Beach Weekend

This past weekend we traveled down to Pelabuhan Ratu on the south coast of Java. Another group of friends made the plans and booked a villa to celebrate a few birthdays, and they very kindly let us tag along. We went into it knowing that the trip takes a long time, the roads are crap, the beach is beautiful but basically unswimmable, and the places to stay are of questionable quality. After writing that out, I’m sort of wondering why we went… but it had to be done for the sake of adventure!

Going

Knowing that the traffic can be bad, especially on a weekend, we decided to leave early after lunch on Friday. The rest of the group was planning to leave Bogor at 7 or 8 at night, which was just too late for us with the kids. So we piled into the car with our friend and set out. I drove. Now, to put this trip into perspective, here is a google map showing our route:

Okay, 110 km, just under 3 hours. Sounds pretty reasonable, considering we are driving through a volcano range in Indonesia… Actually, just writing that makes me wonder again why we did it.

The drive started slow as we headed up the first mountainside. There was a lot of traffic, and, as it turned out, several of the roads were under construction, slowing down even more what was already our snail’s pace. But, I pulled a couple of *ahem* questionable passing lane moves (basically I just drove into oncoming traffic until I couldn’t any more, that’s a thing here), and it only took us an hour or two to get through the slowdown.

By then, we had reached the “bad” part of the road. I would describe this section of road as 30% road and 70% potholes. And very curvy. Luckily, LittleB only barfed once. I think that’s a pretty good average for this road, from what I’ve heard. Apparently there was a former school principal who used to go up every weekend and his kid would be sick in the car every time. That sounds like a good family bonding activity to me! We averaged about 25 km/h.

This is a fairly normal part of the road. Like I said, 70% potholes.
This is a fairly normal part of the road. Like I said, 70% potholes.

Six and half hours later, we rolled into the hotel.

Staying

We stayed at a charming villa nestled into the side of mountain, overlooking the coast. It was built of teak and boasted of luxury on its website. The truth? It was kind of a crazy haunted mansion / grade 5 matchstick building project / Frankensteinian monstrosity dangling precariously off the edge of a cliff. Yes, it was made out of teak, but it looked as though someone took parts of other buildings and glued them haphazardly together, holding it all up with random pieces of wood and twine. Also, the driveway was at about a 75 degree incline, which our automatic Avanza was not happy about.

The view from the second floor to the main floor and cliff
The view from the second floor to the main floor and cliff
That is the front of the building. Above the colored tiles is a guest room, held up by the random posts.
That is the front of the building. Above the colored tiles is a guest room, held up by the random posts.
One of the second-level sitting rooms.
One of the second-level sitting rooms.

Anyway, we were the first ones to arrive, so we had our pick of rooms. Originally, we were supposed to be in the Panorama room, which I assumed was the nicest because it cost more. It turned out to be a strange little room at the bottom of the house (without a panoramic view, despite its name), and it only had three single beds in it. There is nothing comfortable about squeezing two above-average-sized adults and two children into three single beds (let’s be honest here, they were actually cots), plus to reach the room you had to travel down an unlit, slippery, misshapen walkway. Um, no. So we took the room upstairs that had a king bed in it. At least we mostly fit into that one.

Other than the wasp nest in the bathroom, the rest of the accommodations were ok. Oh wait, there was also a pool. I use this term loosely. It was kind of a little rectangle of water surrounded by a bunch of old wood and tarps. It’s possible someone swam in it once… but no one ever found them again, so it’s impossible to know for sure.

By the way, the rest of our party arrived at 2 am.

Playing

We spent the day on Saturday at the beach. It was beautiful. Big waves, dark, ferrous sand, rugged coastline. But the undertow was vicious. I didn’t even bother putting on my swimsuit, because I didn’t want to float away. The only people in the water were professional surfers. And B.

