Selasa, 21 September 2010

Memorable Journey to Surya Kencana



“Surya Kencana is a beautiful place. It’s a valley surrounded by green hills and blue sky. Yellowish grassland, and flower beds of edelweiss! Can you imagine that? But that’s just a dayview. In the night, for me, Surya Kencana’s just getting more and more beautiful. You can see dozens of stars twinkling above you. Stars you’ve might never seen before. They were so close; it seems like I can pick it one for you. One day, you must go there and feel the wind of eternity!”

That’s how Rezza always told me about Surya Kencana, one of his most favourite places. He said he always wanted to go back. I was so curious. And I don’t have to wait any longer, because tomorrow, Rezza will bring me there!

Surya Kencana is an edelweiss valley, located in the east-side of Mount Gede summit. Most of Gede climber went from Gunung Putri Post, loved to stop here just to take rest and enjoy its beauty, before they continue to summit. My journey started on Friday, September 17th 2010. A week ago.

I'm not really a mountain climber, though I have been to the summits of Tangkuban Parahu and Bromo (that was different, of course. I went there by car). And my parents never allow me before to climb a mountain. But this time, they allow me somehow.

I went there with another eleven people. The five are my bestfriends: Rezza, Aan, Misbah, Oji, and his girl, Ai. For Rezza, this was his second time coming here. Oji and Rezza are climbers. They have reached the summit of Mount Salak and Mount Ceremai together. Even Oji has reached the top of Semeru (Java highest mountain). For Aan, Misbah, Ai, and me, this is our first time climbing.



I don’t know another five very well, because we just met that day and decided to go upward together. Most of them have climbed this Mount Gede about three or four times, so we let them lead the way. Buluk, our leader, recommended a night trekking because it's not hot, so we wouldn't get tired and thirsty so easily.

We started walking from Gunung Putri (Post I) at 10 PM. Our target was to watch the sunrise at Surya Kencana. It took six hours to get there. Under the moon light, fierce wind deafens our ears and chills our bodies. Mount Gede rose challengingly above us, calling us to quickly approach. So close, yet so far to reach. People said that Gunung Gede is compatible for beginner like me. The trek wasn’t so difficult, and water source can be easily found. So I felt pretty confident that I'd be able to make it to the top; even if it took eight hours going up and five coming down, that wouldn't be so bad.

After a two-hour hike, we arrived at the Post II and rested while enjoying a glass of coffee and hot chocolate. We had been traveling two hours, but Buluk said this was only a quarter of the way. So we started again, and I had to stop even more often to catch my breath. We didn't really feel the cold, because we were moving. Faces wilting from the cold passed by; smiles and hellos from other hikers steeled our resolve.

This hike was really exhausting for me. Though I couldn’t see the trek clearly, I guess it’s not like what they said. It’s not easy at all. I often had to hold on roots, stones, or whatever around me because it’s almost vertical, I thought. When there was a falling tree, we must crawl down. Oh, I couldn’t think about anything else but just walk, so I don’t feel the cold. Exhausted, cold, slippery, darkness in the middle of nowhere, carrying heavy load in my back, oh what a complete situation!

I was getting weak. I stumbled several times, and almost lost my consciousness. I stopped too often to stretch my legs and take deeper breaths. Ai’s face was pale too, we’re girls just felt the same sufferings. The boys couldn’t walk faster, they wait for us patiently. The steep trail slowed me down, and I, slowed them down.

Everytime I fell down, Rezza encouraged me. Even when I was left alone in the back, he always gave his hand to help me up. He said, “Thank God we climb at night, so we don’t have to see the trek. If you see it, you’ll get more exhausted, physically and mentally. Just slowly, we don’t hike in a rush.”

Suddenly Buluk asked us to stop. He said he was confused and not pretty sure about this way he chose. He went upward with his friend, to ensure if this is the right way. But he found nothing but landslide. He went another direction, but he couldn’t recognize anything. We started to worry. Rezza said, the heavy storm might change this trek. Landslide, falling trees, even we couldn’t find Post III. Some hikers said it was smashed by the storm.

Time had passed quickly; it was now 4 AM, and Buluk said we'd only gone half the way.

In the middle of confusion and fears, suddenly we saw a flashlight from distance. He was an old man, about fifty years old, carrying a huge bag with plastics inside. Rezza asked, “Sir, are you going to Surya Kencana?” He answered, “Yes, I’m going to sell nasi uduk there.” Wow, thank God! “Sir, may we go with you?” The old man said, “Of course, we go this way!”

