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The southern edge of Yogya: The eroded beach of Samas YOGYAKARTA - Some days you will most likely not have a full agenda so you can finally do something that has been waiting for some time. Earlier this month I had such a day, I have more than one a month fortunately, but I can not always do what I want because the weather often has to be nice as well. This time it was jack pot; a nice blue sky in the early morning and some small clouds at the time I was about to depart for a days out. My plan was to take a motorbike trip to the beach of Samas.

Samas is located at about one hours drive from the city of Yogyakarta and is in fact located at the very end of a long road that starts from the southern ring road around Yogyakarta and ends almost at the beach. During that distance it gets more narrow until almost nothing is left. That 'almost nothing is left' should be taken fairly literally when I should believe the report in Kompas (daily newspaper). Heavy erosion should have lead to the disappearance of a big part of the beach here. A small sea has replaced it when dozens of houses disappeared and the village itself is threatened as well by now.

The weather-phenomenon 'La Nina' - which takes place on the other side of the Pacific Ocean - bring a wetter than average and longer than average wet season here (that's about right, since it is still raining much at this moment). It also causes stronger winds to blow in the area south of the Sunda Islands Java and Bali and the Lesser Sunda Islands like Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa. These stronger winds create higher waves that end up at the southern beaches of these islands. Higher than normal waves cause damage to the beaches and the direct environment of it.

That was something I had to see, and to avoid a possible crowded day I should not go for it on a Saturday or Sunday because those are the days that Indonesians like to spend a day outside with their family or lover. Samas is the more quiet little brother of Parangtritis, a well-known beach destination and is located just a little bit towards the west. To reach it from Parangtritis, you will have to take a detour because the Code River river mouth doesn't have a bridge until a few kilometers inland. From Yogyakarta you can better take the main road via the town of Bantul, which is a direct road and the conditions are fine as well until as far as the beach.

Is taking that detour worth while? In fact it isn't, because Samas is a never-developed tourist destination where you will only find a hand full of bus drivers waiting to depart again for a trip to Yogyakarta. Furthermore there are some places where you can drink tea - ice is not always available - and eat some simple local food. Fish will be available though since the local harbor is located just a kilometer to the west from the village. Furthermore you will notice villagers hanging around during the day in front of their simple little houses. They don't even wait for tourists here anymore, and if one comes along than they are free to look for a parking space all by themselves.

A lake-like sea has formed just behind the original beach at Samas.
A lake-like sea has formed just behind the original beach at Samas. indahnesia.com

That is what I did. The best I could find was a roof made from woven mats which were already blown away by the wind. It wasn't really that important anyway, it was just to prevent the black seat from getting too hot under the direct sun. I got my camera from the travel box on the motorbike and headed for the beach. It was clearly noticeable that there wasn't much wind today. The heavy heat directly faced me. I was happy that I prepared myself at least a little bit with some sun block earlier that day, since the UV-index can rise as high as 15 or more in these regions of the planet, this compared to a maximum of ten for the more averaged regions of the planet. I still had about one hour to go before the hottest part of the day, around eleven. After that, high clouds generally start to form.

A fairly large 'hole' had emerged on the exact location where even I could still remind a fairly wide beach. I could not remind the houses however, but it is highly plausible that there were houses since most people prefer to be lazy instead of tired and therefore prefer to live on the beach itself. That something will go wrong at a given time is likely as well. There was some kind of small sea here now which measures roughly 200 by 500 meters, with as best protection a beach with a height of one to two meters. One mouth gives access to the sea here, so no real protection in fact. That indeed was a radical change from what I could remind. It is a clear indicator that man has little to do against this, even if there was enough money. This is the Pacific Ocean you are fighting against not some local lake.

The village road is threatened to be cut of by a next high tide in the village of Samas.
The village road is threatened to be cut of by a next high tide in the village of Samas. indahnesia.com

Something more shocking than the new sea that has emerged here - which is indeed pretty shocking on it's own - if you ask me was that the edge of the road, which turns to the right here at the beach, is at the point of being washed away at a next high tide. The outer edge of the road had already disappeared; a part is undermined now and was marked with bamboo poles. Stones and pieces of asphalt lied on the new shore of the small sea. More protection and warnings were not needed because tomorrow the situation would be different again. Better to see this very temporary situation as nothing more than just that.

De few residents that even did any effort to see what I was up to didn't understand why I only came here now to make pictures. Not much was left by now. That was a good one indeed but my argument is that I rather show the results of something instead of people in distress. This disaster tourism very common of course and most people are familiar with that, especially in Indonesia with too much television stations which fill most of their time broadcasting sinetron (soaps) and reality shows.

The process of erosion has been taking place for months now, which matched the fact that there was an active La Nina starting several months back and should be degrading by now. There has always been erosion at the southern beaches, but regularly new deposits were made as well. This season is different in that matter. With big waves the beach was taken away; partially because of seasonal bad weather, partially by some mini-tsunami waves after the earthquake south of Pangandaran in 2007 and now once again those seasonal high waves. And of course everything seems worse than it has ever been before, but in the past there were fewer people that lived further away from the beach.

Behind me two older men were busy salvaging the last of the useable materials from one of the partially collapsed houses. One corner of the house had already disappeared because the sand under it has been washed away by the waves. The well near the toilet is just off the beach now, the water salty. The bathroom now has a wide ocean view over the Indian Ocean. However a view like this is nothing short of splendid, I am pretty sure this is not something that was according to the expectations of the owner to live this close to the beach. Still it has become a reality by now and now they are forced to live with relatives. There is no money to build a new house.

External link
El Nino and La Nina on Wikipedia



Posted in Travel @ 13 April 2008 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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