Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 17 January 2014 • Opinion
I dreaded Phys Ed and hated the fact that it was a compulsory in my college curriculum. And I hated running the most because I was always out of breath so quickly. But then a professor in Introduction to Art & Design changed my perception. He said, more or less, that to be creative is to include physical fitness as a factor. Exercising helps boost your mood and it helps your mind to connect things that didn’t seem to be related before, among other reasons. Because the lecturer was a wise-looking man with gray long beard, I believed him.
As I grew older and wiser but thankfully didn’t grow a beard, I realized that being healthy and having a good stamina helps in so many aspects of life. It keeps you moving, helps you socialize better, and gives you a sense of achievement. These last few years, exercising is not like eating vegetables anymore. I actually enjoy it, and not doing it only because I know I need it.
As running has become one of my favorite sports (other than swimming and cardio muay thai that I rarely do anymore), I’m happy to see more and more Indonesians run routinely. Running race has become a trend in Jakarta, with the same amount of people being cynical about it being done. Mainstream or not, I think it’s never wrong to move your ass, hit the track and sweat.
The attempt of keeping stamina is something I often failed to do when traveling, as I’m busy trotting the interesting stuff in front of me. I forget to exercise and this can prolong all the way to the holiday blues. But in a couple of trips I’ve proven that exercising while traveling is totally doable, so have a couple of my friends. So here are some stories of our running experiences in some places of Indonesia.
Boyo is listed as a Jakarta citizen but now resides in Medan (North Sumatra) after a few years in Balikpapan (East Kalimantan) for his work. He takes his running shoes wherever he goes, and here are tech-savvy Boyo’s tips about running:
1. Know where to run, especially if you’re new to the area. You could use Runkeeper or Nike+ on the web to plan and save routes. I recommend Runkeeper for easier access on the go (iPhone and Android app available).
2. Choose what time of the day is best for you to run. Take traffic or even sunlight as a consideration. The sun’s position is not the same for each city.
3. Safety First. Your speed and pace means nothing if you’re hit by a speeding bus. So wear bright and neon colors in traffic areas especially if you’re running at night.
Uci is an example of how routine exercising helps to lose weight and she doesn’t actually cut down on intakes. Now looking fit and better than ever, she continues running (or biking or swimming) wherever and whenever she can.
Below are pictures she took when running circling the Gili Trawangan, which is apparently a common activity among tourists on the island. It’s her favorite place to run, other than the Kuta or Legian beaches in Bali.
Uci’s suggestion on running in Gili Trawangan is to:
“Start your run before sunrise (from the west to the east) or before sunset (from the east to the west), so you could view the amazing sunrise or sunset view along the way. Breathtaking!”
As for her experience in Mataram (the capital city of West Nusa Tenggara, located on Lombok Island), she discovered the well-ordered city when her run started from the Santika Hotel.
Her say on running in Mataram:
“The asphalted road was not in the best condition, there were holes here and there, but it was alright. Just pay more attention so you don’t trip. I was the only person running that evening, and I made a few heads turned, out of bewilderment. Some even made a pass by whistling at me. But, who cares, right?”
Asri was one of my running gang in college, but I think she was way more sportier than me. Now a lecturer and a mother of one, she almost always travels with her daughter and husband. But once in a while Asri finds time for herself and uses it to run.
“You can do it anywhere. Even in the backyard of your hotel, while your daughter and husband prefer to have a dip in the pool,” she says on her running experience at Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel, Yogyakarta.
My most favorite running track would be the beach, but not the really mushy sand part. The part with more solid sand where your feet don’t sink when stepping on it. Basically, I like running on any land that stretches until forever, ‘cos it motivates me to run further and further. But I love running on the beach because it’s flat and scenic. Normally I love to listen to the waves, but when running I prefer listening to my upbeat song list through headphones.
My favorite beaches for running so far: Seminyak and Sanur in Bali. Seminyak is great because it’s solid and wide, while Sanur beach is soft sand with scattered coral stones but has a paved way for pedestrians.
When I’m not traveling, I like to run on Sudirman and Thamrin avenues in a CFD (Car Free Day), which is on every Sunday from 6-11 AM. The long stretch of road and mostly flat, plus the many choices of breakfast afterwards just does it for me. There are also all kinds of activities and people, from activists with their campaign banners, little kids with their mini bikes, teenagers on powerisers, even horse carts! Oh, we’ve actually had it filmed here.
My friend Vindhya has also introduced me to morning run in the Ragunan Zoological Park, South Jakarta. I never thought a zoo could be a running arena! It’s a pleasure because there are a lot of trees, makes breathing feels lighter. The terrain is a little bit challenging because it goes up and down.
If you’re going to run at Ragunan Zoo in the weekend, I suggest you finish running before visitors come and pack the place, which is about 8 a.m.
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