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Indonesia

The Lesser Sunda Islands III

Komodo Archipelago

sunny
View The Lesser Sunda Islands on Lingering's travel map.

Sunday [23/12/2018] - Today, I would be going for the 3 days liveaboard with Yudith only as Teddy has some personal stuff to take care of. So after having breakfast at the hotel, Renyold and Yudith came to pick us up at 8am. On the way to the harbour, we stopped at Blue Ocean hotel first so that I could leave my luggage there since we will be checking in on 25th December. After that, we went to rent snorkeling gear before going to the harbor to find our private cabin bedroom boat. It took us quite a while to find it as there were many cabin boats but finally we did. After saying goodbye to Renyold and Uwi who wanted to walk around the town before heading back to the hotel, we went on the boat and started sailing.

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The boat has 2 decks where the lower deck is the living quarter where there are 2 cabins, 2 toilets, an open air kitchen at the back, eating area in the front and the captain's driving cabin where he also sleeps while the upper deck consist of bean bags and cushions for people to relax and sleep. There is the captain and his 2 crews where 1 of them is in charge of cooking the meals and the other one is helping both the captain and in the kitchen. The boat was pretty comfortable and stable. It was a relaxing cruise with the cool wind blowing even though it was a very sunny day.

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Our first stop is at Kelor island where we were given time to hike up the hill and go snorkeling. There were already a lot of boats docking on that island and people who were not snorkeling, climbed up the hill. We were sent to the island using a small motor boat and we arranged to be picked up within an hour. We decided not do do any hiking up any hill since we did not wear our sport shoes so we just stayed in the water and tried out snorkeling. The sand was white and the water was very blue. We didn't stay too long in the water as there was nothing much to see near to the shore and we did not dare to go further out into the sea since there were not many people snorkeling around. After a while walking on the shore, the small boat came and picked us up.

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Then we head to Manjarite island. This time, the water was deeper than Kelor island but nevertheless, still blue and very clear. There were a lot of people snorkeling here compared to the previous island as the water around the jetty was calmer. After having enough of snorkeling, i walked towards the island on the bridge only to find out that there is a signboard saying "Private property. No tresspassing". So I walked back to the jetty and after a short while, the small boat came and picked us up. On board, lunch was served. Even though it was cooked for 2 of us, the food could actually feed up to at least 5 person. Although the food was simple, it was delicious but also probably because we were hungry. We told the captain not to cook a lot of food for us but he told us, that is the standard portion they cook every time so the rest of the food that couldn't be finished, we always tell him and his crews to finish it for us.

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Our next destination and the one which I was looking forward to is to see the famous komodo dragons on Rinca island. There were a lot of boats there so we had to wait for our turn to go to the jetty. Other than the komodo dragons, there were also other wildlife such as mud crabs, monkeys, buffaloes, deers and birds. As we reached to the ranger camp, we saw people walking in groups with a ranger holding a stick. After buying the tickets and getting a ranger, we head off to see the komodos. There were quite a lot of komodos just resting around the ranger camp area. We were told that the komodos have already eating so they were not hungry to chase after people but we still have to take precautions. We were not allowed to go very close to the komodos and get fooled by their close proximity to humans as its one of their tactic to get our guards down.

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The ranger told us that there are currently 1500 komodos marked on this island with a ratio of 3 males to 1 female. The number of komodos here are higher than those on the Komodo island and the mating season is between July to August. The female can lay up to 36 eggs once a year in September but the hatching rate is only about 40-45%. The eggs are buried in either the hillside nests, ground nests or mound nests initially built by the orange-footed scrub fowls. The eggs will take 9 months to hatch but the female komodo will only guard the nesting site for 6 months. Once the young komodos hatch, they will run away and climb up trees to avoid being eaten by their mother or other komodos. Unlike the adult komodos which feed on carcasses and animals, the young ones feed on small lizards, insects, snakes and birds. When they are 4 years old or have reach 20kg in weight, they will come down and live on the ground. The feeling of finally seeing the komodo dragons up close and personal is so unreal as I never thought I would be able to do so.

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The last thing to do for the day is to set sail to Kalong island. On the way to that island, the crew had fried banana fritters topped with chocolate syrup and cheese shredding for us but we were still full so we only had a few and had to ask them to finish off the rest, We reached there before 5.30pm and found a spot to dock our boat like all the other boats who were doing the same thing. While waiting for the flying foxes to come out, I saw that most boat crews were already starting to prepare the ingredients for dinner. The bats didn't come out until an hour later but once they came out, they came out continuously. The sight was so amazing with the sunset and the bats flying. As we started sailing again to find a place to dock for the night, the bats were still coming out from that island. There were probably few hundreds of them dwelling on the mangrove island.

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By the time the ship was docked, it was already very dark but we saw that we were near to some island inhibited by people as there was a bright spotlight shining. I thought we had docked somewhere near Padar island since we were supposed to go up there tomorrow but the captain told us that we had gone back to Rinca island and docked there because the water was calm. Dinner was served at 7.30pm. Since there was nothing much to do after dinner, we went into our cabin which has a double bed double decker and went to bed. The power for the air conditioner was switched on for the night so that we could sleep comfortably. I have never slept on a boat overnight before but I have to say, it is very peaceful.

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Monday [24/12/2018] - I woke up automatically at 5.30am just to see how sunrise look like at sea. Unfortunately, the sun hasn't come out yet but I could see how calm the water was. The other boats which had also docked for the night were still there but the crew were getting ready to start the day. We were supposed to sail to Padar island today but due to the sunken boat incident that happened around 5am yesterday, all boats were not allowed to go to Padar area at the moment as they were still trying to find the missing bodies and also the waves were pretty rough at the moment. So we had to cancel Padar island and after discussion with the captain, he suggested that we go to Komodo island and then to the village instead.

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When we started sailing towards Komodo island before 7am, breakfast was served which consist of french toast and fried egg. We reached to Komodo island around 8.30am and there were some boats there already. There were kiosks selling things unlike on Padar island but we went to check out the komodos first before checking out the kiosks. After buying the tickets and getting a ranger, we started our walk. Komodo island is very different from Rinca island because we did not see any komodo resting around the ranger camp nor were there any wild animals. The komodos here are also difficult to see because they are wilder and due to shortage of food, they have to go further to hunt for food. Since the komodos here are hungry, we had to be extra alert as they could attack people anytime. We were also told that there are only 1377 komodos recorded here.

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As we walked along the trail, the ranger from another group told our ranger that they spotted 2 komodo dragons on a particular spot so we headed there and sure enough, there were 2 adult komodo dragons and 1 small one. The small komodo was afraid of people so it went away very fast. As for the other 2 adult komodos, one was sleeping while the other one was pretty active. There were groups of tourists around and their rangers were helping them to take photos with the komodo. Suddenly, the active one seemed to sense blood around while one of the female tourist was getting her photo taken so the ranger asked if any of us were on our period and we said no. After having my photo taken with the sleepy komodo, we walked back to the ranger camp since we did not come across anymore komodos and thanked our ranger. Then we walked to the kiosk and I bought a few komodo souvenirs as well as a face mask made from jackfruit wood. Since it was still early, we decided to have fresh coconut before heading back to the jetty at 10.30am.

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Once we were picked up from the jetty, the boat sailed to Komodo village which was not very far from the komodo park. Komodo village is small and when we were walking towards the village, I could see a lot of rubbish in the water. An elderly man chatted with Yudith and offered to guide us around for a fee so we agreed. Basically, we walked through a small path where there were houses on both sides. I could see people in this village still help each other out and kids were playing around barefooted. There wasn't much to see but I managed to find komodo postcards which I have not come across so far, in one of the small home store selling souvenir. After the short tour, we decided to get back to the boat since it was getting very hot already and then head on to pink beach.

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There were not many boats at pink beach so we docked there and had lunch first. We rested until 2pm before we went to the shore to check this beach. It is called pink beach because there were supposed to be a lot of broken red corals on the shore that results in the pink colour. There were a lot of broken white corals instead and nothing much to see unless we snorkel far out into the sea. After staying for a while there, we decided to head back to the boat and discussed with captain what else could we do since it was still early. He told us that it would be better that we head towards Manta point for docking. On the way, we passed by Taka Makassar island and saw some people walking on the shore.

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By the time we arrived at the docking area in the middle of the sea, there was already a diving boat docked already. It was a lucky thing we arrived there early because the captain told us that only few boats could dock there and if the dock is full, other boats have to find somewhere else to dock. By then, the sky had already become dark and the waves were getting rougher. Then came the rain, thunder and lightning. Good thing the rain did not continue for long so we had dinner before going to sleep.

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Tuesday [25/12/2018] - Today I automatically woke up before 6 am just in time to see the lovely view of sunrise. After the storm, the water was so calm and clear that you can even see your own reflection in the water from the boat. It was low tide so we could see a lot of islands which was not present yesterday. The boats that had docked around us had either gone off early or drifted away from our boat. While I was taking a shower, Yudith told me that I had missed seeing a manta ray flying out of the water. After breakfast we head back towards Taka Makassar where we had passed by yesterday.

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The water was so low that a lot of corals were exposed on and around Taka Makassar island. The small boat could only take us to a certain part since the water was so shallow that we had to walk in the water until we reached to the sandy area. The sand on this island was white and very hot actually since it seems to reflect off the heat of the sun. The captain and 1 of the crew went walking around the island with us to check out all the different types of animals and corals that were stranded in puddles of water due to the low tide.

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It was very fascinating to see all the living creatures because there are some which I have never seen before like the blue starfish whose body is soft, long worm like creature and corals of different shapes and sizes. If we went there in the afternoon, we would not be able to see all these creatures up close and personal. After an hour, we head back to the boat since it was getting so hot by then.

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Then we went to the manta point, hoping to see the manta rays. I am not a strong swimmer nor have I ever tried jumping from a boat into the sea before but the captain told us that the water was only 10m deep. When the captain saw manta ray swimming by our boat, we had no choice but to follow one of the crew and jumped into the water right away. It was scary yet exciting and we did see a manta ray swimming by us. It was so fast that even though we tried to catch up with it, we couldn't and in the end, it left for somewhere else. Since It was not the manta ray season, we were not able to see anymore swimming around but hey, at least we saw one which is better than none. After no more manta ray passed by us, we went up the boat and then head on slowly towards Labuan Bajo direction.

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Our last stop is at Kanawa island which took 2 hours to reach from the manta point. At one point near to this island, the waves were so strong that the boat was rocking left and right until that the bench we were seating on near the front deck almost threw us off. It was a good thing that it didn't last forever and I was glad I didn't get seasick like when we were heading to Karakatau in December 2017. After that rough patch, the waves were calmer all the way until Kanawa island. There were few bungalows and a restaurant on this island but since we were not interested in checking them out or doing any hiking in the hot sun, we straight away went snorkeling. There were a lot of corals and marines fishes near to the jetty and the water was very clear. While snorkeling I could feel the hot and cold current mixing together in the water. I spent 30 minutes snorkeling in the water before I went up the jetty to see the fishes near to the steps. Unfortunately, the crew thought we wanted to go back to the boat already s they came and picked us up before I had the opportunity to snorkel near to the steps.

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After taking a shower, we had our late lunch and then slowly sail towards Labuan bajo. We reached Labuan Bajo port at 3.30pm and with our stuffs, we walked by foot to return the snorkeling equipment first and then to Blue Ocean Hotel so that I can check in. Uwe had already checked in earlier and his room was next to mine. After saying goodbye to Yudith, I sorted out my clothes to be sent to the laundry and took a bath again because it was so hot in Labuan Bajo. I talked to Uwe and we decided to just stay in our room until late afternoon when it is not so hot, then we will take a walk to find somewhere to have dinner. By the time it was slightly cooler, we decided to head upwards away from the harbour towards Luwansa beach resort direction to check out the post office. There were a lot of small local shops and tour operators offering liveaboard but other than that, there was nothing much to do. So in the end, we decided to try out an Italian restaurant where both of us ordered a pizza each for dinner which was not bad. This restaurant was pretty crowded and people seemed to know it from reviews given by people who had eaten in this restaurant before. By 8.30pm, I was already feeling sleepy so we head back to our hotel and call it a night.

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Wednesday [26/12/2018] – Today is a free and easy day and we did not have any specific plan since Uwi refused to go on a boat or ride a motorbike and there was no car taxi waiting for passenger so we could not even visit other places outside of Labuan Bajo. The only thing we could do is just to walk around Labuan Bajo so I woke up around 8am. Then we went to the rooftop to have breakfast by 9am while enjoying the view of the harbour. I already miss the liveaboard and the best thing about it is that we still get mobile signal everywhere we went to. It was a very hot day and the hot breeze did not help much either. After breakfast, we went back to our room and decided to go out later since Uwi said he had walked around the whole town while I was living on the boat and there wasn't much to see and do. So I used the time to write a few postcards in my room since the post office is open today.

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We started walking at 10,30am and the weather was even hotter than earlier in the morning. We went to the post office first to send off the postcards before going towards the harbour. Labuan Bajo is actually a very small sleepy town as there was nothing much to do if you are not going out to the sea. We went and checked out the fish market which was dirty and smelly and then went on walking to the back of the street which leads back to the main road in front of Blue Ocean hotel. Since breakfast was just 2 slices of bread and omelette which is not filling and doesn't last until lunch time and Uwi didn't want to have lunch because he was still full from breakfast, I decided to stop at a small cafe called Catur'z Kopi Club to snack on something and also to get out of the hot sun since it was already noon time. I ordered fruit juice and what we called in Brunei and Malaysia, kuih lenggang which is basically pandan pancake with shredded coconut cooked with gula melaka syrup. After spending some time cooling off in that cafe, we slowly walk back to our hotel to cool off in our room and I started to packing my things since we were going to leave Labuan Bajo tomorrow.

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At 3pm, we walked out again this time to Bajo Bakery since I was getting hungry. I ordered a savoury quiche, meat pie, danish pastry, chocolate banana muffin and tuna wrap to share with Uwi. We sat at the window area overlooking the harbour just to pass time while eating the pastries. We came back to hotel around 5.30pm to check on my laundry but it hasn't arrive yet. So after taking a shower, we head out to Le Pirate restaurant for a light dinner. They have interesting interior design and food was alright. We stayed there until 9pm before heading back to the hotel to pack our luggage since my laundry has finally arrived. At 10pm, I received an email from Garuda informing that our flight tomorrow morning had been changed to evening due to technical problem with the plane and we will only reach to Bali after 9pm. For me there is no problem arriving late since I fly back to Brunei on 28th December 2019 but it was such a big deal for Uwi since he stubbornly booked his flight back to Berlin that evening also without taking into consideration that flights can be delayed. So in the end, we had no choice but to throw away our Garuda ticket and purchase new tickets from another airline that has morning flights. I told him that the other airlines are not safe and they also have delays but he rather take the risk and said that he didn't trust Garuda at all. So after searching, the only earliest flight available in the morning is Wings Air which was not what I wanted because Wings Air is famous for its poor air safety records due to numerous accidents. However, Uwi didn't care at all because he rather not miss his business class flight instead of being concern about the safety inside the plane. So fine, I let him have his way but after all the things have happened in Flores, this will be the last and only time I will ever travel with him so we went ahead and purchased the tickets.

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Thursday [27/12/2018] – We checked out of Blue Ocean Hotel at 8.30am without having breakfast since Uwi wanted to go to the airport as early as possible and told me that we can have breakfast at the airport. Komodo airport is still pretty new and has limited amenities. Since Wings Air only give 10kg free check in baggage and I couldn't even purchase additional pre-paid baggage through their website, the ground staff let me off the hook for checking in 3kg excess while I have to carry the rest of my stuff in my hand carry bag. This is also another reason why I refused to buy Wings Air ticket at first even though it is cheap unlike Garuda where you get 20kg free check in baggage. Then we went to check the gate where we were supposed to wait and there were a lot of people also waiting to board their flight. Since it was still early, I walked around to see what was available. There were a few souvenir kiosk, a book shop and 3 kiosk which is supposed to be selling snacks and drinks but only 1 of them had food for breakfast but they had limited number of beef pastry left. So everyone who was hoping to get breakfast at the airport could only order the beef pastry and after it had run out, people could only order drinks. So much for Uwi's idea of having breakfast at the airport. Our flight eventually departed at 9.55am instead of 9.35am and we arrived at Bali 30 minutes later than the expected time. Wings Air live up to their status of never been on time and not being safe at all since I saw cracks on the ceiling of the plane. No meal was served on board as no one purchased any food. Uwi on the other hand did not say anything but after the flight, he posted on his Facebook saying that Wings Air is the unsafest plane he had been on. I already told him about it but he refused to listen since his business class ticket was more important than safety at that time.

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After landing at Bali and getting our luggage, I looked for Gusti as I have arranged with him to pick us up. Since Uwi's flight was only in the evening, I told him that we could go around Denpasar for a while and we will send him back to the airport but he refused because he didn't want to miss his flight so I just let him be. Gusti took me to a restaurant for lunch and after that, we went to Krisna to and then to Lotte supermarket to look for some souvenir before checking in to Tanaya Bed and Breakfast. In the evening, I made arrangement with Gusti to have dinner together at Mama's German restaurant which is not far from Tanaya Bed and Breakfast so before that time, I walked along the streets of Legian just to see what shops and restaurants are around. At Mama's German restaurant which serves German food, we ordered their famous pork knuckle which the waitress told us that it's at least 500g. We didn't expect it to be huge when it was served so I couldn't even finish half of it and also it was very greasy unlike the one I tasted in Prague. After saying good night to Gusti, I went back to my room, packed all my stuff and went to bed early since my flight is at 7.10am the next day.

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Friday [28/12/2018] – I woke up at 3.30am because Gusti was going to pick me up by 4am to go to the airport. There was no traffic along Legian street as the bars and pubs have closed already unlike late last night where the traffic couldn't even move at all. There weren't many people in the airport so everything was pretty quiet and I am glad that Royal Brunei Airlines left exactly on time so that I could catch up with some sleep on the way back. This trip has been long and I have learnt a lot of things about both Lombok and Flores as well as how it is like to travel with Uwi. Honestly speaking, without Rinjani, Lombok does not have anything much interesting to see or do unless you head out to the Gili islands and it is still a long way from being developed like Bali. Flores on the other hand is pretty much surprising to me as they have similar food culture and Malay language like Brunei. The places are still unspoiled by tourists and not commercialised yet since most tourists just tend to go to Labuan Bajo in order to get to the komodo islands or at most they will travel to see Kelimutu lake and Wae Rebo village rather than going around different cities of Flores. I love to go back to Flores again one day to climb Mount Inerie and do liveaboard again as I enjoyed it so much and hoping to go to the top of the hills of Padar island to take the lovely view of the island.

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Posted by Lingering 08:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

The Lesser Sunda Islands II

Flores

sunny
View The Lesser Sunda Islands on Lingering's travel map.

Saturday [15/12/2018] – We left Mana Retreat at 4.13am after the taxi arranged by the retreat came and picked us up. Since no one was at the reception counter, we just left the key of the bungalow there. Surprisingly, there were already quite a number of people at the airport waiting for their flight. As it was still early and there were not many shops to check out, we decided to have breakfast while waiting. At 6.10am, we flew to Bali where we had to transit at the airport for 2 hours until 9.05am before we flew to Maumere using a fokker airplane. The last time I sat on a fokker plane was back in 2013 to Kuching. It was a pretty small plane and the stewardess just gave us a snack box rather than serving us meal on the tray since there was not enough time to distribute and then collect the trays back after we were done.

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When we landed at Fransiskus Xaverius Seda Airport, the weather was very sunny and hot. We had to walk by foot on the runway to the terminal building. The arrival hall is very simple and pretty empty except for 2 luggage belts where you collect your luggage. While waiting for our luggage, I saw Teddy waiting for us outside. Teddy reminded me of Bob Marley because of the iconic reggae hairstyle. Since it was noon time, we checked into Amrita beach hotel first which is built next to the beach. After having the welcome drink of papaya juice and leaving our luggage there, we head out again to a local warung where they serve babi guling for lunch. It probably wasn't up to Uwi's standard to eat food like this as he never had in before in Bali in a small warung and it's not western standard.

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After lunch, we head to Wuring fishing village. It is a small fishing village where houses are built near to the concrete pier. On land, there are 2 storey wooden houses whereas those on the water are just single storey wooden houses built on stilts. We noticed a lot of children kept on saying hello when they saw Uwi. According to Teddy, western tourists in the past who visited this village gave the children pen so they were also expecting Uwi to give them a pen also. There were also a lot of rubbish in the water, pretty similar to the water village in Brunei but the water here is clear. Teddy told us that the people who live in this village are the Bajo people.

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After taking some photos, we head back to the car and then drove to the tip of the peninsula to see the view from the top of a hill. Unfortunately, it started to rain so we didn't get down from the car and decided to go back to the hotel instead. On the way, we stopped at a local supermarket to check out the price of cashew nuts which is mainly grown in Flores but surprisingly, it was more expensive than the cashews sold in Brunei. When we were back at the beach hotel, we checked out the surrounding which was pretty simple and nothing much to do. We ordered dinner to be sent to our bungalow since there is no restaurant area and after that, we just relax in the room. The bathroom was once again open style but the good thing is that they provide mosquito coil to be used in the bathroom and the bedroom so we will not bitten by mosquitoes like at Mana Retreat. By 7pm, the ladies brought dinner to our bungalow where we ate outside since there is a small patio with a bench and a small table with 2 chairs. I ordered daging rendang and it tasted exactly like the ones cooked in Brunei! After dinner, we relax for a while before turning in for the night since we woke up very early this morning.

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Sunday [16/12/2018] – Today we woke up early and started packing our stuff before our breakfast arrived. Once again, we had breakfast at the patio and waited for Teddy to pick us up to go to Sikka village where we will visit St. Ignatius Loyola church. Built in 1893 and established on 24 December 1899, this Roman catholic church still maintain its Portuguese architecture. The roof frames are still the original teak wood that has not been replaced at all even after 119 years. The warden of the church explained that there are 3 different service per week. The first week service is conducted in Latin, the second week service is conducted in Bahasa Indonesia, third week service is conducted in Sikka language and the fourth week service is conducted in Bahasa Indonesia. For a very old church, it can accommodate up to 600 people.

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After the church visit, we went down from the back of the church to a Sikka village. Over there, Sikka women gathered together and their ikat products were hung for display. According to Teddy, he had asked the women to gather together to demonstrate the steps of weaving the ikat. It is a laborious task as it can take up to 2 months to complete a sarong or blanket size ikat. I bought a Sikka motif ikat scarf just for souvenir and also to support the local community as the women depend on selling their ikat products to support their family.

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We then head towards Moni but on the way, we stopped at Paga beach to stretch out a bit and have lunch. Surprisingly, the way they cook their food is similar with the way we cook in Brunei. After lunch, we kept on driving until we reached to Koka white sandy beach. In order to go to this beach, we had to drive through the villagers' private property where the land are mostly used for farming. Although the sea was very blue, no one went swimming because the waves were strong. In order to go up the view point, we had to climb up the steps made of bamboo and wood which were not only steep but each step is also far apart from the next. By the time we reached to the top, the view was just so amazing! We couldn't get over the fact that the water was so blue! After having enough of the view, we slowly climbed down again and then head on to our final destination for the day.

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It was more than 1 hour drive before we reached to Moni and we reached to Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge before 4pm. The air was already getting cooler and people were wearing jacket. After checking out our room which comes with a balcony and the bathroom's roof is party exposed to the open air for ventilation, we head out to check out the surrounding. The restaurant is very simple and we also placed our order for dinner since we were told we had to do so before 6pm. Then we walked around the garden which has a small bridge to go across the river to the other side which leads to people's rice fields.

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After checking out everything, we slowly head back to our room and quickly took a bath as the wind was getting cold. It was a lucky thing that there was hot water for the shower because it felt like bathing in an air conditioned room with the cold wind blowing in from the gap of the roof. By 7pm, the temperature had already dropped to 24.2 °C and walking towards the restaurant was like walking in a very big air conditioned room. We ordered the set meal which comes with rice, tomato soup, stir fry cabbage and carrots, ayam masak merah (chicken cooked with sweet tomato sauce), tomato and cucumber salad as well as pudding. It was a bit too much for both of us so we had to give the rest to Teddy and Constantin to help finish for us. Teddy told us that we have to get ready and make a move by 4am to watch sunrise at Kelimutu lake. By then, Uwi was not feeling well already so he decided not to go and chose to sleep in. By 9pm, the temperature had dropped to 22.4 °C

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Monday [17/12/2018] – Today I had to wake up very early as we were going to leave for Kelimutu by 4am. The temperature had gone down to 18.8 °C. Without having breakfast and going alone without Uwi, we reached to Kelimutu National park area 25 minutes later and started walking to the viewpoint of mount Kelimutu to see the sunrise. The path was not that difficult as one could even walk up using slippers if you can stand the cold wind. By the time we reached to the viewpoint, it was already 5am and the sky was not as dark as we started off. The wind was strong and people were just sitting around, taking photos while waiting for the sun to rise. Well known for the 3 colour lakes, even in dim light, one could see how green Tiwu Ko'o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) are which were separated from each other by a shared crater wall. The third lake, Tiwu Ata Bupu (Lake of Old People) located away from the other 2 lakes, is not so outstanding as it is smaller in size and the colour of the water is brown.

