Monday, 30 August 2010

Beyond soaking

Surprise visit to Paris
Sometimes hot springs are surprises. The hot spring of Parang Wedang, the only hot spring in Yogyakarta province, is one of such.

Parang Wedang can be found in the village of Parangkusumo, which in reality is just part of the seaside town of Parangtritis, which the locals refer to as Paris!
Though I stated that Parangtritis is a seaside town one should not conjure images of a blinding white beach swayed with gentle waves, everyone hanging out under the coconut trees.

Instead it’s a wide windswept black sand beach between the mouth of a river and huge cliffs to the east. Behind the 200m wide beach strip, a strip of houses whose main cause is to assist visitors in sheltering from the wind. Where the waves are crashing on the shore there are a couple of stalls along the high tide mark, catering (and providing shade) to the visitors. Risk-takers try getting into the surf but know when enough is enough; the beach is full with signboards advising against swimming. Motorcyclists and quads thunder up and down the beach overtaking the horsedrawn carts.

Mythical Paris

One would hardly expect that Parangtritis is the place of myths, but the opposite is the case. Author Barrie Lie-Birchall who has an often copied (and plagiarized) travel article titled ‘Parangtritis – a beach not too far’ which itself is unfortunately undated, but I suspect is from as far back as 2002.

‘Parangtritis is steeped in Javanese mysticism and culture. It is believed there is a south axis connecting Mount Merapi, the Kraton and Parangtritis Beach. According to legend, the Queen of the South Seas - Kanjeng Ratu Kidul together with her confident Nyai Loro Kidul reign over the Southern seas and all within it. It is said that any person wearing clothing coloured green will be lured into the sea by the Queen and to their fate - a superstition firmly entrenched in the minds of all Javanese; even as far North as Jakarta. It is the legend of Parangtritis that entrances all who listen - according to the legend, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul was at one time wed to Panembahan Senopati, a ruler of the mighty Mataram kingdom and enjoyed his company on occasions. The Western section of Parangtritis beach - Parangkusumo Beach - is believed to have been the meeting place between the two mighty rulers; that of the sea and of the land.
It is also at Parangkusumo Beach where the ceremony of 'Labuhan' is performed, coinciding with the inaugural commemoration of Sri Sultan Haamengku Buwono X. Each year, on the 30th day of the Javanese month of 'Rejeb', offerings are given to Kanjeng Ratu Kidul. These offerings, in the ceremony of Labuhan, consist of fingernail cuttings and hair of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, food and clothing - all cast into the sea in the hope that the Sultan and the people of Yogyakarta will have continuous peace and prosperity. The same ceremony is held on top of Mount Merapi and Lawu.
According to legend, volcanic activity also occurred at Parangkusumo Beach. This resulted in a formation of rocks supposedly where the Sultan of Yogyakarta and Kajeng Ratu Kidul met to discuss the well-being of the people of Yogyakarta - and of their love for each other. Upon this formation of rock was built a small rest house’.
This does add an additional dimension to an otherwise non-descript wind-swept village, though other than the annual celebration myths are just that.

Pottering around
Apart from the attraction of the mythical mystery there are other attractions in Parangtritis such as a well-perched resort and good fishing in front of it.

Then there are caves in the cliffs beyond Paris, most notably a peculiar located meditation cave:

‘How about Langse cave, according to the legend, this is the place of Nyai Loro Kidul. And the cave often visited by Sultan of Mataram. It would be a challenged to reach the cave, situated high up 400 meters on the cliffs. The nature stairs exist from some stones and roots. Once in the cave you can take a bath in one of the room. The water comes from the springs of the cave, cold and it consist high sulfur to make your tired body very relaxed. After doing some bath you can do meditation. The silence of the cave can help you that. You will only hear the sound of the south sea '(source).
Hot Spring
And then there is of course the hot spring. Heading back out of town towards Yogyakarta from Parangtritis, after 1 km one sees the well-signposted ‘Sumber Air Panas - Parang Wedang’. It lies at the foot of a small hill on the land side of the road.

Through the small entrance in the wall one believes to have arrived at a temple complex. On this weekday ( July 2010) everything is serene and the few people there seem more to be annoyed by our visit. We nose around, to see whether we are in the correct place. This is at once all too obvious by the existence of the many cells, each with a blocked pipe sticking out of the wall. All these cubicles are situated around a large pond which most probably is the hot spring itself.

For a meager price (4,000 INR, 0,35$US) one rents an as best described as rudimentary cubicle, takes out the blockage and using the mandi one continues to bathe oneself, no real soaking just a rinse.

There’s a small stall with a couple of biscuits and soda’s.

More info
The water is hot (guess-estimate 40 C) and saltish. This source adds:
‘Parangwedang is a hot spring that is rich of mineral (the mostly elements are Na, Cl, and Mg). Uniquely, the sulfur element, the most common content of spring, is not found there’.
This site oddly enough has the exact dimensions:
‘Parangwedang well is a warm mineral water resource of 1140 square meter .There you may find a reservoir of 9 m length and 8 m width,6 warm water bathrooms and other 6 fresh water bathrooms’ [see photo below].

The aforementioned Barrie also ventured to take a soak here:
‘A mineral hot spring, named Parang Wedang, with continuous flowing water attracts visitors who bathe there because it is believed to have healing properties for skin ailments - although not in need of it, I found the water to be soothing and pleasant. Small change rooms or lidos are available for those wishing to bathe in private. The pool, as I was told, was found by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono VII. He found it his duty to care for the pool. Many locals believe the place to be a sacred site - many meditate there and congregate to discuss matters of importance affecting their village’.
Which sort of goes some way as to why I would call the atmosphere temple-like.

Another unknown aspect which a
website provides is as follows:
‘In the yard, we can see some sawo kecik trees’.
From wikipedia:
'Sawo Kecik: This ugly fruit called Sawo Kecik- or small sawo- Manilkara Kauki . The taste is very watery sweet . Long time ago this sawo kecik only owned by the royal families but now you can find them everywhere. Mostly Javanese families planted them in the front yard . Some people believe that it will bring some lucks. Whether it is true or not , i like this fruit so much !!!
If desperate one can stay overnite at Parangtritis, especially the resort east of town is fabulously located. But otherwise Yogyakarta is one of Indonesia’s main tourist towns, what with the Borobodur, Merapi volcano and the city having it’s own palace.

Soaking experience?

Getting there: From Yogyakarta buses leave for Parangtritis quite regularly, best to be picked up from Parangtritis street with. The journey to Parangtritis (less than 30 km) takes an hour and you can sit upright in this local bus!

Soaking experience: As stated it was more of rinse than a soak. Pity a good soak was not possible; the natural salty-nish would result in a special soak. Cubicles were poorly maintained, unhygienic (?).

Overall experience: If heading for Parangtritis add a visit to Parang Wedang on your way back, to wash off the sand and seawater. Otherwise the setting was sort of special but not necessarily something for soaking.

1 comment:

  1. rich information ,good design and you are write at professional style


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