Category Archives: Indonesia 印尼

Trekking @ Bintan

My legs has been feeling restless for quite awhile. My legs must be bored.. yes.. my dear legs need some mountain therapy! So where? One that is relatively easy (like the one in Hong Kong), don’t need Bukit Timah training (since it’s closed now), can be done within a day and near Singapore?

Let’s go to Bintan and hike up their highest – Gunung Bintan at 370 metre above sea level and after the climb we can relax at a nice beach resort and get a cheap and good massage! Best still, it’s just 45 minutes ferry ride from Singapore! Sounds real good ya!

Too lazy to do research, we decided to just book the trek through with a guide and transfer to and back to resort. S$40 per pax which is actually quite expensive!

We went Bintan during the Hari Raya Haji long weekend. To save time, we decided to do the trek in the afternoon right after we arrived in Bintan. On that Saturday morning at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, the weather started to turn bad. Overcast sky and as we board the 9+am ferry, it started to pour.. very very heavy rain.

Luckily for us, when we reached our resort, the rain stopped and we were able to proceed with the trek. The car came to pick us at 130 pm and after a brief stop for lunch at a roadside stall for nasi padang, we reached the starting point of the trek.

Trekking map on Gunung Bintan

Although just 370 metre high, it is not really that easy to trek especially after the heavy rain. The estimated trekking time for round trip is about 2 hours, as such to cover 370 metre in less than an hour, the terrain must be quite steep.

We started from the Hunting area (stated on the map above) and ended at the waterfall side. Some people start from the waterfall side too.

Tropical rainforest. Muddy terrain after the rain

Steep and muddy terrain. As the trail gets steeper, you will see ropes along the way to aid people in hiking up. Really thanks to the ropes, otherwise I really don’t know how to climb up the slippery trail especially I don’t have trekking poles with me.

Our guide looking ahead. Still some way to go!

After about 45 minutes of trekking, we reached the summit! There’s a little hut and a tower at the summit. No views here. You will have to climb up the tower in order to get a nice view of the sea.

Finally! The summit!

Think the tower can’t take the weight of too many people, so better go up one at a time. Some of the planks on top were already loose and may break any time!

Looking down from the tower.
View from the tower. Not bad lah.

After staying at the summit for about 15 minutes, we trekked down from the other side towards the waterfall. More ropes and rocks awaited us. We had to trek down slowly, get our feet steady. The rocks and trails were so slippery that some of us slipped and fall, but luckily nothing serious.

More ropes and rocks on the way down

30 minutes later, we reached the waterfall and that’s the end of the trek.

Time to head back to the resort, wash up and relax for the next 2 days!

Photo credits: Kenneth Boey


The Arduous Trek – Gunung Rinjani (Part 4)

The Rinjanians at crater lake

Imagine this: waking up to the view of a volcano’s crater lake, brushing your teeth along the river bank and washing your face under the blue blue sky and chilly wind. At this moment, life can never be better than this. Breakfast was delicious banana crepe with coffee, the mood was cheerful, we are on our 3rd day now.

Brushing teeth with the lake and the volcanos
Enjoying a cuppa
At our tents

Very delicious banana crepe

The trek itinerary states that we will set off to next campsite after lunch.  We can choose to either camp at Plawangan Senaru, Senaru crater rim (2,461m) or descend further into the sheltered forest at Cemara Lima.  We decided to go into the sheltered forest so that we can have a shorter trek on the last day.

Another group foto before setting off for Senaru Crater Rim

Another hard climb

Narrow.. careful!

Luckily Samon decided that we set off after breakfast because from the lake to Senaru crater rim was actually another 2 – 3 hours trek and is all the way up about 461m (the lake we are here is about 2,000m).  So at 1030am we packed up and started the trek for the day.  After a really tiring summit climb the previous day, we are all quite exhausted and now we got to tackle this almost like never-ending climb up big boulders, narrow trail up to yet another peak and at times we really gotta go down on all four.

Fried maggi mee and yes I finished it 😀

When finally at almost 2pm we reached Senaru Crater Rim at 2,461m.  The sun was blazingly hot and at the same time wind was strong.  This was the place for our lunch. Hot chocolate was offered here and fried maggi mee which for once I finished all! (yes Jel, I finished it, I doubt it for Zhix)  Guess I must be hungry from all the climb and zero appetite the last night.