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We stayed until 7am when the sun is fully up before heading back down to the car park. On the way down, a lady was selling markisa (passion fruit). Unlike the passion fruits found in Brunei and Malaysia which is usually purplish in colour, the one in Flores are yellowish orange in colour. We reached to hotel half an hour later and Uwi was already up. I took a shower first before packing and then went for breakfast. Breakfast was simple, scrambled egg and toast only. I also tried the passion fruits and true enough like what they say, it is very sweet unlike the purple ones which is sourish. After that we checked out and made a move to a nearby waterfall called Murundao waterfall. It was not really an impressing waterfall as it was only 8m tall and nothing much to see. On the way to our next destination, we stopped at the fruit and vegetable stalls in Nduaria where I bought some more passion fruits.

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After a while on the road, we arrived at Wologai traditional village of the Lio tribe. It is a small village with few traditional houses made of wood and palm leaves. In the center of the village, there is a ritual area where visitors are not allowed to step into it. There were not many villagers around, only a few elderly women who were busy drying coffee beans and walnuts on the ground which they had picked from the nearby forest. The men in this village are wood carving masters. Teddy brought us to see the chief's home just to give us an idea how the interior of the house look like. We had to bow our heads to enter the house which was pretty dark since there were only a few windows and the light rays were blocked by the low roof. There was no electricity, furniture and toilet. The house consist of 3 bedrooms, 3 cooking area, 1 area for storing musical instrument and 1 area for storing stuff. Since there is no fridge, the food cooked is usually dried so that they can be stored longer.

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We then travelled on towards Ende on winding roads for 3 hours before stopping for lunch at the Blue Stone beach (Penggajawa beach). It was a hot day and even though we were near to the beach, it was not windy and the wind was hot. I ordered sweet and sour prawns cooked with tomatoes in watery tomato sauce whereas Uwi had gado-gado. After lunch, we walked down to the beach to check out the turquoise, blue and purplish stones. The stones were pretty smooth and if you have the patience to search through the stones, you can find various colours which you don't commonly see on the beach. The locals collect stones of different colours and sizes to be sold as a source of income.

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After taking enough break from sitting in the car, we drove on to Bajawa. Our accommodation was at Manulalu Bed and Breakfast which is located in Jerebu’u Village. It took us a while to reach there and by the time we arrived at there, it was already 5.30pm. The sky was starting to get dark as the sun was already setting and the weather was pretty cold. Inside the building of the front office, they have a living and dining area with a fireplace. Outside the front office building, they have made long cement table with chairs for people to sit outside and enjoy the view of the mountains and the partial view of mount Inerie on the right. We were supposed to stay in one of the room at the Bed and Breakfast building on top of a small hill but since those rooms were used to accommodate the construction workers who were currently working on their new restaurant, our room was upgraded to Manulalu Jungle. It is few minutes drive down the road from the front office where there were several domed roof bungalows built on a sloped terrain facing the open valley.

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Each bungalow has a terrace equipped with a wooden daybed and a set of dining table where you can sit and do nothing but just enjoy the prefect view of mount Inerie. The bungalow is so spacious and there is 2 floors where they have put a double bed on each floor but it seems like it is either still new or probably hardly used as the bed on the first floor was pretty dusty. The dome of the roof is made of glass but since we were sleeping on the ground floor, our view was blocked by the ceiling unless whoever sleeps on the first floor, then you can enjoy the stars at night when you lay on the bed. As for the ground floor bed, it was so comfortable and they have installed netting also just in case we open the doors at night for the breeze to come in since there is no air conditioner. Oh, did I mention that all of the walls of this bungalow consist of glass door panels which can be open? Even in the bathroom, they have installed 2 full glass panel at the corner of the toilet so that you can enjoy the partial view of mount Inerie while sitting on the toilet seat. The bathroom is somewhat simple as the walls are just plastered with cement and they used wood for the floor and the bench for the sink whereas bamboo was used to decorate the floor and also used as hanger for clothes and towel.

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For dinner, we had to order the car provided by Manulalu to bring us up to the front office building. Surprisingly, the menu consisted more of western cuisine rather than Indonesian food. There is grilled chicken breast, grilled tuna, chicken wiener schnitzel and pasta as well as sandwich. The only Indonesian dish which is filling for me is the nasi goreng which comes in big portion but at a touristic price. After dinner, since there wasn't anything much to do, no internet nor tv to watch, we decided to go back to the bungalow and just relax outside the terrace while enjoying the cold breeze. Before we left, we ordered our breakfast to be sent to our bungalow for tomorrow instead of us coming up again since Teddy was going to pick us up from the bungalow. Once again, we had to wait for their car to send us back down to our bungalow. Since it was still early, we just sat at the terrace while eating chocolates. By 9pm, the temperature was already 21.9 °C, even colder than in Moni but it was cozy inside the bungalow where it is not too hot nor too cold even though we had closed all the doors. We slept early since I was a bit tired from waking up early to go to Kelimutu.

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Tuesday [18/12/2018] – I automatically woke up at 5.30am to check out the sunrise view from the terrace. The view was lovely with the orange hue of light coming from the back of the mountains as the sun was slowly starting to rise. Since it was still early, I just went back to bed to get some more sleep until my alarm rang again. By the time we were already up and ready for the day, the workers have sent our breakfast to the terrace. While enjoying our breakfast, we noticed that the day had became hotter as the sun was already shining brightly unlike evening where the wind was very cool.

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By 9am, Teddy came to pick us up and we drove to the starting point of Bajawa area to start our visit to several Ngada traditional villages. From there, we walked by foot first to Luba village which is located at the foot of Mount Inerie. There were several cemeteries and numerous houses where the walls are made of wood but the roofs are made of dried leaves. The men and women were out in the fields and the only ones left were 2 women weaving ikat on the balcony of their home, an elderly woman and a young boy.

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Then we head on walking quite a long distance through tall grasses around the foot of Mount Ineire, passing through villagers' farming land before we arrived to the next village, Tololela. This village is smaller than Luba village and there was some construction going on. There were also cemeteries in this village but we could see more adults here in their house and a new house was in the process of being built. The children were also helping to carry bamboos from the road to the place where the new house was being built. I bought a book about this village and also dark chocolate produced here to support their economy. We stayed there for quite a while since it was already noon time and very hot before we walked back to the parking area where Constantin was waiting for us.

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Next, we went to Wae Bana Malanage hot spring near Bena village where the hot spring meets the cold water from Wae Roa waterfall. It was a unique experience because on one side of the river, the water feels hot whereas the other end, the water was cold but in the middle, the water became warm. After soaking in the water for quite some time, we decided to have lunch cooked by the women who were the only ones living next to this river. We had tapioca leaves and chicken cooked in turmeric, also similar to the cooking style in Brunei. After lunch, we dipped in the river again for a while before we decided to move on to the last destination which is Bena village.

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Bena village is the most well known village among all the Ngada village. There were more houses here which has similar style like the other 2 villages and there were big monolith stones. I bought a scarf weaved by the one of the villager as a souvenir. We then finally head back to our bungalow and had dinner at 6.30pm. We met and discussed with Ryan who will be guiding us up Mount Inerie. Based on his experience, the weather was not very good so we had to wait and see at 2am to see if the weather was favourable for us to go up. By 8.30pm, we had to go back to our bungalow to get some sleep as we had to get ready by 2am. By then Uwe was very cranky because we had to sleep early and wake up early for the hike.

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Wednesday [19/12/2018] – I woke up at 1.30am to get ready for the climb. From our terrace, I could see thunder and lightning surrounding mount Ineire so the chance of climbing up is very slim. When Uwe woke up, he was already scolding me for making him having to wake up very early which made no sense at all because he already knew what we were doing more than 6 months ago from the itinerary I gave him. By the time Ryan came at 2.30am, I went up to talk to him and he also said that it was not safe to climb the volcano due to the lighting. So we decided to cancel it and I went to sleep again. In the morning when we woke up around 6 30am, it was a very hot day. By 7am, Constantine and Ryan came to our place again and told us that since we did not managed to go up Mount Ineire, we will be hiking to Wawo Muda lake instead which is still in Bajawa. After breakfast, we started our journey at 9am to Wawo Muda lake. On the way, Uwe being sarcastic (after scolding me the night before) said it was too bad we couldn't climb mount Ineire but I just ignored him. Wawo Muda lake is located at Ngoranale village and we started hiking behind the catholic church. We had to walk pass a few village houses and coffee plantations before we reached to a vast area of eucalyptus trees. It was quite a distance before we reached to the top of the hill and saw the 2 colour lakes, where one is yellow and the other one is green in colour. We didn't stay long there as the sky looked cloudy so we decided to head down.

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On the way down, we stopped by the first house we saw as they produce their own coffee powder. We tried their coffee which was not bad but then again, I am not a coffee drinker so I do not know the difference. Then it started to rain heavy all of a sudden. I had my raincoat as always ready and I thought Uwi had his rain suit with him but I didn't know he didn't bring it in his backpack because he was so confident it will not rain at all. So Ryan had to cut banana leaf for Uwi and himself as "umbrella" and I saw that an elderly couple were also given the same thing by their guide. They were laughing of course while we head down and so did I because it looked funny but Uwi was swearing all the way down instead like as if he had never been in the rain before at all in his life!

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Since the rain didn't stop and Uwi didn't stop swearing, when we reached towards one of the house which was actually not far from where our car was waiting for us, Ryan asked us to wait there for shelter while he went to the car to get umbrella for us. I would have gone with him since I was wearing a raincoat and I am used to getting my pants and shoes wet when it rains but since he insisted, I had to stay with Uwi. The owners of the house which were 2 women were very kind as they offered us chair to sit while waiting for Ryan. When Ryan came, they insisted on offering us coffee and biscuits while waiting for the rain to stop and told us to sit inside. I politely decline to have coffee as it was troublesome for them since one of the woman had to walk to the other house in the heavy rain and flowing muddy water to get warm water just to make coffee for us. There was no furniture inside the house at all so the two women were sitting on the floor while 3 of us were sitting on the plastic chairs they offered. We waited quite a while until the rain became lighter and because of their warm hospitality even though they are very poor, I decided to give them some money. They were very happy of course and I wished Uwi would learn from them to be grateful for everything instead of being angry and swear at every little thing. By the time we reached to the car, the rain had already stop and the sun had started to shine again.

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We drove to town to have lunch and so that Uwi could change out of his wet clothes. Only then he took out his rain suit from his luggage and wore it when the sun was out. By then, he started to have his so called "diarrhoea" again and he became cranky that he scolded me in front of Teddy at the restaurant when I asked him what was wrong since he was swearing non-stop. It was so embarrassing so both me and Teddy just kept quiet while Uwi just kept on swearing by himself. We ate our meal in silence and I only talked to Constantin while ignoring Uwi because his attitude was unacceptable and very immature. It kind of spoil the whole mood and I was starting not to enjoy travelling with him already. After lunch, we went to Mengeruda natural hot spring in Ngada regency which was 1.5 hr drive from Bajawa. All the way there, no one spoke in the car which was fine by me because I was already not in a good mood and Teddy knew that after hearing how Uwi spoke to me.

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When we were at the hot spring, I wasn't in the mood to be around Uwi but he was very happy to be able to go into the hot spring. I just stayed in the hot spring for a while, didn't talk much to Uwi and then got out and walked around instead. I left Uwi to enjoy as much as he want since he has such a horrible attitude. After walking around to check out the place, I walked towards the car park and then saw Teddy drinking coffee at one of the warung while talking to someone so I decided to wait with him. He tried to make a joke to lighten up the air by joking about Uwi's name since in their language it means potato and both of us ended up laughing a bit. After a while, Uwi came out and headed towards the car so we continued on with our journey to our accommodation for the night.

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It took 2 hours to reach to Gemo Beach Cottage at Aimere. This cottage was built just next to the beach so the wind was very warm at night. Teddy had ordered our dinner in advance which was a lot for us as there were 2 types of fish which was very fresh. We also got to try a bit of moke, locally produced alcohol which is mainly produce in Aimere. The taste is not really that strong. After filling our tummy, we relax a bit before heading back to our room. There was no air conditioner in the room but fortunately, there were small holes on the wall for ventilation and I had to open the window a bit to let some air in so it wouldn't be so hot when we sleep.

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Thursday [20/12/2018] - After waking up, having a shower and then packing, we head out to have breakfast. Breakfast was simple which consist of papaya, hard boiled eggs, breadfruit fritters and buns. The sun was already so bright and hot in the morning so it is no surprise why Flores people are very dark. By 9am, we left the place and head to the alcohol distillation village in Aimere bay where we saw and learnt how moke was produced from the lontar palm juice. The process involved bruising the fruits so that they will secrete the juice which is collected in a bucket and fermented for at least 6 days before they carry out the distillation process. The concentration of the moke produced range from 15%, 30%, 40% and 50%. There is free tasting for visitors so I decided to try the 50% which was very strong compared to the one we tasted the night before and I felt a little light headed in the car after that. The good thing was that it was quite a while before we stopped to get out of the car so but then, I had already sober up.

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Halfway before we reached to Ranamese lake near Ruteng, we stopped at an area where there were a few warung at the side of the road for people to rest and have something to eat after a long drive. This place was on top of a hill so when we look down the hill, we could see terrace rice fields while enjoying a bowl of simple but delicious bakso. After having our tummy filled and enough of stretching our legs, we head on to Ranamese lake. The weather was not that hot and this crater lake was surrounded by the forest so it was cool to walk down. By the time we reached to the lake area, the clouds have slowly come down and we saw people fishing in the lake though no one was swimming in it. After taking enough photos, we slowly head up to go to Ruteng.

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When we reached to Ruteng, we had lunch first before we checked into Spring Hill hotel. After putting our luggage in our room, we went and said goodbye to Constantin who has been driving us around since day 1 as he is still not familiar with the routes that we will be going to until we reach to Labuan Bajo so Teddy had engaged another driver, Reynold for the rest of our journey.

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We head out again and this time Teddy took us for a walk passing through paddy fields in Ruteng. It was a long but relaxing walk even though there were nothing much to see as most of the paddy have already been harvested. Towards the end of our walk, we met 3 village boys playing near to the bridge so we talked and took photos with them. What I noticed about the boys in Lombok and Flores is that they are pretty shy unlike kids in other countries. One of the boy was pretty talkative compared to the other 2. He asked me where I am from and when I told him I was from Brunei, he said Brunei Darussalam. Imagine how surprised I was to hear him say that because for an island like Flores which pretty unknown to people of Brunei and from a village boy, Brunei seems to be well known. Then Teddy explained to me that they learnt about Brunei in school which was the reason why the boy knew Brunei's name. Since they learnt about Brunei in school, I decided to give each of them a B$1 note and that same boy asked me again how much is it worth in rupiah. I told him that it is about 10,500 rupiah and I told them to keep as souvenir so that they can show it to their friends and of course they were very happy. When we reached to their village, we noticed there were a lot of children compared to adults and they were heading towards us, standing around and looking at us as I guess the boy who was talking to me must have told his mother about the money I gave them.

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After that, we went back to our hotel, had some rest and packed our stuff for tomorrow's trip where we will stay overnight in Wae Rebo village. By evening, the weather had become so cold that we had to wear a jacket just to walk to the hotel's restaurant. There were a lot of people eating here and since it was full inside, we had to sit outside which was alright because it feels like you are eating in a big air conditioned open area. Food was not bad and the portion was also just right. Since we had to leave early the next day, we had to sleep early and by the time we went to bed, the room was quite cold like as if the air conditioner was on even though there was none.

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Friday [21/12/2018] - We woke up by 7am to get ready since we had to leave early today. There was blackout so there was no hot water and the wind was still cool. Uwi started becoming grumpy again early in the morning as his "diahorrea" came back. He kept on complaining he was a very sick man which is over dramatic since he never had to find toilet all the while we were driving from one city to another for few hours. So he did not want to have breakfast and since there was also no electricity, I just snack on the biscuit that I brought for the trip. It was not filling considering that we have to trek later but better than nothing at all. By the time Teddy came to pick us up, it was after 8am and this time, they brought another guide, Yudith with them who will be bringing us to Wae Rebo village.

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After checking out of the hotel, we head to the famous Lingko spider web shaped rice field. To see this field, we had to hike up the hill which can be pretty exhausting if you did not have much for breakfast but I'm glad we finally reached to the top in the end. We could see the patterns of the rice fields which is shaped like big spiderwebs. Each field belongs to a family and the size of the field depends on the number of people in the family. Smaller families will get smaller field and vice versa. After taking some photos, we head down to where Teddy and Reynold was waiting for us. The house owner's daughter brought out freshly roasted coffee beans which smelt so nice even though I am not a coffee drinker. Since Teddy recommended that he always get his coffee supply from here since it is the best coffee he has tasted so far, I decided to buy a few packets home to give away.

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From Ruteng, we slowly drove 2.5 hours to Denge village which is the last village before we will walk by foot to Wae Rebo village. Before we reached to the village, we stopped by the beach to have our brunch at 10.30am because once we reach to Denge village, we will hike right away until we reach to Wae Rebo village. We were all pretty hungry and finished our food since the portion was small except for Uwi who is always very picky on food and he complained that it was too early to eat even though he had nothing for breakfast. By the time we reached to Denge village, it was almost noon time and very hot. Since the car couldn't reach all the way to the starting point of the hike, we had to go on a motorbike as the starting point to hike to Wae Rebo village was 2km away from Denge village. Uwi refused to get on the motorbike so in the end it was only Yudith and me being driven by the locals while Uwi walked all the way to the starting point under the hot sun. We had to wait for him until 12.30pm before he reached to where we were. The hiking is all the way up and surprisingly with all the stopping for Yudith to rest, it only took us 2 hours to cover 5.44km where we finally saw the iconic Wae Rebo village with the 7 conical Mbaru Niang houses.

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We headed down to the village towards the Gendang house, the largest Mbaru Niang traditional house among the 7 of them. This house belongs to the chief of the village of the Manggarai tribe where he carried out the Waelu (welcome) ceremony and prayed for our well being as well as safety during our stay here. Then we went to the first Mbaru Niang house as we entered into the village earlier on because this house was especially built by the government to cater for visitors who wants to stay overnight in Wae Rebo. Inside the house, the structures are supported by thick wooden frames and then bamboo frames are arranged in a conical shape to give the house its shape as well as to support the reeds and fibers which acts as the roof so that wind and rain do not go into the house. There are 5 levels of the house where Level 1 (Tenda) is the floor area where people can gather around and sleep, Level 2 (Lobo) is for storing food and things, Level 3 (Lentar) is for storing seeds of plants, Level 4 (Lempa rae) is for food reserve storage space and finally, Level 5 (Hekang code) is for storing offerings to the ancestors.

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We were offered a welcome drink of coffee and then we were free to explore around the village. Since it was still early and we were the second group to arrive, each of us were given a pillow and a blanket and we could choose where we wanted to sleep. After that, we checked out the kitchen, toilets, bathrooms and whatever was around. It must have been a shock for Uwi to see the local toilet and bathrooms as there was no shower heads because after checking the toilets and bathrooms, he studied the map of what was around the village and he saw a shower area. He was so determined to find it that he left first without even waiting for us even though what came across in my mind was that in a village like this in the middle of the forest, they will not make shower heads far away from the village for people to shower so something was actually off. I told Yudith that Uwe wanted to find the shower area and she was also surprised so both of us went to find him. Half way, we met up with him as he turned back since he didn't know where exactly it was but since there were 3 local children following me and Yudith, we told them to take us there. When we reached to the "shower" area, I wanted to laugh and so did Yudith because Uwe was even more shocked when he saw it and straightaway told us he is not going to bath there. Uwe's "shower" happened to be spring water which was following through bamboo sticks. The water and the wind was already getting cold so if one wants to bath there, he or she must be really out of their mind to do so.

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So we head back and quickly took a shower because even though it was only 5pm, the water was already freezing cold since it comes from the mountain. After that we just relax in the house and as time pass by, more and more people arrived. Each of us had a mat to sleep on which was hard but at least the pillow was alright, We were told that during the peak season, the house would be full so when they sleep, they have to squeeze 2 person on 1 mat. We went into the kitchen which was located in another smaller hut behind the house to see what we were going to have. The local women were busy preparing and starting to cook our dinner in the dark kitchen (there was only 1 small window and 2 doors) and everything including the floor is made of bamboo. The food were cooked with firewood instead of gas stove so it was pretty smoky in there. Dinner was served exactly at 7pm so all the guests gathered around in the middle of the room to eat together. There were local tourists from Java and foreign tourists like us and those from India, Italy and France. The Chinese squash, tapioca leaves with chicken and banana was just enough for all of us and there was nothing left so it was good since the village did not have any fridge to keep leftover food. There was no night activity in the village so most of us just relax, some went out to enjoy the full moon while some people have started preparing to go to sleep since everyone would be heading back down to Denge after breakfast.

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Saturday [22/12/2018] - I woke up around 5.30am because it was already starting to get noisy with people talking. The day was already bright and people were starting to take their shower and packing. There was quite a queue waiting for the toilet and the bathroom since there were only 1 bathroom with squatting toilet, 1 bathroom with seating toilet and another one is only for bathing. The water was so freezing cold so it was best to get it done and over with very quickly. Breakfast was served exactly at 7am where we had nasi goreng, omelette and crackers. After breakfast, everyone took the opportunity to take group photos and said goodbye to the chief of the village. We started hiking back around 7.43am and reached the starting point at 9.14am. On our way down, there was already a group of elderly men hiking slowly up to Wae Rebo village.

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When we arrived at Blasius homestay, Teddy and Renyold were waiting for us. We quickly took a shower before we head on to Labuan Bajo which would be a 5.5 hours drive. We went through an alternative route where there were not many villages and along the way, the villagers had just poured concrete to fix the bridge and did not allow any car to pass through it until the concrete had dried. It was already noon time and we weren't the only ones stuck there just waiting for the concrete to dry. After waiting for almost 1 hour, Renyold and the other driver, decided to just drive through the bridge since the concrete was already drying up and we continued on with our journey. By the time we reached near to Labuan Bajo, we stopped for our late lunch before continuing on for another 2 hours to Luwansa beach resort.

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Before we head to Luwansa beach resort, we stopped by at Roxy mart to buy whatever we wanted to eat on the boat as we would not have enough time to go shopping tomorrow morning since we are heading out to Komodo island. While I was shopping inside the mart with Yudith, Uwi was outside checking out the waves of the Flores Sea. When we were done shopping and was in the car heading to our hotel, Uwi repeatedly said he will not go on the boat tomorrow and since it wasn't the first time he refused to go on this and that, Teddy and I just kept quiet all the way even though to us, the waves was not even that strong. After checking into the hotel, I checked with Uwi again just to make sure before I messaged to Yudith to confirm that only I will be going with her on the boat for the next 3 days while Uwi will just hang around in Labuan Bajo so everyone was fine with that arrangement. I was also not bothered to convince Uwi to join even though he had already paid for the liveaboard trip because if he follow, he would only be in a very grumpy and foul mood and will just spoil everyone's mood in the end. Luwansa beach resort is a 4 star but out of location as it is far away for where the main activity is in Labuan Bajo. Since we did not see any taxi when we passed by Labuan Bajo earlier on and this resort is in the middle of nowhere, we decided to have dinner in the hotel instead and we happened to be the only ones eating there. After dinner, we went back to our room and I started packing my stuff for the 3 days liveaboard. Uwi decided to stay in this hotel until I come back to Labuan Bajo on Christmas Day since I had already booked our accommodation at Blue Ocean hotel which is just next to the Labuan Bajo harbour.

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Posted by Lingering 08:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

The Lesser Sunda Islands I

Bali - Lombok

sunny
View The Lesser Sunda Islands on Lingering's travel map.

Thursday [6/12/2018] To start off the first part of my trip, I took a flight to Bali. Arriving in Bali at 11.30pm, the queue at immigration counter was horrible as there were several flights landing at the same time. I only left the airport around 12.30am after buying a sim card at the Telekomsel booth in the arrival hall. The sim card was supposed to have 25GB of internet but when I checked the data, it only came with 15GB of internet. What a rip off! Then the taxi driver also tried to cheat me and wanting to charge 400,000 rupiah to the hotel I am going to stay in but I was told by the guy who was selling the Telekomsel card that it should only cost around 150,000 rupiah from the airport to Legian area. So in the end 1 taxi driver agreed for 150,000 rupiah when I said I will go inside the arrival hall again and get a taxi from the taxi counter . By the time I checked into Tanaya Bed & Breakfast it was already 1am. After I finished sorting out my stuff and took a shower, it was already almost 2am when I finally went to bed.

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Friday [7/12/2018] – After only 3 hours of sleep, I had to wake up at 5.30am to get ready to be picked up by Gusti around 7am. We had to make an early move as it will take 2 hours to reach Lempayung temple. On the way, we stopped by at a warung which is famous for its fish satay to have breakfast. By the time we finished breakfast and continued on with our journey, we reached Lempayung temple around 10am. There were a lot of cars already parking on both sides of the road. In order to go into the temple area, I had to wear sarong and then, we walked uphill on the road. By the time we reached to the temple area, people were already queuing for their photo to be taken at the famous Balinese gate with mount Agung at the background. Unfortunately, today mount Agung was totally covered by thick clouds so it was unnoticeable. I waited half an hour for my turn and the photos taken by the young boy turned out really cool with the special effect. After that, I walked up the steps to see the first temple from outside as we were not allowed to go in. With enough of photo taken, we left the temple at 11.30am and people were still arriving.