He turned to the left, and climbed a steep trail upward. He explained, storm might have changed the trek, so we didn’t recognize the common sign. He said, two climbers from Mapala UI were missing last night, but alhamdulillah they had been found in a good condition.

The old man was walking so fast, and we start losing his trace. But the sun has come out and lit our way.

Buluk said, "I don't think we'll be at Surya Kencana for the sunrise." No problem, I thought. I'd almost given up earlier, but we've made it this far. The important thing is to make it there; it doesn't matter if we're there after the sunrise.

Through the sunlight, I could see the trek now. It’s horrible, you know. I stopped more often. Rezza was right; I was exhausted physically and mentally. Even my friend, Aan, fell asleep in the middle of the trek. Me? Crying like a baby! Oh, I was so embarrassed telling this, but yes, I cried, seeing the endless and steep trek. I got more and more out of breath. I had almost given up, when Buluk said, we almost there. “I can see Surya Kencana behind these trees!” he yelled.

Rezza clapped his hands, encouraging me. Tears choked my throat. Only another 300 meters, he said. Do I have to give up now? My legs were reluctant to continue. Gravel, chunks of stone, everything seems to be resisting my wish to keep going. One step up, slip back three. Frustrating.

But I had to keep going, though it seemed as if it would never end. I stopped again, and look back down there. Oh my… I was amazed at myself, hiking such a distance, such a trek!

It was nearly 7 when I arrived at a beautiful wide valley surrounded by green hills. The morning sun came gradually out, with its golden glow, reflected at the yellowish grass field in front of me – indescribable. Buds of small white flowers greeted me a good morning – edelweiss. Is this Surya Kencana? Rezza smiled at me, “Welcome to Surya Kencana. You won’t regret your journey.” Wow, it’s more beautiful than I’ve had imagined. I’ve never seen anything like this before. For the first impression, Surya Kencana hypnotized me with its beauty.







We kept walking to the west, because we planned to camp near the water source. My tears and pain after that hard journey was paid! Here, I feel so small as a creature of God. The mountains around me standing so proud, meadows so widely spread, and wind blows so strong. Everything’s here made me feel so small and meaningless.

Surya Kencana valley covers 50 hectares of wide and flat grassland at an altitude of 2,750 meters a.s.l. In the Independence Day, climbers used to have a ceremony here. Slowly, we saw thin mist going down covering the hills. The air became cool enough to defeat the blazing sun. I couldn’t stop saying Subhanallah, it was so beautiful.



As we planned, we rested here for one day before tackling Gede summit. This site is one of the most targeted areas by hikers. Every visitor who climbed Mt. Gede Pangrango, surely will spend time to visit the valley, whether to simply stop, or overnight to enjoy a cold night at the height. We didn’t wanna leave this wonderful place quickly.



We built our camp behind the bush of raspberry trees. Below us a small stream flow its clear water. Surya Kencana with thousands of edelweiss was the view in my front yard. The clear sky, white clouds, and its whispering wind. Time seemed to stand still here; everything was so peaceful.

When the night came, Rezza prove his story about the twinkling stars above the sky of Surya Kencana. Moonlight shine so bright. We round the campfire, while enjoying our dinner: a bowl of instant noodle plus corned beef. We talked about many things. The joy of friendship is more than enough to warm up our soul. It’s amazing how you spend a night in a wonderful place with wonderful persons.

The valley of Surya Kencana always brings special memories. The clear sky, grasslands, white mist, and thousands of edelweiss, as symbol of eternal love. It’s an unforgettable place, makes you feel like home. Though to get there, you have to run the difficult trek you can’t forget, but you won’t regret.



The yellow sun rays shining through the raspberry tree around our camp, when we woke up from our tight sleep. We have to be ready to continue our journey: Mount Gede summit! It was 11 AM when we started walking.

It wasn't easy getting there. I'd already had to stop several times. I never imagined that I'd already be tired having gone only this far. I couldn’t help when I had to stop to –sorry- vomit. The thin oxygen made me lose my breath. I felt so cold. I even thought, well, maybe I'll just stop here and let the other go the rest of the way – but I was too embarrassed. Rezza encouraged me again.