Chris taking a nap after lunch

Fully geared to protect myself from the sun and sandstorm

History of Rinjani
There are actually treks to Senaru Crater Rim only and from here you will also catch amazing views of the baby volcano and crater lake  So for those who are not interested to summit and still want to be part of this wonder can choose the Senaru Crater Rim trek. Samon also told us a brief history of Rinjani.

The beautiful Anak Segara Crater Lake

Following excrept from Wikipedia:
The Rinjani caldera forming eruption is thought to have occurred in the 13th century. Eruption rate, eruption sites, eruptiion type and magmacomposition have changed during the last 10,000 years before the caldera forming eruption. The eruptions of 1994 and 1995 have presented at Gunung Baru (or ‘New Mountain’ – approximately 2300 metre above sea level) in the center of this caldera and lava flows from subsequent eruptions have entered the lake. This cone has since been renamed Gunung Barujari (or ‘Gunung Baru Jari’ in Indonesian).

The first historical eruption occurred in September 1847. The most recent eruption of Mount Rinjani was in May 2010 and the most recent significant eruptions occurred during a spate of activity from 1994 to 1995 which resulted in the further development of Gunung Barujari. Historical eruptions at Rinjani dating back to 1847 have been restricted to Barujari cone and the Rombongan dome (in 1944) and consist of moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows that have entered Segara Anak lake. The eruptive history of Rinjani prior to 1847 is not available as the island of Lombok is in a location that remained very remote to the record keeping of the era.

On 3 November 1994, a cold lahar (volcanic mudflow) from the summit area of Rinjani volcano traveled down the Kokok Jenggak River killing thirty people from the village of Aikmel who were caught by surprise when collecting water from the river in the path of the flow.

In connection with the eruption of the cone Gunung Barujari the status for Gunung Rinjani has been raised from Normal (VEI Level 1) to ‘be vigilant’ (VEI Level 2) since May 2, 2009 . In May 2010 Gunung Rinjani was placed in the standby status by Center for Volcanology & Geological Hazard Mitigation, Indonesia with a recommendation that there be no activity within a radius of 4 km from the eruption at Gunung Barujari.

Rinjani erupted three times on May 22, 2010 with activity continuing until early on May 23. According to the volcano’s official monitoring agency, ash from Mount Barujari was reported as rising up to two km into the atmosphere and damaged crops. The volcano did not threaten villagers at that time. Lava flowed into the caldera lake, pushing its temperature up from 21°C to 35°C, while smoke spread 12 km.
On 27 April 2009 Gunung Barujari became active with activity continuing through to May 2009. The mountain was closed at that time as the eruptions intensified with plumes of smoke and ash as high as 8,000 m (26,250 ft). A Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI):2 rating was issued for the activity between 2 May 2009 and 20 December 2009. The activity during this period was described as having the characteristics:of central vent eruption, flank (excentric) vent, explosive eruption and lava flows.

The Forest Adventure
It took us another 1 & 1/2hrs through gentle stones trail, loose sand trail into the forest.  At first we thought we will reach the campsite again like 5pm, so it was sheer bliss when we reached at around 430pm.  Before we reached our campsite we saw badly burnt vegetations due to forest fire.  The campsite was a big clearing and infested with monkeys and Zhix with Mike were having a jolly good time proving to the monkeys who shall be the alpha male there (overdosed from The Planet of the Apes movie) thou one snarled and franked its sharp teeth at Zhix which think he still can’t get over it till now??!?

Guess who’s whose’s who

Wondering what’s that golden thingy we sat on? Suppose to be blanket to keep us warm (per Zhix) but ended up as floor mat for us.

In the night after dinner, time to finish up the Johnny Walker Whisky.  We had a round of toast with each others, guides and porters, it was truly worth a celebration.  From afar, we saw fire.. started burning, noted by Tony that it should not pose any threat to us, but still cautioned and advise us to pack our things just in case.