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Then we went to Oka coffee plantation as I wanted to buy the luwak coffee. I was first given an introduction on the plants they planted around the area. The man also explained the process of making coffee powder from coffee cherries. After all the introduction of the plantation, we sat at a table and the man brought different samples of the products they make so that I can have a taste of each of them and then decide which one to buy. I ordered a cup of luwak coffee and Balinese pancake made of rice flour covered with coconut After all the tasting, I bought some of their products and the luwak coffee which is actually more expensive than the ones I bought in Java.

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Our next destination is to the Pod Chocolate Factory which took 2 hours to reach. By the time we arrived there, there were no customers at all except for us and unfortunately, we were slightly too late as the Pod Chocolate factory tour has ended by 4pm. Since we can't do anything else, we decided to see the 2 sun bears which unfortunately, the caretaker had already gone home or else we could hug the bears if they are in a good mood. We also saw elephants at the elephant camp which is near to the factory and the mahout were giving some of them a bath. Then, we went into the cafe to check out their chocolates. There were many varieties of chocolates with testers for you to try. Since I couldn't decide on a which chocolates to get, I ended getting a box of the Complete collection of 20 different flavours of Pod chocolates. On the way back to Kuta, we had early dinner at Iiga Warung which was recommended by Gusti because of their pork rib. The ribs were grilled in sweet and sour sauce but it was very juicy and come in big portion. After a heavy dinner, we drove back to my hotel where I packed everything for the next destination.

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Saturday [8/12/2018] – After breakfast, I checked out from Tanaya Bed & Breakfast at around 9am. I arrived at airport at 9.30am and met Uwi
inside the depature hall. We were flying together to Lombok at 11.20am. After less than an hour's flight, we arrived in Lombok at 12.30am. Being so ill prepared and overconfident that he could get rupiah from the money changer just by using his credit card, we had to go to the money changer so that Uwi can get some cash since he did not bring any cash at all but with no luck at all. So the other alternative is hoping that he could withdraw cash from the atm around the area where we will be staying.

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From the airport to Puri Bunga Beach Cottages in Senggigi took 1.5 hours. On the way to Senggigi, there was nothing much to see as everywhere were still mainly paddy fields and simple houses made of bamboo and leaves weaved together to form the walls and roof. Lombok is still pretty very undeveloped even though it is known as the second Bali but somehow, tourism did not really pick up as most tourists end up going straight to the Gili islands where the party is at after landing at the airport.

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After checking into Puri Bunga Beach Cottages where we had our own cottage which is pretty spacey but pretty old looking, we decided to head across the road to check out the Art market and get something to eat for our late lunch. We were pretty much the only ones at the Art market but fortunately, there were 3 restaurants located next to each other. So we decided to have our late lunch at Lotus Bayview restaurant. I ordered their wooden oven pizza which wasn't bad like any other Italian pizza.

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After that we walked along the road to check out what was around Sengiggi area. Basically it was a very quiet area with no tourists except for us walking around. There were a few restaurants, atms, tour agents, mini arts, a massage palour, mini marts and a souvenir shop with no one going in at all. After checking out which atm machines Uwi could withdraw money from, we continued walking downwards to Senggigi beach to check out the beach and wait for the sun to set. There were locals fishing by the pier while others just go their to take photos. There were people walking along the beach but no one swam in the water. Basically, there wasn't must to do unless you are into people watching. After waiting for some time and with nothing else to do or see, we slowly walked back to our cottage. For a place which is considered the next Bali, this was way too quiet and the place was dying for tourists to come. For dinner, we just ate at the hotel restaurant which once again, we were the only ones there. Service was pretty slow even though they only had to serve us but then again, we had all the time in the world so we didn't mind the waiting. After settling down in our cottage, we sorted out what we needed to bring for the next day as we will start our activities in Lombok before going to bed.

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Sunday [9/12/2018] - There were not many choices of food for breakfast but with a plate of nasi goreng, scrambled egg and fresh fruits, it was enough to keep the stomach full. While having breakfast, Omar came and waited for us at the lobby. By 9am, we were ready to make a move to Senaru which is a 2 hour drive. As we headed towards the north, we could still see houses that has been ruined by the recent earthquakes and people living in tents. This was one of the reason why we had to change our initial plan which was to go to Lombok to climb Rinjani but in the end, after the earthquake happened and we had already bought our tickets, we had to change our climbing activity to a sightseeing one since northern Lombok was badly affected by the earthquakes. When we reached to Senaru, there were some local guides waiting for tourists to come which was minimal since everyone was avoiding to come to Lombok for the moment but Omar had already arranged 1 to take us to the waterfall area. We had to walked 25 minutes down the steps to go to the Sendang Gile waterfall. With a height of 30m, the water was pretty cold so we did not bath under the waterfall nor did we want to get wet since we had to walk further to check out the other waterfall. Since we didn't take a bath at the waterfall, we just sat on a big rock while Omar bought us banana fritters and coffee from an elderly woman who was running a simple stall to snack on while we relax and talk. It was interesting to talk with the local guide as he also does the Rinjani trekking. It's pretty sad to hear that ever since Rinjani was closed indefinitely for hiking after the earthquake, many of the local people in Senaru had lost their income and they were trying to find other ways to attract the tourists back.

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After stuffing ourselves with a lot of banana fritters, we headed on to Tiu Kelep waterfall. In order to go to this waterfall, we had to climb up a bridge with stairs that had missing or damaged handrails to cross a bridge before we walked through the side of the big concrete drains. Some parts of the path were blocked by landslides from the earthquakes since both of these waterfalls are located at the foot out mount Rinjani so we had to climb over fallen trees. Then without knowing in advance that we had to cross the streams, we had to take off our shoes so that they wouldn't get wet. If I had known we needed to walk in the water and step on rocks, I would have worn slippers instead but all these while, the local guide were bare footed from the start. So we walked slowly cross streams and climbed over fallen trees barefooted like the local guide. It was a good thing that the local guide was there to hold us while crossing the stream because the current was pretty strong. Since there was climbing involved on slippery rocks to get near to Tiu Kelep waterfall, we decided not to go ahead since we were barefooted. So only Omar climbed up the rocks just to have his photo taken with the waterfall as the background. The water was cool and refreshing but we didn't stay around long as there was nothing to do. So we slowly walked back to the car park and headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch. There were few people eating at the restaurant which was on top of a hill. From the viewpoint, we could see part of Sendang Gile waterfall. The wind was cool so it was nice to just sit and relax while waiting for our food. Service was once again slow for a small number of customer but then, probably that's the lifestyle of the local people.

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On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at Malimbu hill to see sunset. While waiting for the sun to set, Omar bought for us grilled corn and fresh coconut. We were supposed to be able to see mount Agung in Bali from here but it was too hazy. It's so refreshing just to sit and enjoy the breeze as well as the view while eating corn and drinking coconut juice. Sunset wasn't that all extraordinary as it was partly covered by the thick clouds. After arriving at the hotel, we tried swimming in the pool which was small and crowded since a Taekwondo group had just arrived and were practising their moves. In the evening, we walked to the atms for Uwi to withdraw money again and after that, we had dinner at Yessy Cafe which was recommended by Omar. I ordered ayam taliwang which is the must eat food in Lombok and I got a shock when it came out. I was expecting a standard size chicken but instead it was the size of a quail so I wasn't sure whether if it was actually a chicken or a quail bird. It tasted alright but it was pretty dry and hard to chew. The waiter tried to be funny with Uwi but I didn't get his jokes most of the time. After filling our tummy, we went back to the cottage and just relax inside our cottage.

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Monday [10/12/2018] – Breakfast was once again pretty similar to the day before but we could order pancake so we ordered 1 each. The pancake that we normally eat is thick and fluffy so I thought it was going to be like that also but what came to us was a thin sheet of pancake and since I ordered banana pancake, 5 small banana slices were added to the flour mixture. The pancake itself was pretty bland since it was basically flour mixed with water and a bit of salt. So the pancakes came with a small glass of black palm sugar which is a bit bitter sweet. Omar came and pick us up at 9am and today, we were going around Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara.

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We went to Kebon Roek traditional market first to see the everyday fresh produce that the locals come and buy. It was a pretty crowded place where you can see cidomo, the local traditional horse-drawn carriage lining up in a straight line outside the market area waiting for passengers after they have done their shopping at the market. Outside the market building, sellers were putting all their produce on the ground next to each other and even blocking the stairs going up to the first floor. So you can see elderly women selling vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken and even kuihs with no specific allocation for each type of produce like markets in other countries. Although the things they sell are pretty common which you can find in any market in Borneo, it is still interesting to see all the different things and colours and the traditional weighing scales rather than the modern ones. The stalls inside the market building were a bit more organised. On the ground floor, you can see the fruit section, the dry goods section, vegetable section and meat section whereas on the top floor, you can buy clothes but hardly anyone goes up. It would something very unusual for Uwi to see as he had probably never seen such a disorganised market since markets in Europe are very clean and organised.

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Then we head off to the old town of Ampenan which still consist of colonial style buildings. The 2 storey buildings reminded me of the old shops in Lampung. Although the buildings are old, the price of these buildings have gone up over the years. Those some buildings are abandoned, some businesses are still running like one of the old Chinese bakery shop run by an elderly Indonesian Chinese couple who originated from Surabaya. Omar ordered Lombok coffee and some of their buns for us to try.

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After that, we went to the West Nusa Tenggara State Museum to learn more about Lombok and its culture. Inside the exhibition, one can check out the flora and fauna found in Lombok and Sumbawa, miniature replica of Mount Rinjani National Park , the traditional wedding clothes worn by the Sasak, Samawa (people in Sumbawa), Bima, and Balinese people, jaran kamput, weaving tools and daggers, just to name a few.

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After the museum visit we went to Mayura water palace which was built in 1744 by the king of Karangasem from Bali. The architecture of this water palace is similar to the Balinese bale kambang and is used as a court of law and a meeting hall. During the era when the Balinese princes ruled the island, By then, it was already noon time and it was very hot under the open area. So we head off to our last destination which is the Narmada park.
Also built by the king of Karangasem in 1727, this park became as the resting place of the royal family. While take shelter from the hot sun and just relaxing to enjoy the peaceful scenery from the open area which is the living room of Bale Terang, Since we didn't have anything else to do, we actually spend quite some time just sitting there while eating the jackfruits and tapioca that Omar bought for us.

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On the way back, we stopped for our very late lunch and I ordered ayam taliwang again but this time, it tasted way better than the other 2 that I have ordered before. Since it was still early in the afternoon by the time we reached back to the cottage, we decided to go for a swim in the pool for a while before going to the street again to send our laundry and getting some food to eat for dinner. After sending laundry and Uwi getting his money again, we head back to the Art market to find a place to eat. In the end, we decided to try Coco Loco cafe which is just next to Lotus Bayview restaurant. We sat by the beach to enjoy the sea breeze and food was not too bad though it was pretty spicy.

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Tuesday [11/12/2018] – Today, we had to leave by 7.30 am for our activities so we were fortunate that breakfast was almost ready when we headed towards the restaurant. Omar drove us to Gunung Sari village to meet up with Jun, our cycling guide and another guy who brought the mountain bikes for us. It has been more than 2 decades since I rode on a bmx bicycle and it was also my first time using a mountain bike and cycling on a busy street with lots of cars and motorcycles also using a narrow street. Since they saw that I had problems riding the bike on the busy street, they took us to a quiet empty space for me to practice riding the bicycle and getting used to a mountain bike. Took quite a while for me to balance on a bicycle but eventually, I was able to ride it. Once we were all ready, we followed Jun slowly. I still had difficulty cycling in a straight line and also it was pretty scary to have cars and motorbikes coming towards you or overtaking you from the back. Going uphill was a real challenge for me as I didn't know how to use the gear and always had to end up getting off the bike and push it uphill before getting on the bike again once we reach to flat ground. Our first stop was to a small scale cottage industry of the village women making tapioca chips and other kerupuks. There's salty chips and spicy chips where they fry them in a big pot of cooking oil in a hut. We then cross the road to go to the house just directly opposite the hut to see what they were doing there. Basically the house is just 4 walls with no cement flooring. Stacks of tapioca were put on the ground which were going to cut into slices there and packed chips were also stored in a small section of the building. Sometimes it would be better not to know how they process food and snacks especially in village area as they would not even pass the hygiene standards.

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We continued with our tour and then Jun signaled us to stop at a traditional market in one of the village which was mainly made of zinc roof and wooden poles holding the roof up. Jun showed us what the women were selling and after a while, probably because they hardly have foreign tourists especially a Chinese and a westerner, the women who were selling things started to talk to us and became busybody. One of them even wanted to know what powder I use for my face because she wanted to become as fair as me! Indonesian can be very funny sometimes but it was fun talking to them. After passing through paddy fields and houses, we stopped at a roadside stall to taste Lombok coffee and also to rest for a while.

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The day became hotter and we could start feeling the heat from the road. While stopping to take some photos of the paddy fields with the mountain on the background, a man came over with his daughter and wanted take a photo of his daughter with us. After finding out that I came from Brunei, he told us that he has worked in Malaysia before. I think it is very typical for village people in Indonesia to take photos with tourists especially if they are westerners because you don't see a lot of white guys around unless it is in touristic places. By the time we finally reached to the parking area at Lingsar temple, it was past 1 pm and we were glad we were under the shade because it was extremely hot to be out in the open now. Well, I finally survived 11.5 km of cycling on the main road and it was something different for a change.

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For lunch, Omar brought us to his home where we had home cooked meal by his wife. Temporary, he and his family, 2 daughters and 1 son were staying at his father's house as their own house were damaged by the earthquake. After resting for a while and with tummy full, Omar sent us back to our cottage. Since it was our last night at Senggigi, I decided to start packing my stuff while Uwi went for a swim. For dinner we ate at Lotus Bayview restaurant.

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Wednesday [12/12/2018] – After breakfast, we checked out from Puri Bunga Beach Cottages and Omar drove us to Lingsar. We started our panoramic walk by foot where we walked along the big concrete drain where the water was flowing down swiftly. We could see the locals working on their rice fields and a few women doing laundry and taking a bath inside the drain and there's a big river with a lot of rocks. There's also a small concentrate bridge across the river to connect the other side of the land to where we were and at that time, there were a group of boys still in their school uniform just hanging out on the bridge. Omar talked to them as he always sees them whenever he is there and he asked them to come with us. So we kept on walking until we walked down to the river where there are rocks for us to sit on. The boys of course were with us too and it was interesting to find out about them. They were studying in a religious school in the next village and staying at the school hostel. Since that day was the last day of school, it explained why they were at the river instead of in school at 10 am. They are pretty shy but they probably have not seen much of tourists before which was the reason why they were with us.

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After taking few photos with them and tasting the local mango that Omar cut for us, we continued on with our walk. We kept on walking, saw more farmers ploughing the land for planting paddy or looking after their paddy from being eaten by the birds and stopped by once in a while to take photos until we reached to a village. There was a group of people threshing rice and since Uwi has never seen the process before, we stopped and looked at it. Since it was already lunch time, we continued with our walk until we reached to a small road where cars and motorbikes can pass through.

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We kept on following Omar until we reached to his farm in Murpeji where he is in the process of developing it into and ecotourism area so that he can bring his clients there next time. I was suprised to see his daughter and his wife there also and apparently, they have prepare lunch for us but before that, we went to see how palm sugar is made which is in another place and required more walking. By then, we have already done about 7 km of walking by foot. The owner of the farm had already started the process of making brown sugar where a huge wok of palm nectar was cooking on a clay stove inside a small hut when we reached there. While waiting for the sugar to be caramelised, the owner climbed up a coconut tree to pluck fresh coconuts for us to drink and also gave us salak (snakefruit) to eat. I had seen snakefruit before because we do have it in Brunei and I also saw bigger ones in Bali before but never bothered to try it under I was in Thailand. It's sweet but the texture is hard so it was not one of my favourite fruits. However for Uwi, he has never seen it before so he was pretty fascinated by it and call it the butt fruit because it looks like a butt to him.

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When the brown sugar was ready, we were called to watch how the palm sugar was moulded. First the owner, stir the palm sugar on the top sides of the wok that was taken off the fire a few times until there was a sign that indicate the sugar was slightly cool. Then using a wet coconut shell that was cut into half and putting a leaf just to cover the holes on the shell, the brown sugar was scooped into the mould and then left aside while he kept on scooping the sugar into the next mould. By the time he was done with all the moulds, the brown sugar in the first mould had already solidified so he just tap it out lightly and there you have it, palm sugar. Omar managed to take a bit of the brown sugar and added it into our coconut which was empty already except for the flesh and asked us to try it. It was something new that I have never tried before but it made the coconut flesh very delicious to eat. After we had finished our coconut, we walked back to Omar's farm and had lunch made by his wife which she cooked from home. After feeling full and enjoying the scenery of the nature, we head towards to Kuta where we will check into Mana Retreat.

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The Kuta area is pretty quiet where you don't see a lot of people walking around. Mana Retreat is located inside a small alley and the area is not really that big. The deluxe bungalow we stayed in was pretty comfortable. There is a double bed on the ground floor and another one on the 2nd floor. The shower area has an open concept where there were no windows but just open space on the top part of the walls for ventilation (and also mosquitoes) to enter. After settling down, we didn't walk out of the retreat but just relax and tried out the small pool. For dinner, we just ate at the restaurant and after that, watched the movie that was showing at their "cinema" which was the same area used for yoga during the day. Pretty relaxing except for the annoying mosquitoes. After the movie, we went back to our bungalow, had a quick shower and then rested since there was nothing else to do.

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Thursday [13/12/2018] – After having breakfast, Omar came and picked us up at 10am to do the culture trip and go to Selong Belanak beach. First we went to Ende Sasak village where the indigenous people of Lombok are still living in the traditional way. It's a pretty small village where the houses called bale tani are made of wood, bamboo and dried leaves for the roof whereas the flooring is made of cow dung to smoothen the soil. The roof of the house as well as the door frame is very low so that anyone who wants to enter the house is forced to bow his or her head in respect to the dwellers. The husband and the sons usually sleeps outside the house after the first child is born while the women and the daughters sleep inside the house. The women do weaving to sell to tourists which is the main income of this village while the men work as farmers. It's a pretty small village and before we end to tour, we were brought to the shop where they have all sorts of weaved fabrics and even songket which is similar to Brunei. I was looking for a songket with gold threads and black background which is commonly used in official invitations to the royal palace during certain ceremonies but since they don't have that colour, I end up buying a songket made of gold threads and purple background and some songket bags. It wasn't that cheap at all to buy these weaved materials but considering the amount of time put into making 1 piece of songket, it is alright and at the same time, it's a way to support the local villagers.

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Next, we head to another weaving village called the Sukarara weaving Village. This village is very commercialized where there is a big shop selling weaved products facing the car park area. The local guide of this village took us to the back of the shop to see how the woven fabrics are made. The houses here are modern where all of them are made of wood with zinc roof and they also have electricity supply. You can see few women weaving on their traditional loom at the veranda of their house while the men were sleeping outside the house. The funny thing I saw also here was that they wore a mini drum like pendant to some of the pigeons' neck!

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The guide then brought us back into the shop where they helped us to dress up in their traditional wedding attire and then we walked pass the left side of the shop to take some photos with the weaved fabric as the background. Then we were asked to walked up the traditional Sukarara house which were on stilts so that the guide can take our photo. After all the photo session, we went back into the shop and then looked around at the woven fabrics. The price here was more expensive than those at Ende Sasak village but they have a lot of choices here. Once again, I looked for the gold threads and black background songket but they also don't have it. So I just end up buying simple weaved fabric like a scarf with the work Lombok weaved into it as it was the cheapest thing I could find.

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Next, we head to the Banyumulek pottery center where the pottery is done by the Sasak people. We walked through the shop first to the back where there is a shaded open area. Then each one of us were asked to choose from the sample shown which one we wanted to do. Uwi chose to do a simple plate whereas I chose a 3D cat (later on, my friend who saw the photo of it on Facebook told me that it is Totoro). It wasn't an easy thing to do as we have never done any sculpturing before but the lady assisted us and helped to shape the clay while we were doing it until the shape is formed. Since we didn't have time to wait for them to burn the clay using the traditional method, Omar helped to take them for us to dry under the sun while we went into the shop and see the pottery products they were selling which was handmade individually. Everything was not so expensive and they even have the Moroccan Tagine pot which I love to have but considering we are not even half way through our trip and the flight to Flores only has a 20kg weight limit, I had to forget about it. Instead, I got 2 small terracotta candle holder as a souvenir as they are small and not too heavy to bring back.

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Our last destination is to Selong Belanak beach. Since we haven’t had lunch, Omar took us to eat at Laut Biru Bar and Restaurant, a seaside cafe at Sempiak Villas. The cafe looks lovely with high ceiling and open concept where diners can enjoy the sea breeze and the lovely blue sea while eating their meal. The waves were pretty strong so it’s a good place for surfing. Food was delicious though a bit pricey compare to normal local standard.
After lunch, we walked to the beach and I was hoping to catch the famous icon of this beach which is the group of water buffaloes walking on the beach. There were few local tourists walking on the beach, enjoying the breeze and the view.

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While slowly walking towards the other end of the beach, we finally saw a group of water buffalo walking towards us slowly. Earlier on, Omar told us that the herders will bring buffaloes pass through the beach everyday to go and find food and once again pass through the beach again when they go back to their village as it is a short cut for them. I have seen water buffaloes all my life actually but only in muddy areas. So it is something unusual for us and of course we would not miss the opportunity to take photos. After taking the photos, we followed the buffaloes to the end of the beach and then we hung around there for a while to take some more photos of the sea. The 2 surfing warung offering surfing lessons was very quiet as we didn't see anyone at all and we only saw 2 western women learning surfing. After having enough of the view, we finally head back to the cafe and looked for Omar who was waiting for us while drinking coffee. Before leaving the parking area, we took our hand made sculpture which was left in the open to be dried under the sun. By the time we reach to Mana retreat, it was still early afternoon so we went for a swim. After taking a shower, we head to the restaurant to have dinner and once again, watch movie that was shown in their cinema.

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Friday [14/12/2018] – Since we didn't have any specific plans except for just checking out Kuta beach, we woke up around 8am. After having a healthy breakfast of smoothie, we started walking towards Kuta beach at 10.30am. We were actually the only ones walking by foot, passing by stalls and houses. It was a very quiet town and the weather was very hot too. When we reached to the"touristic" area, we didn't see many foreign tourists around so we walked on towards the beach area. As we reached to the beach area which has a few huts, the local people were either sleeping and just people watching. There was a floating jetty for people to catch the local boat to go somewhere which at that time, there was no one. It was extremely hot by then and there was nothing to do so we just rested under hut until 12.30pm to enjoy the breeze and get out from the sun. Then we decided to keep on walking to see what we can find at the end of the beach. Once again, there was nothing much. We walked until we reach to the Kuta Mandalika signboard and there is a 2 storey viewing point but it seems like we have to pay just to go up which wasn't worth as none of the local tourists did so also. It was a pretty disappointing and boring beach as no one swam in the ocean also. Since it was so hot (even though I come from a hot country, the wind and the sun was not this hot!), we decided to find a place to have lunch and get away from the heat.

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There weren't many choices to choose from, only a local warung and a cafe. So in the end, we decided to try the cafe which is up to Uwi's standard. I ordered seafood jambalaya and spring rolls while Uwi ordered his usual western food. Since it was so hot and there was nothing much to do, we just sat at the cafe and talked until 3pm. Then we slowly walked back towards Mana and on the way back, we turned into a road to find a route to go up the hill overlooking the sea. We walked under the dead end and we couldn't find the path to go up the hill even though Uwi insisted unless we trespass private properties. So we decided to head back to Mana Retreat. We didn't want to carry any wet clothes with us since we had to check out and fly to Flores very early morning the next day. So instead of swimming, we just sat and relax at the hut until the mosquitoes come out. Then we started packing our stuff before we went for dinner. After dinner, once again we watched the movie that was shown on the cinema before going back to our bungalow to sleep early since we have to leave for the airport by 4am to go to Flores.

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Posted by Lingering 22:23 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

West Java

City of big durian, rain, elephants, Switzerland of Java and Paris of Java

Wednesday [14/12/2016] I landed at Jakarta and met up with Doni, the driver from my previous Java trip. Since it started to drizzle slightly, we decided to head straight to Bogor instead of going around Jakarta. On the way to Bogor, we stopped by at the Australian International School where my ex-colleague is currently working. By the time we found the place, school have ended so Janet showed me around the school. Set in a huge Dutch mansion, the classrooms were different from the schools in Brunei. After catching up with Janet for a while, it was time to leave and head on to Bogor. With 9.6 million people living in Jakarta, traffic jams are horrible. Places where traffic is bad daily, you see peddlers selling food, drinks and cigarettes. By the time we reached to Bogor and looked for The Hayati Inn, it was already evening. We had our dinner at Lippo Plaza, one of the mall in Bogor.

