Gunung Kidul, D.I. Yogyakarta – When It’s Not All About Rocks And Culture
We’ve been planning to hit Yogyakarta for sometime now. Apparently, we’re still missing some of the iconic places of this area. Sure, our mission is to show you the other less known places of Indonesia, but it hurts us more when the obvious is very much worth the visit and yet it’s not part of the Indohoy list. So the next three entries will be about our trip to Yogyakarta, from the popular to the less known places.
It still surprises me sometimes that we end up more exhausted on our journeys than we do working. This particular day was one of them being a little ‘fun in the sun’ until the day is done. People travel to Yogyakarta to see the temples and immerse in the local culture. But whad’ya know? The outskirts also offers outdoor activities. There we were, soaked in the middle of who-knows-where with people we barely knew. No, thankfully we weren’t kidnapped and drowned. On the contrary, we were parasites, honored to tag along and leeched Yogyes on one of their field trips. Nobody told us that being a parasite could be this much fun!
We entered the earth’s belly through the Pindul Cave on an inner tube. It was a relaxing trip just enjoying the inside of our planet. We also played at the Sri Gethuk waterfall. We don’t need much excuse getting wet.
Tiwul and side dishes provided by the locals near Sri Gethuk waterfall.
How to get there
Charter a car and you would need a driver or guide that knows the Gunung Kidul area well.
It is a pleasure to tell the story of us meeting with the Yogyes team. Yogyes.com is an established website dedicated for travelers, and tourists of course, planning to visit Jogjakarta and its surrounding area. It provides information from things to do, places to go, to car rental, and accommodation information. Anyone that wants to travel Jogjakarta should take a peek at www.Yogyes.com, and we’re not saying this just because we leeched on them most of the time. It’s because they have extensive information on the area.
We traveled with fearless Sasha (strangely, her real name is Elizabeth. Where did that come from?), sweet but curious Teti, and the odd Rizal (don’t let his good looks fool you *wink*). We traveled to the Gunung Kidul area to visit Pindul Cave and Sri Gethuk waterfall with a few other stops. It was a tight itinerary and fingers were crossed to do it all.
I didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves in to. If I was blindfolded and tied up (RAWR!), I’d be pretty sure these people were abducting me to be sold in the black market. We were 30 minutes in to the drive amongst the dry highland of Gunung Kidul. The soil was brown and cracked due to lack of water. I was excited of the unpredictable.
I never doubt free trips people give me. Yes, I’m that easy! We already had descriptions from Sasha of what we were going to do. As a water sign, the idea of jumping in the water made my eyes sparkle and my phantom fins wiggle. As soon as we were strapped up with lifejackets and preferable rubber shoes, we were walking down a path to the river. The river was bluish green, vaguely clean, and calm. And of course, what is traveling Indonesia without the oddity of a lady washing her clothes right where we deploy.
The Pindul Cave is about 300 m long. The guides will help you get on your tire, and will direct the flow the entire time. It’s a walk in a park. There’s nothing special required to do this trip. You sit there and stare.
For about 45 minutes we flowed through the cave and listened to the stories told about the cave. It’s no surprise that most of the stories are from legends besides a few facts. I’m sure you can relate more to the information of stalactites, stalagmites, crystal rocks, columns and creases of the cave. The crystal rocks are beautiful. They sparkle like glitter under the spotlight of the torches provided. Yes, nature is glamorous! As for the legendary side of things, we respect the stories as we do the facts.
Columns are stalagmites and stalactites that meet in the middle, and eventually forming a long rock. Columns spread all through the cave. There is one particular column that is, to date, the 4th largest in the world! There were 7 of us, and we still didn’t manage to hug the massive thing.
Being listed on the world’s column map, you’d think that people preserve it by not touching it? Ding dong wrong, local people bang on it! Hahahaha… a geologist’s nightmare, I know. We were given an example. The clang of the rock gave a nice resonanced round us. This also also to the other columns within this cave. Interestingly, each column has a certain note when you bang it. Local people still play music on these columns during traditional ceremonies. Something that I would love to see. Maybe you’ll get lucky should you visit one day!
Personally, I would have loved it if the tour weren’t packed with legendary stories. There was too much to digest and yet they were stories from the past or mystical. I respect them, but it’s hard to follow in such modern times. Because it was a relatively short cave and there were too much information, there wasn’t much time to enjoy the silence and ambience being swallowed in the earth’s belly.
