Karimunjawa Off The Beaten Path

  • Boats on the Java sea
    Boats on the Java sea
    by theo1006
  • Legon Lele trail along the bay
    Legon Lele trail along the bay
    by theo1006
  • Legon Lele valley
    Legon Lele valley
    by theo1006

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Karimunjawa

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    Mr Hasanuddin's private beach

    by theo1006 Updated Mar 12, 2010
    Relaxing on
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    Many local residents own their own piece of land bordering the sea. So does mr Hasanuddin, who lives on the northern main island, Pulau Kemujan. If you don't mind the distance of 19 km from Karimunjawa village - or if you stay in the neighbouring Buginese house -, you can make believe that the beach is your own.

    We chanced to meet pak Hasanuddin through the headmaster of the muslim highschool nearby. When we got talking to him, we found out that he was well acquainted with the late pak Ahmad Jainuddin who once rescued Theo at sea near Bali. ¨Pak Ahmad often told about having rescued a Dutchman." Perhaps not such a coincidence, because Buginese sailors are well-known to roam all over the Indonesian archipelago and at Karimunjawa use to anchor at the nortern Gon Bajak harbour (see next tip). While pak Hasanuddin is also of Buginese descent as evident from his house built on poles.

    Pak Hasanuddin keeps a guestbook of visitors to his beach - many Indonesian but only a few foreign names in it, among the latter three Hungarian girls. The beach lies behind his house, at a walk of perhaps 200 m and then 30 m down a steep slope. If you swim out some 50 m, you get at the corals and can snorkel at your leisure.

    Address:
    Bapak Hasanuddin, Jalan Serma M. Toha km 3, RT05/RW02, desa Kemujan, Kecamatan Karimunjawa, Jepara 59455.

    Directions:
    On the main road to the airport, at 19 km from Karimunjawa village, find on your right hand the "Balai Taman Nasional Karimunjawa" of the Forestry Department. Pak Hasanuddin's house stands next to it.

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    The dewadaru tree

    by theo1006 Updated May 31, 2009

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    Dewadaru tree at Dewadaru Airport
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    The dewadaru tree is Karimunjawa's sacred tree. The airport is named after it, and so is the Dewadaru Resort near the ferry harbour.

    The legend
    The name dewadaru can be rendered as "gift of the gods". See tip "The grave of Sunan Nyamplung" for an account of how the dewadaru tree came to grow on Karimunjawa island. For the islanders, the dewadaru represents the wisdom of the gods in maintaining harmony, stability and peace. The tree is seen as the guardian of all living souls on the Karimunjawa islands.
    Therefore it is taboo to take a dewadaru tree, or even a branch or leaf from it, to mainland Java. If someone would try to do so, his boat would not arrive safely on Java. As proof is mentioned the case of motor vessel "Tongkol IV", which sank in Karimunjawa waters on October 11, 1983. Eighteen people are still missing to this day, sixteen bodies were recovered, and 48 people were rescued. All this because someone had smuggled a branch of a dewadaru tree from the grave of Sunan Nyamplung.

    The facts
    Looking up info about the dewadaru tree on the internet, we found a site which says that the tree is actually native throughout South-East Asia. The scientific name is said to be Messua Ferrea L.  from the Clusiaceae family.
    The flowers, leaves and seeds of the tree contain compounds with medicinal value, especially for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. Indeed this is one of the virtues also claimed by the islanders.
    On another site are stated results of research by the Biology Department of Gajah Mada University in 1992. They report that the tree is rare and not easily propagated, and that actually there are two strains on Karimunjawa island. One is the Dewadaru Baccaurea Sumatrana from the Euphorbiaceae family, the other Fagraea Elliptica from the Loganiaceae family.
    Which leaves us - botanical laypeople - puzzled.

    The photo's are of two dewadaru trees in the grounds of Dewadaru Airport. Distinctive features are the white flowers and the grooved bark.

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    The grave of Sunan Nyamplung

    by theo1006 Updated May 31, 2009
    The stairway of 500 steps
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    The grave of Sunan Nyamplung (or Nyamplungan) in Nyamplung hamlet is a favourite pilgrimage site. Especially on Jumat Kliwon days (once 35 days according to the Javanese calender) people come and spend the night meditating near this grave on a hillside.

    The legend
    According to the legend, Sunan Nyamplung, a son of Sunan Muria, was spoiled and would not follow the teachings of Islam. His father sent the boy, whose name then still was Amir Hasan, to his uncle Sunan Kudus to be educated. As long as the boy was in Kudus he behaved well, but when returned to his father Amir Hasan fell back into his bad habits.
    As a last resort Sunan Muria sent his son away from Java, not to come back until he had learnt to behave as a good muslim. He sent him - together with two servants - on a boat to the island that was vaguely visible from the top of mount Muria. In old Javanese a word for "vaguely visible" is kremun-kremun, hence the name of the island: Karimunjawa.
    The stories we found on the internet vary as to what Amir Hasan brought with him on his quest into the uninhabited forest of Karimunjawa. Either one or two sticks that he may have picked up on the coast, and/or two seeds that he brought from Java. When he reached a spot fit to make his home, he stuck the stick(s) into the ground and they miraculously grew into Dewadaru trees. Alternatively or additionally he planted the two seeds which became Nyamplung trees, and probably Nyamplung tree is another name for Dewadaru tree.
    However this may be, at this place Amir Hasan became Sunan Nyamplung, the man who is honoured for having brought Islam to Karimunjawa.

