Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 12 October 2015 • Destination
“Oh noooo! How am I gonna do this??!”I half cried upon seeing the narrow 45 degree slope I had to walk through sideways. I started to regret my decision to do trekking in Sawai Village.
“Don’t worry, just hold on to the tree trunks and step confidently on the roots over there..”
“What tree trunks? Which roots?? They’re wobbly!! %!!*^*&%$^$*?!%##&(!!!”
I swear to God I would never do this ever again! Why DID I choose trekking in the forest over snorkeling around Ora Resort?! Why do I always make stupid decisions like this?!
I hated Diyan for taking me trekking here. I hated Pak Dino, the guesthouse manager, for saying that the path was all flat. I probably should’ve chosen the other trekking route, the Bukit Bendera that Yuki told me. But nah, that one is also steep.
Diyan and our guide, Pak James, were helping me getting through the short but scary path by pulling me by the hands, and Pak James let me rest my foot on his to make sure I don’t slip. But still, it was the fear of falling that got the better of me. Unless he was a giant one hundred year old banyan tree, I still didn’t see how I could fully rely on him.
I felt a slight pain on my knees. “God damn it! Please not my knees again..!” I was scared of a reoccuring pain after past injury. Apparently you need a set of strong knees to uphold your whole body for this whole trekking thing.
A few minutes later – which felt like a whole year – the steep slope path ended. Phew! We arrived at the cave, the reason we detoured the trek and got on that hell slope. I was relieved, and asked Pak James as I was dusting off my palms, “So, we’re entering the cave and then where are we exiting to?”
“No, we’ll come back out here again, and walk back through that slope again, and then walk out of the woods…”
Say what?? Back to the slope again??
Then we heard a trumpety sound from the sky above us. “Hornbills!” Diyan remarked excitingly. “Honey, do you wanna see hornbills??
“Quick, come here!”
“I said, no!”
Why would I bother to see hornbills – other than the fact that I had seen them in Borneo a few years ago – when nightmare is just around the corner. That slope.
Then we entered the cave, each one holding a flahslight because it was pitch dark in there. We needed to watch out for stalactites. We walked further and further in until we reached a big opening, still in pitch dark. Researchers would go up, vertical caving with only ropes and hooks, but not tourists like us. That was our furthest point though I know Diyan was actually curious about what up there. There was no way we were going up because we weren’t equipped with the proper tools. Plus, I might not have the guts to do it anyway. By then, I was already in a better mood. I even enjoyed making that classic scary photo with flashlight under my chin and all.
Pak James didn’t have much to tell about the cave, so we went back out. At the mouth of the cave, I asked Pak James whether we really had to go on the same path as our way in. He pointed at another path, which was a flatter slope with a tree trunk blocking the way. We went limbo underneath the trunk. The path was indeed much easier, but I wasn’t fully relieved because earlier I saw a quick movement of the grass in that area, which must be a slithering snake. Shit, I feel goosebumps just writing about it now. But I took my chance, hoping the snake had gone far away and no friend of it was coming after.
The view on our way out was very much like the way in. Many kinds of trees and shrubs surrounded us, including the daun gatal or itchy leaves. These are unique leaves. If your skin rubs the leave, even only a slight touch, it makes the skin itch, and then you’ll feel like it’s been cut a bit, but then a few minutes later the itch and the pain are gone, just like that. You just have to endure it on the self-healing process. Pak James even said that these leaves can be used as medicine for external wounds, and had been used a lot by the villagers.
Hibiscus, the plant that I saw in Ubud’s Herbal Walk, also existed in the woods. The flowers radiate a strong smell in a short radius around the tree. There’s also sapodilla or sawo as we call it, one of my favorite fruits, and it was my first time seeing its tree. Among the shrubs I noticed some empty green bottles and what looked like a bench made of small wooden logs assembled together.
“Oh, that’s probably just the locals or rangers’ doing. They sit here waiting for birds to feed,” Pak James explained. I wanted to ask him further because I didn’t quite understand why they’d feed wild birds, but then the path became steep. I had to really concentrate on my steps again.
Less than half of an hour later we started to hear the sound of civilization. Cars and motorbikes. That could only mean one thing: a flat road! Woohoo! I could hear my knees cheering and dancing with pompoms.
We were to continue walking on the side of asphalted road for about 1 km, when suddenly a truck stopped and Pak James talked with the driver. Pak James turned to us and said, “They’re giving us a ride, let’s hop on the back of the truck.” Hooray!
I actually didn’t mind walking for another kilometer because I wasn’t really tired, but sitting on the back of the truck always excites me! I love it! The wind blows my hair, like the less sophisticated version of music video girls on convertibles, and I could see the opposite view of what we’re used to see when riding a car. Is it safe? Well.. Hey look, a flying pig!
A few minutes later we arrived at the bird conservation, simply named as Seram Animal Rescue Center; Seram being the island. A kitten welcomed us at the hut while we were resting a little while, and then followed us all through the tour. While being followed by the kitten is the highlight for me personally, it is actually the birds in cages are the stars of the conservation.
These birds are mostly confiscated from people who keep them as pets, or from poachers who’d sell them to locals or abroad. Pak James used to be one of the poachers before he was recruited by the Manusela National Park as a ranger. Poaching birds is usually just a way to make ends meet, so now that Pak James – and several other then-poachers rangers – is hired officially and given knowledge trainings, he takes much better care of these birds and nature in general.
The birds in the conservation include cackatoos, cassowaries and parrots. Some of the cackatoos are Seram endemic, which are the ones with white feather with a touch of soft peach. Very pretty. The red with black head parrots are Seram original. Then there were two cassowaries in separate enclosures; one was quiet and had only one foot, and the other was bigger, aggressive and ferocious. Feed it with papaya or something else on your hand and it will attack you like it did to Pak James, who did it just to show us how fierce this big bird is. I was quite shocked and literally took a few steps back when it was trying to attack Pak James. So anytime you see a cassowary, please stay clear from it unless you’re dressed in steel armour.
After the tour, we took the easy way back to Lisar Bahari guesthouse: by motorbike taxi or ojek for only about 10 minutes. So I could take the ojek from the guesthouse to the conservation as well if I wanted to, but I did agree on trekking my way there because I needed to sweat a little bit. So yeah, I was hating Diyan only because I was being a brat, ‘cos I was actually the one who chose to go trekking.
You could do what I did, book the tour and guide via Pak Dino the manager of Lisar Bahari Guesthouse.
The trekking trip cost us IDR250,000/2 persons, but I’m not sure how many people max he can guide per trip.
The trekking in the woods lasted about 1,5-2 hours for us, but only about half an hour for locals like Pak James.
The ojek trip cost IDR30,000/ride. You need to ask around who can ‘ojek’ for you because there’s no “Ojek” sign on streets like you would see in big cities in Indonesia.
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