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Thursday [15/12/2016] Today we went to Bogor botanical garden. It's a good thing that we could drive the car around the garden or else it would take us the whole day just to see everything. We went to see the Zoology museum first. The bones of a huge blue whale was displayed in the open space of the museum and they exhibit various types of animals found in Indonesia like the komodo dragon and the Javan rhinoceros. Then we went to see the Dutch cemetery which is located near to the Bogor palace. So we parked the car and walked by foot around. Unfortunately, the palace was not open to the public so we only saw it from far.

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My next target was to find the Amorphophallus titanum (corpse flower})where there are supposed to 5 of them in this garden. Not knowing much about this flower, other than the seeing the signboard indicating the plants are around that area, we did not managed to find it at all. Finally we stopped and asked the workers the exact location of the corpse flowers. They told us that they haven't bloom yet since it take 3 years for the flower to grow and then bloom but they told us where the spots are. So we headed to the location and finally found it. True enough the label for the plants were there but all we saw was just the soil without anything growing on it. Very disappointing indeed as I was hoping to see and smell the corpse flower for the first time. After seeing everything at the garden, we head off to Cipanas.

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To go to Cipanas, we had to pass through Puncak Pass which is located on the ridge to the north of Mt.Gede-Pangrango. Since Cipanas is on the highland, the weather is cool and there are many tea plantations. We could have gone straight to Bandung but I wanted to experience the cold weather. Since Puncak Pass road is very famous among locals and foreigners, traffic was pretty bad. Once again, there were peddlers walking around selling food, drinks and cigarettes as well as a few mascots standing and waving to the cars, hoping that some people would give them money. At Puncak Pass, we stopped by at the view point to see the view of the whole area. Like any touristic places, there were peddlers selling stuffs. I bought a packet of raspberries and Sukabumi mochi to try. We finally found Hotel LTC Villa Lotus, which happens to be in a secured residential area. Since it was not the peak season, we were the only ones staying there.

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We then drove to Cimory to look for the Riverside View restaurant because on Google Map, it showed that this restaurant is near to LTC Villa Lotus which was wrong. There are 2 Cimory restaurants where the first one we went to is Cimory Mountain View restaurant. This restaurant has the mountain view but I wanted to enjoy eating by the riverside so we went further down to find Cimory River View restaurant which we finally did. The first thing I did was to see the shop which sells milk products, chocolates, snacks and cow related souvenirs. Then we went to the riverside to take some photos before having our late lunch. Food was not bad but service was very slow as there were a lot of patrons but not enough staff to entertain everyone. After filling our tummy, I went back to the Cimory shop and bought some souvenirs. Since there wasn't much to do around Cipanas, we went back to the hotel to rest and it was already getting cold.

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Friday [16/12/2016] After having breakfast, we head to Bandung. On the way, we stop at a souvenir shop. I bought a bottle of asinan, a specialty of Bogor and the famous roti Unyil. Since it was still early, not all of the roti Unyil were out yet but I managed to get a few flavours that just came out fresh from the oven. Further along the way, there were also roadside stalls selling huge rose apple (bigger than my palm) which seemed to be in season so I couldn't resist buying a few just to try as I have never seen them before in Brunei. When we reached to Bandung, we stopped at a Sudanese restaurant and since it was still lunch time, the restaurant was packed with people. We chose the food we wanted and while waiting for our food to be cooked and sent to us, we found a place sit at the balcony area looking at the main road. At least it was not hot and stuffy sitting at the balcony area though the walking space was only limited to 1 person at a time. Food was delicious and the view was interesting. Then we continued with our journey to Tasikmalaya. By the time we reached to Tasikmalaya, it was already evening so we head straight to City Hotel Tasikmalaya to check in before we head out again. Tasikmalaya is a small city with a few malls, so we checked out one of them. For dinner, we went to Liwet Pak Asep Stroberi where the entrance of the restaurant is shaped like a strawberry. We tried the Tutug Oncom, a specialty of Tasikmalaya while enjoying the fresh air since we sat inside an open hut.

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Saturday [17/12/2016] Today before heading to Kampong Naga, we went to find kelom geulis, a special product of Tasikmalaya. Kelom geulis is wooden sandals worn by women back in the 1960s for formal functions when Indonesia was still under the Dutch colony. Nowadays, kelom geulis is a dying industry since not many women are interested in wearing it so only a few home industry are still making it. We found one of the home industry where the owner was nice enough to show how kelom geulis is handmade individually. They use mahogany wood and it takes a skilled person to carve the design by hand on each wood. They have a small showroom in the living room but because each kelom design is handmade, they did not have a lot of stock for different sizes except for the ones displayed. There were some nice designs but none of my size so I bought 4 pairs of kelom geulis only.

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We then head to Kampong Naga, a traditional village of the Sanaga people which is located along the Ciwulan river in the area of Neglasari Village. To reach this village, we had to walk down 439 steps from the parking area. There are altogether 113 identical houses arranged in an orderly manner, facing towards the river. Each house is made of wood on short stilts and the roof is made of black sago palm fibre material. There is no electricity or modern items like fridge, tv or even rice cooker. The women spend most of their time weaving handicrafts which are sold as souvenirs to tourists. On the way up to the car park, we stopped to see one of the village man painting pictures of Kampong Naga with his finger only. I bought 2 small pictures from him as a remembrance of this village. Since it was raining, we decided to rest for a while at the stall at the car park area. Doni had bakso while I did not to eat anything from the bakso push cart due to hygienic reasons as I did not want to have diarrhea since we still have a long drive ahead of us. I also bought a small packet of the local red rice grown in Kampong Naga to try back home later.

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From Kampong Naga, we headed to Pangandaran which took more than 4 hours to reach. Halfway through the journey, we stopped for late lunch at a restaurant which is next to the paddy field. By the time we arrived to Pangandaran, it was night time and fortunately, our homestay is near to the junction. After checking in at Panorama A La Plage homestay, we headed to the beach area to find a place for dinner. Since it was the weekend, there were a lot of people at the beach. We decided to have dinner at one of the cafe on the beach facing the sea so that we could enjoy the cool sea breeze and the sound of the waves. The food was not bad and there was a live band to entertain the patrons.

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Sunday [18/12/2016] Today we head to the Green canyon (Cukang Taneuh) which is famous for its clear green water and the abundant green moss on the cliff. We took the 30 minute swimming package at Batu Payung and used a “ketinting”, the wooden motor boats with roof to go to that location. There were a lot of tourists, mostly locals but they did not go swimming. When we reached to the spot where we have to get off the boat, we had to ready to be wet and swim against the strong current. Since I am not a strong swimmer yet, it took me a while to go against the current but we managed to go from one rock to another until we were at Batu Payung. It was difficult to avoid knocking our legs on the rocks so I got a few bruises here and there but nothing major. Then I decided to extend our trip up to Pemandian Puteri where the current was even more stronger than at Batu Payung with water falling from the rocks above us. While making our way there, we saw a group of guys doing body rafting where they floated from upstream to Pemandian Puteri, then to Batu Payung before using a boat to take them back to the ticket area. After having enough of the cold water, we flowed with the current downstream until we reached Batu Payung where we then got up into our boat and headed back to the ticketing area. It was a good experience that anyone should try once in their lifetime. With all the swimming in the cold water, we were dead hungry so we stopped by at a restaurant on the way to Batu Hiu beach. Since it was not the peak season, we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. So we chose to sit at the back of the building where they have tables on the open space and you just sit on the floor. We had prawns, fish, ferns and fried fritters which was very delicious or probably because we were too hungry.

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After lunch, we headed to Batu Hiu beach which is named after the rocks that resembled a shark fin. However, after years of the waves hitting the rocks, the shark fin shaped rocks were not noticeable anymore. The amusing thing about the beach is that you can see Teletubbies and Masha mascots waiting for people to take photos with them. There were also mats for rent so that people can sit and have picnic and you can buy hermit crabs and their houses which surprisingly, some people bought to keep as pets! Since it was still early in the afternoon and we had no other plans, we decided to spend head to Pangandaran beach and see sunset there.

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The sight on the beach was totally different from the ones in Brunei. There were "Jukungs", traditional fishing boats lining along the shore, guys playing football, people swimming in the sea, peddlers selling ice cream and people watching other people (just like me). You can even rent a horse to ride on the beach! I don't normally like to go to the beach due to the hot weather but since there was nothing much to do in Pangandaran and the sun was setting in 2 hours time, I don't mind people watching. While doing so, I noticed a group of people gathering together at a spot and just looking out at the sea. As a boat came to the shore and then the fishermen were pulling something ashore, all those people rushed towards the fishermen and it so happened that a pickup truck with lifeguards were driving by slowly. I thought someone must have drowned but then again, the lifeguards were just relaxing while they were looking at the crowd and just drove by. After making their round, the lifeguards saw me taking photo of them and it was pretty funny because it reminded me of Baywatch. Being curious myself, I then head towards the crowd to see what the commotion was about. When I reached there, everyone were just watching the fishermen sorting out their catch of the day. As the sun was setting, what was even more surprising was that 2 deer walked by along the beach even though there were people around. I guess the deer at this area are so used to people that they don't even run away when we approach them. For dinner, we just had a simple meal near to our homestay as we could not find any other place which looked hygienic to eat before heading back to rest.

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Monday [19/12/2016] After we checked out from the homestay, we started out journey to Garut. By the time we reached there, it was early afternoon so we stopped at Sentra Industri Kulit Sukaregang where you can see all the small shops along that road selling leather jackets, shoes, bags, etc. In order to know whether a leather is genuine or not, I asked the saleslady to prove it before I buy it which she did by using a lighter to burn the leather which did not burn at all. The was the same test used to check for genuine leather in China. After that, we stopped by for a quick Sundanese lunch before we continue on to Papandayan.

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It was a relaxing drive to Cisurupan but I noticed that we were going higher and higher along the way. Even though it was only about 4pm, the weather was cool like as if the whole town was blown by a huge natural air con. After finding Asep Homestay, we had to wait for Pak Asep to return home from work to discuss about the guide who will bring me up to Mount Papandayan and while waiting for him, his wife cooked us dinner. When Pak Asep finally showed up, I was so surprised that he was wearing a thick jacket while we were only wearing normal clothes. Since he was working at Mount Papandayan park office, he was not able to guide me but he contacted Rangga who will be my guide. I had the choice to see sunrise before heading to Goeber Hut, Pondok Saladah, Hutan Mati (Dead Forest) and the lake or just see the Goeber Hut, Pondok Saladah and Hutan Mati. I chose the sunrise so the hike will start at 4.30am which is still ok considering that in the past, I have hiked starting at midnight just to see the sunrise at Semeru.

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Tuesday [20/12/2016] I woke up at 3.30am just to get ready for the hike. By 4am, after having something light to eat just to fill the stomach since it was way too early for breakfast, we headed off to Mount Papandayan. It took us half an hour to reach Mount Papandayan through curvy roads that goes upwards all the way. When we reached Camp David which is at the parking area, I did not see anyone else except us. The wind was howling and very cold but I was only wearing 3/4 leggings with just short sleeve shirt with a thin jacket since it was not this windy at the previous volcanoes that I've climbed before in December. It was not so bad when we were moving as I felt hot even though I was wearing a thin jacket so I opt not to wear the jacket at all whereas Rangga who was wearing jeans and a thick jacket. It was only when we stop to rest, then the wind was freezing and it was so strong that my cap was blown away. Oh well, at least it was not an expensive cap. We reached to the sunrise view point which is said to have the best sunrise view in Garut 20 minutes later and the sun was still hiding behind the clouds. So we waited and slowly, we saw the sun rising.

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On the way to Goeber Hut, we passed by numerous steam vents that produce hissing sounds as they released droplets of water and small streams before walking up a long winding road. At Goeber Hut (2275m high), there were a few tents and the campers were just beginning to cook their breakfast since it was still very early in the morning. We continued walking towards Tegal Alun and then stopped at Tegal Bungbrung where we saw numerous Edelweiss shrubs. We did not go all the way to Tegal Alun which was also heading to the summit as I did not have enough time since we were going to continue our journey to Bandung after this hike. Instead, we continued to Hutan Mati by passing through Pondok Saladah. Hutan mati is a vast area of dead Suagi trees killed by the 2002 volcanic eruption which up to today, no plants have grown back in that area. Then we slowly walked down towards the sulfur lake where we saw 4 large craters from a distance. In order to go to the sulfur lake, we had to climb up a rocky river where the water was pretty warm but very smoky and the sulfur smell was very strong. So half way after climbing up already, I told Rangga that it is ok that we didn't go all the way to the lake since we could see it from a distance since I wasn't prepared for the sulfur smell. So we slowly headed back to the parking area and on the way down, we saw more Indonesians (only wearing sandals or slippers) coming up with children and their picnic food which was an unusual sight to see since most of the volcanoes that I have been up to are for serious climbing to the summit and not the picnicking type of scenario. This is the difference between hiking volcanoes in east and west Java.

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After going back to Asep's house, I took a quick shower and we had lunch before heading to Bandung. We reached Bandung in late afternoon, so we drive around Bandung city first just to see what is interesting before checking into Flores Gallery hotel. We then head to one of the shopping mall and since there is an Eiger store, of course I did not miss out the chance to check out their hiking shoes. The treads of the soles really had good grip for volcano climbing but unfortunately, their smallest size is a 6 whereas I wear a size 3.5 to 4. Oh well, so much for hoping to own a pair of Eiger hiking shoes. Since shopping was not really on my agenda, I ordered takeaway for dinner and went back to the hotel to rest.

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Wednesday [21/12/2016] After breakfast, from Bandung we headed to Tangkuban Perahu, one of the most touristic volcanoes in west Java since it does not require any intensive hiking and there are rows of souvenir shops. By the time we arrived there, there were already a lot of tourists at the site and taking selfies. We were told that previously people can walk all the way around the volcano through the forests on the slopes but after a Singaporean tourist fell to his death while taking selfie too near to the edge of the crater, now tourists could only walk half of the crater for their own safety. Tangkuban perahu means upturned boat but I still don't understand why they called it that because there is no resemblance of an upturned boat. There are 3 craters on this volcano which is the Kawah Ratu, Kawah Domas and Kawah Upas. In order to see Kawah Upas, we had to walk at least about 1km where there were no one except for us and a couple. It took us about 20 minutes to reach there, only to find that it is not accessible to public for safety reasons. So we decided to check out Air Keramat (sacred water) Cikahuripan which was another 250m through the forest. When we reached there, there is a guardian who collect money for going into a small cave which goes out to the back of the hill and assist those who took a bath with the sacred water. The lady of the couple took a bath with the sacred water and I was told by Doni that people who bathed with this sacred water usually have a motif and she would be brought into the cave by the guardian to do some sort of prayer and offering. We tried to walk further passing the back entrance of the cave but there was a barricade with a sign warning people about the poisonous gas. On the way back to the parking area, I checked out each the souvenir stalls and bought some souvenirs. The most unique thing they sold there were scarfs and caps made of rabbit furs.

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From Tangkuban Perahu, we headed towards Grafika Cikole and on the way, we stopped at a Sundanese restaurant just next to the main road for lunch. Once again, we opt to sit on the floor on the first floor rather than on the typical chair and table so that we can see what is happening around. After lunch, we headed on to Grafika Cikole and the reason why I chose to stay in this place is that not only is the weather cool since it is located at the foot of the mountain but it also has many facilities for outbound activities. What attracted me the most are the chalets, huts and camping tents which people can stay in. Initially I wanted to try staying in one of the chalet but since it was expensive and it is for 6 person while there's only 2 of us, in the end we stayed in the hotel building which is not bad since it was near to the parking area whereas the other accommodation were further away from the road. We were given free welcome drink at Pendopo Hutan, the restaurant in the middle of the pine forest. After enjoying the scenery for the while and watching people settling to their chalets, we walked around to check out each of the site. The chalets and huts were fully occupied with families and some government organisations have booked to stay in a few tents. Since it was getting dark, we headed to Sindang Reret Cikole for dinner. This restaurant is actually part of Sindang Reret Hotel and when we first arrived there, the restaurant looks pretty high class since it is attached to the hotel lobby. There are 2 seating areas where you can choose to sit inside the lobby area or at the hut outside the lobby area. Since the 4 boats inside the lobby area were fully occupied, we decided to sit in the hut on the floor which was comfortable as we could stretch out our legs and enjoy the cool wind blowing. The place has a very nice ambiance and the food was not bad either which was reasonably priced for a hotel standard. After dinner, we went back to Grafika cikole and checked out what the people we doing at night. At the Pendopo Hutan, there is a dangdut entertainment for the guests. At the family hut camping ground, the teenagers were having BBQ while those in the chalets just stayed indoors since the wind was getting cold.

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Thursday [22/12/2016] We woke up early to have buffet breakfast at Pendopo Hutan. It was nice to have breakfast among the pine tree forest with fresh air and good food. After breakfast, we went around the whole place again as the sun was bright and it was good for taking photos. I picked 3 pine cones for souvenir though I should have taken more since they were just lying everywhere on the ground. After seeing some groups doing team building activities, playing paintball, ziplining, trying out the Elvis bridge and walking on a rope, we finally decided to move on to Farmhouse Lembang which is another famous tourist spot. Even by 10am, the parking area inside Farmhouse Lembang was already full but fortunately, there were parking areas across the road. Each Farmhouse ticket comes with a free milk voucher which we decided to claim after we have finish touring around. It was pretty packed with tourists especially local Indonesians who were busy snapping away photos wherever they could find a spot. There were sheep and calves for people to pat and give milk to, few European buildings which has shops inside selling souvenirs, restaurant and food. You can even rent a Dutch costume to walk around in. The best thing I love about this place is the freshly baked danish pastries which could be smelt from a distance. Who could resist them so I bought each flavour and boy, are they really crispy and delicious like their smell! After having done a bit of souvenir shopping and taking photos, we finally queue for our free milk and headed off to our next destination.

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From Lembang, we headed to Ciwidey where we have booked accommodation near to Kawah Putih. As we reached near to Ciwidiey, the road was continuously going higher and higher and there were a lot of strawberries planted near to the road where you pay a certain amount and you can pick as many strawberries as you can. Since Doni was not familiar with the place, we went to find the homestay first which was only a few minutes away from Kawah Putih. After putting our stuff at the homestay, we headed back down from where we came from to grab something to eat. By the time we finished our late lunch, it was raining heavily and it was already cold so night time, it would be even colder! Fortunately there is instant water heater but very unfortunately, there was blackout for about an hour so I had to boil hot water in order to bath. Since there wasn't much to do at night, we just relax and rested early. It was cold in the middle of the night even when the whole house was closed up and the beds felt damp.

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Friday [23/12/2016] Before the sun was up, I was woken up by the sound of the call for the morning prayer since our homestay is just next to the surau. However, staying in Brunei throughout my whole life where there are mosques and surau every few kilometer, you just get used to it so I just went back to sleep after that. By 7.30am, I was awake and had a quick shower. The clouds were still very low after the rain but at least it was not raining anymore. After a simple breakfast of buns, we headed to Kawah Putih where there were already a lot of cars headed towards the same direction as us. By the time we reached to the car park, the visibility was limited as the clouds came down and it was pretty cold, so everyone had their jacket on. One advantage of this type of weather is that it is very cool to be out in the open but the disadvantage is that you can't see the view clearly as the lake was surrounded by thick fog. We could see the light blue water near to the bank but nothing more than that unless the fog happened to be blown away by the wind for a while. We waited quite a while hoping that the fog will lift up which they did a few times for a while before coming down again. Even though the view of the whole lake could not be seen clearly, the scenery is still lovely with all the dead tree branches standing as the foreground decoration with the blue lake and white clouds behind. Before leaving Kawah Putih entrance, there were peddlers selling food, mochi and strawberries. Since I did not get the chance to hand pick the strawberries myself, I bought a packet of strawberries from a lady which I thought was cheap since it looked like there was 2 layers of strawberries. Instead, they had used few pieces of cardboard to put at the bottom of the packet so people would think that there are a lot of strawberries but in fact, it is only a layer of strawberries. What a ripoff!

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We then headed to Pinisi Resto Dan Glamping Lakeside for lunch since there were good reviews about it. It wasn't really hard to find this place but you have to drive all the way inside the stony winding road. However, the view of the restaurant was unique. From afar, you could see a big wooden ship stranded on an island which is in fact the restaurant itself. Around this restaurant, there are a number of tent resorts (chalet with tent style roof) built on the slope of the hill looking towards the lake. The restaurant itself has 2 entrances; one from below and the other one is on top where you have to walk through a hanging bridge. Since we were from the bottom of the boat, we used the entrance from below. Inside the boat, there were two levels. The best spot to sit on this boat is actually at the front deck of the boat but all the tables were fully occupied so we were lucky enough to secure a table at the right side of the boat overlooking the lake as well as the tent resorts. Food was good and reasonable priced though it is considered expensive for Indonesian standard. After taking some photos at the front deck, we headed to our car and this time, we used the main entrance just to have the feel of walking on a hanging bridge.

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Our next destination was quite a long drive away as we only arrive at Cikaso at night after more than 5 hours of driving through numerous oil palm plantation and small villages. We did not book any accommodation for this area since we couldn't get hold of Yasa Hotel which was the only accommodation that I could find on the internet but I was not sure where exactly is the location since it is not shown on google map and no one picked up the phone when Doni tried to make reservations earlier on. So we were just trying our luck by checking out which accommodation is available and true enough, there is a Yasa Hotel which can be seen near the main road. It is not actually a hotel building but consist of 2 rows of single storey building with rooms and we were the only ones staying there. With accommodation settled, we went to look for place to eat and seeing that this is a sleepy town with not a lot of visitors, we ate at a warung where once again, we were the only ones there. After having our stomach filled, we headed back to the hotel where I could repack my luggage with all the stuffs that I have bought so far and only take out the ones that I need to use daily so that the luggage can be left in the car throughout the rest of the trip. The room of the so called "hotel" was pretty basic but good enough to just sleep for a night.

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Saturday[24/12/2016] Breakfast was served in our room which was nasi goreng. After checking out from the hotel, we headed to Curug Cikaso which goes through a narrow road in one of the village. Since it had rained the night before, the place was pretty muddy and there were local men who were pestering us to hire them as guide to go to the waterfall either by foot or by boat. Doni insisted that we could walk by foot ourselves through the paddy field which we did which but the trail was very muddy. Other people used boat to go directly to the waterfall because they didn't want to do a lot of walking. What is so unique about this waterfall is that there are 3 waterfalls of 80m high in one location with a bluish green water pool at the bottom. The left waterfall is called Asepan waterfall, middle is the Meong waterfall and right is called Aki waterfall. The blast of the waterfalls were very strong because you would still get wet from the splashes of water even from a distance. I did not go all the way down as the rocks were very slippery but close enough to wash the mud off my sandals. After taking photos of the waterfalls, we headed back to the parking area, this time by boat since the boatman was offering us a cheaper rate rather than the normal rate as they could earn extra income while waiting for their previous guests to come back to them. It was a short but nice ride and at least we didn't have to get our sandals and feet muddy again walking through the muddy trails.

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From Curug Cikaso, we headed to another waterfall called Curug Cikanteh which was 2 hours away. We went through winding roads of mountains and passing through villages. It was not easy to find this waterfall since the label only showed Curung Sodong which is the lower waterfall while Curung Cikanteh is the waterfall on the upper level that could only be accessed by foot. By the time we reached to the parking area, it had started to drizzle but before it started to rain heavy, I was able to get some shots of the Sodong waterfall which was not that nice because of the muddy water but the splashes were strong enough to make you wet even though you are standing at the viewing platform. When it rained heavy, everyone had take shelter in the small warungs and the hut. It would be nice to trek all the way up to see Curung Cikanteh but everyone was advised not to go up as it would be very slippery after the rain. Since there wasn't much to do, we left and headed towards Sukabumi to find Hotel Lagusa.

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The drive to Pelabuhan Ratu was not far so we stopped at one of the open air restaurant by the beach for our late lunch. While waiting for our food to come, we enjoyed the view of the waves and what people were doing at the beach. There were also fishing huts built on a platform made of bamboo which help them to float in the sea. After finishing all the food, we went to find Hotel Lagusa which is located on a hill overlooking paddy field, coconut plantation and the sea. The place is quite nice as there are villa cottage, rooms in bungalow buildings with balcony and 3 small swimming pools. Our room was one of the bungalow building with balcony overlooking the sea. The room and the bathroom was very spacious! Since it is so peaceful there, I just stayed in the room and packed the things needed to go to Pulau Sebesi tomorrow before sleeping early.

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Sunday[25/12/2016] It's Christmas day today but you can't feel it here since the people in this part of Java are mainly Muslim and there are not many western tourists so it is just another day in Indonesia. For breakfast, we had to go down to the dining area which is a cool place as they have a snooker table. There were a number of local tourists just relaxing and probably bringing their family here to relax. Breakfast was an option of Indonesian nasi goreng or the simple western breakfast. I ordered nasi goreng because we have a long journey ahead but somehow today, I was not able to finish even half of the plate and I felt like I wanted to vomit if I keep on eating and suddenly, I felt like I had to go to the toilet. Little did I know this was the start of my diarrhea as I never experienced diarrhea in my past 2 trips around central and east Java as well as in Bali. After checking out, we head to Karang Taraje beach which was "supposed" to have water falling from rocks which was higher than the ground. After finding Karang Taraje beach based on the signboard which was visible from the road, it was such a disappointment to find out that there were nothing to see except for sharp rocks and the strong waves. By then, I couldn't stand too long or else my diaphragm started to hurt so I was stooping around the rocks which help to ease the discomfort a bit. Fortunately, there is a small surau at this beach and toilets so that people transiting onward could stop for toilet and do their prayer.

