered around the white sands along the seashore with our motocross. The motors roared against the crashing waves-so exciting. Yippiieeeee!! Satisfied with all the plays, we packed up our stuffs, leaving no trash behind. We're ready for journey home.

This was a very exciting year end trip. From the upstream to the downstream, playing in plain water to snorkeling in salt water, watching sunset and sunrise, from light rain to bright sky adorned with stars. We could feel the jokes, laughters, and amazements. This was really fun! YES!!

The article is one of the finalists of the "New Year Holiday in Jogja" Writing Contest.