Kebumen: Bengkoang, Legen, and Beaches

By: Sahrudin – @SahrudinSaja

I HAVE been to Kebumen several times, riding a motorcycle, just wandering around.

I was hanging out in the public square (locally known as Alun-alun); photographing the legen (sweet beverages distilled from the sap of the unopened coconut flowers) in plastic bottles; taking pictures of Sokka clay tile manufacturers, and bengkoang (yam beans or jicamas) sellers, and also Kebumen’s beaches. 

Kebumen is located about 80 kilometers, or perhaps more, south of Magelang Regency.

I feel a bond with Kebumen, because this regency has the same license plate letters as one of my hometown Magelang: AA.

Together with regencies of Purworejo, Temanggung and Wonosobo; Kebumen was in the same residency (Kedu residency) as Magelang Regency and Magelang Municipality, during the Dutch colonial period.

Residency (in English) or residentie (in Dutch), during the Dutch colonial era was a larger administrative unit, or an integration of several kabupaten (regencies) that were close together, below the provincial level.

Kebumen tends to be warm, and even hotter, as it is situated near the southern coast. But it is reasonable, as coastal areas will generally have higher temperatures.

But its higher temperatures is trully not a proper reason to dislike Kebumen.

This is a regency with many nature-based tourism potentials.

The Van Der Wijck fort built by the Dutch in 1818, is also located in Kebumen.

One night, I stopped at the roadside in Prembun, one of the districts in Kebumen known for its bengkoangs.

I bought a big sack of bengkoangs. It used to cost only IDR 20,000 (about 2 USD).

That night, I brought the bengkoangs from Prembun to Magelang on my motorbike.

Other times, when I was on the way home from Banyumas, I stopped at a stall that sells the legen in Kebumen.

I don’t remember the name of the village where I stopped. But it seemed that the stall is located close to the border of Banyumas-Kebumen.

I chatted a woman, the stall owner. We talked of many things.

She talked about her elder brother, a retired soldier, who lives in Magelang my hometown.

She then mentioned “Lembah Hijau”, the name of a housing estate where her brother lives with his wife and children.

When I told her that “Lembah Hijau” is only several tens of meters from my house, and she seemed a little surprised.

As far as I can remember, she told me her brother’s name, and she asked me to occasionally stop by her brother’s home in Lembah Hijau, though, say, just to establish a relationship.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot the woman’s brother name. And so far, I’ve never even tried to find his home…

THERE were many signposts to Petanahan beach along the main street in Kebumen.

And guess what? I was curious about them, and I followed the signposts to Petanahan beach.

But I was embarrassed and too lazy to even ask someone I met on the street.

And consequently, I got lost here and there, and I didn’t find the beach I was looking for.

But that was not so bad, because then I found another beaches: Suwuk, Karangbolong and Pasir.

In the Suwuk beach, I photographed affectionately clasped-hands young couple still wearing their high school uniforms, sitting side by side under a rickety shack.

I also chatted Slamet, the beach’s sweeper.

I took pictures of dozens of people who were sitting on the rocks and fishing in the Karangbolong beach.

In the Pasir beach, I photographed fishermen’s wooden boats.

Dusk approached, I went home to Magelang through the Kutoarjo railway station.***

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