I was climbing and panting, and finally I could see Surya Kencana from above. But I still couldn't see the summit. Every time I asked, "Is it still far?" Rezza would answer, "Just a little further, just past those trees." I finally realized he was leading me on; logically, since a mountain gets more truncated the higher you climb; you'll never see the peak until you're there! While we were still getting there, all we could see was the sky above the trees, and that's what Rezza referred to as the summit.

We could see white clouds below us. This time, maybe he was telling the truth. "This is it!" Rezza shouted. "The crater is over there, but it’s covered with thick fog." I looked at my watch; it was 12 AM. Thank God – I made it! I finally reached the summit of Gede!

I was still speechless. My head’s still spinning. But I realized that I was standing at 2958 meters above sea level now! I am awed by the beauty, the glory, the wonder. I could see the beautiful Surya Kencana down there, and Mount Pangrango at the west side. The crater of Gede was there below us. Again, I felt so small among creatures of The Almighty God. I really grateful for the opportunity given to me to enjoy all this. And for the strength given to me so I can made it this high. Alhamdulillah. That’s all I can say.





After taking some pictures and enjoying the view, we went down through Cibodas trek. It was 1 PM. I was surprised to see that the trail down was almost vertical, especially at Tanjakan Setan. But we had no time to lose, because thick fog was heading our way. Several times I slipped and fell when I trod on dusty soil on top of rocks, but we just kept going, because the thick fog that enveloped us was turning into a mist. We didn’t want to spend another night in the middle of forest, of course.



Finally, we reached Cibodas at 5 PM. I was so dirty and tired. Now, I couldn’t think about anything else but going home. When we walk out of Cibodas Botanical Garden, Rezza poked me. He asked me to look back and, “That’s the mountain you climbed this morning.” What?! I couldn’t believe my eyes, is that true? I could walk that high? I said, “No, it’s impossible! Maybe Mount Gede is overthere, the smaller one!” I was starring at my place. Rezza just keep walking, “You’ve made it, baby!” he laughed.

Minggu, 12 September 2010

Tradisi Idul Fitri: Berlebaran!


Mendengar kata lebaran, apa yang ada dalam pikiran kita? Hmm...tentu saja, mudik! Baju baru! Salam tempel! Pernak-pernik! Kue lebaran! Ketupat! Opor ayam!

Di Indonesia, Hari Raya Idul Fitri atau yang disebut juga Hari Lebaran memang selalu meriah. Banyak tradisi lebaran yang masih lestari hingga kini, dan banyak di antara tradisi tersebut yang (menurut saya) cenderung berlebih-lebihan. Apakah karena itu Hari Raya Idul Fitri di Indonesia disebut Hari Lebaran?

Orang seringkali memaksakan mudik, beli baju baru untuk keluarga, menyiapkan salam tempel, bikin kue, dan masak masakan enak demi merayakan ”kemenangan”. Setelah sebulan berpuasa, di hari lebaran bisa makan sepuasnya. Si anak yang berpuasa sebulan penuh, dijanjikan hadiah uang plus baju baru. Salam tempel juga disiapkan untuk anak, keponakan, dan sanak saudara yang kalau dihitung-hitung, jumlahnya jauh melampaui sedekah kita selama Ramadan. Bagi saya, ini jadi seperti ”balas dendam”.

Di keluarga kecil saya, penyambutan lebaran tahun ini tak jauh berbeda dengan tahun-tahun sebelumnya. Tak ada kesibukan bikin kue, tak ada baju baru, tak ada perjalanan mudik, tak ada parsel, tak ada ragam pernak-pernik. Ya, sejak kami masih kecil Bapak memang tak pernah membiasakan tradisi lebaran yang berlebih-lebihan. Dan itu berlangsung hingga kini.

Ibu tidak sibuk bikin banyak kue, cuma beli beberapa toples untuk disajikan di ruang tamu. Itu pun biasanya lebih dulu habis sama anak-anaknya, hehe... Seperti hari biasa saja. Ketupat hanya ada beberapa buah. Dan Ibu jarang sekali ikutan masak opor dan rendang seperti orang-orang. Saat lebaran, di rumah saya malah jarang ada masakan daging. Lebih sering sambel goreng kentang dan sayur sop. Bahkan pernah hari Lebaran kami malah makan mi instan, haha! Bukan apa-apa, daging mahal menjelang lebaran. Untuk apa memaksakan. Selain itu, di setiap rumah masakannya pasti sama, lontong/ketupat, opor, semur, rendang, dll yang berat dan bersantan semua. Dan di setiap rumah kita pasti ditawari makan. Apa jadinya kalo di rumah sendiri makannya menu itu juga? Mblenger, jare wong jowo. Mendingan makan sop bening deh.

