“Where are you from?” a foreigner asked me with a curious look. “I’m local. I was actually born in this city, in Jogjakarta” I replied.

True, I was born in Jogjakarta yet I know so little about the city. The two foreigners that I met at Batik Kelik probably know the city more than I do.

“I’m Nicole and he is Rakesh, we’re from California,” the woman introduced herself.
“Oh wow, all the way from California to Jogja. Which part?” I asked.
“East bay,” Nicole replied.
“Ah… Go Bears?” I confidently assumed they were students (they surely look like the Berkeley type – with the slight hippie look).
“No, we live in Oakland, we just moved there because of work,” she explained.

I was quite surprised to hear that Nicole and Rakesh had saved a lot just to backpack in Indonesia. When I met them in Jogja, they had been on the road for about a month. Jogjakarta was one of their must-do stops in Java, before continuing their journey to Pangkalan Bun.

Ibu Susi patiently teaches each one of us how to use canting

Ibu Susi patiently teaches each one of us how to use canting

Then there were three of us: me, Nicole and Rakesh attending the batik workshop at Batik Kelik that morning. It was an impromptu decision for me to take this half-day batik painting course, out of curiosity. I met Ibu Susi, the batik teacher and owner of Batik Kelik, just the day before by accident; she was sitting next to me on the flight from Bali to Jogjakarta. When I asked if I could visit the workshop, she welcomingly said, “Well yes, of course. I’m glad to know an Indonesian wants learn more about batik.”

Just in case anyone is interested, here is the contact detail and the map

Just in case anyone is interested

I did not know that the process of making a batik tulis (hand-drawn batik) would take a very long time. Even to create a simple 40x50cm artwork takes at least four hours to finish. Attention to details and patience are crucial in creating a good batik. A few times Ibu Susi reminded me to not to rush with the canting (the batik pen). The wax ink has to be warm enough to leave a print on both sides of the cloth and the canting stroke has to be at a certain angle to create a smooth pattern. Was it difficult? Heck, yeah but it was a lot of fun.

This simple drawing took me 5 hours to finish

This simple drawing took me 5 hours to finish

The next day I was ready for another day of adventure.

Prior to this Jogja trip, my friend Iyut introduced me to this paramotor-crazy guy called Mas Pitik. Hanging out with Iyut, I feel that I am surrounded by really crazy people – in a good sense. They are crazy passionate about what they do and what they believe in.

Mas Pitik is the person in charge for running cave exploration activity in Jomblang Cave, one of the many cave systems in Mt. Kidul area. And yes, today I am going caving to search for the famous cahaya surga – the light from heaven.

Searching for the wonderful gift from nature

Searching for nature’s wonderful gift

Getting to this place was not easy. I would recommend taking a 4×4 car, a GPS, and the operator’s contact number (I assure you you will be lost in the forest on the way there if you try to drive on your own). If you want no fuss, ask the operator to help you arrange for a pick up from the city. Or if you insist on taking your own car, give Mas Pitik a call. You might be lucky enough to catch him in the city, then you can ask him to tag along with you.

Yeah you will have to go up and down this way, super fun!

Yeah, you will have to go up and down this way, super fun!

The journey from city center of Jogja to Mt. Kidul takes about 2-3 hours depending on traffic. It was an enjoyable ride having Mas Pitik in the car and to hear him share some of his (insane) stories. From paramotor malfunction to shark bite while filming underwater to carrying an infant corpse on his back during Mt. Merapi evacuation, I couldn’t help but think … this guy is really hardcore.

He does not consider himself hardcore, though. Instead he humbly said, “I am nothing compared to my mentor, Mas Cahyo.”

The “Mas Cahyo” he is referring to is none other than Cahyo Alkantana, the legendary adventurer. He is dubbed Indonesia’s Indiana Jones by Forbes magazine, how cool is that? (check out the article here)

Thanks to Mas Cahyo and his team, who developed this area to promote responsible travel, the area surrounding Mt. Kidul can now become a new playground for nature lovers and adventure seekers like me.

I can sit for hours just to enjoy this moment!

I can sit for hours just to enjoy this moment!