Month: November 2013

Cycling Along Sukhothai Historical Park

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I found it nice being alone in a tourist spot. Do you believe it’s a tourist spot?

It’s Sukhothai Historical Park, the main reason I came to Thailand few weeks ago. Couldn’t remember why I fell in love instantly while saw its photos, also videos from UNESCO’s website. It is a World Heritage Site, covering 193 temple ruins of Sukhothai Kingdom rules in 13-14th century.

It covers 70 square kilometres of land in Sukhothai City, 8 hours bus ride from Bangkok. The best way to explore the park is: riding a bycycle. You can rent it at guesthouses and main gate of the park.

You’ll find unexplainable joy by strolling along quite roads and ponds and roaring trees. It’s green everywhere. Purely green! Only few tourist came up to the park that day. Maybe because rain pours heavily, or only because Sukhothai is less-touristy.

Cycling along Sukhothai Historical Park, all alone, brought most happiness that day. The more far a temple, the less tourist I met. It’s pretty scary at first, but I enjoy most of the time.

There were Wat Sa Si, Wat Si Sawai, Wat Taphan Hin… And the astonishing Wat Mahathat, center of them all. In the most secluded temple, Wat Si Chum, there were only local people doing daily pray. I was so glad meeting them. There even a bunch of happiness seeing group of cows passing by.

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Peaceful Randy

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Sometimes, to get involved in a travel world, all you have to do is walk your own path.

I was suprised that my host would be this nice. Randy seems very concern and worry about my trip to Banaue. Just before I went to this small town in North Luzon, Philippines, we emailed each other few times.

He kept remind me about everything, even one of his email was full of advices. To catch the yellow-metered taxi from the airport. To check and re-check the bus schedule. To stop in a town called Solano. To take the right jeepney from Solano to Lagawe. To be right on time to catch another jeepney from Lagawe to Banaue. To be cautious about possibility of scams.

My journey to Banaue took almost 22 hours from Jakarta and I was extremely tired. It was 9 pm when I stepped the guesthouse. The warm and modest Randy’s Brookside Inn lays near Banaue terminal.

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Welcome home! I know you’re going to make it. I emailed you few times today but no response. But somehow I know you’re on your way, that’s why I asked my brother to wait and pick you up on the street. I know you’re not going to give up.”

That was only 10 minutes after Alan, Randy’s brother, ran to my jeepney and yelled “Sastri! Are you Sastri from Indonesia?” I was truly exhausted, didn’t even put any effort to talk to Alan. But he sent me safely by his tricycle.

That night, we had a coffee and warm conversation just before I got shower and slept like a baby.

ImageRandy took care of my needs. He arranged a trip to Batad rice terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 12 kilometres away from Banaue. It’s the oldest rice terraces in the world, built nearly 2.000 years ago by indigenous people named Ifugao. It later became the name of the province.

He made me a delicious breakfast, three layers of toast with eggs and tomatoes. Randy told me to find Rita’s restaurant so I can have a lunch in the middle of trekking agenda.

Oh, so you’re Sastri from Indonesia! Randy just called me this morning, asking about the weather today. He said you’ll stop by.”

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Haiyan typhoon did affect Banaue. It was rainstorm the whole next day. Randy borrowed me his umbrella so I could stroll down the traditional market. I spent the whole day sitting in the living room, having conversation with Randy.

He told me stories about Ifugao customs and traditions. About his sons and daughter. About how he missed his children. About a person who was looking for me that morning, asking is there any Indonesian women in veil stayed at the guesthouse.

Then I said, oh yes she’s here. She’s alright, everything’s fine. I can take care all things she needs.

For Randy’s protective and warm behaviour, I started to feel like his daughter. He booked me a night bus, asked Alan if he could take me for free to the terminal. After all he’s done and friendly service, Randy didn’t ask for a single Peso.

All I can do is help and treat travellers as best as I can. I don’t even know how to communicate with others except by phone and email. But due to my services, I don’t expect any reward. That’s my part, and I’m happy for it.

Ah, if only you know Randy, it’s a wild world there at social media. You can find a good person, cynical, sarcastic person in a moment. Positive and negative vibes in a single scroll.

I’d love to know a lot, but there are few things that I shouldn’t bother. Banaue is a small town where time stand still, and all you need is kindness.

Randy didn’t know what’s going on in social media – what kind of conversations, controversy and cases that seem important for many travellers. All he knows is replying emails and help people who went to his place. He is very truthful for that. Travel world seem so peaceful in his eyes.

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Menyalahi Travel Writer? Kurang… Kurang Bijak.

Bukan karena saya travel writer, baik profesi maupun hobi. Tapi menyalahkan travel writer berarti menggeneralisasi tiap orang yang menulis perjalanan. Padahal tiap manusia punya hobi berbeda. Ada yang hobinya buang sampah (makanya jadi kotor), ada yang hobi corat-coret (jadinya vandalisme), ada juga yang hobi pamer, yang hobi nyinyir. Yang hobi ngumpet di balik orang lain juga ada.

Tapi ada juga manusia yang baik. Sebutlah yang punya hati. Yang berkontribusi terhadap tujuan traveling-nya. Yang diam-diam belajar, bertanya, meresapi makna perjalanan. Kemudian menuliskannya. Manusia-manusia seperti itu juga travel writer. Harus disalahkan juga?

Oh iya, harus ya? Karena nggak seru kalo nggak ada yang disalahkan. Menyalahkan pemerintah, sudah bosan. Menyalahkan operator wisata juga sudah biasa. Semua pihak itu juga secara langsung tergeneralisasi. Kurang… Kurang bijak. Karena pasti ada beberapa dari semua pihak itu yang benar-benar menjalankan tugasnya. Tanpa jadi merusak.

Heboh-heboh soal travel writer dan sebangsanya benar-benar membuat lelah. Sebagai yang ingin lurus-lurus saja menikmati perjalanan, saya merasa tua. Mungkin sebentar lagi pensiun dini. Tapi tetap akan menulis makna perjalanan untuk saya sendiri, di blog ini. Tak peduli ada yang baca atau tidak, saya hanya berbagi.

A Small Town Addiction

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You can choose a destination wherever you want. Some people prefer going to the beach for a white sand and bright sun and coconut trees, whether it’s famous or the so-called-virgin beach. Some other people choose a mountainous landscape with its fresh air and cold breeze. Great place to blend with nature. To go for a hike then wait for stunning sunrise.

Many travellers prefer going to big cities, or maybe capital of a country. I found it easy enough to stroll from one place to another, whatever the transportation. Going to tourist spots can bring many experiences. Even in the most touristy place, your experience will be different from others.

These big cities are time capsules. It will amaze you, how a civilization envolved and survived at the same time. A street you’ve just walked through could maybe also walked by the Emperor, or the King, hundreds years ago. You can see a proof of historical buildings existency, no matter how the city council preserve it. Whether it turns into Starbucks or Burger King.

But there are people who’d like to stay in a small town. A place to laid back. The less tourist you met, the more chances to blend with local. It’s also easy to go from one place to another, you can simply walk or hop into rented bycycle.

In a small town, the time stand still. While skyscrapers towering in big cities, you can only find maybe two or three-story buildings. Which means, you can see the big sky and nothing will ruin your sight beside roaring treetops.

Going to small cities woke up the human side of me. Many quiet places to think, quiet moments to talk with God. It’s a good place to know more about yourself. It’s good to know what you’re craving can be easily reach.

I am, and I will always addict to small towns. Or maybe it’s all about escapism, a place to ran out from your daily routines in a big city. You know where I work. That explains a lot 🙂