Cikasur: The Superstar of Yang Highland

…continued from: “The Long and Winding Trail of Mount Argopuro”

Once a secret airfield in Dutch colonial era before it was destroyed during Japanese Occupation in the 40s, Cikasur is now a vast plain of savanna with some post-World War II ruins. The story around the airfield has become a legend: To protect its secrecy from Indonesian freedom fighters, the Dutch executed the workers who built the airfield after it was finished.

The location of Cikasur is halfway to the summit of Mount Argopuro and it’s everybody’s favorite camping ground because it provides plenty of water (even in the dry season) and spectacular view. That’s where we going to spend the New Year’s Eve.

Day #2. Everybody’s still asleep as the last sunrise of 2015 slowly creeps through the trees. Nobody comes out of the tent after 5:30.  I slowly drag myself, it was a very good night sleep that I wish I could sleep all day long. Not long after the sun is high that my hikemates slowly emerge from their respective tents.

We prepare breakfast, putting rice with soup on the menu, toasts are served later for extra energy. After finishing my meal, I start to disassemble the tent then packing my stuffs. Everybody’s ready at 10 o’clock, 12 minutes later we depart for Cikasur. The sun hides behind grey clouds, it seems that rain would be coming any time soon.

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Preparing breakfast of champions

Savanna…Savanna…

We walk through the forest for awhile then amazed at the scene in front of us: the left side of the trail is littered with the remnants of burnt trees and grass, however the plants on the right side of the trail are still green and unaffected.

Like many other forest and national parks in Indonesia,  Yang Highland also suffered from forest fire at the peak of dry season in October, although most of the fire reached the trail, somehow it disrupted the massive fire, saving the other side of the trail so the fire didn’t spread farther.

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The forest fire, disrupted by the trail, leaving remnants of dead trees on the left.

38 minutes later, we approach the first major savanna called Alun-alun kecil (small plaza). From the looks of it, we would stay here quite a little longer, considering that most of my mates bring lots of serious recording devices from selfie sticks to GoPro and they’re a bunch of chronic narcissists.

I sit under the tree in the middle of savanna, waiting for others while having snacks. We spend 45 minutes at this place then getting back on our feet into the forest. The second major savanna appears after one hour walking around a hill, it’s bigger than the first one thus it’s called Alun-alun Besar (Big Plaza).

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Alun-alun Kecil
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Alun-alun Besar

The clouds are getting darker, the wind is getting stronger, I tell my friends that according to the GPS, we’re already halfway to Cikasur and the weather is not getting any better so we better be quick. I just realize how great the extent of the field when I walk to the end of the savanna for 20 minutes.

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Into the mist

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Approximately one hour after midday, our destination appears, Cikasur is there waiting for us, it seems so close yet so far away, approximately  ½ –hour-walk far. Near the campsite, there’s a riverbank with wild plants on the surface, the locals called it “selada air” ( literary translation: water salad). If prepare carefully, it would turn the bitter-taste plant into a great meal.

Right after we arrive, the rain falls, I sneak into my tent to change clothes and warm myself. Some of my mates are so happy that right after they put their backpacks, they’re running back into the river to take a bath although the water is very cold. I just lying there, in my tent, enjoying the moment.

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Our campsite near “the bunker”, a damaged building at Cikasur
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Crossing the riverbank
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Harvesting “selada air”

The last night of 2015

Not so much happening before dark, we prepare dinner and hanging around the ruins where we pitch our tents. I sit there quietly, listening some music, watching the sky becomes darker and darker.

Dinner is ready in a couple of hours, after that more people start coming into Cikasur, it seems that we’re not the only ones planning to celebrate the new year here.

I talk to a guy who just arrives when it’s already dark, he describes his journey as “neverending walk through endless savannas”, he thought that Alun-alun besar was Cikasur and after discussed with the group they decided to keep walking as it wasn’t fit the description, and then 2 hours later they found us. I laugh a bit.

That’s why before this trip when it was still in the planning phase,  I insist that night trekking should be avoided at all costs because of three things: 1. We couldn’t enjoy the view, 2. It’s hard to navigate, 3. According to the latest weather forecast, there’s a 90% chance of rain. So it’s very important to start and finish early.

We’re spending the last night of 2015 sitting in a tent altogether, chatting and laughing while sipping hot beverages. We talk so loud that I think we annoy the others. No fireworks tonight, not only they’re forbidden but also would scare the shit out of the animals.

2 hours before midnight we give up the idea to stay late for the countdown, we feel tired and back to our respective tents. The new year’s passing as we sleep tight in total tranquility, far from city lights, in the middle of nowhere.

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Cooking dinner inside “the bunker”

The first light of 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Day #3. The peacocks of Cikasur are making noise on the first day of 2016, waking people up. It’s strange, I’ve woken up by clocks, phone alarms, roosters, but never a peacock. Although I can hear their sound, I can’t see any of them bloody peacocks, they hide somewhere in th bushes or at the highest trees.

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Glorious morning

I spend the morning photographing the big tree, the mascot of Cikasur,  in front of the campsite. Nothing much to do here other than lazying around, enjoying the view while sipping hot beverages. I feel so relaxed that I don’t want to leave this quiet place.

But eventually, all good things must end, at 9:00 AM, we march to our next destination: Sabana Lonceng (The Bell Savanna), to half-complete this long and winding trail.

continue to The Walk to Yang Highland Three Mystical Peaks

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The first day of 2016
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The campsite
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The mascot
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Track overview

 

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