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The drive to Cilegon was supposed to be 4.5 hours only but since Doni always overshoot the shortest routes shown on Google Map and refused to turn back, the 4.5 hours drive ended up to be 6 hours. By then I was not feeling very comfortable because we have not stopped to rest and stretch our body but luckily, I didn't feel the need to go to the toilet at all nor did I feel really hungry. By the time we reached to Hotel Feri Merak, it was already night time and I was glad that we were not still on the road after the long drive. The hotel was the closest to Merak port which was only 6 minutes' drive away. It was a good thing that this hotel have their own restaurant but since the cook went to the mosque to pray, we ordered room service which was delivered later. Since there wasn't much choice on the menu, I ordered nasi goreng again but not knowing what was wrong, although I do feel hungry, I just couldn't eat much. The tap water in the toilet tasted funny which I shouldn't have used for brushing my teeth as this could have also further contributed to my diarrhea later on.

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Monday[26/12/2016] Today after breakfast, we started our journey to Merak port to catch for our 3 hour ferry ride across the Sunda strait to Lampung. Our target was to reach Canti Port before 1pm to catch the local boat to Pulau Sebesi so that we only pay the local rate rather than paying a few million rupiah to charter the boat to go there. The ferry that we were on were quite good because you can choose to seat on the chairs on the open air deck or stay inside the air conditioned area on top and bottom deck of the ship. We arrived at Canti Port by noon time but ended up waiting 2.5 hours as the boat to Pulai Sebesi was waiting for the food supplies to arrive. I was not feeling well so I just rested in the car and it's a good thing that there is an Alfamart across the road where I could use the toilet whenever I need to. While waiting, Doni asked around for the price to go to Krakatau from Pulau Sebesi since he said it would be cheaper to go through Pulau Sebesi than from Anyer beach or Carita Beach in West Java. However, he only assumed that it would be cheaper but didn't bother to find out the price in advance even though I had reminded him to do so before our trip a few times. In the end, the price was no different than from West Java as the boat to go from Pulau Sebesi to Krakatau cost more than 2 million rupiah and it so happened to be both of us only. So I was not pretty happy about it as I already told Doni before I went to Java that would be cheaper to join the Open trip where each person only need to pay less than 1 million for accommodation, food and the boat ride to Krakatau. But since we are already there, we just proceeded to Pulau Sebesi first. After having ice cream just to fill my tummy and cool off in the hot weather, I waited in the warung with the others who were also waiting to go to Pulau Sebesi until the van with the food supplies came.

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All passengers and motorbikes had to sit on the roof of the boat since the food supplies were all packed inside the boat. It was a nice feeling having the cool breeze blowing at us even though the sun was still shining. We passed by several islands for more than 2 hours. When we reached to the jetty, people were loading bananas into a boat to be taken to Canti Port. We waited at the small warung for the boat driver to discuss about the accommodation and the plan to Krakatau. After some discussion, the boat driver who was also the owner of warung told us that we could stay at his house for free but the boat ride to Krakatau would be 3 million rupiah. Fortunately, there were 3 more people who in the end decided to go to Krakatau also so the price was lower now but I still had to pay 1.2 million rupiah for both of us. In the end, all of us agreed so the boat driver took us to his house by foot which is a common Indonesian house with no ceiling except for zinc roof with 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, toilet and a bathroom with a fish reared inside the bak (water tank) where we also used the water for bathing. They could only spare us a bedroom so I will be sleeping in that room with another lady who will be going to Krakatau also while the men will be sleeping on the floor in the living room. The community in Pulau Sebesi is small with houses lined up neatly in rows facing each other. For evening dinner, we walked back to the warung. Since my tummy was still not feeling well and I was only half hungry, I decided to have mi goreng hoping that my stomach would not get worse since it is cooked in hot water instead of rice and other dishes like the others. If my tummy was not acting up, I would have enjoyed the food like they did. After dinner, we headed back to the house and slept early since we had to be ready by 5am tomorrow to go to Krakatau.

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Tuesday[27/12/2016] I woke up in the middle of the night while everyone was sleeping with a bad tummy ache and had to do my business. It was only this time that I finally realized that I was having diarrhea though it was not the serious type where I have to visit the toilet every few minutes. However, I managed to go back to sleep without having the need to use the toilet again but when I woke up at 4am to get ready for the trip, once again, my stomachache came. I was worried that I would need to go to the toilet on the way during the 2 hours boat ride as well as on Krakatau but fortunately, I didn't have any stomachache after that even though I had the feeling like I need to go. By 5am, light breakfast was given to us which I didn't eat much because I didn't feel hungry at all. We had to wait because the boat driver told us that the waves were quite rough but by 6am when the waves showed no signs of calming down, we had no choice but to proceed. At first we didn't feel anything except the boat rocking left and right lightly. However, after 1 hour in the middle of the sea, the boat was rocking more stronger now with water splashing into the boat so the windows under deck had to be closed and each one of us started to feel seasick. I have never been seasick before in my whole life before this but I'm glad that I was not the only one because Doni and the younger guy puked and since i didn't eat much, there wasn't much to puke. Even our guide who will be taking us to the top of Krakatau got seasick even though he was used to all these boat rides. The only thing we could do was close our eyes to prevent ourselves from becoming more seasick and pray that the rough ride would be over soon. Eventually the waves calmed down as we approached Krakatau. I guess everyone was so relieved that we were finally landed on the ground again after the rough ride and everyone was laughing at each other for being seasick. Doni still looked pale even though the rest of us felt better already.

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Yayy!! We are standing on Krakatau or in fact anak Karakatau (child of Krakatau), the most famous volcano which is responsible for blowing itself up completely, resulting in the formation of 40m high tsunamis which killed at least 36,000 people and changed the weather around the entire world for over five years. Anak Karakatau is still very much active with smoke constantly coming out from the crater. The soil on this island is black and sandy so it was not that slippery to go up and down this volcano like the other volcanoes I have been up to before though when you go up, it's like climbing a beach so that takes a bit more effort to go up than usual but since anak Karakatau is only 813m, it took only less than half an hour to reach to the level where we were not allowed to go any higher for our own safety. Although Krakatau was not high, the view was still very lovely from the top as you could see 2 of islands which are the remains of the pre-historic Krakatau. After staying up there for half hour, it was time to come down and head straight back to Canti port which is another 2 hours boat ride.

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Somehow, after the climbing, I felt much better and I did not have anymore stomachache so when we arrived at Canti port, I started to feel hungry. Since Doni was still not feeling well after being seasick, he didn't want to eat so we headed straight to Lampung city plus most of the eateries at the roadside didn't look hygienic with sand from the road flying everywhere. I don't know much about Lampung nor do I know what to expect since not many foreign tourists have been there. There was nothing much to see along the Trans-Sumatra highway until we reached to the main city. We checked into Inna 8 Hotel, a nice hotel located in Chinatown area, the old town of Lampung. Since Doni was not feeling well and I was not sure how clean the restaurants in Lampung is, I ordered room service for dinner.

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Wednesday[28/12/2016] Since none of us have been to Lampung before, it is time for us to explore and get lost along the way in order to get our orientation right. For breakfast, we headed to McDonald where I had porridge since I haven't had a proper meal for days. After that, we headed to Museum Lampung first to learn about Lampung. There is entrance fee to go into this museum but because people just keep on going in and out of the museum, the staff were not able to keep track who has paid and who has not. The museum is a pretty old and outdated building with a mural wall painting at the parking area depicting the traditional lifestyle of people in Lampung. In the museum, there are artifacts from the Dutch colonial era, potteries and antics from the olden days, wedding traditions as well as Lampung's numbers.

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Then we head to the National Museum of Transmigration where we were the only visitors there as it is located far away from town and no one was interested in knowing where Lampung people came from. Once again, the museum is small with limited exhibitions which according to the head of the museum, was bought from the Lampung people. In the middle of the hall, there are two statues of oxen pulling "luku" (traditional plowing tool) and a wooden wagon side symbolising that people in Lampung used to do farming in the past. There is a small room for a set of gamelan and collection of puppets from different parts of Indonesia. On the second floor, there are some antique objects such as the old fashioned bicycle called "Sepeda Ontel", kitchen appliances, household furniture, lighting equipment and money used in the olden days. Then we headed to the back area of the museum where there is a giant iron ball which was used in the past to do land clearing before reaching to the 11 different models of the houses found in different parts of Indonesia. My aim is to see the model of the west Nusa Tenggara traditional house but unfortunately the only thing left on that house model was the brick wall structure as it was burnt and they did not have the money to repair it. After going around the short tour, I went to the museum office and made a donation of 500,000 rupiah. When I told Doni how much I gave for donation, he said that it was too much but I knew it was for a good cause because he also told me that while waiting for me, a museum staff told him that they have not received their salary for few months already. It was bad enough that the government did not give them any budget for maintenance but not paid salary for few months is too much. So while it only costed me B$50+ for donation, it is a big amount to the Indonesians already and I hope that at least that money can help the museum staffs in some ways.

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On the way back to the city, we stopped at Bumi Kedaton Mall to have our late lunch. The we head toward Chinatown near to our hotel because I want to find Toko Manisan Yen Yen which is famous for local snack souvenirs. Along the same road there is the Vihara Thay Hin Bio, the oldest Buddhist temple in Lampung. We went Toko Manisan Yen Yen first and while waiting for me, I asked Doni to find out the price of the durian that was selling in front of both shops. When I came out of the shop, Doni told me the price of the durian which was not expensive considering that it cost less than $10 each so I told Doni that if we try 1 of the durian, we would not need to eat dinner anymore since it is filling which he agreed. So there we were sitting in front of the shop, eating durian while watching people either going into Toko Manisan Yen Yen to buy their souvenirs or sitting down to eat the durian also. The durian was not bad but still no durian can beat Brunei's otak galah durians. After finishing the durian, we went across the road where I went to check out more snacks sold in the other shop which were different from the ones sold in Toko Manisan Yen Yen. After getting all the food stuff I wanted, we stopped further ahead in a souvenir shop where I bought keychains and magnets of a lady wearing the iconic Lampung siger headgear and a few Krakatau t-shirts before heading back to our hotel.

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Thursday[29/12/2016] Today, we aim to check out a few places away from the city area. After breakfast, we went to find the Krakatau Monument which is said to be near our hotel. Without proper location, it took us a while to find it, only to realize that we have been passing by it for the past 2 days since the place where it was put is just a garden covered by trees and plants just next to the police station so it was not noticeable from the road. So we went to see what was so famous about this monument and it was just a metal buoy from a lighthouse in a nearby island that was thrown almost sixty kilometers ashore and landed about two kilometers north of Telukbetung coast during the Krakatau massive eruption. Ironically, the policemen who were stationed at the park everyday did not even know anything about it.

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Then we head to find Citra Garden's Little Europe which is located in the premier residential area in Teluk Betung. Little Europe is very popular among the youths as the place has rows of shops in European style and there are European icons like the Danish windmill, miniature Eiffel tour and the huge klompen. Nice place for photo taking but unfortunately, not all of the buildings are occupied yet and those that are already occupied do not start business until late afternoon. So we decided to have lunch in one of the simple restaurant before heading off to the next destination.

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Next, I wanted to see Mutun beach, one of the popular beach in Lampung but since we overshot it, we decided to drive on and found another beach called pantai Sari Ringgung. It is probably a trend in Indonesia that wherever there is a beach, you will see lots of Indonesians spending their day there. It was packed with people, cars, vans and tour buses! There were huts (all fully occupied), mats, rubber tubes and kayak boats for rent. You see big and small kids playing in the water and the elderly people just sitting around watching people. There were also people selling ice creams and stalls selling souvenirs made of seashells, pop mee, drinks, beach clothes, etc. You could even go for boat rides to see the floating mosque further away from the beach as well as smaller islands which initially I was interested in to check it out but it wasn't that cheap either so I decided it wasn't worth it.

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From the beach, we went to find Muncak, a new tourist attraction site where one can see Lampung bay from the viewpoint which is located on a hill. There were a lot of local tourists taking selfies and I would have to say that the village people are very smart because in order for a person to stand on each wooden bridge to take photos, there is a 2,000 rupiah charge. We only went up to the big tower as that is the highest spot where you can see the bay. In order to do so, we had to queue for our turn to take photos as what can I say, Indonesians just love to take selfies.

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After having enough of the view, we went to find The Summit Bistro, a pretty swanky bar and restaurant located on a hilltop. It's a 2 storey building where the ground floor is the restaurant area and the top floor is actually a bar with a balcony area where you can sit outside and enjoy the view. We were lucky that we came early so there were still empty seats outside on the balcony to enjoy the night view of Lampung. The menu was pretty much western and the price is way too expensive for Indonesians but considered standard if you have been to places like this in whichever country you have been to. While waiting for our food to arrive, we enjoyed the night view of the sea and the hills around the city of Lampung and I realised that this place is very isolated because there were no other houses or buildings around. There is however a mansion looking at The Summit Bistro but it looked like it has been unoccupied for years.

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Friday[30/12/2016] Today after breakfast, we stopped at Holland bakery to get some buns to eat on the way back to Jakarta just in case we get hungry on the road. I was impressed with how Holland bakery packed the buns I bought because instead of putting them in a plastic bag, they put all the buns into a box with the word Merry Christmas and Happy New Year printed on it. So off we go on a 2 hour drive from Lampung city towards Bakauheni port. Of course, one would not be considered to have been to Lampung if you have not stopped by the Siger Tower, the symbol of Lampung province gate which could be clearly seen from the sea near to Bakauheni port. Siger is the name of the traditional customary hat for bride in Lampung culture and the reason why it is given this name is because the Siger tower is shaped in the form of a crown-shaped building, consisting of nine series which symbolizes the nine kinds of languages in Lampung. The tower is colored yellow and red, representing the golden color of the bride's traditional hat and decorated with Tapis, the traditional cloth of Lampung. The building is actually in a sorry state which has seen its heydays and there used to be a radio station on the top part of the tower which is now left abandoned. Still, there are people who stop by to take photos. From the 6th floor, we could see Bakauheni port, the Sunda strait and the ongoing construction of the Trans Sumatra Toll Road.

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Then we headed off to the port which is just a few minutes away from Siger tower. This time, we did not have the same ship as when we arrived to Lampung. This ship was more commercialised where you have to pay in order to stay in the air con room which is considered as VIP room. I stayed at the top deck which is pretty hot because both sides of the ship was covered with windows so the air couldn't move freely. Then they have dangdut singers which makes you wonder how they could keep on singing for 3 hours straight without stopping at all just to get money from the passengers especially the men who wanted to dance with them. We reached Merak port by early afternoon and head straight towards Jakarta. It was a boring drive from Cilegon all the way to Jakarta. By the time we reached to Jakarta city, it was after office hours so the roads were packed with cars heading everywhere. Doni kept on complaining about the slow traffic which to Indonesian standard is already so bad but I told him that he hasn't experienced the traffic jams in Shanghai and Bangkok which could only move a few inches bit by bit and you get stuck in traffic for at least 2 - 3 hours just to get to your destination. Since we want to avoid the crowd, after dropping off our laundry, we head for Hotel Zia Shiro I Shika, a pretty new hotel with Japanese concept. For dinner, we decided to go to Blok M Plaza which is near to Pasaraya Blok M since traffic on the road was packed with cars and people. After dinner, we walked over to Pasaraya Blok M which has a lot of small shops but they closed very early so there was nothing to see. Then we decided to find the Pasar Kue Subuh Blok-M but since Doni didn't know where it is and it is also difficult to find the exact location even with Google Map, in the end I gave up. So we headed back to the hotel to rest instead.

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Saturday[31/12/2016] Today my target is to see Jakarta old town. After breakfast, we head to the old town area and we were lucky to find parking nearby as it was still early. Even though it was just about 9.30am, there were already some foreign and local tourists at the Fatahillah Square (formerly known as Batavia City Square), riding the bicycles or just taking photos. As time goes by, more and more people started coming to the square. There were quite a number of things to do and see just to keep people entertained. There are street artists dressed up and posing for whoever is interested in taking photos with them just as long as they pay for it. We went to check out the Museum Wayang and saw all sorts of puppets from different part of Java, made from wood and animal skin. After the interesting tour around the museum, we walked to Glodok, the Chinatown in Jakarta. I wanted to see Gereja Santa Maria de Fatima because it look like a Chinese temple externally but it is actually a catholic church. We passed by the market area where people were selling fresh seafood and vegetables along both sides of a single lane road and people walking by foot to see things so only motorcycles can pass through. We stopped by to see Vihara Dharma Bhakti, the oldest Chinese temple in Jakarta before walking further to Gereja Santa Maria. We finally found the church and went into the compound which externally does look like a Chinese temple with Chinese writings but unfortunately, it was closed so we were unable to go inside and see.

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On the way back to Fatahillah Square, we went to see Jakartakota station which was packed with people. The queue just to buy the train tickets were horrible and people were just sitting on the floor waiting to board the train. When we reached back to Fatahillah square. it was already packed with people. To cool ourselves down from the walking, we went to see the Jakarta History Museum where the building used to be the Stadhuis (city hall) of Batavia. The building itself is pretty impressive with big rooms, wooden floors and wooden ceilings, typical Dutch architecture. There were a lot of antique furniture and archaeological objects from the prehistoric era. From the window on the first floor, I watched a man making kerak telor. I love to try kerak telor but it is not advised for foreign tourists to avoid diarrhea since we are not used to the hygiene of push carts and utensils which have been used over and over again without being washed in Indonesia. On the way out, we checked out the prisons which were behind the building. I would have to say the women's prison which was located under the basement of the building looked very interesting to check out but then everyone just peep through the staircase which goes down the entrance but no one walked down and go into the prison itself. The floor was wet and it looks creepy though.

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After all the sightseeing, it was time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of Cafe Batavia, a famous colonial landmark at Fatahillah Square. The building itself is the second oldest building in the square other than the Jakarta History Museum. It's amazing how they were able to preserve this 2 storey 19th-century building which was completed in 1837. On the ground floor, there is a bar, a performance stage and a lounge area whereas the main dining hall is on the second floor. The interior was refurbished in a 1930s theme and so was the uniform of the waiters and waitresses. I just love the ambiance where it takes you back in time during the colonial era. They serve western, Asian and Indonesian food so I ordered soto Betawi and bir pletok (0% non-alcoholic herbal drink) which are specialty of Jakarta as well as desserts such as surabi (Indonesian pancake) and poffertjes (Dutch pancakes) which was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cherry on top of it.

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The square was pretty crowded by the time we left Cafe Batavia and there were uniformed personnel (police, army, red cross,etc) getting ready to monitor the place as everyone are already waiting to celebrate the new year here. Since there was nothing else for us to do here, we head off to Monas. Even though it was before 6pm, people were already heading towards Monas. The parking area inside Monas was full so we had to park at the Gambir train station which was also quite full already. We were hoping to go up to Monas but unfortunately, this year, they had closed the Monas early because they did not want people to throw litter everywhere inside. We found a place to sit near to the Monas for a while but since we had to wait for another 6 hours until midnight, we went to Gambir train station to find something to eat. This train station is much more better than Jakartakota station with few eateries. There is a small McDonald but it was also packed. Since we had a lot of time to waste, we didn't mind waiting for empty seats and just sat there, eating our simple dinner for 2 hours before heading back to Monas. This time, Monas was fully packed with people sitting on the grass and walkway just waiting for the fireworks. When it was finally midnight, fireworks started but very disappointingly, none of it was played inside Monas area. We saw fireworks playing around outside of Monas and it was very simple compared to the ones I usually see. Such disappointment after waiting for 6 hours whereas I could have spent the time relaxing in the hotel and sleeping early since I will be flying back to Brunei tomorrow. When the fireworks ended, people started going back so traffic was horrible in terms of human and car jam. We only reached back to the hotel after 1am.

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Sunday[1/1/2017] Today marks the end of my 16 day trip around west Java and Lampung. There wasn't much traffic on the road which is an unusual sight to see since Jakarta is well known for it's heavy traffic on the roads. I can proudly say that I have already covered the whole of Java whi ch took me 3 trips to do so. However, I would have to say that west Java has less to offer than central and east Java. Time to move on to the next Indonesian island.

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Posted by Lingering 06:28 Archived in Indonesia Comments (3)

Central and East Java

Land of volcanoes and scaling up Mahameru, the highest mountain on Java


View Central and East Java on Lingering's travel map.

Sunday [26/6/2016] Kolin and I took an evening flight from Brunei to Surabaya which was not a very long flight. By the time we landed in Surabaya, it was about 8.40pm. The airport is similar to Bali airport and is way bigger than Jogjakarta airport where I first arrived to Java back in December 2014. We took a taxi to our hotel, The Square which happens to be near to a weekend night market where people were selling all sorts of stuffs on both sides of the road. After being held up by the slow traffic due to people walking on the street as well as motorbikes and other cars passing by, we finally reached to The Square. Unfortunately, most of the shops had already closed but we were glad that the room was not disappointing. I didn't even release that The Square is actually an apartment when I book it online as it as an ensuite kitchen. Without anything much to do, after settling down, we went to bed since we have more than a week of adventurous trip ahead of us.

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Monday [27/6/2016] We went down for breakfast at 6.30am since Cahyo was coming to our hotel at 8am. To our surprise, although there were signs that some people had already taken breakfast, we were the only ones there. Apparently, due to the time difference, it was only 5.30am even though the sun was already up and shining brightly like as if it was after 7.30am and we did to adjust out watch to the time zone in Java. People who were fasting had already eaten during sahur which was why the food was already partly taken. After having a simple buffet breakfast, we packed our stuff and waited for Cahyo and the driver to come and pick us up at 8am. From Surabaya, we drove 2 hours to Probolinggo where we stopped by at Madakaripura waterfall which is located at Sapih village. In order to go there, we had to take the motorbike from the parking area and it was not a comfortable experience since we never sat on motorbikes in Brunei. We then had to walk by foot for ½ hour before we reached the waterfall area where we had to walk across the stream in certain areas. Some parts of the stream were shallow while other parts were deep. There are altogether 7 waterfalls but because there has not been much rain at all, only a few of the waterfall had strong flow of water flowing down. After getting wet from walking under the waterfalls and also from the strong blast of water from the biggest waterfall, we headed back to the car park and moved on to the next destination.

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It had started to drizzling by the time we reached to the grape plantation. Initially, I thought Cahyo found a commercial grape plantation like the one I visited in Thailand but it turned out that we were brought to an agricultural research station which carries out research on different grape varieties. Oh well, we got to learn that there were over 60 varieties of grapes planted in that research station and had the opportunity to taste several varieties from the vine, some sweet and some sour. After some lesson about growing grapes, we went for lunch first before stopping by the Red church. Unfortunately, the Red church was not open to the public today so from the gate, Cahyo explained that this church was built in 1862 with the materials shipped from Holland. The design of this church is exactly the same as the red church in Holland and the external materials have never been replaced for more than 100 years except that it has been repainted.

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Even though it was still early in the afternoon, we decided to head straight to Beejay Resort Probolinggo which is located at the coastal port of Mayangan. We specifically chose to stay at this resort because even though we do have mangroves in Brunei, no chalet has been built in between the mangroves so it's a new experience for us to stay within the mangroves. The suite we stayed in was nice, air conditioned and has a veranda outside where we could sit and just enjoy the peaceful view of the sea as well as watching people walking on the walkway which was still under construction. They even sent a complimentary afternoon tea with some finger food to our bungalow! After eating and relaxing for a while, we decided to check out the whole resort area. There were single story bungalows like ours, a few double storey houses, restaurants, function hall and even outdoor sports facilities across the other side of the road which unfortunately we did not not managed to as it was about to rain. When it started to rain, we decided to have our dinner early at the Caterpillar lobby which is just next to our bungalow. We happened to be the only clients there and since there were only 2 of us for the chef to entertain, he was pretty chatty and put up a nice teppanyaki show for us. The only down side of eating among the mangrove forest were the annoying mosquitoes which was flying around us and especially while we were eating. It's like as if they intentionally want to annoy us rather than letting us enjoy our dinner. After dinner, we went back to the bungalow to settle down and had an early rest for our trip tomorrow.

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Tuesday [28/6/2016] I woke up early before 5.30am to see the sun rise since we were told that the view at the sea was nice. Even this early, there were already a few people walking on the incomplete wooden walkway. Everything was so quiet and peaceful and it feels like heaven to just seat outside the veranda just enjoying the view. Breakfast was special because it was delivered to our suite at 6.30am. After having breakfast, packing all our stuff and checking out from Beejay Resort, we headed off to Ranu segaran which is a 2 hour drive. Situated 600m above sea level, it is in Segaran village which has cool weather. This lake used to be a crater of a volcano but after the volcano became inactive, it became a lake from the accumulation of water. To go down to the lake area, we had to slowly walk down the stony trail which became a warming up session for us before we start our big hike in a few days' time. At the lake, there were bamboo rafts that has to be manually paddled by a boatman that can take people around the lake as well as to where some of the locals had set up a few fish cages. After taking some photos, we headed back towards the car park which required some time to hike back up.

