Enjoying Anyer's Earthly Indulgence
The recent tsunami disaster inarguably brought lasting effects of devastation. Not only it had destroyed many beautiful and exotic places, its claws of paranoia also reached deep and far into other tourism areas in Indonesia. The attractive Anyer Beach surely was one of them. When we set off on a hot Saturday morning, the 100-km highway that connects Jakarta to Cilegon, Anyer's nearest town, was far from crowded. The road, which was usually so busy during weekends, that time was almost vacant. White clouds sparsely decorated the clear blue sky, signaling a pleasant, rain-free weather ahead.
Although our right and left sides were rich with greenery, the drive itself was rather dull and sleep-inducing. Not until we passed through Cilegon, home to many heavy industries, that our eyes began to see extravagant things, such as the tall towers that exhaled pure-white smoke, and the monstrous machineries. Beyond all that, the palm trees were always in sight, constituting a familiar seaside backdrop.
After we passed that industrial complex, the road got its dullness back. But we were already too excited to be bothered with that. Many hotels began to appear as we advanced farther west, mostly on our right side. Our left side was filled with fish markets and restaurants, ranging from the most ordinary to the most ornate, yet every place was silent and devoid of people.
We arrived at Patra Anyer, a three-star resort hotel, after two hours driving from Jakarta, and were received with an unusual warmth from the hotel staff. At that time, we wondered where the other guests were, for we didn't see any. The answer was simple: They told us that the tsunami effect had hit the tourism business in this area very terribly, so they had to make the best to stay alive through this unfortunate situation.
Our suite consisted of two rooms, each with a king-sized bed, a television set and a bathroom, a spacious living-and-dining room, a modest kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, and a terrace with a view to the garden and towards the big blue. The place was too big for us, really, for there were only four of us. I think it could hold up to ten people and everyone would still feel comfortable. But anyway, it was an appropriate moment for us to indulge ourselves a bit more that day. The first thing we did inside was eating our lunch which we prepared ourselves without using the kitchen. The air-conditioning made us possible to laze for a while right after we finished our meals. Outside, the sun was showering earth with its fiercest light. The air was sweltering. At about 2 p.m. we began to packed out our things and prepared to get out to enjoy the sea.
Alas, Patra Anyer doesn't have a sandy beach where people can play at. Instead, its beach is rocky, and the access to the sandy beach was blocked by a thick stone wall. We absolutely could not walk past that, so the only way to reach the sand was by car. We had to get out from the hotel, and drove farther west where the beach was sandy. We also used the car to take a look around other nearby hotels while searching for a good spot of beach to play on.
Sol Elite Marbella was our first choice. It is the one and only five-star hotel in Anyer, and of course it offers its guests the finest in terms of facilities and comfort. But they had a very restrictive policy and employed a somewhat irritating attitude towards the non-guests. Visitors who did not stay at the hotel were given a half an hour time to look around. If longer, they would be charged a survey fee amounting Rp 100k for the whole day. That price also applied should they want to play on the beachfront and use hotel facilities, e.g. the swimming pools.
Our next stop was the three-star Jayakarta Hotel, which recently opened up its Boutique Suite. We instantaneously liked Jayakarta's atmosphere, for the staff was much friendlier here. We were allowed to look around and also shown one of the rooms of the Boutique Suite. The room had a strong minimalist feel to it, which, as a whole, was able to make us fall in love with it. A perfect place like this is the ideal thing for a wonderful holiday. Also at this hotel were our first encounter with the beach masseuses.
But we delayed the pleasure of being massaged, and left Jayakarta, heading to Nuansa Bali Hotel. Once I had stayed here during my first trip to Anyer a few years ago with other six friends. The place didn't change much, nor did the room rates. Contrary to other hotels, only Nuansa Bali and Sol Elite were so fortunate to have a lot of guests. The hotel charged every person Rp 20k-much cheaper than Sol Elite-to use their facilities and to recreate on their beachfront. We picked the offer straightaway. It was late afternoon when we began dipping our body into the sea. The sun was still shining intensely, the air was thick with heat.
