Pangandaran. I have finally learnt the name, the spelling and the pronunciation. I was a little worried on leaving Yogyakarta that I’d end up in Prambanan. A temple. Not far from Yogya, in the other direction to Pangandaran. And I’m pretty sure you can’t surf, snorkel or get sunburnt there. Ok, well, maybe you can get sunburnt there, but the other two are definite no-no’s.
Luckily, my weak Bahasa Indonesian had got me the right ticket, and after a creepy half hour with the bus company office guy who asked to take my photo, I was heading to Pangandaran.
Even better, when I arrived at a pretty decent looking hotel complete with Western toilet and shower, I noticed another “white person” arrive on his motorbike. His name was Cliff. And Cliff is one of the many that are being added to my list of saviours. He offered to take me out for some good food on his bike and is married to an Indonesian woman so visits every year and has been to Pangandaran a few times so knew his way around much better than I could have figured out on my own!
On my first day here, we headed to the National Park at the bottom of the village. Cliff went fishing around the corner on a different beach and I stayed on the coral rich beach at the top end of the park. There were so many starfish! I hovered around for a while but eventually, the people bobbing up and down in life jackets with little snorkels popping up looked a lot more appealing. Having no-one to leave my bag with, and having my camera, phone, and money in my bag, finding a trustworthy looking snorkel rental man was a must. Thankfully, the first guy I found was sat chatting to a police officer, so I thought, “If I’m gonna leave it anywhere, here’s the best bet!”. I’m so glad I did. Snorkeling made me want to dive even more so, so much so that I’m considering adding the Philippines into my trip much more than I was initially.
I was floating along, taking it slow, constantly bobbing my head up to check my bag was still there when a little man in a mask and snorkel called to me, “Here is good but over here is much better, follow me!” He seemed like quite a genuine guy, so, hoping that he wouldn’t be after a tip once the tour was over, I followed. He grabbed me by the wrist and must have been showing me round some amazing coral for at least 20 minutes. However long it was, it was enough for the back of my legs to get sunburnt!
I’d asked Cliff on the first day if he knew of any good surf instructors, or places to ask along the beach. He recommended Batu Karas, a small village 32km from Pangandaran. He was kind enough to offer to take me there on the second day. And so I attempted surfing! One of the things on my trip to do list. It’s a real tough workout! I paid 150,000 Rp (about a tenner!) for an hours lesson and board rental all day. My instructor was adorable, and reminded me of my old Spanish teacher Gonzo (for those of you who are now confused, I did not name my tortoise after my old Spanish teacher. That would be weird.). After a few failed attempts, he said to me, “If you don’t stand, you don’t pay! Money back guarantee!” As tempting as it was to get the lesson for free, I was determined that I would stand. And I did! About 4 times. Once I managed to stand all the way to the shore, and I caught about 10 – 15 other waves but bodyboarded them in as I couldn’t quite stand. Overall, not a bad first attempt, but definitely need more practice before I can be cruising along like some of them were!
And now tomorrow I leave Pangandaran. Not a temple. I’m heading to Bandung for one night, to catch a plane to Kuala Lumpur, where my mum and sister will be waiting to spend a few days with me! Very exciting! But today, I need to relax, stop swaying from the surf and keep applying the aftersun…