Monday, February 07, 2005

Private Islands

I love vacations. I haven't been this relaxed in ages. I have so much to write about, I don't even know where to begin. I'll save the stories of my wanderings through back-alleys in Semarang for another day and jump straight to our island adventures.

Mr. M planned this incredible trip for us the second weekend I was in Indonesia. He chartered a plane to take us to this little island 80 km north of Semarang in the Karimunjawa Archipelago - a string of 29 tiny islands in the middle of the Java Sea. We were going to spend 4 days on the only resort in the area on a tiny island, Menyawakan, a 30-minute boat ride away from the main island in the chain. As we got to the airport and checked into the tiny little counter for Kura Kura Resort , I really had no idea what to expect. We sat in the main airport lobby, which isn't much bigger than that of Prishtina airport (read as TINY), and watched the jets pull away. On the far side of the tarmac sat three small planes - two that sat about 6 people, not including the pilot, that we were comfortable enough with. Neither of us are great fliers. Then there was the other plane. The kind you see torn into a thousand tiny pieces when some inexperienced pilot hits a power line or something... it was a 4 seater Cessna (that included the pilot and co-pilot seats). We were certain that was not our plane. In the mean time, we had to fill out the release forms for the resort. It had the usual "we are not responsible for injury or death resulting from activities on the island... blah blah blah" stuff that most release forms have, and as this was a diver's paradise, it was to be expected. However, the clause that caught me off-guard was the bit about not being responsible for injuries from falling coconuts. Would they be issuing some sort of hard-hat to us as we got off the plane? How do you guard yourself from falling coconuts? I just kept picturing Yosemite Sam marooned on the island and getting beaned on a regular basis with coconuts from nowhere. It could happen. Especially to me. (Pops, I think that would be worse than 10 tree branches from my youth!!)

The resort's personal hostess came to get us in the lobby and escort us to our chariot of the skies shortly after we sat finished filling out our forms. She walked us towards the two beautiful, slightly larger planes... but then, began to lead us to the teeny, tiny, single-prop, mosquito of an airplane. Destiny. My stomach began to knot up and my palms started to sweat. Mr. M gave my hand a squeeze and it gave me a short-lived sense of reassurance that his palms were wet too. I wasn't the only one freaking out. Mr. M cracked a couple of cool jokes about the size of the plane, the pilot laughed and told us to climb in. With a nervous glance behind me, I stepped on the wing brace and squeezed into the back seat. Honestly, I've seen Volkswagen Bugs with bigger back seats. Five minutes later we were airborne over the Java Sea, swearing and praying and trying to relax. Thankfully the skies were clear, and we had stunning views of the sea around us. About 40 minutes later, the islands were in view and I was struck into utter silence. The water was so crystal clear that you could see the reefs even from our cruising altitude of 3,000 feet. As we descended into the airport (if you can call a one room cabin with runway shorter than most people's driveways an airport - however, it did bear a sign that said "Karimunjawa International Airport), all we could see were tiny fishing boats and coconut trees. We descended from the plane and headed to our third mode of transportation in 2 hours. It was on to the boat. A two minute drive around the airport building took us to the dock where a speed boat awaited our arrival. They whisked us away, dodging coral reefs and diving spear-fishermen along the way.

When we finally arrived at the resort, we were greeted by the smiling staff holding cool drinks served in, what else, coconuts. Again, Yosemite Sam entered my brain - coconut soup, coconut fricasee, coconut a la king "I HATE COCONUTS!!!".... what would the menu entail??? In fact, the menu was pretty extensive, the food was good, and the service excellent. It ought to have been - we were the only guests in the entire resort that weekend. Our own private island for 4 days - unbelievable!! After a long walk around the island, exploring the little nooks and crannies and finding hidden beaches, we settled into our beachside bungalow, had some lunch and relaxed.

That night we dined on a sumtuous seafood feast by the light of tiki torches - a table for two set on the beach, with the sound of the waves caressing the reef that surrounded the island and the smell of salt thick in the air. It was perfect. So perfect I didn't think I'd ever want to leave.


No comments: