Never once did I thought that I would step my feet on a stranger-to-my-ear place called Burong Mandi. Well at first, it actually did sounds strange to me because ‘Burong’ means bird and ‘Mandi’ means bathing in Indonesian. So if it gets translated literally it means a bathing bird and that’s funny for a village name. The reason that I bother to spend my precious holiday going to some remote island (sorry, I was being hyperbolic) was to observe the social and economic aspects of that village, yeah, I’m that kind of person… kidding.
So, I was appointed as one of the observation team to go to Burong Mandi along with my three other friends. To cut the expenses as low as possible, we used Bogowonto train (economy class) to reach Jakarta because there are no direct flights from Yogyakarta to Belitung. We gathered at Lempuyangan station, a bit panicked because there were two stupid people who hold the tickets but arrived on the station in less than ten minutes before the departure time. Aside that, we got no problem getting on the train and soon as we sat on our designated seat, the train departed. The journey was exciting as the last time I rode a train was when I’m still under five years old. Accompanied by world’s most noisy person ever and an all-the-time-bickering couple, the time flew fast and eventually we reached Senen station. I kind of felt bad for my friend’s uncle who came to fetch us because the train’s arrival got delayed for an hour. It delayed because the train stopped a while when some irresponsible people threw rocks to one of a passenger’s window. Going on a rainy night, we arrived safely at the uncle’s house and spent a comfortable night there before we have to rush to Soekarno Hatta airport the next morning to catch Sriwijaya Air’s morning flight. The sun hasn’t even been arisen when we got up, we were a bit paranoid that we’d catch a traffic jam on the way to the airport, well, it’s Jakarta that we’re talking about. And that moment, I thought that it’s right to expect the unexpected because there’s no jam at all and we arrived two hours before the flight, once more, two hours. We spent (much like, wasted) the two hours long wait doing unnecessary things, literally unnecessary that I even forgot what we actually do.
Ah, we were joined by one more person. He was our predecessor that had gone to Burong Mandi before. On the waiting room, we got worried because the weather was a bit unfriendly, heavily rain and it wasn’t that long since Air Asia crashed near the Belitung Island… yeah, and paranoia stroked us a little bit. Finally the departure time comes and I clenched my fist tight as I pray that we would arrive safely to Tanjung Pandan.
With our body still intact, no injury whatsoever, we arrived safely at H.A.S Hanandjoeddin airport. I breathe Belitung’s air for the first time the moment I stepped out of the plane and soon I was overwhelmed by the joy of both still alive from the flight and the beautiful sky of Belitung. After we collected our luggage, we met two people who had waited for us outside and turns out that they’re the ones who rent their car for us to use in Belitung. We got to our car and drove for about an hour and…
Road in Manggar
WELCOME TO BURONG MANDI
We loved the quiet road without any other car passing by and I didn’t find any traffic light on our way from the airport to Burong Mandi. Then the car pulled up on a green house, a bit far from the main road but it got a vast and beautiful garden around the house. Well, Burong Mandi got three different regions in it: Tanah Tebok, Malang Lepau and Burung Mandi. The house that we visited was Mr. Yadi’s house, the head of Tanah Tebok. Half unexpectedly, the whole family welcomed us extremely warm and yeah, there’s a light of hope in one corner of my heart that this whole thing is going to be amazing. Well, the warm welcome could be triggered by our infamous senior, hail Ausatha Rabbany! We talked for a long time there and got informed that there’s a village party (a bit like traditional gathering) on one of the villager’s house. Natural sound of our stomach had rang the bell, signaling that we had to eat no matter what happen, even if the world’s end tomorrow. With a high hope and prayer in our heart that we’d get food there, we drove to Cinta’s house, the place where the party was held. God and heaven heard our prayer, we were welcome by the villagers and… THE FOOD. OH MY GOD, the rendang tasted amazing, so different with what I found here in Yogyakarta. The chickens, chili paste (sambal), and I forgot the name but it was a dish made out from coconut tree’s branch (I guess) all tasted delicious. We ate until our stomach was so close to burst.
Who wouldn't love those kind of foods?
Finished with the food, we checked the house that will be used by the males of our group to stay on KKN (it’s haunted). It’s located a bit far from the other houses, up in a small hill, surrounded with forests and it actually got the creepy comfort factor. We prayed there when suddenly we heard our name called by hundreds, no, thousands, no, it’s actually about twenty children asking us to play together. That was the first time that I felt “OMG I’M A CELEBRITY” because every each of the kids drags our hands, feet, and body to play with them. It’s more like a dream and nightmare got mixed as one… reality.
We laughed hard and play hard until our senior called us to meet the Camat (I don’t know how to say it in English, sorry). I don’t actually remember his face (sorry) and we met more people there. Still got a full stomach, we were forced (not really, I was volunteering) to eat the traditional dish of Belitung and yeah, it wasn’t disappointing.
*nom nom nom*
Done with filling up our stomach, we drove to the… BEACH! Burong Mandi beach got calm waves, white as ever sands and lots of ‘Kater’ (small boats with some kind of balancers on its side) lined up on the seashore. Well, we didn’t get the chance to explore the beach more because we met Mrs. Henny, the one that will help us to teach at the kids’ playground later and decided to visit her house. What a treat, she gave us coconut drinks that was directly harvested from the tree… to be honest, that was one of the best coconut I ever drink this whole life. As the time passed by, the night has come so we bid our temporary goodbye to Mrs. Henny then went to Mr. Ivan’s house. He’s the son of girls’ home stay owner, well, that’s the only information I knew. It took about five minutes to get to his house, well, it was a one hell of a nice house. It stood a bit far from the main road, built higher than the land, got a vast terrace with some kind of Greek pillar at every corner and black floors. Again, we welcomed warmly and to my surprise, Mr. Ivan was somewhat nice despite his seemingly harsh outer appearance. That’s why people say “Don’t judge a book by its cover” I guess. We chatted for hours, I forgot what time it was when we eventually said another goodbye and leave to the house that we’ll stay for a week. It’s Grandma Zuban’s house, seen from afar, it’s actually a bit creepy for me. Located far from the main road and the other houses plus surrounded by darkish forests made me got a chill on my spine. That fear suddenly gone when we met Grandma as she opened the front door for us. Well, we didn’t do anything much that night since it’s been really tiring from the journey to Belitung and visiting villager’s houses.
That’s it, my first day on Burong Mandi. I’m not lying, I didn’t know I’d love this place I’ve never went before. From the beautiful scenery everywhere I stepped my feet, the quiet and peaceful surroundings, the fresh air I breathe, the warm and nice people (all of them), the terrific foods, who knows what will happen in a week when the first day was already that awesome? Finally closing my eyes, I slept soundly and spent my first night on Burong Mandi with lots of hopes for exciting things that will happen in the next day…