Extreme sports lure young tourists to East Java

A group of 20 journalists and tour agents from Sabah and Sarawak participated in the 6-day, 5-night programme in Kota Batu — a city of theme parks


EXTREME sports like paragliding and rafting were never on my bucket list.

I did not even give a thought to such activities until I visited Mount Banyak in Kota Batu, about 100km from Surabaya, which was among our destinations during a recent familiarisation tour of the tourist attractions in the Indonesian province of East Java, organised by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism.

A group of 20 journalists and tour agents from Sabah and Sarawak participated in the six-day, five-night programme.

I practically trembled when informed by the organisers that they had lined up a 15-minute paragliding experience for us, but relaxed a bit when told that it would be a tandem flight together with a professional “pilot”.

Our take-off spot was on the peak of Mount Banyak. The pilot helped me wear the harness (which is attached to the pilot’s) and he reminded me to comply with his instructions while gliding in the air.

“Run, run, run, run,” the pilot shouted as we glided into the air and in a blink, we had “cruised” to a height of over 1,000m.

Being a newbie, it was a little terrifying for me and I could not wait to get back to terra firma. My goodness, that was the longest ever 15 minutes for me! My pilot must have been amused when I told him to land quickly. He told me all newcomers felt the same way, especially when a strong gust of wind blows against them.

Fortunately for me, the weather was fine that day and I quite enjoyed the views of the mountains and vegetable farms below. For the paragliding activity, visitors are charged 400,000 rupiah (RM117) each.

The paragliding take-off spot is on the peak of Mount Banyak

Spinning Raft

Next, it was time for our rafting adventure on the Kaliwatu river near Kota Batu. We were dropped off at the “base camp” in Kaliwatu. Here, we hopped into a pickup truck which took us to the Kaliwatu river for our 7km rafting experience.

We were given a safety briefing before we clambered onto our rafts, each of which can take four passengers who are, of course, accompanied by an experienced rower to steer the raft.

While “fighting” the rapids, our raft spun a few times and even got stuck amid some rocks in the river. At one juncture, it almost overturned when encountering some rapids and we made a din of screams and laughter.

We could also see streams of water flowing into the river bank and when asked where the water came from, our boatman told us it flowed from the nearby paddy fields.

The river rafting activity here is available from 8am to 3pm daily, the price of the packages ranging from 195,000 rupiah to 215,000 rupiah.

The Transport Museum exhibits a collection of classic antique cars, including a 1919 Ford model and 1953 Chevrolet Belair, that are still in good condition

Theme Park Galore

Indonesian Ministry of Tourism assistant deputy director (Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei Promotions) Santy Lusiani told journalists participating in the familiarisation tour that the ministry wanted to focus more on promoting destinations for extreme sports as studies have shown that young travellers enjoyed participating in such activities.

Meanwhile, Kota Batu — located about 800m above sea level — is a city of theme parks, 12 to be exact. They are East Java Park 1, Human Body Museum, Batu Secret Zoo, Satwa Museum, Eco Green Park, Transport Museum, Predator Fun Park, Batu Night Spectacular, Dino Park, The Legend Starks Park, Fun Tech Plaza and World Music Museum.

East Java Park marketing executive Yokka Rhismadora said e-bikes are available to enable visitors to move around the parks, each of which would take two to three hours to cover.

We visited two of the theme parks, Batu Secret Zoo and the Transport Museum which exhibits a collection of classic antique cars, including a 1919 Ford model and 1953 Chevrolet Belair, that are still in good condition. This museum also has replicas of the ancient Chinese junk, and Majapahit and Borobudur ships.

The Batu Secret Zoo, opened in 2010, has more than 300 animal species, including the pygmy marmoset, which is the smallest monkey species and weighs only 100g. — Bernama