Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week 1... Indonesia is awesome

"Light of Heaven" streaming into a cave in the jungle.
I have been trying to put together some posts with themes, like "food" (which is incredibly cheap, tasty and spicy to a level that I have not experienced even living in Mexico and Thailand) and "my homestay"... It is taking longer than I want because I keep forgetting to take pictures, so I am going to just give an update about week 1 and entertain with pictures of part 1 of this weekend's activities.

I spend a lot of time studying Indonesia at a nearby language school. I hope to develop a post about them because they are amazing and they have really created a nice community of expats wrestling with Indonesia. I think that my language is coming along quite well. Indonesians are amazingly friendly and patient with "bule" (foreigners), so practicing Indonesian is fun.

Surface of the stalagmite
I finished my lessons around 3pm and would return to the homestay. Evenings have been spent either studying or with the other residents of the homestay... all of them are fascinating and kind. Other residents hail from America, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Turkey, Germany, Korea and Japan. We are 11 in total.
Part way down to the cave

Ashley hails from Florida originally, but she is studying through a university in Australia and has been in Indonesia for a while. Ash is extremely talented at organizing outings and inviting fantastic people. We have gone out to dinner, to the shopping mall and, this weekend, she rallied a group on a FANTASTIC caving adventure.

Yesterday morning, two cars arrived to drive 7 of us several hours to a cave that has been opened for tourists. The highlight of the cave is amazing light that streams down from an opening in the roof of the largest part of the cavern. To reach this spot, you are first lowered 60 meters off a cliff onto the jungle floor. This was a bit nerve wracking for all involved... but not nearly as nerve wracking as when they pulled up back up the same cliff using 10 local guys! However, the safety concerns seemed well-attended-to, so we took the plunge... literally.
Go jump off a cliff

We left the heat an humidity of the forest into the cool darkness of the cave. After a walk of about 200 meters, the cave opened into a beautiful cavern with the "Light of Heaven" streaming through the ceiling. After climbing a massive stalagmite, and becoming completely soaked by the water that formed it, we descended a steep and MUDDY slope down the the river that formed the cave.

Ladies on the stalagmite

We shed our harnesses and helmets and jumped, fully clothed into the water. I think from that point on we were pretty much soaking wet and filthy for the rest of the day. After a nice swim and slight de-mudding, we climbed back through the muck to the mouth of the cavern where a small lunch waited. We enjoyed the last cool air of the cave as we ate rice, sauce, and chicken or tofu.

"Light of Heaven"
"Light of Heaven" shining on the stalagmite
After we were hoisted one by one up the cliff, we decided that our adventure should not end there. We stopped at a nearby spot where we floated on tubes through another series of caves. We spent a glorious amount of time swimming and floating outside of the tubes as well. I honestly don't remember if I have ever been that relaxed.

We reluctantly climbed out of the river and returned to to the start where we were offered mie (noodle soup) and tea before our drive back to Yogyakarta. As we neared the city, the sky brightened and changed color as the sun set. It was a beautiful ending to an awesome day.
Me in the cave

1 comment:

  1. Incredible, Mindy! Looks like you're adventures in Indonesia are off to a great start. Can't wait to learn some Malay from you upon your return!