Our first activity was jet-skiing. For Rp 100k you can rent a jet-ski from the locals for fifteen to twenty minutes. Haggling is always recommended. The jet-ski can be used alone or together with a friend. We rented two jet-skis: my cousin and his girlfriend on one, my female cousin and I on the other. Be sure to wear swimming goggles when you're riding on a jet-ski; the water will constantly be sprinkled to your eyes and its saltiness will certainly cause irritation. That was what happened to my eyes. The itch, altogether with the amount of heat and brightness coming out from the sun, made it very difficult for me to see. Besides that, the whole ride was fun and succeeded in getting our adrenaline pumping.
The murky waters of Anyer made it impossible for snorkeling or diving-there was nothing to see deep within, either. The waves were not big enough for all kinds of surfing. Apparently there was nothing much to do on Anyer Beach, but a lot to indulge yourself on. Some people here preferred the swimming pool to the sea. Some others chose to bask under the big umbrellas' shade and hired the experienced masseuses to rid them of their fatigue. That was what the girls did. But to those faithful to the sea, there were three main activities available: jet-skiing, banana-boating, and body boarding. The first two were expensive and lasted for only a short while, so my male cousin and I picked up our boards and started to stride against the wave. It costed as cheap as Rp 5k (you can get that price if you haggle) to use a body board for the whole day.
Both of us spent about an hour and a half floating on the sea, most of the time waiting to ride on the next big wave, which appeared only rarely. When the sun was coming near the horizon, we got up, dried ourselves, and took some pictures. Too bad, what was looking like a clear sky was merely an illusion: all the time there was a thick, unseen cloud hanging just right above the horizon. The descending sun was well hidden behind that grayness. At that moment, the girls were done with the massage.
We got back to our hotel to clean ourselves and soon after, we left for dinner. Speaking of dinner, restaurants in Anyer, be they high-class and big or average and small, all are well-known for their pricey meals. Take Rumah Makan Makassar, the place where we ate dinner that evening. We ordered small portions of sapo tahu, konro bakar (roasted cow ribs-this restaurant's specialty), kangkung ca, calamari, along with rice and an array of drinks-it was the drinks which were more expensive than in Jakarta-for the price of Rp 140k. The food's taste was just nice, nothing special worth mentioning.
When we were back to the hotel, it was my and my cousin's turn to be massaged. The masseuses were already waiting in front of our room happily. On one hand, the masseuses focused too much attention to our legs, but on the other hand, the massage that they gave were absolutely fantastic. In my own opinion, that one-hour massage was worth the price (Rp 20k). When I returned to walking, my legs felt like becoming very lithe.
The bright moon was nearly full, but the night sky was quite obscured with clouds. Yet it couldn't restrain us for enjoying the night air outside. To my surprise, it was warm outside, with not even a gasp of wind at all. The sea at midnight is always nice to look at, and even better under a full moon. We took some nocturnal photographs of the moon and the trees before we went to bed and soon slept.
The next morning, we woke up at 9 and soon rushed for breakfast at the hotel's restaurant, Kafe Kalpataru Mas. It was situated atop a rocky hill, immediately facing the open sea. Obviously, the view from that height was par excellence. As breakfast, each of us was served with fried rice with additional two fried eggs (sunny side up), two loaves of toast (served with butter, strawberry and pineapple jams) and a glass of orange juice. I personally liked the toast, while the others' tastes were just fine.
After breakfast we went back to our rooms, stayed lounging on our beds, enjoying the cool air from the AC. Some of us even continued to indulge in sleep. When it was past midday, we woke up, showered, and finally refreshed ourselves with our self-prepared lunch: instant noodles, meatballs and fried sausages directly from the kitchen. And then, off we went to home.
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Published on 1/24/05