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From Segaran, we headed towards Situbondo which took more about 4 hours to reach. Since it was a long driver, we just stop at one of the rest area and ordered burger to take away. I also bought brownies (it was ok but too dry for my liking) and pia tape which according to Cahyo, means fermented tapioca. I am actually not a big fan of tapioca but they made it in such a way that it actually tasted like the Taiwanese suncakes and I really loved it. Even Cahyo and Doni said they have never tasted it before like that. By the time we reached to Baluran National Park, it was already after 4pm and we had to drive 12km through the bumpy stony road inside the park just to reach towards the bekol savannah. Along the way, we saw wild chicken, monitor lizard, Javanese langur and a peacock but they ran away as our car was approaching them. By the time we reached to the savanah area, the sky was gloomy and since it was about to rain, we did not go up the watch tower which was pretty unfortunate or else we could see the vast land of the savannah. As it started to rain, we saw deers and banteng just standing still and enjoying the rain while we passed by and drove another 3km towards Bama beach first just to wait for the rain to die down. Eventually by the time we reach to the beach, the rain did stop but we were the only ones there since everyone left when it started to rain. So, we just took some photos and then headed out towards the bekol savannah again. We noticed now that a lot of drenched macaques were just sitting along the roadside watching our car pass by, hoping that we will give them some food. One thing we weren't informed by Cahyo is that the ground of the bekol savannah is very sticky like 'tar' used for surfacing the road when it is wet. When I walked towards the signboard to have my photo taken, every step I took accumulated the black 'tar' like soil on my sandal and it was weighing me down. In the end, I didn't have my photo taken as I was busy trying to remove the sticky 'tar' from the sole of my sandals with a stick and running it against the grass but it was all in vain. I would just have to bring my 'tar' souvenior along with me. Since we needed to wake up very early to go to Ijen by 2am, we decided to head straight to Ketapang Indah hotel to rest and have dinner which was a good choice because the rooms are not in a hotel building but in separate buildings with open spaces. So at least with my dirty sandals, I did not dirty the floor much. By the time we settled in our room, it started to rain heavily this time so we decided to order room service since we were too lazy to walk to the restaurant even though the restaurant was open concept. We just hoped that the rain will stop by the time we head to Jien.

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Wednesday [29/6/2016] Doni came and pick us up at midnight and fortunately, the rain had already stop. After checking out from the hotel, we headed towards Paltuding where Ijen is located. On the way, we picked up Miz, our Ijen guide since Cahyo had some personal thing to attend to and will only be meeting us the next morning. It was not my first time to go to Ijen crater to see the blue fire but when I was there the first time in December 2014, it was drizzling and the smoke was too heavy to rise up so we were not able to see the blue fire clearly and this was the main reason why I decided to come again the second time. By the time we reached to Paltuding car park, it was only 1.30am and they normally allow visitors to go up Ijen at 2am. After 1½ hours of slow hike and getting to know Miz, we finally reached to the top of the crater. Then we hiked slowly down towards the blue fire and this time, not only did we not had to wear any mask but we were able to see how the miners mine the solidified sulphur up close and personal. Since Miz used to be a sulphur miner himself before he changed his profession to being an Ijen guide, he knew where to take good shots of the blue fire so he borrowed our mobile and went off to take videos of the blue fore for us. While waiting for Miz, we took photos of the sulphur miners working. By the time Miz came back from taking the blue fire video, we stayed for a while before deciding to head up back to the top of the crater. Since 5am was still dark, all we did was rested and waited for the sun to rise so that we can see the surrounding and the visibility of lake was not so clear due to the thick sulphur smoke rising but at least we saw some blue colour from where we were. After taking photos here and there, we decided to head down to the car park at 6am. It was quite a distance especially if you need to go to the toilet but at least the weather was fine and I managed to take close shots of a Javanese langur which was just sitting calmly on a branch even though people were passing by unlike the langurs in Baluran National Park. After reaching to the car park, we rested at the warung while having our packed breakfast of fried nasi goreng given by the hotel.

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On the way back down towards Bayuwangi, we dropped Miz off where we had picked him up and headed back to town to pick up Cahyo from the hospital and then headed to a clinic to get our medical checkup certificate which was required for the Semeru trip. While waiting for our medical certificate to be done, I managed to use the time to remove the rest of the sticky 'tar' from my sandal since it was easy to come off once it has dried and boy, the toilet floor was just full of dirt. After getting our medical certificate, we headed off towards southwest of Banyuwangi which we were told that it will take 7 hours to reach to Meru Betiri National Park. A very long drive but it was interesting to see different places. We stopped by at the market where Cahyo bought some vegetables to make soup for our dinner and we went around to see the market where they were selling fruits, vegetables, kitchen utensils, cooked food and tobacco strips before continuing our journey and further along the way, we made another stop to buy some fruits. Before we continue towards Sukamade beach through the bumpy stony road, we stopped by a warung and had lunch. Delicious food to fill up the tummy. After enough of stretching, we continued on and met up with our 4WD driver who will take us all the way to Sukamade beach since we need to cross a few stream and a wide river which tend to flood during the rainy season. A long, slow bumpy drive but we saw the forests and 2 villages where the people work for the coffee and cocoa plantations. Once we reached to the wide river, we were asked whether if we were interested in sitting on the roof of the 4WD while the car cross the river and all the way to the beach so of course, Doni and I were interested. It was an interesting experience since the driver drove fast across the river and water was splashing everywhere and the wind was very cool even though the sun was shining brightly.

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The Sukamade guesthouse was very basic and poorly maintained as there were brown stains on the walls. Similar to the Belalong study field centre in Brunei, there was no electricity until 6pm since it is supplied by the generator. Initally, the plan was to relax at the beach while waiting for dinner to be prepared but the rangers had put up a new rule stating that no one is allowed to go to the beach after 5pm so that turtles which might land on the beach to find a nesting place would not be disturbed. So with nothing to do, we relax for a while and went into the hatchery house to see where they had buried the turtle eggs which they had collected from the beach. We did not see any baby turtles since we were told they only hatch at night. We had our simple dinner at 6pm and at 7pm, we were briefed by the ranger on what we could and couldn't do while we were at the beach. Half way walking towards the beach, the ranger informed us that a turtle was spotted laying eggs on the beach so all of us were asked to be quiet and switched off our flashlight. Once we were given the cue to proceed, all of us walked as fast as we could to where the turtle was sighted. It was my first time walking on the beach at night in total darkness and if we weren't rushing to get to the site where the turtle was at, I would have just stay put on the spot, listen to the sound of the strong waves and enjoy the view of the mist from the waves hitting the beach as well as the white lights from the fishing boats out at the sea. It was just amazing!

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When we reached to the green turtle, it had already laid all the eggs and the rangers have collected the eggs from the sand and lined them up to record down the number. Just from 1 turtle, it laid 122 eggs. After everyone had a chance to take photos of the eggs, the rangers put them into a bag to be taken back to the hatchery to be buried. Then after some explanations given by the ranger about the green turtle, everyone was given a chance to take photo with it while it was busy trying to cover the hole back with sand. After observing the turtle for a while, we didn't stay until the end since we were told it would take another 2 hours for the turtle to fully cover the hole back and since we have another long day tomorrow, we decided to go back before the other groups to get some rest.

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Thursday [30/6/2016] Next morning, I woke up early because the program was to release baby turtles back to the sea. While waiting for the rangers to bring out the baby turtles, we went into the hatchery which we visited yesterday and this time, there were baby turtles in a few cages. It was pretty funny to see two of them which were just relaxing on their back with their tummy upwards like enjoying themselves on a beach. At 6.30am, we headed towards the beach, carrying our own bucket of baby turtles and found a spot to release them. With their nature instinct, once they were released on the sand, they headed towards the sea where they were carried away by the waves that came ashore. After releasing all of them, all of us just stayed at the beach for a while and just enjoyed the view. While doing so, we witnessed a sea eagle successfully caught two baby turtles from the sea and took each of them to a tall tree to be eaten and it was kind of sad but as the ranger said, that is how nature works. Out of the hundreds of baby turtles released, only 10 mature turtles will survive and come back to the same beach to lay their eggs. This is the reason why Sukamade beach was made into a turtle conservation facility and the rangers have continuously make a lot of effort to save as many eggs as they could find and release the baby turtles back into the sea. After having breakfast, we slowly made a move back to the 4WD driver's house. When we reached to the big river, the driver drove the jeep half way through the river and stopped the car so that all of us could walk in the cold refreshing water and of course, photo taking sessions. After having enough of photo taking, we continued our journey through the bumpy road.

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After packing our stuff back into Doni's car at the 4WD driver's house, we continued onwards to Lumajang which is about 7 hours' drive. On the way, we stopped to buy mineral water for cooking and drinking as well as some nuggets to be cooked at Semeru. This was actually the main highlight of our trip and I have been waiting since December 2015 to climb Mount Semeru, the highest mountain on Java. By the time we had almost reached to Ranu Pane village using the back road instead of Lumajang since Cahyo insisted to use that way to save time, it had started to drizzle so even though it was only 5pm, it was already dark. When we reached to Ranu Pane, we were blocked by a truck which was stuck in the muddy part of the road. In the end, we had no choice but to emergency pack the stuff that we need for the next 2 days in the dark and then carry it with us as we walk by foot towards the homestay. The homestay was pretty ok for a night stay just to sleep but was very cold at night so it feels like haven to have a hot shower as we won’t have any chance to shower for the next 2 days. We also made a joke on the bedsheet which happened to have a picture of the animation, Frozen which did fit the cold weather we were in at the moment. It was so cold that we had to sleep with our jacket, 2 layers of trousers and socks.

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Friday [1/7/2016] We woke up as early as 5.30am to prepare ourselves and pack all our stuff before having breakfast at 7am. After breakfast, we went out to see Ranu pane village while waiting for Cahyo and the porters to get ready with everything. It's a small quite village with dirt road and the locals just mainly walked by foot. We also took advantage of the only free internet service available near to the satellite which was placed near to the entrance going into the homestay. By 8am, we started walking towards the post to get permission to climb Semeru whereas 2 of our porters have already gone ahead of us while the extra porter cum guide that we hired to carry our bags were with us. After filling in all the necessary documents and submitting our health certificate, we were briefed about the rules and regulations, the dangers, the toilets as well as stories of fallen climbers while climbing the summit. Unfortunately, not many people attended the briefing since it’s only held at 8am and another one in the afternoon whereas a lot of climbers go up at different times of the day depending on what time they arrive at Ranu Pane.

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Passing by Watu Rejang and going to the first camping base, Ranu Kumbolo was not that difficult as long as you have the stamina to walk 10.5km and it took us less than 4 hours to reach. Since it had rained the night before, the weather was very cool and misty so the view of Ranu Kumbolo lake was very mystical but visibility was very low. There were some people resting and eating cooked instant noodles at the porters' shelter house. The air in the open was cold but inside the shelter house, it was warm and comfy. There were open air toilets which were very dirty with lots of wet tissues left inside the corner of each cubicle. If they had attended the briefing like we had before climbing up, they would have known that they were supposed to throw their rubbish inside the hole and not leaving them inside the cubicles which became smelly and attracted a lot of mosquitoes. After resting for 1 hour and having a plate of instant mi goreng and egg for lunch at the lake, we continued again towards the second camp base, Kalimati which was 7.5km away.

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The route this time started to get steeper in certain areas like at Tanjakan Cinta, then going down towards Oro-oro Ombo, a vast field of verbena flowers which people usually mistaken them for lavender because of the purple flowers and then up Cemoro Kandang again before reaching to the flat ground of Jambangan and then finally to Kalimati. We took less than 2 hours to reach there and we were lucky because shortly after we arrived at Kalimati, it started to rain again. Since our porters arrived there earlier, they managed to pitch our tent just below the roof of the porters' shelter house so at least our tent won’t be wet. The toilets were so clean here when we arrived since there weren't many of us and this base camp was only for the small numbers of climbers who intent to go up the summit compared to Ranu Kumbolo where a lot of people love to camp there just to enjoy the scenery of the lake. We had our early luxurious dinner of cabbage soup, fried chicken nugget and rice before 6pm and went to sleep by 8pm since I had to get ready before 12am to climb the summit while Kolin chose to stay at the base camp. Getting sleep was impossible because I was worried that it would still rain as I kept on hearing thunder sound (apparently, it turned out to be the sound of the roaring Semeru crater every time it puff out smoke every 20 mins or so). Plus I was also excited and yet worried about climbing up the summit since it's one of the biggest challenge I’ve ever done which I was also not sure if I could make it up there after reading blogs from people did and did not managed to reach to the summit whereas some of them experienced altitude sickness and climbing up 3,676m is the highest elevation that I have never climbed before since the highest volcano I’ve climbed in Indonesia so far was only 2,799m (Ijen volcano). But I do hope that I could make it since it’s the highest mountain on Java and said to be one of the toughest to climb. When I woke up around 11pm, some people with headlights who started off from Ranu Kumbolo were already on their way up to the summit which meant that they probably did not sleep at all since they need at least 1 to 2 hours to reach to Kalimati before starting the climb to the summit.

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Saturday [2/7/2016] We were supposed to start by 12am but because I was still trying to go to the toilet before going up (there was no way I could do my business on the way up except men were able to do so easily), the porter, Cahyo and me only started off from the base camp at about 12.15am and we were the last group to go up as those who were also staying at Kalimati had already gone off. I wouldn't say that I am fit compared to other people who hike regularly but I guess the cardio exercises I did at the gym did help a bit because we were able to catch up with the groups who left earlier than us once we were at Arcopodo and we were actually the first group to start climbing towards the summit. However, the climb became slow and difficult because we were walking on soft sand with gravel which was slippery so it was a struggle not to slip downwards if you stop for a while to rest and we were going directly from 2,700m towards 3,676m high on the steep slope all the way up to the summit. There were parts with big rocks with lesser gravels where you can climb up faster but we were told not to use those parts as the rocks tend to fall. Of course, there were some ignorant Europeans who didn’t care for the safety of others but rather wanted to reach to the top first (even though Cahyo and porter did repeatedly told them not use that part), so a few of them overshoot us but there were still a lot of climbers who were still far behind us. It’s also funny how the Semeru porters love to use time instead of distance when you ask them how far more to the summit. The first time I asked our porter cum guide how far more (since the summit looked close in the dark), he said 30 mins but that 30 mins turned to be 1 hour and yet we were not anywhere near to the summit. Then the next time I asked him the same question, he said 10 mins but 10 mins went by and yet I still didn’t even see the summit anywhere near. The last 1 hour was the most challenging climb for me as my ankles were already aching so much with the steep gradient of the slope and I had to stop to rest after every few steps up. At one point, I said to myself that if my ankles really gave way, I have to call it quits even though we were already almost (though not yet) near to the summit but fortunately, Cahyo, the porter and another climber decided to really stop and take a rest on the big rocks. So we just sat down, munch on some snacks (I was starting to get hungry actually) and just enjoy the night view for a while and it felt so good to have a "short" break and sit down like that. Then when I saw that the sky was starting turning slightly blue in colour (it was close to 5am), I reminded myself that we have to reach to the summit before sunrise. So we started again and apparently, they didn't tell me that we were actually near the summit already before we sat down to rest! So we continued for another 15 minutes climb through the big rocks and we finally arrived at the summit!! How many of you have experienced this before that no matter how tired you felt while climbing for almost 5 hours, the feeling of finally reaching to the summit was just amazing and you don’t even feel the pain and exhaustion anymore?

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Yayyy!!! I've made it to the highest mountain on Java and it's so freezing cold so it was also good that we didn’t reach up too early or else we won’t be able to stand so long there to see the sunrise. A lot of climbers especially the European group had already gone down after taking a few photos at the summit since they did not wear proper clothing and were freezing their butt off. We were the last 3 groups to go down the summit at 6am because we were waiting for the crater to puff up smoke again so that we could take photo with it which took quite a while of waiting even though we were very cold but it was worth the wait. Going down the summit was no different than climbing the summit. Even though it took only 2½ hours to go down, it was just as slippery as going up so just like an inexperienced skier, I kept on slipping while the others had no problem going down without slipping. Note to self - need to learn and practice the Indonesian technique of going down slippery volcanoes without slipping at all since they kept on saying that it's not the sole of the shoes but the technique of balancing the body.

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Since it was impossible to have simple breakfast of bread and jam at the summit, we had it on the way down at Cemoro Tunggal where it marks the end of Arcopodo and the start of the rocky and sandy slope up the summit. After resting for a while, we headed back to the base camp and I was surprised at first to see the Europeans sunbathing on the ground. It was a funny sight to see them since they normally do that at the beach and this is like 2700m above sea level on a mountain. While waiting for breakfast to be served, I checked out the view of Semeru from the toilet as mentioned by the Semeru volunteer during the briefing and yes, indeed it is true that we can see the beautiful scenery of Semeru while we do our business but unfortunately, there is a tall tree now growing in front of the toilet so blocking the view of Semeru. Fried rice was served as breakfast (all the burnt calories down the drain) and by then, the sun was bright and hot. Initially I planned that we go down to Ranu Kumbolo base camp after lunch so that we could rest a bit first but after resting until 9am inside the tent, I couldn’t stand the heat of the sun any longer so I decided that we should go down to Ranu Kumbolo as soon as they packed up everything because the lake would be cooler than at Kalimati with the wind and also Kolin would spend all her time there while we rested.

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It was a good decision to go down to Ranu Kumbolo before my legs started to ache and I was able to wash myself with a small towel at the lake (better than having no bath at all) and change my clothes before more people came to the lake for camping. Since we had heavy breakfast, we decided not to have lunch since we were still full and I couldn't keep my eyes shut even though I was resting in the tent. By 5pm, it was starting to get cold and as time passes, the whole camping ground was full of tents and campers. Dinner was yet another luxury for us as Pak Omar, our head porter cooked for us rice, vegetable soup with sausage, stewed potatoes, fried chicken wings and nuggets compared to other campers who only cooked mi goreng. We decided to go to sleep early but it was impossible with all the noises and conversations going on outside our tent. Unfortunately, no matter how tired I was, I just couldn't sleep at all that night because not only the ground was very hard but it was too cold and people were snoring around me.

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Sunday [3/7/2016] Since I couldn’t sleep at all, I woke up before 5.30am to see the sunrise from the lake without having to go out from our tent. Initially, there wasn't much to see at the lake but as the sun started to rise, you can see mists forming on the lake and it's just amazing. After having a short walk and packing up our stuff, we had a huge breakfast of rice with fried chicken wings and nuggets again. By 8.30am, we started walking back to Ranu Pane at a relaxing pace. Since it was Sunday, more people were coming up as we were going down and we even met a group of Indonesian rescuers who were sent once again to search for the Swiss national who went missing while climbing Semeru on 3rd June 2016. Good luck to them as it has already been almost a month since that guy went missing. With almost 48 hours of no sleep at all, I still managed to walk 10.5km back to Ranu Pane without feeling sleepy at all though my thighs were aching now and I just realized that I got sunburnt on my arms. Once we reached to the village, we rested at Pak Omar's house while waiting for a driver to pick us up. We used the Lumajang road this time to head towards the place where Doni was waiting for us and on the way, we stopped at the roadside to see the savanah of Bromo which is located at the back of Bromo which I did not go to when I was at Bromo. This savanah area is also known as the Teletubbies hill because it resembles the landscape picture of the green hills where Teletubbies played. How similar it actually looks like, I don't know since I don't watch Teletubbies.

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After meeting up with Doni at the entrance to a waterfall and transferring all our stuff to his car, we headed off to Malang which was a 2 hour drive from Ranu Pane. I didn’t even sleep much in the car and since we had a heavy breakfast, we didn't stop for lunch. In Malang, we went to see the bird and flower market, Ijen boulevard which consist of old fashioned Dutch architecture houses that have never changed for decades, Kayu tangan church and the Tugu Malang square. By the time we were done with sightseeing, we started to feel hungry again and since Malang is Doni's hometown, he brought us to a stall selling special grilled bakso. It's either we were hungry or the meatballs were really delicious especially with the sweet gravy as we finished everything in our bowl. By the time we checked in Ibis hotel, I was so dead tired and since we had late lunch, we did not have the appetite to eat dinner. After having a nice shower and relaxing a bit, we decided to go to bed early but I didn’t sleep much because lying still made my body ached even more.

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Monday [4/7/2016] Batu in Malang is famous for apples so we went to the plantation to pick them. Since we paid for the entrance ticket to go to an apple plantation, we could eat as many apples as we can for free in the plantation but we have to pay for them if we want to take them back with us. Unlike the green apples sold in Brunei which is usually slightly sourish, the green apples in this farm were quite sweet even though their size is small. Since it wasn't expensive to buy the apples, we filled our plastic bag with some apples to eat during our trip. After that, we went to look for strawberry plantation since Kolin has never picked strawberries before. Unfortunately since it was near to Idul Fitri, a lot of the strawberry home industry have closed for the festival. Fortunately, there was a lady watering her strawberry plants but she told us that the strawberries had already been picked earlier that morning so what was left were small unripe ones which was pretty sour or are not really good already compared to the ones I've handpicked in Chiang Mai. Then we headed to Coban Rondo waterfall which to me was not as impressive as Grojogan Sewu waterfall. The last place that we went to was Mount Kelud which I was quite disappointed because I expected to see something since Cahyo did not inform me that after the 2014 eruption, everything was destroyed and now what was left was only flat ground. The road was damaged so we couldn't proceed any further to where the hot springs used to be. In the end, we just walked up to the highest part of the road where it was torn apart to see what was left after the explosion and came down after that. On the way back towards town, we passed through a signboard about the mysterious road which even gave instructions on what to do with the car. According to the signboard, the vehicle will go up even when the engine is turned off but when we tried it twice, nothing happened so in the end, we gave up and headed towards Bukit Daun hotel. The room in Bukit Daun hotel was lovely and most things are made of solid wood. The door has a traditional lock like in the olden days before modern locks were invented where you have to push the block of wood through a hole. The toilet was also nice as the there are steps going up into a hole which was meant to act as a bath tub but none of us was bothered to fill it up because it will take a long time and we were just so tired. After having dinner, we rested early but once again, I couldn't sleep much even though I was so tired as my body was still aching if I lay still. Probably the beds were not comfortable which caused my already aching body to ache even more if I am not moving at all.

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Tuesday [5/7/2016] To have our breakfast, we have to walk to the riverside cafe which was located next to a small river. The breakfast was simple but filling and it was pretty relaxing to hear the sound of the river flowing by. After breakfast, we did our packing and waited for Cahyo and Doni to pick us up to go to Pacitan. It was a 5 hours drive, going around the curvy mountainous road to goa Gong which is claimed to be the most beautiful cave in South East Asia. The cave was full of stalactite and stalagmite and it is called goa Gong because they say that when you hit on the stalactite and stalagmite, it sounds like a gong. We were also told that Pacitan is actually famous for precious stones and is known as the city with 1001 caves because there are so many caves around. After exiting from the cave on the way out, there were small stalls selling stones, t-shirts and food souvenirs for visitors. I bought one of Pacitan's souvenir called 'sale pisang' or steamed banana slice which is rolled into a ball shape and then wrapped with plastic and coloured paper. Each of these balls are then tied together to form a bunch of grape. It's very unique and beautifully wrapped so I bought some to give as souvenir for my colleagues. We then drove to Klayar beach and finally to Banyu Tibo beach. Both beaches have blue waters and the waves are quite strong. The uniqueness of Klayar beach is that the waves have carve one of the rock into the shape of a sphinx whereas in Banyu Tibo, one could see the coral pools in the rocks during low tide. Unfortunately by the time we reached to Banyu Tibo beach, the sun was starting to set so the tide was very high already to see the coral pools near to the shore. We stayed overnight at Prasasti Hotel which is a very basic but one of the top hotel in Pacitan which did not have any restaurant service except for breakfast. Since it was the eve of Idul Fitri, a lot of eateries have closed early as their workers went back to their hometown but we were lucky enough to still have a simple dinner at a satay stall. While waiting for our satay, we witnessed trucks with people playing traditional music passing by to announce the arrival of Idul Fitri around the city which was pretty interesting as we do not have this tradition in Brunei. Since our hotel is near to the road, it was pretty noisy as the convoy was going around and people playing fireworks but due to tiredness, we were still able to sleep through the loud noise.