Toasting with 
The in the wild movie experience
Afterthat we went back to our tent as it was very very cold with wind blowing at us.  Well, it’s not even 9pm, some decided to gather at Jelyn’s tent to play Bridge while Zhix, Mike & Wz gathered at me & yin’s tent to watch movie.  Yes, Zhix brought with him his MP4 player and Mike carried up a speaker.  In total darkness of the tent we watched a Korean Movie “Hello Ghost” a show highly recommended by Chris and Zhix (who even checked to ensure all of us in the tent teared at the end of the show).  Yes, do watch it, hilarious and touching show. It was really an in the wild movie theatre experience for us completed with almost real surround sound from the speaker.  Thanks Zhix & Mike for the effort.

It was nearing 12am and time to get back to sleep. It was our last night in the wild so we had all wanted to have a good night sleep but things always do not happen the way you wanted it to.  It was total darkness in the tent, you can’t see your 5 fingers even if place just right before your eyes. My eyelids were heavy and almost falling off to sleep but I can feel yin’s restlessness. She could not get to sleep and kept asking why it was so bright outside the tent when it should be pitch dark. We could hear the wind howling eerily outside, on the right side of our tent, we could see orange illumination and seems like there’s quite a commotion outside but none of us got out of the tent to check out why. (Guess I am thinking wild of ghosts and monsters in the forest, after effect of watching ghost movie??)

The Forest Fire
It was after awhile that we heard Tony’s urgent but still calm voice “大家准备,火越来越近了。” (Everyone get ready, the fire is getting nearer).  Panic! Me and Yin started squashing all our belongings into the backpack (well, after the movie, we took out some items again), wear our shoes and ran out of the tent.  I must say, never in my life did my heart beat so fast, did I have such a panic, did I don’t know what I was suppose to do.  That’s why I always say should there be a disaster, I will be first to die.. 我的危机意识实在不够强烈。

Anyway, all of us were now standing outside, fully geared and our backpacks all thrown out of the tent, all ready to run for our life.  What had actually happened earlier was that, Wz had decided to go out of the tent to check out with our guide what happen as she also heard something and could not get to sleep.  You must know it was pitch dark in the forest and her tent was pitched facing the dark forest (unlike mine) so to get out of the tent was quite a challenged for a girl.  She walked over to where our guides/porters were soundly sleeping, after much effort, she managed to wake them up and conveyed her concerns. They then walked over to the fire site to see what was happening.

It was just about 50m away from our campsite, we saw fire, big forest fire, the wind brought the smoke along to our side. It was worrying, it looked like it’s coming our way.  I started imagining all of us, abandoned the tents and our big backpacks,  running down the unknown terrain ahead of us into the woods for don’t know how long while the fire burned and slowly caught up with us. My heartbeat was still very fast when wp “announced” that he needed to go toilet to do big business.. *3 crows flew past* but it somehow relieved me a bit.  Hey, I still had my friends here with me, I believed nothing will happen to us.  The guides/porters are here helping us too.  We waited patiently, some porters came back, saw our bags outside.. think they were secretly laughing at us..

For fire was just 50m away

Our guides came back to assure us and told us to go back to sleep, the wind is changing direction and they had cut away some vegetation so that the fire will not burn to our direction, so should not be any problem.  So all of us, reluctantly went back to our tent.. me and yin had wanted to just wear our shoes to sleep.. but it got quite numb after awhile that we gave up.. It was not easy to get back to sleep when you can still smell the smoke, hear the fire and the wind.. Finally at about 3+am, my eyes gave up, my ears shut down and I drifted off to sleep.

Yes, the exciting night ended with us all safe and sound and waking up early the next day for breakfast and getting ready to go at 8am.  Samon talked about the forest fire, he said if it got out of hand, they will call the ranger, helicopters will come to evacuate us, at that point I started to relate to the koala bears in Australia, like I was one of them cringing to the trees waiting for someone to save me when there’s a forest fire….

Forest fire

To Civilization
The trail down was familiar Bukit Timah Hill terrain, so we walked/ran at lightening speed that our guides were impressed as they had witnessed our slowness for the past 3 days. Along the trail, we saw people trekking up, can’t help it but to tell them good luck showing them our happiness that our trek are ending and yours just started look.. Oops.. (encountered some Singaporeans, said good morning and good luck to them but was rudely ignored.. bleah~~).  We also saw this black women sitting along the trail looking firecely at us.  Saras told us she was praying, don’t look at her, just walk.  Hmm.. of course I dare not look straight at her eyes fearing she may cast some black magic on me… blah… Before we knew it, we’ve reached Pintu Senaru  (Senaru Gate) for our lunch, another 20mins or so we will reach the Rinjani Trek Centre at Senaru where the vans will be there to pick us up to civilization.

