Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Parangtritis - At The Edge of the World

Parangtritis. It already sounds like an inflammation, or a put-down, like "Parang palaka! Parang kabayo! (You look like a frog; like a horse)" so I was drawn to it even during the early stages of my planning for this trip. But it would eventually catch me unprepared.

It was 11AM when I finally decided to venture into the unknown. Though it's just 27 kilometers to the southwest coast of Yogyakarta, buses that leave for Parangtritis are few (they say one bus leaves every hour) and far between. It freaks me out to be stuck in such a place where everyone seems slumbering in the day. This was Edward Cullens territory.

This fishing village is notoriously known for Nyai Loro Kidul, a local worship attributed to the Queen of the South Seas. It's also known for its fatal waves. In fact, signs are scattered everywhere asking the patrons not to swim, "It's dangerous!" It reminds like some morbid prediction. The sand, though almost ugly as a black basalt, is powdery white, finer than the ones in Bali's Kuta Beach. And when the waves rush to the shore, it pulls an inch of sand back to its sea bed.


Among the locals, it's common knowledge not to wear anything green in color, or the "Queen" - like mermaids - will entice the wearer into the ocean to drown. Interesting right?

Wonderment starts at Giwangan, Yogya's main bus terminal. I asked around for Parangtritis' main garage and readily inquired about its cost. Everyone said 6,000 Rp. When I hopped into the lone bus, another passenger told me it was 10,000 Rp. We left the station and made several stops along the way, one even lasted for 10 minutes. At some point, the driver stopped the bus then collected our fare. I was special, I was asked to pay - not 5,000, not 10,000 either - but 15,000 Rp. Damn, it's pretty amazing to be a foreigner in this country. Drivers treat you like a money tree. Can't they see my eyes are a bit slitty and my skin's a tad darker? I should smell like an Asian currency obviously, not a dollar!

The trip took more than an hour. In fact, as people gradually made their stops, I had the sinking feeling I was gonna be left all alone in this darn bus with a driver who treats me like I was Bill Gate's brother! But before such thoughts prospered any further, the rolling greens of rice paddies became mounds of little mountain ranges. It inspired thoughts that I was letting myself into something I wasn't sure I could handle? What if I got stuck here? Goodbye, Solo?

Then we pulled into a dead bus terminal where the only organisms moving are the blades of grass getting blown by the wind. I jumped off my bus and crossed the street. There was a black-colored park, with Hindu-inspired images. Great! My spirit is starting to perk up. I made my way towards the beach!

True enough, what drew my attention was the forceful gush of the waves. Further along, the draught from the waves made a hazy veneer over the mountain skyline. There were horse-drawn carriages driving along the shores. This, in fact, couldn't be a viable fishing community, I thought. Not with those kinds of waves. There were unhired buggy rides and people I could count with my fingers.
I pushed my shoe hard against the dark stand. This is my imprint, I thought. I made it to Parangtritis, a virtual ghost town on the south coast of Java. I chose a different road on my way back to the bus terminal. There were shirt shops lining the roads. There were inns and losmens, silently begging for occupants, but this was at the edge of the world where the only ones making sound are the angry waves.

I saw a bus getting ready to leave for Yogyakarta's Giwangan Station. I asked the driver if i could buy a bottle of water first. He nodded, but after several tries, I was unsuccessful. Fuck the water! Am gonna jump into that bus thirsty but nevertheless pleased to be leaving this weird place.

True enough, the driver was already calling me from a block away! He had to. I was his sole passenger!

My fare? From 15,000 Rp earler, it was readily hiked into 20,000 Rp all within the span of an hour! Now I feel even feel more special. And as if to mark this celebratory feast, the rains started to soak the dusty roads up ahead of us. Goodbye, Parangtritis. May you find your audience soon.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

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