01-May-2004 -- Confluence 7S 113 E, Madura East Java
It’s been nearly three months since our last confluence conquest, 2°S 116°E, and the need for a few more was becoming unbearable. Laurent and I have been looking at the points in East Java for a long time and finally the opportunity came along – a 3-day weekend, and better yet, permission from my wife and kids to go play.
We flew down to Surabaya from Balikpapan on Saturday morning, arriving at Surabaya airport at 09:30. We quickly organized a hotel, car and driver at the airport. We had high hopes of reaching this confluence Saturday afternoon. A quick local lunch of Masakan Pandang (photo) and we were on our way.
The most important thing to remember about confluence hunting in Indonesia is that the time of travel is not related to distance. Traffic, bad roads, demonstrations, massive ferry queues (photo), poor infrastructure, and virtually a lack of any kind of road map all come into play. Add in a driver who speaks limited English and has no idea of what we are trying to do, and you get the idea. Due to most of these reasons, it was not until nearly 16:00 that we had covered the 40 km and were closing in on the confluence point.
The point lies on the island of Madura. This island is famous for its water buffalo races where a farmer will ride a wooden frame tied behind two large buffaloes and race across the rice paddies. We had traveled along a road on the west and north of the island and had cut south inland along a minor road which headed up into the hills towards the confluence. The countryside is beautiful with a lot of forested hills, and terraced gardens. Excitement was building as we neared the confluence area. At 6 km distance, I heard these horrible words come from Laurent “oh *!$x, the batteries are dead”. With no backup GPS this was not good news. A little shack of a store alongside the road happened to have some strange looking AA batteries, they worked and we were back in business. We continued our journey towards the confluence.
It is amazing how with no map, and in a very sparsely developed area with few roads, we were able to get within 1 km of the confluence. And even better, it looked like it was accessible without a major expedition. This is much different from our previous confluence in Borneo.
It was a pleasant walk along the terraced fields, and through small streams and forests which lead us to the confluence. The only real inconvenience is that there had just been a thunderstorm, and the rain had turned all the paths into a gumbo mud which was very slippery and stuck like glue to our shoes.
We found the confluence in a cassava garden next to a small hamlet. It did not take long for all the locals to show up and wonder what two white guys with cameras and strange gadgets were up to (photo). In our best Bahasa Indonesia we tried to explain that their garden was on a very special spot. After taking the required shots, we said our selamats and departed. All in all it was a very pleasant evening. We cannot help but laugh wondering what they will think when the next hunters arrive at this spot.
We got back to the hotel after dark and celebrated with a great Chinese dinner in Surabaya.