Edit: Our friend Aggy told me that the Borobudur is in fact in a place called Magelang, not Yogjakarta!
Yogjakarta is normally known for the Borobudur. The Borobudur needs no introduction but if you really need one, here it is: it’s the largest Buddhist temple in the world built in the 9th century. People like going there because it’s cool to explore places built many hundreds of years ago.
I like to do that too but I sometimes skip these cool and famous places because of the crowd.
People like to take pictures which look like this:
But in reality you have to try very hard to find a spot free of people to take just one of these ‘people-free, instagram-worthy’ shots. I don’t know, maybe it’s time to just take pictures of places as they are – full of people.
The only time you can avoid most of the crowd is by going for a sunrise visit of the Borobudur. Yup, that means taking off at about 3am and reaching at around 6am to get a glimpse of something like this:
I was in Yogjakarta for a 3-day conference following a business trip to Myanmar and Kuala Lumpur. By the end of the 3-day conference, I had already been on the road for over 10 days and was a little tired.
So Pam, who was with me at the conference, and I decided that we should only do one thing after the conference.
The 9th Century Buddhist Temple or Cave Tubing?
In the end, Pamela and I decided to go for the Pindul Cave adventure for two reasons:
1. I only had one extra day, I didn’t just want to go to the Borobudur, take a picture and leave
2. Pam had already seen it
‘Wait here at 7.45am tomorrow morning,’ said a man at the reception. I had never gone cave tubing before so I was pretty excited.
Cave Tubing 101
The next morning we joined 4 more people in a van for a 2-hour ride to Pindul caves. Along the way were lots of exciting pictures of Pindul caves. I got increasingly excited as we neared our destination.
In my head I imagined cave tubing to be similar to rafting – adventurous and fun.
But when I arrived, things were a little different from what I imagined. I know I should have just asked ahead but ‘cave tubing’ did sound like it would be something quite adventurous right?
So what’s cave tubing? Well, you’re basically asked to climb into floats which to me looks like tyres (but aren’t). Something like this:
So I guess these floats are what’s called tubes (hence, cave tubing).
All tubes are connected so all the guide needs to do is pull the tube nearest to him and everyone moves along.
To be very honest, I was very disappointed with the speed at which we were moving. In my head cave tubing would be a little bit like rafting, letting the current pull you along.
‘The water is a bit calm now,’ said our guide, ‘you have to come back during rainy season for the currents.’
Sure, looking at the inners of a cave is quite interesting but it got quickly boring when the guide told us, ‘Not many bats in Pindul anymore after people come for visit.’
I felt a bit guilty for being part of the visiting people and slightly disappointed because I only saw maybe four bats.
‘Can we swim in this water?’ I asked the guide, trying to see if there was something better to do than just float around.
‘Sure, the water feels good,’ he told us, ‘later I will you show you where to swim.’
When we were three quarters way through, our guide signalled to us that we could just jump into the water. And we did!
5m, 10m Jumps
In Pindul Caves were these 5m and 10m heights you could jump from. Pam did her first ever 5m jump at Pindul. Until then I didn’t know she was afraid of heights.
She stood there for about 10 minutes, completely scared about jumping. To try to encourage her, I climbed up and tried to stand next to her on the bridge.
‘You jump, then I jump,’ she told me. It sounded like a line out of The Titanic but in the moment I could only agree.
‘Okay fine,’ I told her.
In the end Pam did jump and became very sentimental about the whole thing. (haha!)
Our other friend, May, was the only one who decided to go for the 10m jump. After the jump I asked May how it felt.
She answered, unsurprisingly, that it felt, ‘like committing suicide.’
She then pulled up her thigh and showed us a bruise mark. ‘Shouldn’t have pulled my legs up.’
Making New Friends
Even though swimming in the river was great and jumping from 5m thrilling, the best thing about this adventure was that we met a couple of new friends. I don’t think I would have if we were just sight-seeing around the Borobudur (In fact, some of the pictures in this post is from our new friend Jeannie!). It’s always great to meet new people who have a zest for travel.
We met a duo of friends who were from Pam’s hometown, Singapore as well as a couple from Barcelona. We shared our travel stories together and added each other on Facebook (because that’s the sign of true friendship nowadays right? ;))
If you’re dropping by Yogjakarta and have a bit of time to spare I recommend dropping by Pindul Caves. Even if the currents are too slow, you will enjoy swimming in the clean, cool waters. Best of all Pindul Caves are not very crowded. When we were there it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves lest for another group or two of adventurers.
Here’s a video I grabbed from YouTube that’ll give you an idea of what the whole thing is like:
Till the next time, happy adventures!