Yesterday i hired a car to take me from my hotel in Yogyakarta to Goa Jamblang, a cave about a two hour drive from the city. The cave wasn't listed in my guide book (that's a failure of Lonely Planet, in my opinion, but once it is listed it is sure to get a lot busier) but i had seen pictures of a magical cave on the internet and that was good enough for me.
The ticket was 450,000 rupiah, which was more than reasonable, and but they only allow 25-35 people in per day, so it is important to get there early. I was #5.
We were walked over to the entrance to the cave: a large hole in the ground created by a sink hole, with perfectly vertical sides descending about 60 meters (200 feet ish) to a verdant bottom.
Our way down? Being lowered on ropes held by a group of slight men in flip flops.
Not exactly comfort inducing, but i figured it was safe, or at least no more dangerous than some of my previous travel exploits. They outfitted each of us in helmets and well worn harnesses.
I was a bit nervous but happy that i wasn't going first. "Number 5!" They called out. "Huh, i guess we aren't going numerically"' i thought. I made my way to the edge of the cliff and they clipped my harness to a single, knotted rope. Stepping off the edge took a moment of courage but once i was free and not plummeting to the ground, it was wonderful and exhilarating. I was slowly lowered to the ground taking in the greenery and the height.
Once everyone was at the bottom we made our way into the cave, which was dark and slippery but only a short walk to a grand opening filled with light from a natural opening above.
The sun, filtered through the leaves high above, made for a cascade of beams of light that was either heavenly, magical, or simply amazing, depending on your world view.
Far below us still was another drop off and water flowing. Water dripped from above making for other worldly rock formations.
It was all just incredible. I felt like an adventurer, an explorer, and, at times, a character at the beginning of a horror movie.
We spent about an hour or two down there and then we were lifted back to the surface. This next photo is me being lifted and looking down from part way up. The red things below are the helmets of the others.
We all shared a lunch (included in the price), united in our conquering of the cave. And that was that. Done by 1pm, satisfied and exhausted and muddy, i went back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day just hanging out at various cafés and enjoying a cigar with my curry.
I highly recommend this experience and suspect it may be the best thing about this trip.