Bali – Indonesia

And I’m still alive! I haven’t posted anything here for 1 and a half months already and that’s not really nice (if anybody is still reading this :o).

I arrived in Bali and wanted to surprise my sister (I told her I was going to Australia first). I tried calling her regular driver to take me to my sisters workshop but he then called Natalie to ask if he needed to “pick up customer from airport?” She was still really surprised that I was in Bali so it was still good fun.

So what have I been doing here in this little paradise….

Well…. Not much….. 😆

This is the first time in 10 months that I had a “sort off” home and it was awesome to see my sister again. At that time you really realize how much you miss a “normal” day with friends and just have nothing to do for a change. No planning trips and not seeing something amazing every day is really nice for a change.  So I’m just having a holiday right now. My sisters place is really great with a nice pool and we even bought a TV to chill in the evening (when not partying!).

After 2 weeks a dutch couple came to visit that where traveling about the same time as I was. Only they drove a van from the Netherlands all the way to Indonesia. That means they crossed countries like Pakistan, Iran and India. Check out there amazing story here: http://keeprollin2australia.blogspot.com/

Don’t get me wrong that I’m in my hammock all day here…. I’m still doing stuff but relaxing is a great timewaster too. Me and Natalie visited several temples here and up until now Tanah Lot was the nicest I’ve seen here in Bali. This is a temple build on a rock that sticks out just in front of the shore. When the sun sets it’s a great place to shoot some spectacular pictures even do sunsets here are amazing everywhere you go.

 

 

 

I also went to Lembongan for a week to get my advanced diving license. Lembongan is a small island right in front of Bali. It’s really a relaxed place and it’s not too full of tourists (but that will definitely change in the coming years). You really live between the locals and see them work in the morning and evening. That’s when they collect the seaweed they grow in front of the shore. All day they dry the seaweed and in the evening you can eat your fresh fish at the seafront with the best sunsets of Bali (in my honest opinion 😮 ). I got my advanced diving license and loved the diving here. It was the best I’ve seen in Indonesia so far.

But it was time for me to go to Lombok (an big island east of Bali). In Lombok I had 1 small point on my to-do list. Climb the volcano Jinjani:

At 3,726 m, Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia, second only to Mount Kerinci on Sumatra, and it dominates the landscape of the relatively small island of Lombok.

Within its huge 50 km² caldera sits the crater lake Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). Eruptions within the caldera have formed a new small cone called appropriately enough, Gunung Baru (New Mountain). There was a spate of activity from 1994 to 1995 which resulted in the further growth of the crater cone Gunung Baru, since renamed Gunung Barujari (Finger Mountain).

Rinjani erupted three further times on 23 May 2010 with activity continuing until 24 May 2010. According to the volcano’s official monitoring agency, ash from Mount Barujari was reported as rising up to 2 km into the atmosphere and damaged crops. Lava flowed into the caldera lake, pushing its temperature up from 21°C to 35°C, while smoke spread 12 km.

At 3,726 meters, Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia outside of Papua. It is very climbable by visitors with a high level of physical fitness. Critical is to understand and respect this great mountain: sadly, visitors have died here through failing to follow sensible procedures and make all necessary preparations. Few actually make the very strenuous effort required to reach the actual summit but instead stop at the crater rim (approx 2,700 m) where the views of the crater lake are mind blowing. To make the extra 1,000 m ascent to the very top requires a considerably higher level of fitness, not to mention strength of spirit and sense of adventure.

 

I took the public ferry to Lombok and stayed a few nights in Senggigi to prepare for the trek. I took the option to do it in 4 days (you can do it in 3) so the last 2 days are easy trekking . I booked the tour at the Rinjani trekking club because these guys use local porters and guides. We started at 5 o’clock and walked up to the rim in 8 hours. The beginning is pretty easy and it gets harder as you get closer to the rim. At the rim we set up camp and watched how the sun sets on the top. It was a really pretty and scary sight because we knew that at 2 o’clock that night we would set off for the top and it was going to be really hard.

At 2:30 we started our first ascent and it was really hard. The dust is everywhere and makes you cough while you make you way up. At the top of the first part a guide told me “Good, you made it. Now it gets hard! Only 2 and a half hour left”. Pfffffff…. I was already wasted.

Getting to the top was extreme… Every step you take you slide down 2 steps in the volcanic sand. But it is worth it. The sun coming up is amazing and casts a really cool shadow of the vulcano. You can even see Bali and the Gili’s from the top.

 

 

After all that it was easy. We walked down to the lake of the volcano and took a nice swim. After that we visited the hot springs which were close by and relaxed for the rest of the day. There is one downside of this whole track: There is waste everywhere. Its like a small garbage dump at the lake. It sad to see how tourists destroy a national park.

 

The last few days we climbed back up the rim and walked down to the small village of Senaru. This is where most of the main tourist treks start. It was really good fun to see all the tourists in miniskirts sweating their way up the mountain complaining that it’s so hard while they are extremely unprepared. They have no clue what they’re getting themselves into and most of them don’t even have proper shoes…

When traveling back to Bali I stayed 2 nights at Gili Trawangan. I was just curious to see what was left of this former backpackers paradise but not surprised when I discovered it was the most touristic place in Bali I had seen do far. I just did 1 dive there but was not really impressed by it. Its good diving everywhere in Indonesia but if you want to dive near Bali you should absolutely go to Lembongan and skip the Gili’s (unless you like diving in groups of 35 people).  They also advertised the Rinjani trek everywhere here at these little “tourist information” shops. “Anybody can do it!” they shout you…. What a scam… I was glad I did it with locals in the opposite direction as everyone else. It was far more relaxed and noway as crowded as what I saw when going down the volcano. We even had the whole lake to ourselves the second night. So be smart and don’t go up in large groups of 35 people.

For now I’m really working on my plan’s for getting home in an adventurous way. I’m thinking of taking the trans-siberia express from Beijing to Moscow. Since Moscow is really close to Europe I’ll be almost home.

Cheers,

René