Pure joy when we reach Pintu Senaru

Thanks to all, Samon, Saras and all the porters for carrying our stuff and cooking us delicious meals

Funny! (Hee, saw this when going up Senaru Crater Rim)

It was really an unforgettable trek and till now I am still savoring over the sweet success of reaching Rinjani summit, the excitement, the adventure and also the very hyper and enthusiastic trekking friends, YOU!!  I must say, this was one of the best trek I had so far although the trek was the most difficult (not that I’ve climb many). Great memories started few months ago when we all gathered for our first weekly Saturday’s Bukit Timah training making me always looking forward to Saturdays and the frequent posting on our Rinjani group FB by our hyper trekkers..  Thanks all for participating in the weekly training (even bringing along friends, showing off new trekking gadgets every now and then.. you know who), thanks all who brought along great entertainment (a touch of civilization in the wild) and thanks all for being here with me for the trek.  I would love to trek with you guys again and again (but of course not Rinjani again). Till the next trek. Cheers!

~ End ~

The Arduous Trek – Gunung Rinjani (Part 3)

Another Ordeal
After about 30 mins of celebration on the mountain peak amidst the strong wind howling at us and the strong sun smiling at us, we gathered to start our descent. Tony offered us tips on the best way to go down the steep and loose stone trail. Slowly skid down and either position your feet sideway or using your heels to stop further sliding whenever required.

Steep loose rocks trail — this was the tough climb up 
Yin skiing 

Another shot of the baby volcano


It sounded easy to just skid, like skiing! But whenever you are hit with bigger stones along the way, you may just lost your footing and fall forward. If you slide down too fast and lost control, you may end up in the wrong place and be gone…..

Anyway, I still had a great time skiing down (so much easier than climbing up). Thou after sometime, it actually got a bit tiring and especially straining on my knee, because there’s much jerking on the poor knees when trying to stop sliding.

Take a break, have a shot

Thou we were walking the same trail as we came up earlier, but it was dark then, now is daylight, halfway down the trail we did not really know where to go. Some trails split into 2 way, when we walked to one we found ourselves stuck and got to turn back. Funnily, all the while I thought Samon was ahead of us and already back to camp and I was still cursing why he was so not reliable… but after some wasted time getting lost, we saw Samon behind us!!! All the while he was with Tony and Wz.. oops… so sorry, Samon…

Some Big Businesses
Oh, another thing worth a mention now that I read Jelyn’s Rinjani blog. Well, in one of our wrong turn moment, Zhix, Mike and myself went down this little edge trying to find our way back. When we realized it’s the wrong turn, we will need to climb back up. While searching for the best position and footing to climb up, I saw soiled toilet paper near the bushes.. urgh… luckily I did not see anything else.. well.. from Jelyn’s blog, I come to know that wp had, with the help from Tony found a secluded place to do his business this early morning at the start of our summit climb.. hmm.. so was that his???

Anyway, when we were almost reaching our camp area, we did a wrong turn again and ended up at a “public” toilet area littered with toilet paper.. luckily, see no evil, smell no evil…

It felt great to be back at the campsite.  I was soooo dirty, covered with dust.. water was offered to wash our hands and face. Breakfast was also served and we rewarded ourselves with a can of coke.. Yes, there’s a mini “store” near our campsite selling tibits, biscuits and can drinks… well the coke cost IDR 20,000, while later at the foot of the mountain, it only cost IDR6,000…

Day 2 Sembalun Crater Rim -> Segara Anak Lake
It was about 11am when our guide (can’t remember who) came and asked if we want to set off now to the crater lake (our day 2 campsite) and have lunch there, it will take 2hrs.  We were tempted to go since we just had breakfast, but then, we remembered their rubber timing and the slowness in preparing food, we decided to have lunch first than set off.  Well, we did the right decision, as it was a challenging trail from Sembalun crater rim to the Segara Anak Lake, steep and narrow rocky trail.  I recalled Mr Wayang’s briefing to us on the 1st day that it was a dangerous trail… We went slowly, any trail that was slippery or dangerous, those in front will shout to the back to look out. I was lucky that my knee did not protest (or not yet?) thus I was able to control my footing quite well during this trail. From here we can actually see tents pitched over at the crater lake, seemed so near, yet it took us 3 hours to reach there.