Coming towards the end was a lot of fun. The ‘light of heaven’ came from the ceiling. Flowing towards it was like finding a solution to a dead end problem; the light at the end of a tunnel. Almost to the end of the cave, we finally got off our inner tubes and played a bit in the water. There was a ledge to jump off. Vira still didn’t manage to overcome her ‘fear of heights and bumping in to the rocks below’ She’s shoving her elbow in my rib now, hinting me not to mention that. Ouch!
Tips: This trip is an easy one, but if you have a fear of the dark and it’s really bad, you might want to take that in to consideration.
The youth association of Gelaran 1 village; contact person Haris at +62 859 5965 6561
SRI GETHUK WATERFALL
After traveling another 30 minutes, we arrived at the Sri Gethuk waterfall. Once reaching the parking lot, you can’t see the waterfall. All you can see is a sign providing a choice to walk or take a boat. Yes, you predicted right, we took the boat. We’re lazy asses, we are!
Walked down the hill to reach another clean green river with an engine powered raft kinda thingy. One that is proudly made by the locals. After the Yogyes guys small-talked with the organizers, we were ready to hop on that raft. And I got to drive it! Yes, I have the skill to ride a raft and I will put that on my resume. I’m sure it’s gonna come in handy one day. It wasn’t hard, just very heavy.
We rode through the 20m wide river. The river banks were narrow with walls standing tall. After 15 minutes, we started to hear the soft rumble of the water and soon enough we saw it falling. The waterfall wasn’t huge, nor dramatic. It was moderate but beautiful. The ledges formed a stage like platform that you can walk on easily. The water was fresh, and the gentle splash of the water makes it pleasant to sit underneath the fall area. You can also choose to sit behind the water curtain of the fall. Rainbows were everywhere! *staring in to the distance with euphoric feeling of love*
We spent more time here than we did in the Pindul Cave. Probably because there were a lot of areas that can be explored. And it was here, Vira took the leap of faith and jumped in the water. No sweat, right Vir? Vira butting in: of course, it was a much shorter rock and no bump in the bottom
Heading back home, we decided to jump into inner tubes and paddle ourselves back. Once at the base, we washed ourselved at the water spring. Surprisingly, the organizers prepared a basic meal (read more in the Eats) which was delicious! Someone should ban their chili paste beacuse it’s criminally good!
After all of that, we were poofed! We really wanted to lay down and just stop moving. We had a great day but,man, was it tiring! Our agenda didn’t end there. That night we parted with the Yogyes team to continue the night at the Prambanan Sendratari show. We’re found guilty to dragged them in to the complex that night which was experiencing a huge traffic jam. But that’s another story
For those that fancy a day at a the Sri Gethuk water, you can contact the local people of Bleberan village or call Kohar at +62 853 3400 5700 or Tri Harjono at +62 813 2821 6842
At the SRI GETHUK WATERFALL
Out of kindness, we were served a simple local dish for lunch. I don’t know how or why the organizers prepared it, but I guess the good relationship was buil between them and the Yogyes team. Lucky us!
The dish consisted of Tiwul (dried cooked cassava), tempeh, tofu, salty fish, boiled cassava leaves, and the almighty chili paste. This is a common food combination of the area and Indonesia in general. As simple as it is, most Indonesians just can’t resist this combination. We are simple people.
It was served on bamboo weaved plates with banana leaves as base. It tastes better like this, rather than on a plate. Naturally, a banana leaf is better tasting than a ceramic plate.
What is a local Indonesian dish without eating with your hands? Yes people, the best way to enjoy your food is by scooping it up with your fingers. It’s uncommon to find any Indonesian that can’t eat with their hands. Foreigners might struggle, but its a fun experience anyone should try, especially if the rice is soaked in soup broth. It’s a finger lickin experience.
We arrived at the Pindul Cave and Sri Gethuk Waterfall by Yogyes’ chartered car. It’s an area hard to reach and I’m not sure if it’s quite common for a lot of people. Best choice is rent a car with a driver that knows the Gunung Kidul area or get a guide.
Car rentals can be as cheap as about IDR 160,000 / car / 12 hours, excluding driver and gasoline. Rentals can be found on the Yogyes website.