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Wednesday [6/7/2016] After breakfast, we headed off to Pindul cave which is located in the Gunung Kidul region, Yogyakarta. It was a good thing that there were not many cars on the road as many people have gone back to their hometown for lebaran so by the time we reached to Pindul area, it was noon time. After preparing ourselves to get wet, we were ready for a wet adventure. We went up a small pick up truck filled with our rubber tubes and headed for Pindul cave tubing first. The water and the cave was cool but unfortunately, we did not bring any headlamps so we were basically floating in the water and being pulled in the dark for at least 30 mins by the guide. After coming out from the dark cave, we waited for another pick up to bring us to the other side of the village to do river tubing. There were quite a lot of people doing river tubing so it was a bit crowded in the river. Since it had not rained for quite a while, the current was not very strong but we still could move if we were in the middle of the river. However, further downstream, the guides had to pull us along because the current wasn’t strong enough. It would be more fun if the current was more rapid. Then we reached to the Kali Oyo Waterfall where we got off our rubber tube and climbed up the rocks to go up the ladder if we want to try jumping into the river from the platform which was about 10m high. Cahyo initially wanted to try but changed his mind when he was getting ready to jump because he said that it looked really high from above. Then we got back to our rubber tube and continued to float down the river. Half way after asking the guide whether if the river was deep or not, I decided to just get off from the rubber tube and floated (as well as swam) in the water to cool off because the tube was getting hot. Cahyo did the same but Kolin was the only one still sitting on the tube. After having a quick shower and changing our clothes, we headed towards Yogyakarta.

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The first thing we did after arriving to Yogyakarta city was to check out if Legian Garden restaurant in Jalan Maliboro was open since as what Wisnu had told me I was in Yogyakarta the first time, even though Doni and Cahyo had been to Yogyakarta before, they had never eaten there before since they thought it is expensive. Unfortunately, that restaurant was closed so we had to find another place to have our late lunch. Doni brought us to an alley where there were a number of cheap homestay for backpackers and we decided to try a Balinese restaurant which was just starting business so we were their first customers for that day. After stuffing ourselves with seafood, we headed back to Jalan Maliboro to check into Ibis hotel. Apparently, it's located at the end of the Jalan Dagen, the same road where I stayed in Whiz hotel last time. So after freshing up a bit, Kolin and I walked by foot to Jalan Maliboro. We did a bit of shopping for souvenirs but a lot of the shops were still closed due to the lebaran celebration.

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Thursday [7/7/2016] Since we had to check out from the hotel at 6am to catch our train at 6.45am to Surabaya, the hotel was kind enough to pack our breakfast in a box which consist of buns, croissant, jam, butter and a bottle of orange juice which is better than nothing at all. The train station was so near to the hotel so I didn't know why Cahyo even bothered to use a taxi for us. I actually discussed with him before we went to Indonesia that his service will end after dropping us in Yogyakarta since we will taking the train back to Surabaya but it seemed like he didn’t trust that we could arrive to Surabaya on our own without him so he decided to come along with us. It took 5½ hours to reach to Surabaya by train and Doni met up with us at the train station since our luggage was with him. The road of Surabaya was pretty deserted which was an uncommon sight on normal days. We had lunch first before they sent us to our hotel which is just opposite Tunjungan Plaza. Since we are on our own now, we decided to spend our time at Tunjungan Plaza. Initially we thought it was a huge mall with 5 different blocks but it turned out that it was pretty small and we had actually gone through the 5 blocks of shops without even realising it when we checked with the receptionist. Since there were only some shops that we were interested in, after having dinner we went back to the hotel even though it was still early at night.

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Friday [8/7/2016] Since today was our last day before going back to Brunei and we didn't have any plans, we decided to check out a few 'pasar' or market. The nearest one to our hotel is Pasar Genteng which is just walking distance. On the way to that pasar, there were also a lot of small souvenir shops but we decided to go to the pasar first. After going a short round on the ground floor of the pasar with nothing much to see as most of the tenants were not back yet from their hometown, we headed slowly back to our hotel but stopped by every shop selling food souvenirs just to check out whether if there was anything interesting to buy. We came across a bakery shop selling cookies and steamed brownies topped with shredded cheddar cheese and fortunately, since we were going back to Brunei tomorrow, I decided to buy a chocolate brownie and original brownie (a layer of vanilla and a layer of chocolate with cream cheese in between) which was nicely packed in boxes already and boy, it was the most delicious brownie I have ever tasted! It's soft, moist and so flavorful compared to baked brownies. With all the food souvenirs checked off from our list, we decided to go back to the hotel and put everything in our room first before grabbing a taxi to go to Pasar Atom since it was not even midday yet.

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We did not know what to expect from Pasar Atom because all I know is that there is a new and old block and they sell textiles. The taxi driver dropped us off at the old block so we started going around from the highest floor just to see if there were anything interesting to buy. Half of shops were still closed due to lebaran so we only bought a few batik materials. There were also express tailors who can finish your dress in an hour and tailors who can sew a see through transparent rain cover for your luggage but in order for them to do so, you had to bring your luggage to them so that they can take all the necessary measurements. There's also stall selling Korean ice cream where instead of using the normal ice cream cone, they used activated black charcoal fish shaped waffle as the cone and it looks interesting. I was so tempted to try it but since we haven't had lunch yet, I planned to have it later. There are food courts on both blocks but boy, were the queues long everywhere and every seats were taken since there were a lot of Indonesian who came to Surabaya for holiday. In the end, we decided to eat at Navy Seals, a fast food eatery which has no queue compared to the other eateries and it tasted quite good actually. Since we were full and we planned to go to the ITC shopping mall opposite Pasar Atom, I ended up not buying the Korean ice cream as planned but after that I kind of regretted it because there were no other places selling it unless I come back to Pasar Atom next time. ITC shopping mall is newer than Pasar Atom but has few tenants and visitors compared to Pasar Atom. Nevertheless, there is always something for us to buy everywhere we went so we ended buying a few bags and some small souvenirs. After covering the mall, we took the taxi back to our hotel just to put the things we bought and went across to Tunjungan Plaza again for early dinner so that we could come back early to do our packing since our flight is early next morning. We ended up having dinner at Fish and Co which is slightly cheaper than in Brunei but the taste is similar which is good.

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Saturday [9/7/2016] We had to wake up super early since our flight is at 6.30am. By 4am, we checked out and waited for a taxi to drive us to the airport. Although Junada is an international airport, it is a small one where there were only 2 duty free shops selling food souvenirs, perfumes and cosmetics which was not 24 hours and Starbucks in the departure hall. While waiting to board the plane, we were so sleepy because we woke up very early so I just couldn't wait to sit in the plane and sleep all the way back to Brunei. Oh well, as exhaustion sets in after all the adventure we did, it was still a trip I would never forget especially the experience going up the summit of mount Semeru. Maybe one day, I will go back and scale up to the summit of mount Semeru again just to see whether if I can break my existing record ;)

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Posted by Lingering 20:03 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Central Java - East Java - Bali

Yogyakarta - Solo - Mount Bromo - Ijen crater - Bali

sunny 33 °C

Saturday (6/12/2014) I am looking forward to my Indonesia trip as I will be going on an overland tour from Java to Bali and since it's my first time to Indonesia, I am not sure what to expect actually. Unfortunately, I was on the same flight to Denpasar with a big group of China tourists who were not only very loud and also very impatient at airport. Fortunately, they weren't that noisy on the plane. We arrived in Denpasar, Bali at 11.10pm (not a perfect time to arrive in a foreign country but then, that's the only flight per day available) and the immigration was very efficient and fast as it only took a few minutes to pass through. However, waiting for the luggage to come out on the carousel took ages. I was advised to find Bluebird taxi as they are the cheapest among all the Bali taxis but couldn't find any and ended having to take the Airport taxi where the driver charged 100,000 rupiah at first but in the end, he agreed to lower it to 90,000 rupiah so that he could go home after that. The Airport Kuta Hotel and Residence was only a few minute drive from airport. For transiting purpose, it is alright but not for long stay.

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Sunday (7/12/2014) I had to wake up at 5.30am to catch the Airasia flight to Yogyakarta at 7.50am. The bellboy was nice enough to call the Bluebird taxi for me and I was charged only 30,000 rupiah which was 1/3 the price of the airport taxi. The driver told me that Bluebird taxis are only allowed to go in to the domestic terminal but not the international terminal. After a 2 hour flight, we landed at Yogyakarta airport which was even smaller than Pontianak's airport at 8am (Java is 1 hour behind Bali) and saw Wisnu holding a paper with my name on it. He's a friendly guy and told me that I'm his 1st client from Brunei and thought I was a German at first because of my name. He took me to have breakfast first and we had soto campur which looks more like cooked rice soaked in soup to me since the soto we have in Brunei consist of noodle.

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To start off the trip, we went to Prambanan temple, a UNESCO world heritage site first which used to have 240 Hindu temples but most of them were destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. Only the main complex temples were restored while rest are still left in ruin. Each of the 3 Trimurti (main) temple is dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma where as the 3 vahana temples which is in front of the Trimurti temples are dedicated to the vahana of each gods: Nandi, Garuda, and Hamsa. After taking some photos and talking about the Java kingdom based on my memory about the Majapahit kingdom we learnt in school decades ago, we slowly walked towards the exit where it so happened that there is a cultural performance since it is a weekend. According to Wisnu, there are different groups performing every Sunday and this time, it is the Kuda kepang Peramban group which put on quite an interesting performance because of the energetic dance movements by the 5 dancers who wore mask, then followed by the kuda kepang dancers who were possessed by spirits which were called by the dukun.

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We then headed towards Mount Merapi (Fire mountain) and on the way, we stopped for lunch in an open bamboo hut. I tried the minuman raja which is a spicy herbal tea with lemon grass in it. After lunch, we made our way to Mount Merapi whereby the 2010 eruption was the largest in the history as over 350,000 people were evacuated from the affected area and 353 people who remained behind or returned to their homes while the eruptions were continuing were killed during the eruptions. We stopped at the last village, Selo and took a jeep tour towards the base camp of Mount Merapi where the bunker is at. By then the clouds had come down and covered Mount Merapi while the wind was getting colder. It was a bumpy ride all the way but fun. We stopped at a private mini museum whereby the owner of the house displayed all their personal things that were destroyed by the volcanic eruption on 5th November 2010. The owner also set up a sign for people to reflect on the meaning of life after seeing the aftermath of the 2010 volcanic eruption. Since Mount Merapi is known to be active every 5 years, I wonder, would an eruption occur again in 2015?

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We then finally head back to the city where I checked into Whiz hotel which is less than a minute walk to Maliboro road. It's a pretty nice new hotel, and although the single room is small, it still more spacious than the hotels in Singapore and Hong Kong. After resting for a while, I went and checked out what is happening along Maliboro street. There were lots of shops selling batik and souvenirs of the same kind. I bought 2 boxes of the dry type of bakpia pathok which are small, round-shaped Indonesian Chinese-influenced sweet rolls and I chose the various flavors (pineapple, red bean, cheese and durian) and as well as a unique batik blazer with blue patterns which was only sold in that particular batik shop. Since Wisnu recommended to have dinner at Legian garden restaurant, I decided to give it a try. It has a nice interior setting overlooking Maliboro street and the price of the food price is moderate. I ordered Padang gulai kambing which is Padang style lamb curry which was nice and minuman raja again which this time they added ginger instead of lemon grass into the herbal tea. Interesting start for first day in Java.

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Monday (8/12/2014) I had to wake up at 4am as Wisnu said he will come at 5am to pick me up since it is a 1 hour drive to Borobudur, a Buddhist temple which is another UNESCO World Heritage site and then another 3 hour drive to Dieng Plateau. On the way, it drizzled a bit but by the time we arrived at Borobudur at 6.15am, the sky was clear and the sun came out. I hired a guide, Dariyat who is very friendly and very knowledgeable in the history and structure of Borobudur. He explained about each set of picture carvings and the missing parts of the Buddha statue as well as the interlocking system of each stone which was genius for the olden days. There are altogether 10 levels which is divided into 3 parts that represent the human body. The bottom 2 levels with no carvings represent the lower part of the body (the worldly desire), the 2 sets of 4 levels with Buddha sculptures and carvings represent the upper body (the control of our worldly desires and the top stupa represents nirvana. Borobudur is also the holy site for Buddhism where Buddhists from all over the world come to do pilgrimage during Vesak. I was also told by Dariyat that Vatican city has a miniature model of Borobudur. After taking some photos, we headed to the car park where I had breakfast before we headed towards Dieng Plateau.

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After 3 hours on the road, we finally reached to Dieng Plateau which is a marshy plateau located 2,000m above sea level that forms the floor of a caldera complex on the Dieng Volcanic Complex near Wonosobo. The name "Dieng" comes from Di Hyang which means "Abode of the Gods". Being high up, the weather was pretty cool even though the sun was shining brightly. The first place we stopped to see is the colour lake which Wisnu suggested that we climb up higher to see the colours rather than paying 100,000 rupiah just to walk to the edge of the lake and see the green colour only. When it is cloudy, the colour of the lake is very clear light green colour at the edge and darker green in the middle but when the sun is shining fully, the colours seen are yellow, green and purple. Unfortunately, since it was cloudy when we were at the top, we only saw green colour. Even at the top of the hill, I could smell something like chicken manure which I thought the farmers used for growing vegetables nearby. However, when we reached to Sikidang crater, the same smell was there but more stronger and that's when I realised that the smell at the colour lake was actually the sulphur smell instead of chicken manure. Sikidang crater is named after a deer as the crater moves from 1 spot to another after all the sulphur has reacted with the hot water. According to Wisnu, the main crater has gotten bigger after being active for 17 years already. I asked Wisnu about the strength of sulphur smell at Ijen crater and he said it is even stronger there compared to what we smell here. Our last stop for today is the Arjuna temple complex which is a small group of the oldest Hindu temple found in Java. We arrived back at Whiz Hotel at 5.30pm. Since it was still early, I rested for a while before going out to find the souvenir shop that Wisnu recommended which is at the end of Maliboro road. After walking some distance, I finally found Mirota Batik shop which is just opposite Beringharjo market. They have various batik clothing on the ground floor and Javanese souvenirs on the first floor. I bought some souvenirs to be given away as well as Javanese dolls for my doll collection from each country.

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Tuesday (9/12/2014) I tried nasi gudeg, made from unripe jackfruit boiled with palm sugar and coconut milk for breakfast which was nice as it is not so sweet. Today would be a pretty relaxing day as Wisnu picked me up at 9am. We went to the Keraton where the Sultan of Yogyakarta still reside with his family. It is a bungalow wooden structure complex built since the 1st sultan and I was told that the wood have never been replaced as they are made of teakwood. It is pretty impressive as there are lots of carvings covered with gold leaf. At the entrance of the palace, there are 2 palace gods; the one on the right side is the good god whereas the one on the left is the bad god. There are altogether 2000 staffs who works for 24 hours 2 times each month and I was told that the youngest guard is only 6 years old. We were not allowed to step on the area where the sultan and his family still lives which looks pretty simple from the outside but I was told that they have their own swimming pool and garage for their luxurious cars behind the compound which cannot be seen by the public. The wedding palanquin used by the 7th sultan is also on display but not used anymore as the 8th and 9th sultan used a mercedes when they got married while the current king (10th king) used a lambourgini during his wedding procession. There were displays of souvenirs to the king from other countries and the marble floors at the reception hall which is still used was given by Italy while the Chinese vases around the compound was given by China. We then listen to a group of musicians playing Javanese music with the traditional instruments which the sultan listens to go to sleep but I didn't stay long to hear the ladies sing.

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As it started to rain again, Wisnu suggested we go to Ganjuran church first instead of the Water Palace which is in open air. Ganjuran church is the oldest catholic church in Yogyakarta that has Javanese influence. The church is an open building with extravagant carvings on the ceiling. The altar is also nicely carved but the funny thing is that the sculpture of the angels and Jesus has the face of a Hindu man. Even the Jesus statue in the temple look like a Javanese man. The most impressive thing about this church I would say is the striking colour and the detailed carvings on the ceiling in the middle of the open air church. There were so many pews that this church can easily fit at least 1000 people. Then we headed to see the coffee luwak home industry. They have the dried faeces of the civet cat and the form the coffee bean seeds came out. The owner kept 3 civet cats where 1 is from Java while the rest is from Sumatra. The black tame civet cat was with them since it was 3 only months old and it is bigger than the other 2 cats. I ended buying the strong and mildly roasted powder luwak coffee even though I am not a coffee drinker. But since it is said to have health benefits and no caffeine, just adding 1 teaspoon of it is ok I guess. It wasn't cheap at all as 100g cost 500,000 rupiah but since I bought 2 different types of luwak coffee, I was charged only 450,000 rupiah for each packet. The owner is a very friendly guy, used to work in a cafe in Holland for 6 years and is also an artist which he told me that he will be holding an art exhibition in Hong Kong. I also took the opportunity to ask him if I can take photo with his tame civet cat which fortunately he said ok.

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Then we went to the Taman Sari Water Palace which was pretty small. It has 3 swimming pools. 1 for the wife and children and another for the concubines which is opposite of each other whereas the sultan's pool is on the other part of the building. There were also individual changing rooms for the children, wife and the sultan as well as a sauna room only for the king! Then comes the selling part, batik. Although it is hand drawn and very nice especially the dragons, Hindu gods and phoenix, they are also very expensive. I only bought a small batik sheet with picture of parrot which cost 500,000 rupiah. Then my guide wanted me to buy batik again which he said is drawn by his daughter which I only bought 1 as it is expensive also for a small piece of drawing. After that, since Fort Venderburg museum is near to Beringharjo market which is not too far from Whiz hotel, I told Wisnu that he can just drop me at the fort and I can walk back to the hotel. This gives me the chance to take my sweet time taking photos. So I went inside Fort Venderburg which was built by the Dutch but now it has been turned into a museum. It mostly shows how the Indonesians overthrew the Dutch and how they formed their own national party after that. A few buildings were locked as they were doing maintenance so basically, there were only 3 gallery for the public to see. Then I walked to Beringharjo market where there were people selling food, snacks and bakpia (without even covering them). Can you imagine how hygienic the food is in these type of stalls with lots of people passing by every second. Inside Beringharjo market, there were batik stalls everywhere. Since I am not a big fan of batik clothes, I went to see the other levels where they were selling clothes, dried snacks and there's even a food court on the very top floor. Then I went to the opposite market which is linked to Beringharjo market. This market is much more older and quite dirty. A lot of food stalls on the ground floor have closed as it was already 4pm. After a hot day outside, I went back to the hotel to pack all of my stuffs since we will be going to Solo and staying overnight at Sarangan lake area before heading towards Mount Bromo.

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Wednesday (10/12/2014) Today, I checked out from Whiz hotel and proceeded to Solo. This time, Wisnu asked his friend, Nepo to come along as he would be tired after hiking with me. We drove 2 hours to Solo to visit Mangkunegaran Palace, the residence of the Solo sultan who has no power unlike the sultan of Yogyakarta who is the governor. However, the main hall is bigger than the hall of Keraton palace and has more western ornaments. The sultan has a private collection of limited edition things including a stuffed Sumatran tiger. Then after the tour, I watched the dancers rehearse for their performance a bit which was very different from the traditional Javanese dance as they have very slow but elegant moves. Then we drove 1 hour to Sukuh temple which is located on the western slope of Mount Lawu, 910m above sea level on the border between central and east Java province. Since it was drizzling slightly, the wind was cold. Sukuh temple is a Javanese Hindu temple with elements of the Mayan architecture. It also has sex ornaments which is the womb and the penis since life before birth and sexual education are its main theme. We decided to have rabbit satay for lunch since we were going to pass through a village that sells rabbit satay which is on the way to Sarangan lake. Like frog leg, rabbit meat actually tasted like chicken. Since we were in Tawangmangu area, Wisnu asked me if I am interested to see Grojogan Sewu waterfall. Since it was raining and we were already there, I decided to go and check out the waterfall. I didn't know we have to climb so many steps down to see the waterfall and so many steps up again just to go to the car park. Wisnu did warn me about monkeys and sure enough, a male monkey snatched my folded raincoat away thinking it was food but I managed to snatch it back from him. It was a good thing that it rained while I climbed down the steps or else I will be sweating because of the high humidity. With the height of 81m, the waterfall is quite impressive. After taking some photos, it was time to go back up which took quite some time also since there were also lots of steps. At the last step, a signboard inform visitors that they have climbed down and up 1250 steps which is a very good workout! After that, we drove another 30 minutes to Sarangan lake where we stayed at Sarangan hotel which looks pretty old but has nice rooms. I stayed in a superior room which has a large double bed, toilet, wardrobe and living room with a fire place. The scenery was nice and the wind was cold. After settling down for a while, we walked down to the lake to see what people were doing. Some took a speed boat ride around the lake whereas few men were fishing. After that 3 of us sat at the patio of the hotel area and just chatted before going for dinner. Since it was cold, it was so nice to eat nasi rawon, rice that is soaked in black broth with meat.

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Thursday (11/12/2014) After waiting for a long time for the water in the shower to get hot, I went for breakfast at 8am. I hardly have rice for breakfast in Brunei but in Indonesia, every breakfast consist of rice and today, it was no different but bigger portion as it can be eaten by at least 2 person. We then got ready for our 9 hour journey to Mount Bromo. For a break from the long drive, we had lunch in a restaurant which also sells Indonesian snacks. It was my first time seeing strawberry, grape and mango mixed with kiwi crackers so I decided to buy each flavour. It was funny to taste the strawberry cracker because it has strawberry smell and taste and it taste sweet also. When we reached to Bromo Permai, it was already after 5pm. The clouds have come down and the wind was very cold. There were people selling woolen hats with the Bromo word, scarf and gloves and since it was already cold now, I felt that it would be even colder when we go and watch the sunrise early in the morning so I bought a pair of gloves and the woolen hat as souvenir. Wisnu arranged for the Bromo jeep to pick us up at 3.30am which will bring us up to Mount Panajakan first to see the sunrise and then to Mount Bromo before going back to hotel. I went to bed at 9pm since I had to wake up at 2.30am later on.

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Friday (12/12/2014) Our jeep came at 3.30am and the driver drove at least half an hour before we reached to the dropping area at Mount Panajakan where a lot of jeeps were already there. Since the sun start to rise 5am and we reached to the top at 4am, we had a hot drink first while waiting until close to 4.30am before going up to the view point. There were already a lot of people taking photos while waiting for the sun to rise. The sun finally came out slowly for a while before it was covered by the clouds. The view wasn't that clear because of the thick clouds but I could see the peak of Mount Semaru, the highest mountain in Java while the top part of Mount Batuk and Mount Bromo were covered by the clouds. After taking enough photos, we headed towards Mount Bromo where the driver first stop near to Mount Batuk for me to take photos. I really loved the jeep, it was so cool! Then we drove to Mount Bromo where we had to walk quite a distance for almost half an hour before reaching to the 250 steps up to the top of crater where there is a 1m wide ledge for people to gaze into the steaming crater. . While walking, I felt so hot so I had to take off the jacket and enjoyed the cool breeze. Going up the steep, small steps were torturing and most people have to stop a few times along the steps to catch their breathe before finally reaching to the top. The view from the top of Mount Bromo is just spectacular. You can see Pura Luhur Poten, the miniature people as well as the neatly parked rows of jeeps. Going down Mount Bromo was more easier than going up and we were done with it by 7am. We headed back to hotel for breakfast before checking out at 9am for another 5 hour drive to Ijen crater. On the way, we stopped by at a restaurant at Pasir Putih beach to have lunch. The sands were white and there were many Javanese traditional wooden boats. After lunch, we continued our journey and by that time exhaustion sets it so I took a nap for a while.

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By the time we reached to Arabika homestay that produces Arabica coffee at 4pm, since it was still bright so I decided to look around. I went down to the strawberry farm to check out if there are any strawberries are for sell and on the way, I met 2 girls riding a motorcycle. After talking for a while, they offered me a lift to the strawberry farm. The man in charge of that strawberry farm told me that the ripe strawberries have already been plucked in the morning but I can still pluck any ripe ones that I see and eat it. They only sell the strawberries for 10,000 rupiah which is less than B$1.20 whereas a punnet of Indonesian strawberries sold in Brunei is about B$5.60. Since there weren't much ripe strawberries, I decided to head back to the homestay and on the way back, I met and chatted with some local boys who were playing at the football field next to the strawberry farm. They were friendly and very funny because a few of them tried to impress me by speaking in English but they do not even understand at all when I spoke English to them! I took some of photos of them which they were so eager and excited and they showed me the waterfall in their village. Then I headed up and have to rest early because we will check out of the homestay at midnight to go for the Blue Fire tour which will start at 1am!

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Saturday (13/12/2014) Cahyo was my guide for the Blue Fire tour and we started the hike at 1.30am where we trek for 3km upwards to the top of the crater and then going down the crater for 1km to see the blue flame. It's a big challenge as i have never hike this early in the morning plus lacking of sleep from the night before but I'm glad I managed to do it even though it took me 2 hours to reach to the bottom of the crater as the second km was very steep and the hike down the crater is very stony and pitch black. Unfortunately since it drizzled earlier, the clouds were very heavy and there were a lot of fumes which couldn't rise up so the sulphur smell was pretty strong especially if the wind was blowing. We saw a bit of the blue flame when the wind died down for a few second but the fumes became so strong that a lot of people couldn't stand it. Cahyo brought me up towards the crater half way already before deciding to head back down to the crater again to hopefully have a better luck to see the blue flame better this time. The wind did not die down at all but at least we got to see the blue flame stronger this time even though it was for a short while. When the sky was getting a bit brighter and it became so smoky, we couldn't even see the clear blue lake so we slowly hike up to the top of crater at 5am and the sulphur carriers have started to carry their load up also. It's amazing how they could stand the strong fumes and carry the heavy sulphur which weight up to between 70kg to 100kg per trip up the crater whereas we were already coughing and the fume were burning our eyes just for the short time we were there. Cahyo is a nice chatty guy and he was talking about his hiking experiences up the mountains in Indonesia and even introduced his specialised mountain tours. It is very tempting to follow him especially to climb Mount Semeru but I need to do more hiking and build up my stamina first before I attempt it since it will take 2 days to hike up that mountain. We got back to the parking area at 6am and rested for a while and chatted with Wisnu. Then we left for Ketapang at 7am since Wisnu has arranged with my Bali driver to pick me up by 10am. I was very exhausted and straight away slept the whole time in the car and was glad that I managed to catch 1 hour of sleep. By the time i woke up, we were almost near to Ketapang harbour. After bidding farewell to Wisnu and Nepo, I bought the ferry ticket for 8,000 rupiah to Bali. On the ferry, I had to leave my luggage at the bottom of staircase and went up to sit. A lot of local people were going to Bali whereas it was only me and a foreign couple who were foreigners. We arrived at Gilimanuk at 10am and the first thing that hit me was that weather is extremely hot! I met up with Buda who is not bad looking but unfortunately, his service is not as good as Javanese drivers cum guide. For lunch, he tend to bring to expensive touristic restaurants and does not know much information about each place.