Segara Anak Lake

The toilet tent

My 1st impression of Segara Anak Lake — a big dumping ground. Really, litter everywhere, crowded with tents as well.  I must say our porters were great to get us a quieter place for our campsite.  This time, we had a supervisor for the toilet tent.  Wz took the initiative to tell them to dig a deeper hole and have more soil near the hole so that we can use to cover our “business” after use.  Thanks Wz!  The hole at our 1st day camp toilet was quite shallow and no soil to cover, so… you know what you will see..

Ok, it was getting dark soon, I must go to the hotspring! This was the hi-light for the trip.  I yearned for the nice warm water to sooth my tired legs and also to wash myself off the sweat and dirt from the 2 days of hard trekking.  Apparently, not many people were interested.  In the end it’s me, yin, rachel and Chris  intending to dip in the hotspring while wp wanted to just dip in his legs, mike and Tony to take photo.  Saras told us there’s no changing room there (actually what he meant was to hide behind a big rock and change) so we did not bring clothes to change just towel.  Chris decided to just bring his whole dry bag there.  Rachel was more prepared with clothes to change and keep warm.

The main pool was crowded so Saras brought us to another pool, more secluded.  The water was so soothing and so inviting that in the end wp, Mike & Tony all joined us in the pool.  Swimming, floating and Tony even demostrated a mini rock climb there.  Haa, way to go, Tony!

The secluded hotspring

Enjoying the warmth

Night fall, time to get out of the pool and run back to camp in dripping wet clothes! (it’s a 20 mins walk thru the woods).

Dinner for the night was Nasi goreng.  All (except zhix – who despise carbo-loading but loves pasta !!??!? and me) finished all or most of the rice.  I don’t know why I don’t have much appetite that night, the food was tasteless to me.  Sigh.  We also open up the Johnny Walker Whisky.. a big bottle (750ml) yup it was being carried up by the porter/guide for us.  We started to get crazy and kept toasting Tony (using belated birthday as reason) so he drown down 3 shot glasses of Whisky and funnily stayed quite awake for the night.

As we were by the lake, it started to get quite chilly, so it’s off to bed early today especially when we’ve been up since 1+am and been walking for like 10 hours…. Zzzz….

p/s: some of us was being awaken by some commotion during the night at about 2am.  Nobody went out to see what happen, only heard from the tent.  Just heard people running past our tent shouting.. … Were they trekkers starting an early trek? or… ??

~ to be continued ~

The Arduous Trek – Gunung Rinjani (Part 2)

Day 2 Rinjani Summit!!! 
Surprisingly, everyone was up and ready at 130am! All the “see how tomorrow” were gone overnight.. haha.. but, but, but…  our guides were not ready! I’ve been awake since 1am, just lying down in the tent waiting for morning call from our guides but in vain… we decided to show ourselves to them by coming out of the tent and stand around in the cold…

All ready to go..

At about 2am, we saw a large troop from other camps walking past our tents towards the start of the summit. Us? waited for another good 15mins or more before we were served coffee and sugar crackers.. simple but I must say it’s divine at that moment.. Finally, our summit trek started at 250am.

The Start of the Ordeal
In single file, we walked quietly, following closely behind Samon. It was soft loose soil at the start and it’s always up and up.  I did not get to look around the surrounding, just concentrating my every steps. Occassionally we stop to catch our breathe and to wait for the rest to catch up. After an hour or so, Samon stopped and told us the hard part was over, it will be gentle slopes before we hit the really difficult summit trail.

Still we continued quietly, the road up was winding in a way, narrow path with big rocks.  People overtook us along the way.. well, no hurry for us.  My target for the moment was to reach the big rocks which Audrey mentioned that they hide there first for sunrise before hitting summit.  Ok, there’s many big rocks around that I don’t really know which was which.. At some rocks, we saw trekkers and their guide hiding (guess they don’t intend to summit), there’s even a couple sleeping in foetus position at one of the big rock..

