Monday, 22 August 2011

Bidadari Island

I went to Pulau Bidadari or Bidadari Island on Sunday, which was a most enjoyable event. Whilst it is clearly not everything the leaflet said it would be it still was full of natural charm and had a certain beauty about it.

The trip was organised through some work colleagues and there was about 10 of us that went along. To get to the island, you need to take a boat from Ancol Marina. So at 9.30 my fiancee and I were picked up and taken to Ancol and then after weaving through the whole complex, we got to Ancol Marina and then waited to get on a boat.
The weather was simply lovely and it was hot and with a nice sea breeze made the boats in the marina rock a little more than normal. We had to wait an hour or so for some reason that escapes me and then finally we got on to the boat.

Crammed into a little crusier we turned and headed into the Java sea and toward Pulau Bidadari.. As ever I wanted to take as many photos as possible but there was little chance of that on the boat as the windows had to be closed due to the spray coming off the boat and the waves were making the boat bounce a little. However, after 20 minutes we had gone across the sea, past some very big ships and were almost at the island, which from a distance looked quite nice.

On arrival we were welcomed by the islands resort staff with a welcome drink and information lunch would be served between 12 and 1. This meant we had 40 minutes or so before 12 and so we started to wander off and see how big the island truly was. I have not been to the Thousand Islands (although actually there are only 348 of them) so was excited to explore these little clumps of land in the sea.
 The islands from a plane landing look so small and compact from above so I was curious to see what they were like on the ground. Strangely enough on the ground they are small and compact. After a very small walk we were almost 75% around the island and had visited everything on the map!!

After lunch we carried on exploring and saw very large monitor lizards (about 1.5 meters) and lots of small ones running about but happily not at you but from you.
There were chalets for lease and also boats for charter to take you out to smaller islands as well.

 The sea was a greeny brown colour and not really suited to swimming as well, coming from Jakarta and being this close to the coast you have some idea of what is in the sea, but for a price you could hire canoes,
 Kayaks, have a banana boat ride and other things and thats ok if you wanted to. I did not.
On land there was a volleyball court, table tennis tables, billards, a small childrens pool, free push bikes to ride around the island (so it would take 5 minutes to go round rather than 10 on foot) and all these amenities were being used by everyone who was from the boat.
The most useful thing was the chance to take photos of things and  sea without going too far from the city and when the haze moved you could also see some of the city as well.
There was not as much rubbish as I expected around the island and the paths and beaches were all clean. There was flotsam and jetsam all over the place but mainly organic not plastic or other materials. However like everywhere else in this country there was litter but it did not spoil it for me.

You cancharter boats to the smaller island and there is also the opportunity to sleep on the sea in the huts provided. They looked very comfortable and welcoming although none it seemed were being used on the day.
Inland, rather behind the main complex, is the remains of the old dutch Martello tower built by the dutch to help guard the entrance to old Batavia harbour. It was round and was destroyed by a giant wave following the Krakatoa eruption in 1883. It is well preserved and looked after and you can climb all over it.

Finally and possibly most sadly there are some very small holding tanks for dolphins should you want to swim with them. I suspect that this has be discontinued as you can do that in Ancol now but the tanks remain.  Happily without any dolphins.

So did I enjoy it? Quite simply yes I did. It was a welcome break from the dusty and polluted city I live in and the peace and quiet, the white coral sand and shady trees made the island a welcome break from Jakarta. It also has a better IM3 signal than my apartment!! which was interesting. The beer was cold and the food was great.

I enjoyed just sitting and watching the sea go by, the birds fly and the lack of doing anything or the need to move. And finally I saw a sunset which is always nice. The boat leaves at 6pm and so we all spent the last hour on the west side staring at the crab/squid farms and the sun setting very slowly over a smaller island.

Strangely my camera managed to photograph the sun as a 6 pointed star which it is fascinating for me.

Every one has told me that there are better islands in the Thousand islands but as the trip was less than 150,000 rupiah per person and only 20 minutes away, the it was the perfect place to be. For more information, click this link

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