Indonesia Expat
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A Day Trip to Mauk

Past the main road near Kronjo which leads you to the northernmost tip of Tangerang, a small and quiet village welcomes you. The narrow alley to the village only allows one car to pass at a time. I was in search of a small community of Indonesians of Chinese descent who had settled in this part near a beach called Pantai Madhato. The beach itself is not a great attraction as it is muddy and located next to a mangrove forest. Walking along the fields beside the mangrove plantations, I came across some fish ponds and a farmhouse, which stood isolated. Close by, a vendor was struggling to cross a low and narrow, rickety-looking bridge between alleys with heavy barrels of fish strapped to the back of his motorcycle. The morning air is cool and fresh and I enjoyed the stroll up to the beach, where some fishermen were about to embark on their first voyage of the day.

Mauk is a village of fishermen, farmers and industrial workers. The place gets its name from a Chinese Indonesian named Ma Uk who is said to have fought against the Dutch colonists. I walked out of Pantai Madhato and headed back to the alley. There were some people crowded around a vegetable and sarapan (breakfast) joint. I smiled and strode along towards a Buddhist Temple situated in a corner. Before I got there, I was greeted by an old woman sitting in her shop in front of her house beside the temple.

Fei Hong (not her real name) was born at a time when the Dutch colonial era was coming to an end. She can hardly remember life in those times, but has heard quite a lot from her parents about the struggles they had to go through. Her family earned a living by doing various menial jobs, often moving from one place to another within the region. The sea was always a great source of livelihood. That was in the 50s and the 60s.

She doesn’t go out much these days, depending solely on the shop where she sells snacks, coffee, Teh Botol (bottled tea) and noodles. “Business is just a matter of luck,” she told me with a smile. There was hardly any sign of disappointment or worry for the future that may engulf a shopkeeper in towns. Now in her early seventies, Fei Hong leads a solitary life after her husband died a decade ago. She has no children.

“The temple is always open. Sometimes, when I get time, I light a lamp and sweep the floor near the deities.” She pointed to Vihara Madhato Kesambi, one of the three Buddhist temples in the vicinity. “It is very festive during Vaisak and Imlek. Many people come here from Tangerang as well.” As she went on talking about the temple programs, I was quite amused by some grazing pigs, and some dogs who seemed to be patrolling the street with their tails wagging. A few chickens and ducks moved aimlessly around the alley.

Her own house hosts three cats, two puppies and some chickens. All these animals live in harmony and I sensed the feeling of camaraderie outside of human life. One of the puppies got close to me and tried to smell my right foot. Fei fondled its head and drew it close to her. “I have a neighbour, a lady who usually comes here and helps me with cooking and other stuff. Then I have these dogs and cats.” Fei’s never-ending smile with two upper teeth projecting out while talking is her trademark style.

I got some coffee from her shop and decided to move along to the beaches Mauk is famous for. Fei Hong gave me directions to get to Pantai Tanjung Kait before she waved goodbye.

I was stopped by a man at a turn which leads to Pantai Tanjung Kait. He collected Rp20,000 and gave me a ticket which was supposed to be the entrance fee for the beach. Driving along an even narrower alley this time, I noticed the scene changing. There was a mosque on the left and beyond that was a foul-smelling and visibly dirty slum area with tiny houses made of half concrete and half thatch on both sides of the alley. There was a pond with murky, black water and all kinds of plastic waste strewn over its surface. Reaching the beach was going to be difficult, but I kept going.

Within a few metres was the beach and the parking lot. Here, another man collected yet another Rp20,000 as parking fee. There were restaurants on stilts over muddy and brownish sea water which was filled with jellyfish. I stepped into one of the restaurants and walked towards the edge where there were lesehan-style (sitting on the floor) dinner settings. Out on the sea was a wide network of bamboo bridges on stilts criss-crossing here and there. A man angles in the distance.

The restaurant’s owner approached me from behind. “Good morning sir, are you looking for food?”

Dewi runs one of the restaurants selling fresh seafood. She took me to the kitchen and showed me varieties of fish from the morning’s catch. She told me that the bamboo bridges are mostly used to catch small to medium-sized fish and jellyfish. There are not so many customers on a normal day but it gets busier on weekends and during festive seasons, according to Dewi. Mauk is certainly not on the tourist map yet. She told me about another beach nearby called Pantai Tanjung Kait Shangri La.

The Shangri La beach required another Rp20,000 to enter. The beach looked much cleaner and, unlike the one on Tanjung Kait, had no bamboo bridges. The restaurants were constructed on the shore and a couple of gazebos were built on the sea itself.

 

How to Get There

From Jakarta, take the Merak toll road and exit at the Cikupa toll. Follow Jl. Raya Ps Kemis, Jl. Raya Rajeg and get to Jl. Raya Mauk. At Jl. Raya Mauk, you will find the name Mauk written in huge letters. Ask anyone here how to get to Pantai Madhato or Pantai Tanjung Kait. There is good connectivity and Google Maps works well.

From Jakarta, take the Merak toll road and exit at the Cikupa toll. Follow Jl. Raya Ps Kemis, Jl. Raya Rajeg and get to Jl. Raya Mauk. At Jl. Raya Mauk, you will find the name Mauk written in huge letters. Ask anyone here how to get to Pantai Madhato or Pantai Tanjung Kait. There is good connectivity and Google Maps works well.

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