Tired-looking Chris vs enthusiastic Tony

As we got higher, the wind got stronger.  My pace started to slow down, I am panting really hard.. Than before I knew it, the path opened to the rocky part of the summit climb.  It was loose big stones all the way and looked really steep (think was like 45 degree??) Every 3 steps I took, I will slide down 2 steps. Tiring.. no matter how much steps I took, I am still very far away from some of my friends and Samon.

The group

In the east, nice red-orange hue lined the horizon, it’s nearing 6am and it’s still a long long way to the summit (erm.. I actually can’t see where’s the summit from here).  After about 30mins of hard climb, I finally met up with the rest who with Samon were all resting by a big rock resting, eating orange, biscuits.  The sun peek out from the clouds, blazingly smiling brightly at us.  It’s about 300m elevation to the summit from here. From afar, we can see Mt Agung (Bali) standing tall. We stayed there for quite awhile, watching intently at the beautiful sunrise and we decided to take a group photo here with the Singapore flag we brought along.


View of Mt Agung from Rinjani

The Final Push
The sun had risen, the path is so clear to us now. Of course, the path up was still steep with loose big stones, it was very narrow at some point that only 2 people can stand side by side.  A wrong steps to either side, you will either fall to death at the forest or at the crater lake….  Tony was now urging everyone to start the final push to the summit.  Yes, better start now, if not I don’t think I want to do it anymore.

Arrgh… the stones here seems to be looser than before? I just kept sliding down, sometime I can’t even stand properly.  It did not help with the strong wind howling at us.  Worst, some inconsiderate trekkers coming down from the summit just zoom past us… can’t they have the courtesy to just stop or slow down when sliding pass us?  Whenever they slide past me, the impact of the wind was so great that i just swayed to the side.. the sand storm they created sometime blind me as well… $#*$@&%@

Top view of baby volcano aka Barujari

Finally, I reached another rest point (another rock) where Tony was standing there resting and waiting for us.  From his watch, it’s another 260m away. When I looked up, it seemed a mirage.. is it for real, it looked so near yet so far.. Tony encouragingly told us, that massive rocks up there is the summit, let’s buck up!

Hitting Summit
I am already physically drained by now. Fatigue started to crawl in, my every steps became redundant, I don’t seems to be moving at all..  it’s really mind over body now, I not going to give up now, not when I am already so near (really??).. I started to run, yes.. run about 6-7 steps up, thou still slide down about 2 steps, but at least I achieved a 5 steps increment.  Yes, this seemed to work for me, after the sliding back, I will just stop and pant hard with the 2 trekking poles supporting me than start over again.  Before I knew it, I reached the massive rocks and Tony did not bluff me, it’s really the summit!

I continued on, saw 2 trekkers coming down, said hi.. than I am out in the open again, I saw Samon stretching out his hand, I walked faster to him and gave him a high 5!  I’ve reached! I’ve reached the summit! Gosh! it was 750am and I am at Rinjani Summit!  I walked further in, taking in the beautiful sight infront of me.. I can feel the tears at my eyes.. gosh.. this was really surreal, I felt the adrenaline rush.. no words can better describe how I felt at that moment standing high at the summit especially after such a painful climb up….

The 6 who finally reach the summit. Well done all!

It was funny actually, other than Samon and myself, there was nobody in sight.  Where’s the rest of the trekkers who had earlier overtook us?  Did they not make it to the summit? I don’t recalled many people coming down while I tried to go up. Anyway… by than Yin, Mike, Zhix, Wz and Tony arrived with the triumphant and relieved grin on their faces.  Especially Zhix & Mike, they were really enjoying by becoming cam-whore at the summit.  Oh, oh… and thanks to Zhix & Mike for carrying up the Soju and shot glasses, who all had a celebratory toast at the summit… Cheers!

I love this photo of Zhix & Mike :p

My battered shoes
~ to be continued ~

The Arduous Trek – Gunung Rinjani (Part 1)

*—, —-, —–..* This was how my heart was reacting on the first night we arrived in Lombok…
*Thump, thump, thump…* This was how my heart was behaving on the last night of camp….

The Beginning
It seemed impossible then that I will ever have the chance to climb Rinjani. Friends who had been there raved about the breathtaking views but cautioned about the challenging terrain. I don’t know why, I just have the urge to go (maybe cos close friends had been there, so I must go too.. hee.. haiz, guess that’s the real me).