Big waves!
Big waves!
Beautiful coastline, though
Beautiful coastline, though
Let's play "Where's B?"
Let’s play “Where’s B?”
The surfers were enjoying the waves
The surfers were enjoying the waves
There were a few guys with boogie boards, too
There were a few guys with boogie boards, too
Lovely views
Lovely views

I stayed on the beach with the kids, building sandcastles and digging up crab holes. Once in a while, a giant wave would sweep onto shore and wash everything away. Like our friend’s flip flops. Like the kids. Like J’s swimming suit. Seriously, it got ripped right off of her, or rather, she got pulled right out of it. I had to choose: J’s bottoms or J herself? It was a tough choice (we paid 20 bucks for those shorts, they were Roxy brand!). In the end, I went with the kid. She spent the rest of the morning in her underpants. At least she thought it was hilarious.

Abby helping the kids build a sandcastle
Abby helping the kids build a sandcastle
The kids making a new friend
The kids making a new friend
Watching the surfers
Watching the surfers
Still beautiful!
Still beautiful!
J's new friend Eloise.
J’s new friend Eloise.
We didn't catch a crab, but this dog did. All he did was roll in it. Gross.
We didn’t catch a crab, but this dog did. All he did was roll in it. Gross.

Here is videographic evidence of such a wave:

Eventually the waves got big enough that even B had to give up, so we headed to a resort down the beach for lunch. We spent the afternoon enjoying beers and pasta on the beach, watching the local kids play some rousing games of football and “dunk your friends in the ocean” (I’m assuming that’s what it was called).

Afternoon view from the restaurant
Afternoon view from the restaurant
Another view from the patio
Another view from the patio
Having some lunch
Having some lunch
Some kind of deep conversation happening
Some kind of deep conversation happening
Good food & friends
Good food & friends
Also up to no good
Also up to no good
Kid up to no good
Kid up to no good
Watching the fishing boats. Shortly after this, some buffalo walked by
Watching the fishing boats. Shortly after this, some buffalo walked by
More coast views
More coast views

That night, we just stayed in and got drunk. It was a birthday party, after all. I don’t have any photos, so you will just have to believe me.

Returning

Sunday morning came early, as usual, with a bright-eyed J up and at ’em at 5 am on the dot. We Cayas tend to have a GTFO attitude on the last day of a vacation, ready to just throw everything in the car at 5:30 and head out. I hate suffering under the looming trip home. But we waited it out to spend a few more precious hours on the beach. And drink some caffeine.

Mid morning, we headed out back on the road, thinking it couldn’t possibly be worse than the trip up. WE WERE SO WRONG. First of all, it took us nearly two hours just to get away from the coast. It would appear that every person on the island of Java was at the beach that day. And there was only one lane of the road open because of construction.

Heading out on the road
Heading out on the road
So repaving a road here means literally putting a whole new road on top, so it's basically unusable until it is done. Real helpful.
So repaving a road here means literally putting a whole new road on top, so it’s basically unusable until it is done. Real helpful.
Stuck in traffic...
Stuck in traffic…
Stuck in traffic behind bananas
Stuck in traffic behind bananas
Aaaaannd now, chickens
Aaaaannd now, chickens

It took another six hours to make it through the mountains and back into Bogor. At one point, we literally sat still in traffic for about an hour. It was a long ride… But we made it home in time for a dinner of fruit loops and peanut butter. We live a charmed life.

Moral of the story: Don’t go to Pelabuhan ratu.

Bonus feature. We found this video on the camera that LittleB took of himself. He appears to be narrating our lunch at the resort on Saturday. It’s amazing, so we figured we should share it with the internet. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Beach Weekend

  1. Every time I went to Pelabuhan Ratu, we left Jakarta after midnight after finishing the night shift at the paper– usually only took us about 3 hours. But yes, that meant arriving at 3 or 4am!

    A lot of the beaches in Java are not good for swimming, really strong rips. I would say the beaches around Pangandaran are the only ones that I found OK for that. But that is an even longer drive…

    Pretty to look at though! Nice pics 🙂 Loving your blog.

    Like

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