    The site
    To reach the grave of Sunan Nyamplung you have to climb a stair of 500 steps (exactly 500 as far as we could ascertain!) from the roadside. Yes, there is also an adjacent by-road suitable for car or motorbike, which brings one to a height of about 400 steps. But we think, if one wants to obtain some benefit in this life or the afterlife, one should walk all the 500 steps!
    Once there, through the trees one has a good view on Pulau Menjangan Besar. And another 50 steps down there is a bathing place with fresh water from the hillside - very welcome after the hot climb.
    There is a small dewadaru tree at the grave-site. More and bigger ones are said to grow in the forest. Those interested might follow some trails into the forest, we did not because of lack of time.
    We also met a couple of pilgrims there, lying around on or near Sunan Nyamplung's grave. And don't overlook the wooden box for a voluntary contribution or amal.

    Directions: About 10 km from Karimunjawa along the road to the airport there is a signboard pointing to the stairs. The caretaker or juru kunci lives behind the mosque opposite the stairs. We said hello, he did not seem to expect money.

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    Dermaga Gon Bajak

    by theo1006 Updated May 30, 2009
    Pulau Gundul seen from Gon Bajak pier
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    It's the harbour of Kemujan, the northern main island. The name Gon Bajak means the pirate's place. Here is where in bygone ages pirates found a refuge, no need to risk their skins at mainland Java. Subsequently the Portuguese and Dutch traders found this a good place to stock up on food and water on their way to the Moluccas; at that time the population of Kemujan island may have been more numerous than nowadays.

    The photo's show an empty harbour with recently renovated pier. Yet, if we may believe our informant, one should come here at full moon, when domestic sailors from all over the archipelago come stocking up just as in bygone days. When they are not there, the water is crystal clear, suitable for a swim.

    Directions:
    Go all the way to and past the airport, then turn north and follow the sign to Dermaga Gon Bajak

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    The Legon Lele trail

    by theo1006 Updated May 26, 2009
    Legon Lele valley
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    The map on the billboard at the harbour indicates a few hiking trails, but without details. We decided to try out the Legon Lele trail, as we had already found its starting point.

    The main and only through road of Karimunjawa runs north of the village. If you follow it east of Karimunjawa Inn, its final part is a 2.5 km stretch paved with concrete blocks. After negotiating a few steep hills, the road ends at the shore of Legon Lele bay. But an earthen path - suitable for pedestrians and motorbikes - leads on to a small hamlet in a green valley. This is one of the few places where people can cultivate rice, irrigated with clear water springing from the hill. A farmer told us that the same spring also supplies Karimunjawa village.

    When you reach the hamlet the path turns left, passing a few isolated houses, and then starts climbing. Soon you find yourself on a steep and rocky path going up to the top of the ridge, then less steep going down. Eventually you reach the main road again, but about 3 km west of Karimunjawa. At this point a rusty billboard states that it is forbidden to enter the nature reserve. Who cares, there was no such board at the other end of the trail...

    This hike took us 1.5 hours. A full circle back to the starting point would take at least one hour more, but we found some villagers willing to bring us there on their motorbikes, for payment of course.

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    • Hiking and Walking

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    The lookout behind Karimunjawa Inn

    by theo1006 Updated May 24, 2009

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    Find the steam plume of Jepara's power plant
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    When the weather is clear Java at 90 km distance is visible from Karimunjawa. A good spot to try this is the hill behind Karmunjawa Inn. Here 270 concrete steps lead up to a telecommunication tower. You have to pass the Inn's reception to reach the stairs, just politely ask for permission.

    When we climbed up, the sky was not that clear. But if you look carefully at the first photo, you can see the steam plume of Jepara's power plant (PLTU), just right from centre at the horizon.

    Directions: From the ferry jetty follow the road straight uphill, turn right at the T-crossing, and find Karimunjawa Inn after 100 m or so.

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    the blue house

    by aalayaa Written May 23, 2006

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    blue house

    this is probably just one of the house of the local people but the color really attracted my attention :)

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    ducks

    by aalayaa Written May 23, 2006

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    ducks

    a friend of mine is afraid of ducks. everytime she meets ducks she will run away.
    i met some ducks on the side of the road in karimunjawa, i saw a couple of them around the biggest island.

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    colorful boat

    by aalayaa Written May 23, 2006

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    the colorful boat

    i don't know what kind of boat it is. but it's so fully decaorated and colorful. when i took the pictures, one of the guy on the boat said happily, "look, our picture is taken."

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    • Sailing and Boating
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    the rainbow

    by aalayaa Updated May 22, 2006

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    rainbow

    while waiting for the sunset, we saw rainbow on the opposite sky!
    isn't it beautiful? too bad it wasn't a full curve rainbow...

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