Saya dan adik pun tak punya baju lebaran. Dari dulu seperti itu. Di saat orang-orang pakai baju baru, saya dan ibu pakai baju kurung atau gamis biasa saja. Berjalan ke masjid masih pakai mukena, seperti saat tarawih. Adik saya pun begitu, pakai kemeja yang lama. Bapak apalagi, lebih simpel. Beli baju baru tak harus saat lebaran. Dan saat lebaran bukan baju yang harus baru. Begitu yang Bapak saya selalu katakan menjelang lebaran, agar anak-anaknya mengerti mengapa mereka tidak dibelikan “baju lebaran” seperti kawan-kawan.

Salam tempel? Huaa...jangan tanya! Nggak punya! Jarang banget. Waktu kami kecil, Bapak nggak pernah membiasakan itu ke anak-anaknya. Sampai kami gede, kami juga baru menyadari, kok sodara-sodara juga nggak pada ngasih kami duit yak? Ternyataaa... Bapak dari dulu juga mewanti-wanti om tante untuk tidak memberikan salam tempel kepada kami. Hahaha parah banget dah. Om tante saya cerita, dulu waktu masih kecil kalo mau dikasih uang saya menolak dengan sombongnya, “Nggak ah, aku juga punya tabungan lebaran!” Amit-amit banget kan? Giliran sekarang, saat saya mulai mata duitan, sodara-sodara malah nggak ada yang ngasih. “Yah, Iken kan biasanya nggak minta pas lebaran!” kata mereka. Hiks!

Puasa kami juga nggak diiming-imingi hadiah. Kalo sampe full, hebat! Itu baru namanya memenangkan Ramadan. Itu aja yang kami tau. Padahal kalo 10 ribu sehari kan lumayan banget ya?

Hmm...apalagi ya? Mudik, nggak juga. Sulit sekali mendapatkan tiket saat mudik lebaran. Nggak tega juga sama Bapak kalau harus memaksakan mudik dengan menggunakan mobil pribadi. Macetnya, capeknya, jauhnya. Biasanya kami pulang kampung justru sebelum Ramadan, sekalian nyekar ke makam. Bareng-bareng orang kampung melaksanakan tradisi nyadran. Atau malah seminggu setelah lebaran, kalau di Jawa Tengah disebut kupatan. Malah lebih meriah acaranya kalo di kampungku. Saat Idul Fitri, ya merayakan bersama para tetangga saja. Salam-salaman di lapangan, keliling kampung bersilaturahmi.

Memang, masih banyak tradisi lebaran yang bernilai positif. Silaturahmi, bermaaf-maafan, ziarah makam, saling memberi, dan sebagainya. Indah sekali jika tradisi yang demikian lebih dimaknai. Makna lebaran bukan sekadar baju baru, salam tempel, mudik, dan makanan berlimpah. Seringkali perilaku konsumtif kita menjelang lebaran justru dimanfaatkan oleh orang-orang licik pengeruk keuntungan. Lihatlah ramainya mall dengan berbagai tipu daya diskonnya. Di pasar, daging-daging semakin langka, semakin mahal. Atau digelonggong. Harga-harga sayuran dan bumbu dapur meroket dipermainkan tengkulak. Belum lagi maraknya kasus penipuan arisan lebaran. Alih-alih mendapatkan lebih banyak uang, THR malah dibawa kabur orang.

Apalah artinya berlebih-lebihan saat lebaran, jika kita sendiri tak mendapatkan kemenangan yang sesungguhnya, menang melawan hawa nafsu. Dan untuk apa memaksakan diri melaksanakan berbagai tradisi lebaran, jika nilai yang hakiki justru terletak pada apa yang berhasil kita kumpulkan selama Ramadan. Lebaran bukan berlebih-lebihan, tapi bagaimana kita bersyukur karena telah memenangkan Ramadan.


“Hari Raya Idul Fitri
Bukan untuk berpesta-pesta
Yang penting maafnya, lahir batinnya...”

Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri, taqobbalallahu minna wa minkum, shiyamana wa shiyamakum, minal a’idin wal faizin :)