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Before checking into the hotel in Lovina, we went to see Brahma Vihara Arama, a Buddhist Monastery which I expected Buda to introduce the history a bit or at least know something when I asked him questions related to the temple but he doesn't even know much at all since his experience is on managing restaurants and has only worked in this line for 3 years. There is a miniature Borobudur. Next, we went to see Banjar hot spring where people were swimming in it and if I was not that exhausted, I would have actually wanted to take a bath there since not only do I feel hot and sticky but also smelt of sulphur since I didn't have the chance to take a shower after climbing Ijen crater. I was so glad by the time we reached to the hotel which was a small simple one but the service and the room is pretty good and even the toilet is nicely decorated in Balinese style. I took a rest for a while before going out to check what is near to the beach. Even though it was close to 6pm, the heat was still there. By the time I got back to the hotel, I decided to just eat in the restaurant as I was lazy to walk out. After dinner, I packed a bit and slept early as the dolphin guide will fetch me at 5.55am to go for the dolphin watching tour.

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Sunday (14/12/2014) At 5.45am, the dolphin boat driver came and picked me from the hotel. I didn't even realise his boat was parked so near to the hotel I was staying. It was a first time experience sitting in a Balinese wooden boat with balance on both sides. As we headed out to the sea, the waves were pretty strong as the boat was going up and down continuously until further out where the waves became slightly calmer. We rode for about 30 minutes offshore before reaching to the point where the dolphins are usually observed. Once a dolphin fin is spotted, all boats started their engine to chase after the dolphins. So it was like playing cat chasing the mouse game. It was pretty amazing to see so many schools of dolphins but at the same time, I felt sorry also for them as they have to constantly swim away from the boats surrounding them. After having enough of chasing after the dolphins, we headed back to the shore. By then, the sun was so hot and the air is so dry. After arriving back to the hotel, I took breakfast before going back to my room to take a shower and pack my things since Buda was coming at 10am to pick me up.

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Before heading to Sanur, we stopped at a strawberry farm which I thought I would have the chance to pick strawberries myself but he just brought me to a small strawberry shop/farm and told me that I can order a strawberry drink after just showing me the greenhouse where the strawberries are planted and we can't even go inside it. What a disappointment and I am beginning to regret having him as my driver since his service is not that cheap either! Then we went to Pura Ulun Danu with Beratan lake which has a nice scenery located 1,200m above sea level near to the mountains so the weather was a bit cooler but once again, no explanations from Buda. After that, we went to Candi Kuning market which is a traditional fruit and vegetable market. There were also a few tourist shops behind the market and I bought a lot of postcards about places in Bali as they are cheap, a pair of wooden puppet Javanese dolls and a silk dress. Our last stop is Pura Taman Ayun and I was dropped off at the gate and was told that I could either walk all the way back to the parking area which is a few hundred meters away or he could pick me up at the gate. This temple has many smaller temples within the temple complex but unfortunately not open to public. After Pura Taman Ayun, it took us about 3 hours drive to Sanur to where I have booked for a room in a villa which Buda was not familiar with the area but eventually we found it. The room and the bathroom was spacious and I talked with Leenie for quite a while before heading out to check Sanur. I first went to Hardy's and did some groceries shopping as well as checked out the 1st floor which sells souvenirs and clothes.

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Monday (15/12/2014) Today, I was picked up by Gusti who will drive me for 4 days since Buda was involved in carrying out some ceremony for the Galungan festival. Gusti was more chattier than Buda and we drove 30 minutes from Sanur to see the Barong Dance at Batubulan village. It was a pretty interesting story performance and the men who were possessed with the spirits were trying to stab themselves with their kris but didn't get injured. After the performance, we went to the Bali Bird and Reptile Park which has variety of birds from all parts of Indonesia as well as from other countries but my main target is to see the komodo dragon. Unfortunately, the Komodo Experience performance is only held on Tuesdays so I could only see it in its enclosure. At the Reptile Park, I was given the opportunity to carry an iguana which is 5kg for photo taking which was cool. For lunch, I tried the famous babi guling at Ibu Oka and it wasn't too bad though the sambal was a bit too spicy for me. Then we stopped by Tegalalang village to see the rice field but unfortunately it was a heavy down pour so the paddy field was not clearly seen. We then headed to Ubud Palace, the kingdom palace of the Ubud empire. By the time I had finished checking out Ubud Palace, it had started to rain heavily so I didn't go to Ubud market. Then the final destination we headed to is the Batuan Temple which is one of oldest village Temple in Bali. While searching for money for donation, 2 Japanese guys started to talk to me who were also there to see the temple. We decided to go together since they do not understand Indonesian nor know much about the temple. Pretty funny, cool guys I should say. By the time we head back to Sanur, it was still early so I decided to check out the restaurants. I found a Japanese restaurant and decided to try the salmon rice which was yummy!

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Tuesday (16/12/2014) After being picked up by Gusti, we drove 1 hour to Gunung Kawi (Rocky temple) which is a Hindu Temple Complex with old omission from the stone. Going to the complex requires one to climb down lots of steps and the sun was very hot. The carvings on the stones were amazing that one do wonder how they were done and how long it took to complete them. By the time I had finished going around the complex, it was noon time and climbing up the steps were torturing especially when the sun is right above you. On the way to Kintamani, we dropped by a coffee plantation and I'm so glad that the weather was cooler here. I was introduced to the crops that was planted there and explained about the steps for making coffee from the coffee seeds. Then I was given 8 different cups of different drinks to taste. I ended up buying mocha, coffee ginger ginseng and saffron tea as well as a bottle of vanilla extract. We then headed to Kintamani where I had lunch buffet at a restaurant where we were supposed to be able to see the fantastic view of Batur volcano and the lake while enjoying our food. Unfortunately it was so misty and rained heavily that everyone had to move inside the restaurant. Fortunately, I spent a long time eating so the sky started to clear slowly and visibility also improved. Everyone started to take photos of the scenery which looks nice on a clear day. Gusti told me that people can trek up Mount Batur and he can drive and arrange a guide for me if I am interested which is a pretty interesting idea since I have 3 free days in Bali before I fly off to Brunei. We then went to Besakih temple which was the first Hindu temple built in Bali. Gusti explained to me about the 3 different levels of the temple according to the Hindu caste but nowadays, Balinese do not follow the different Hindu caste strictly. By the time we reached back to the car, it had started to rain again. We drove 1 hour to Penglipuran Village, a Balinese traditional village with unique culture, social life and building structure. It wasn't as old as I expected but they arranged the houses neatly in 2 rows. The houses are pretty modern though the kitchen and place where they keep the dead body is still pretty traditional. By the time it started to rain heavily again, we left and headed back to Batubulan village which was an hour drive to see Kecak and Fire Dance. The story is pretty long and similar to the Barong dance but the exciting part is the ending where a man, possessed by a spirit was able to step barefooted on fire and eat burning fire without anything happening to him! What a rainy day today but we did managed to go to many places.

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Wednesday (17/12/2014) Gusti pick me up at 1pm from the villa to go to Krisna shop to do some souvenir shopping. There were many kinds of food products, trinkets and clothes as well as lots of tourists. It was hot and stuffy because of the number of people in the shop that you can't even feel much of the air con. After enough of shopping, Gusti took me for a drive through Kuta which has more shops, bars, pubs and discos that is non existence in Sanur. I wanted to see the Bali Bombing Memorial at Jalan Legian but we missed it while talking to each other. Then we drove 45 minutes towards Uluwatu but before that, we stopped by Garuda Wisnu Kecana park first. Gusti showed me the copper head statue of Wisnu which was not fully complete yet. The complete statue is supposed to be Wisnu riding on Garuda but because of financial problems, the investors have not being able to complete it yet. However, once it is completely, it is supposed to be more higher than the Statue of Liberty. At 4pm, there was a Balinese parade which I thought was as big as the Hong Kong Disneyland but it was so short and simple. Then we drove 20 minutes to Pura Luhur Uluwatu which is a temple on the coral hill stick out into the sea. There were a lot of tourists and some local Balinese were still bringing their offering for the Galungan festival. The temple is very simple and not even big but the colour of the sea is just so breathtaking, very clear blue waters! If it wasn't for the cliff next to the sea, I don't think many tourists would want to come all the way just to see it. Since it was almost sunset and time for dinner, we then drove 20 minutes to Jimbaran Beach. Most restaurants were closed because of the Galungan festival so Gusti brought me to the other side of the bridge where only 2 seafood restaurants were open. So it was good business for them since all tourists have no choice but choose either one of the restaurant. It was a lovely view of the beach as the sun sets down and it was a good thing that it wasn't raining. Food were delicious though a bit pricey.

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Thursday (18/12/2014) Today's itinerary is to see the rice terrace in Jatiluwih which is 2 hour drive from Sanur. On the way, we saw a procession with a barong in 3 different places. Gusti told me that the barong have different type of faces; dog, dragon, monkey and pig which I didn't realize at first. The road to Jatiluwih was pretty bad as the heavy rain had washed some of the tar away. However, the scenery is spectacular unlike at Telalagang. After enjoying the tranquility of this village, we drove 20 minutes to the Butterfly Park. I am surprised that for a small park like this, it has a lot of butterfly and insect collection as well as stick and leaf insect. At the pupa house, the butterflies and moths that just came out of the pupa were not able to fly yet so it was easy to hold them and they don't fly away. Our last destination is the Tanah Lot (Temple In The Sea) which is a 1 hour drive from the Butterfly park. While having lunch there, it was nice to enjoy the cool sea breeze. After lunch, we slowly walk towards the temple and taking photos. The view of the sea is just as breathtaking like in Uluwatu. The sea was also blue while temples were found on several cliffs. The highlight of this place is actually the temple that was built on a rock further off the shore where people can walk across during low tide. Unfortunately, it was high tide and the waves were quite strong so we couldn't walk towards the temple.

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Friday (19/12/2014) Today, Buda came to pick me up at 9am. We went to Bajra Sandhi, the Balinese Struggle Monument which was built to commemorate the struggle of Balinese people against the Dutch. Black and white photos showed incidents and the Indonesian kings in 1905. The Dutch landed in Sanur and then attacked Denpasar. The Indonesian hero is Ngurah Rai where Bali airport was named after. I went up to the watch tower but there wasn't anything interesting to see around Denpasar. Most buildings were quite old and the lanes were pretty dirty. On the way out, there was a Chinese couple who came to this monument to take wedding photos which was nice but pretty hot to take wedding photos. Then we went to the Bali museum where they have artifacts and the bones of the earliest man found in Gilimanuk. There's also an egg shell sarcophagus where the people in the olden days were buried in. Then we went to the bird market which is pretty small but there were a lot of birds, quite a number of iguanas, a few monkeys, cats and dogs. After lunch, we headed to Badung and Kumbasari market. In Badung market, you could find fruits, dried spices, crackers, vegetables, seafood, clothes and temple accessories whereas in Kumbasari market, you could find more of clothes and souvenirs for tourists which they sell in bulk. A lot of mother of pearl products are also sold there and I ended up buying a mother of pearl tray for 100,000 rupiah and coasters for 20,000 rupiah which is reasonable. Then it started to drizzle so I decided to call it a day instead of going to Sanur beach just in case it rain. Instead, I requested to be dropped off at villa and rested for a while before I went out since the sun came out again. This time I tried walking towards Pantai Karang and I didn't realize it was so close to the money changer. After walking a short distance into the road, I finally saw the beach and quite a number of people were swimming. The sea breeze was cool so I decided to sit on one of the hut and took photos of the activities going around. Since there was nothing to do, I just sat there until 6pm, waiting for the sun to set which it didn't happen but the sky was dark. Then I did some shopping at Hardy's, bought some spices to give away to friends and a bottle of Smirkoff Ice Raspberry Splash which cost less than B$2.50 for a 275ml bottle which I am going to try on a free relaxing day.

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Saturday (20/12/2014) Today, we started our trip at 9am and went to Goa Lawah first where people were still doing offering in the temple. We didn't go into the temple since e couldn't go into the bat cave either. So we went across the road to the sea area. They were having reincarnation ceremony which is done by the high priest. It is said that people go through this ceremony to collect back the soul of the person in their family who have just passed away before going to the Goa Lawah and then to the Besakih temple before they can bring the soul back to their family altar. Then we went to Tenganan village where it is the oldest traditional Balinese village. Tenganan Village is more traditional than Penglipuran village as the people still rear animals such as chicken, ducks and water buffalo in the compound. They also specialized in ikatan (weaving) which to me looks like the Iban tenunan and drawings on wooden scripts which depicts Hindu gods. Then we went to Ujung Water Palace which was privately owned by the king of Karangasem. The palace has 3 large pools where there is the Gili Bale in the middle pool which is connected to the edge of the pool by a bridge. The next water palace that we went to which was also owned by the king of Karangasem and used to be the formal royal palace in Eastern Bali is the Tirta Gangga which literally means water from the Ganges. There is a maze of pools, fountains surrounded by a garden, stone carvings, statues and the centrepiece of the palace is an eleven tiered fountain. The last place we headed for the day is the Klungkung Palace. Unfortunately, the palace was largely destroyed during the Dutch colonial conquest in 1908 and only the court of justice, the Kerta Gosa Pavilion and the main gate that bears the date Saka 1622 (AD 1700) still exist. There is also a floating pavilion, the Bale Kembang in the compound and a small museum which displays the farming equipments used by the farmers, the royal palanquin, antiques as well as the barong and Rangda.

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Sunday (21/12/2014) I managed to arrange with Gusti to go for the trek up Mount Batur to see sunrise in Bali. In order to do so, I woke up at 1am to get ready for Gusti to pick me up at 2am since it takes an hour to reach from Sanur to Kintamani. By the time we reached there, there were already guides and some trekkers waiting to go up. According to Nyoman, my guide, it is 4km up to the viewpoint and it usually takes about 2 hours to reach there. I wouldn't know whether Ijen Crater is tougher or this is tougher since both trekking distance is similar. The weather was not very cold so I had to take off my jacket because it was too hot for me and the trail was not as tough as Ijen crater but very stony as there were a lot of small pebbles. It only took us 1.5 hours to reach to the viewpoint and the sky was still pitch black. Those who were already there just waited around while more and more people were still coming up. A young guy was selling sprite and coke which is bad idea to drink very early on an empty stomach after trekking. While waiting for the sun to rise, Nyoman prepared banana sandwich and hard boil egg which was all dry. Good thing there are dogs around so I fed the last small piece of my sandwich to the dog while I kept the hard boiled egg at the side pocket of my backpack. When the sun finally came up, everyone took photos of it but honestly speaking, after watching the sunrise at Mount Panajakan, the sunrise here is not as lovely as what I saw at Mount Panajakan. Then we went to see the crater below the viewpoint area which partially covered by trees so we only saw the hot steam coming up from the side of the mountain and from some holes on the ground. A lot of monkeys started coming to the crater area and tried to get food from people. While standing to see the crater, one of the monkey jumped onto my backpack, trying to get the hard boiled egg. It was pretty heavy for a small monkey and it was dragging my bag downwards. So Nyoman took the egg from my bag and hid it in her pocket. Yet that monkey was smart and knew where it was hidden so it tried to reached into her pocket for it. In the end, Nyoman gave the egg to the monkey and it ate it right away. Going down the mountain was pretty difficult for me because the small pebbles made my shoes slippery so Nyoman took me to another path with lesser stones and half way downwards, it was tarred. By the time we reached to parking area, the sun was already so hot.

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Then Gusti drove to the boat terminal and asked how to go to Truyan village, a Bali Aga village and was told that there are 2 routes; using a motor boat ride for 20 minutes to reach to that village or driving all the way to the nearest village but road is very narrow and then use a paddle boat to go to that village. The boat ride directly to the village is expensive though as it cost 1,000,000 rupiah but the price includes the guide, entrance fee and donation to the village. When we arrived at the village, the village people kept on looking at us since they hardly receive tourists visiting their village as people are just interested in seeing the cemetery. We were unable to go into the temple compound so we just walked around the village. The water near the houses were pretty dirty and there were rubbish in the water but yet there were a lot of fish fries living in them. To go to the cemetery, we have to use the boat again to go further down the lake. It was a gloomy shady area with a few men fishing. The guide who is also our boat driver told us that only people who die of natural cause are laid here whereas those that die of unnatural cause are buried the normal way. The cemetery can hold up to 11 corpses, each covered by a bamboo cage to prevent animals from eating them and when it is full, the oldest corpse will be remove to give way to the new corpse. He also said that the big Menyan tree absorb the smell of the rotten corpses which is why the cemetery does not smell at all. There were rows of skulls being displayed and lots of rubbish from previous offerings. We peeked into the cages and could only see 1 mummified corpse clearly as it was under the cool shade so the body has not decomposed completely even after 1 year. I couldn't see the new corpse which just passed away a week ago as it was covered very well but according to Gusti, he said that the face had turned totally black with maggots on it. The rest of the cages were only filled with clothes and personal belongings. However, we noticed a stench once in a while depending on where the wind was blowing but we were not sure if it's from the rubbish or the newly decomposed corpse. I personally believe that people did not smell the stench as the wind blows mainly to the lake but there are times when wind blows towards the Mayan tree which is why people thought the smell was absorbed by the tree. Well, interesting to know about their burial culture but an expensive boat ride actually.

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Then Gusti drove to Ubud so that I can try bebek at Joni's. The restaurant was very crowded and the service was slow. I tried the crispy duck which was very dry and the chilli sauce very spicy. After lunch, we headed to see the Tenganan waterfall. From far, even though the waterfall was not high but the impact was very strong. In order to get a closer view of it, I had to climb down the steps and there was a small alter and a place with holy spring water where an old lady took a bath. I did not go near to the waterfall as I didn't want to get all wet since people got wet while taking photos. After enjoying the natural scenery and watching people posing while getting wet, I headed up to the parking area. Going up the steps were torturing and the high humidity of the area did not help at all. Well, that's enough for the day as exhaustion started to set in. Gusti drove me back to Sanur and I slept early that night.

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Monday (22/12/2014) Today was just a relaxing day for me as I had no specific plan so I stayed at the villa and watched tv while enjoying my ice cream since it was so hot outside. When the day got cooler, I headed to the Sanur beach and walked from Pantai Karang all the way to the other end of the beach where is also 2 huts. Along the way, there are restaurants, seating areas, Balinese boats, hotels and people just sitting around and watching the sea. I sat at one of the hut for some time and just watched what was happening around. The currents have also washed different types of seaweeds to the shore so it was interesting to see their different shapes and colours. I waited for the sun to set but once again, it was a disappointing sight. This time I tried creamy sphagetti with garlic bread for dinner and it was also yummy.

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Tuesday (23/12/2014) I booked a Seawalker activity for today and the driver came and picked me up from the villa at 8.45am. There was already a Japanese couple whom he had picked up before me. The driver dropped us off at the Seawalker base which is located at Puri Santrian Hotel. We were told to wait for the Seawalker staff and while waiting for him, we sat at the hotel lobby. He showed us a video about what to do underwater and the signals we should be giving to the instructors underwater to indicate if we are ok or having problems. Then we changed into our swimming suit and waited for the boat to take us out to Seawalker boat which was parked at a particular spot. At the Seawalker boat, we had to wait for the instructors and divers to check out the equipment before they went into the water. I do not know how to swim at all so this was a very good experience since I didn't need to stay afloat in order to get some air. Then each of us were asked to go down the steps before they place the helmet which was pretty heavy but under water due to water buoyancy, it wasn't as heavy as when we were out of water. The water only came up to the neck level since the helmet was filled with oxygen. While going down the steps slowly, I had to frequently clear the pressure in my ears but when we reached to the bottom, this problem disappeared. We were told to hold on to the metal ring each while the instructor pulled us to guide where we should be going. The scenery under the water was just magnificent. Fishes kept on swimming near us but we couldn't touch any of them. We were then told to kneel down and hold on to the metal rail at a spot in front of a big rock which was full of corals. We were then each given a bottle of fish feed to feed the fish and all of them came to get it at once. I also tried holding the fish feed with my fingers and let the fishes eat and boy, do they have sharp teeth. You can just touch the fishes once they are on a feeding frenzy, how cool is that! Then each of us were asked to do coral planting and went back to the kneeling place to wait for everyone to have their turn. Each of us were then given a pretty unique starfish to hold while our photos are taken. I have never seen a starfish as big and bumpy as this one. Before going up to the boat, we walked passed by all the rocks with corals. What a sight, just breathtaking! Then it was time to go up and face the hot weather again whereas underwater, it was so cool. It took us 30 minutes to reach back to the shore and we took a shower before we checked out the video and photos that was taken underwater. We then had a light meal which was included in the package at the hotel restaurant and by 12pm, the driver came and pick us up to send us back to our accommodation.

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At 3pm, I headed out again to go to Legian and Kuta area. It took 30 minutes to reach there from Sanur by taxi and I told the driver to drop me off at the Legian bombing memorial. The memorial monument was not so obvious that i walked passed it until I asked a security guard and he told me that it's just in front. After taking some shots, I started walking down towards Kuta. There were a lot of shops and restaurants which were more cheaper than in Sanur because of fierce competition but traffic was just horrible as the cars wouldn't stop and it was so difficult to just get across the road! It took me quite a while to find Kuta beach but in the end I found it. When I got there, the sight was the opposite of Sanur beach. Lots of people on the beach as well as in the water. Some people were trying to get me to do surfing and I didn't expect to learn surfing myself since I didn't know how to swim and also didn't bring any swimming clothes. However one of the surfing instructor was so persistent that I ended up learning surfing with the swimming clothes he lent me. Balancing on the surfboard wass tough especially if your arm muscles aren't as strong like mine since you have to push your whole body upwards and balance. I kept on falling after getting up on the surfboard and since I kept on falling on the shallow area, my right knee was scrapped by the sharp broken seashells. I only managed to stand long enough once for his friend to take picture of me balancing on the surfboard which was at least some achievement. By then my arms were getting tired so I couldn't get up and balance well anymore plus the kids just won't go away when my surfboard was heading towards them. I even had a collision with another kid also balancing on the surfboard as we didn't know how to control the direction of the board and his mother who was waiting to take photos of him just laughed at us when both of us fell into the water. In the end I called it a day and told the instructor I will come again tomorrow afternoon when it's not so hot since I have nothing to do also and also to learn again 1 last time before I head back to Brunei.

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Wednesday (24/12/2014) In the morning, I packed ready most of my stuff since my flight will be at 7.10am the next morning and waited for the day to be slightly cooler before going to Kuta beach again. This time the taxi driver dropped me off at another side of the beach so I had walked and find which direction I was at before arriving at the beach. Learning surfing 2 days in a row was a very huge mistake for me. My arms were already aching from yesterday's lesson so today, I was not even able to lift up my body at all. Instead I told the instructor that I will balance in a squatting position first which doesn't require me to push my body upwards and then try to balance. However, I didn't managed to improve and call it quits earlier than the day before. Since I was going to treat the surfing instructor dinner as it was Christmas eve also, I waiting at the beach until he got off work and I finally saw the sunset. Apparently, Kuta is in the west and Sanur is in the east which was the reason why it was difficult to see the sun setting in Sanur. For dinner, we went to a local restaurant and ordered a set menu which was quite a lot for 2 person and talked about life in Bali since he was actually from Bandung. By the time we had finished and I reached back to the villa, it was already 10pm and I had to do packing for the rest of my stuff that I haven't packed yet.

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Thursday (25/12/2014) The driver was supposed to come at 4am to send me to the airport but he didn't turn up until 4.30am and by then, it was raining heavily. He was not happy that Leenie did not inform him that my flight was at 7.10am but fortunately, when we arrived at the airport, there was still time since there was no traffic on the road. After being in Indonesia for 22 days, I would say that it's full of unplanned adventure as I've never intended to hike up 3 volcanoes very early in the morning but it was a fun experience. I would love to go back to Java again though I would not go back to Bali at all since the weather was extremely hot and it is too commercialised and everyone kept on asking you to introduce them to your friends when they come to Bali since all of them wants to be the guide/driver for tourists.

Posted by Lingering 01:32 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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