Every now and then I will bug Yin to go Rinjani and when she finally said ok, we started to persuade our other “targets”. 1st was Chris who easily said yes (*haha) thou he must also drag Wei Peng (Wp) along… and before we knew it, we have a large contingent: – Tony with his friends Rachel and Zhenwei (Zw),  The bros – Mike and Zhi Xiang (Zhix) and finally Weizhen (Wz) and Jelyn who after much efforts gotten their leave approved.

Booking our Silkair flights to Lombok was another challenge.  We were looking at the 2 public holidays in August — National Day PH and the Hari Raya PH, thou for me National Day PH was an ideal date but soon, like the current erratic stock market, the air tickets for National Day week increased from $387 to $576 within days. After much deliberation, we decided to go on the Hari Raya PH (27 Aug to 3 Sep).

Next is getting a good trek operator. Yin had initially intended for the operator which Audrey’s group had engaged last year.  The price of their trek then was amazingly cheap and the guide was superb according to Audrey.  Guess inflation in Indonesia has taken to new heights, the trek package costs us double and the operator wasn’t that friendly after much email exchanges, so we decided to give that up and engage Lombok Network Holiday, opting the Deluxe package.

The 4D3N trek itinerary was initially suggested to start from Senaru where the summit attempt will only be on the last day of the trek. *Gulp* Don’t think anybody will want to wait till then to do the summit considering it to be such a hard trek, so we requested to do it the other way round, starting from Sembalun village and summit attempt on the 2nd day.

We’ve heard it time and again that Rinjani will be an arduous trek. In order to prepare everyone who were not that very fit to begin with (except maybe Tony and group) to not suffer more during the trek but to at least enjoy some moments during the trek, weekly training at our very own Bukit Timah hill (BT) was arranged. I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout every Saturday. There’s always around 10+ enthusiastically trekkers and their friends turning up for training to show the support for us — the Rinjanians-to-be.

We meet up every Saturday at 915am for warm-up and starts the rounds at BT at 930am sharp.  The aim was to complete rounds of stairs training in BT.  The “Killer stairs” in BT has since then become our “friend” where we, without fail to go up and down it at least 2-3 times… For some variety, we also did a 20km walk (abt 4hrs) from Woodlands to BT on 1 Saturday (to clock some mileage on walking).  After 12 Saturdays of training, the day finally arrived.

The Day
27 Aug 2011, Saturday, 1300Hrs.  We met at the airport ready for check-in (of cos, after we fulfilled our citizen’s duty to vote for the new president).  Zw who has hurt his fingers in some freak accident was not able to join us for the trip but turn up at the airport to show his support.  Audrey and Kenn, who had already scaled the heights of Rinjani also came to send us off.  Jelyn started to have the jitters.. The atmosphere around was still generally calm and peppy.

The Rinjanians-to-be (without zhix, cos he anti-social)

Is that Rinjani or Agung??

The flight was smooth. Saw this mountain from the plane when we are reaching Lombok.  I am still wondering what mountain was that.  Was it Rinjani? or Agung at Bali? After about 2hrs 25mins, we arrived at Lombok International Airport (a very small one).  While queuing for immigratiion, we met a group of Malaysians who were also there for Rinjani but for their 2nd time -.-||

From the way they related, climbing Rinjani was an easy feat for them.. blah…..

We arrived at our 1st night stay – Senggigi Graha Beach Hotel.  The representative from Lombok Holiday Network, Mr Wayang gave us a short briefing on the trek. He started to describe each terrain of the trek, I heard the terrible summit, the dangerous rocky terrain from Sembalun crater rim.. all these sent my heart to stop every now and then.  Gosh, this is it, really.  The trek was just hours away… we’ve to prepare and get ready to set off from the hotel at 5am tomorrow!!

