The only way to get to Pulau Tidung (Tidung Island) is by a three hour boat ride. This was my first weekend getaway after living in Jakarta for two weeks. I was craving a getaway from traffic jams, honking horns and the dizzying pace of Jakarta. I got a text from one of my colleagues to be by his house (only a block away) at 6am because we were going to one of Thousand islands in the Java Sea.
The next morning we were at the pier by 7am. The sun was already up and he air stunk of rotting fish. We purchased our tickets Rp30,000 (US $3.00) and waited to board. By 8am, there was no boarding and if had eaten breakfast, I would surely have hurled out my stomach contents. The air was nauseating. Boarding was a strange event.There were two roll calls for the boats lined up for Pulau Tidung. Our names were not called on either list. It was 9am when we boarded the last boat destined for the island.
Three hours of sitting on leather seats in poor air conditioning later we were in paradise. The water sparkled and it was calling my name! Lodging in the island is primarily homestays. Locals add a room onto their house with basic amenities and rent them out to tourists. We found lodging at a homestay for Rp 300,000 (US $30) a night which included snorkeling gear. A quick change and we were lounging near turquoise waters sipping on fresh coconut water and munching on soto ayam, a chicken soup with rice, avocado and tomatoes
I had a great time snorkeling, floating on gentle waves while looking down at the corals. The ocean’s temperature kept changing quickly from cool to almost sauna-like. At times the Java Sea’s temperature was unbearable. The coral was lovely, but not impressive. I had a better time just floating on the ocean. I stayed out there for hours and got a sun burn on my shoulders and upper back. Note to self: Black people do get sunburn.
Pulau Tidung has a certain charm that makes me want to return as soon as possible. The streets are narrow and at night they are lighted by a passing motorbike or someone’s flashlight.
The locals serve mostly seafood dishes and the best mode of transport is a bicycle. I can only go back for one night, two nights tops. The homestays there have air conditioning, TV’s and western beds, however their plumbing is strictly Indonesian. That means squat toilets, no toilet paper (luckily I brought my own) and no shower. Just a stand-pipe and a bucket in the bathroom to wash up your bits. The beach and water activities are well worth me overlooking the plumbing situation, but a girl can squat so many times.
In Jakarta: Take a taxi to Maura Angke Marina. Boats depart at 7am. Tickets cost Rp30,000 (US$3.00) Note: You may get an air conditioned boat or you may get a refugee boat where you sit in the floor in the sweltering heat.