Day 1 Senggigi -> Sembalun Village -> Sembalun Crater Rim, overnight in tent
At 500am, we gathered at the hotel lobby, waiting patiently for the van to come to pick us up to the trek point at Sembalun Village which will be about 3 hours drive from Senggigi. It was a winding drive up the mountain which made me feel like puking especially after having breakfast in the van, but luckily we arrived soon after the thought of vomitting.  While some of them went to the Rinjani Information Centre (RIC) in Sembalun Lawang to register for the trek, some of us make use of the time to go toilet and collected our 1.5L mineral water.  We also met up with our 2 mountain guides, Mr Samon (think is right?) and trainee guide Mr Saras, and 13 porters.  Yes, we were all amazed by the large troop going up the mountain with us.  Basically, they will be with us for the 4 days, carrying our tents, utensils and food.  We also hired 2 more porters to carry our personal belongings.. each porter to carry about 20-30kg load and cost us about USD80 each (another inflation, it was communicated earlier to be USD60). Actually at first I thought all 9 of us (except Tony, who is carrying his own load) can pack all our belongings for the trek in 2 big backpacks.. well, it proved too much.. in the end it’s 1 backpack to 2 of us.

the porters wannabes

Ok, all ready to go now.  The time was 920am and we started our trek from Sembalun village.  A gentle ascent walking through open grassland with Mt Rinjani looming in front of us.

All ready to go!
Lush greenland

Rinjani.. looming ahead of us
Start of the ups

A steady hike for almost 2hrs+ we reached Pos 2 Tengengean (1,500 m) for our lunch (or was it Pos 3 Pada Balong (1,800m)??). There were also other trekkers stopping here for lunch.  At this moment, ominous clouds began to overcast the sky and it started to drizzle.. aiyo.. please please just rain only now.. praying for good weather for the rest of the trek.  We witnessed the rubber timing of our chef/trek. Waited for almost like 1hr+ (in fact for every meals) before we were served Lombok coffee and tea first.. The coffee was bitter, sugar required.  Lunch was maggi mee soup with an egg and generous servings of vegetables. Hot maggi mee soup was always the best choice of food for such weather in the mountain.. (*haha)

Posing before lunch

Worried that we do not have enough energy for the rest of the day, we were also given rice.  After the meal, it’s toilet break… we gals decided to walk further up the trail and find some bushes to do our small business.. the one and only sheltered toilet at the area, as advised by Zhix, was to hold your breathe and not to look down, finish it swiftly and run out.. arrgh… so guess the bushes were better.  Thanks to the guys who stand guard below and help to stop some porters/trekkers who are ready to go.

Cooking our lunch
Yummy maggi mee

After lunch, we continued the trek up to Sembalun Crater Rim (2,639m), this is about 3.5 hours climb amidst the pine-like Casuarinas species locally known as Cemara.  The trek was tiring especially we were moving higher in altitude.  I’ve to stop every now and then to sip some water and panting hard.  My legs also getting heavy.  This was just the 1st day of trek :S and I felt like I’ve trek for a few days!

Rinjani.. where we will be trekking the next day

At about 5pm, we reach Sembalun Crater Rim.  The view here was fantastic, all of us was so excited, despite the strong wind blowing at us, we jump here and there to take photos.. before we realised we’ve yet to reach our camp site.. Saras said we will need to walk across that little hill to our campsite at Plawangan Sembalun. Hmm.. we walk round the little hill, saw couple of orange tents, got excited started to pose for photo with the tents and realised it was not our camp site.. haiz.. another 20mins or so we finally reached! 5 bright orange tents waiting for us…

as if I am on top of the world.. hoo hoo

So relieved, we picked our tents, rushed in to start our powder bathing..  The tent was a comfortable tent for 2, we were rather impressed by the mattress they provided.  It was not those thin foam mattress, but was those soft sleeping mattresses we used at home.  Thus, sleeping in the tent with the sleeping bag (to keep you warm) was actually not that bad after all.  While we were busy powder bathing in the tent, Tony was outside urging us to come out.. “You guys don’t know what you are missing! the sunset was magnificent!!” *Toot—* nobody came out.. and soon night falls….

@ Sembalun crater rim

Dinner for the night was rice with curry chicken.  The curry was good, thou not spicy, chicken meat was bit tough for bite.. The guide informed us to wake up at 130am the next day and we will start our summit attempt at 2am.  After the hard and tiring trek today, some of us actually felt the strain and started to dread about the summit attempt the next day.. Heard some “shall see how tomorrow”…. ok.. don’t think so much now.. get some rest…

It was not easy to sleep at high altitude.  It took me awhile before I finally fall asleep and after I heard Tony happily telling someone “Wow, I saw 3 shooting stars…”  Zzzzzz.. good night.

~ to be continued ~