Thursday, November 29, 2012

withdrawal symptoms

On the first day at work after my lombok trip, I kept asking myself "What am I doing here?". I work in a cubicle. And it was the last place I wanted to be in. My mind kept wandering to all the places that I wanted to go.
Bad case of monday blues plus travel withdrawal.

do u get withdrawal symptoms after a trip?

I get them pretty bad.

I have no more leave for the year. Time to plan for the next one. 

a simple life

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Lombok life ~ R&R ~

So after we descended from the mountain, we headed towards Klui Beach, where our villa was waiting for us. It was a 2.5 hour journey by car. We were all shacked out, thighs aching, sunburnt, parched, yearning for a good bath and a good meal.

Jeeva Klui was my choice of retreat to recover from the climbing for the next 3 nites. I'm glad I chose it because it was just simply PERFECT. When we arrived, we were greeted with a refreshing ginger welcome drink and a cold towel. Heavenly. I booked the Amra Villa which could fit 4 persons, 2 single beds on the lower floor and a master bedroom on the upper floor. Darn the stairs though! It was so painful to walk up and down with our aching legs! Other than that... there was nothing else to complain about. The villa was just what we needed to recuperate from the harshness we placed on our bodies over the past 4 days. It was the first time I stayed in a villa with our very own pool!

The food was fantastic and reasonably priced for a hotel. We had complimentary tea time at 3pm everyday, breakfast was ala carte buffet, u could order as many dishes as u wanted and it was all great! We ate so much that we may have put back all the weight we lost...heh. So I drank my favourite cafe latte in the morning and a iced cafe latte every afternoon, better than starbucks quality. Spending time just relaxing with my favourite coffee, watching the waves crash on the shore..That's the way life should be.


Breakfast was a real treat! 

Sunset at the beach
Restful sleep for 3 nites- Finally some respite from farting and snoring boys.
Klui beach was private and clean, definitely much better than Senggigi beach. However it was a little rocky, I regretted not bringing my booties along. Those hawkers still managed to sneak in though, so when I saw them I quickly retreated back to the infinity swimming pool. There was a living room where we could use a Mac computer, read books and play games.We could also rent dvds to watch in the villa.

So we just relaxed for 2 days at the resort, only traveling out for dinner to Senggigi. There are many restaurants to choose from, but not many shops. November is low season (rainy), there wasn't much nightlife, the restaurants were pretty quiet. There were a few massage places, but somehow they did not appeal to me, I booked the massage at the hotel (twice the price compared to those outside) and it was great! Open air concept, overlooking the beach, listening to the sound of the waves as the masseuse removes all the tension in the muscles....




I booked a day trip to snorkel around the Gili islands, and there were so many turtles swimming around on the reefs of the Gilis! We saw small and huge turtles, I must have seen at least 8 turtles on the snorkeling trip. The water is really clear and there are a lot of colourful fish, a few big fishes now and then, couple of triggerfish also. Lunch was on Gili T, which had a very backpackerish feel to it. Many dive schools and resorts on the island, the place was buzzing with people unlike Senggigi. I heard that the showers are all salt water,  wonder if its the same for the higher end resorts? For diving we would be better off going to the southwestern gilis which I would return for another time. It was the last nite in Lombok so I chose a place on the beach to eat, called Warung Menega in Batu Bolong, they served grilled seafood, similar to Jimbaran Bay in Bali.. The food was very good, much cheaper than Jimbaran Bay,  and we watched the sunset at our table on the beach.

Diving boats

Glass bottom boat

Suntanning cat
Ciclomos only on Gili Trawangan, no cars  
Streets of Gili T
I prefer Lombok to Bali. Lombok is beautifully raw, is less touristy/commercialised, I hope it stays this way for some time, but looking at the construction developments on both sides of the road it might not be too far away that it becomes like Bali. There is nothing much to buy here, the fashion is way out, but food and drinks are cheap, people are really friendly, scenery is great. I will definitely return to Lombok! Had such an eventful and rejuvenating 1 week here, it was really difficult to leave.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A life goal accomplished - Climbing Mountain Rinjani

WARNING: extremely long post.

This was probably the toughest/most dangerous thing I had ever done in my life. First time I climbed up a mountain/volcano, I had put this item in my list of things to do before I died.. It was my own challenge to push my body to its limits. And my body, if u know me well enough has its habits of breaking down at the wrong time by attacking itself. At the back of my mind I was very afraid that there would be too much sun, not enough sleep and too much exertion that I would not be able to take it and flare up. I prepared myself by taking lots of vitamins and TCM 6 months before, tried to climb bukit timah hill a few rounds, worked out at the gym to prevent that from happening.

View from Puri Rinjani

As the only girl in the group, (this is the second time, first was the backpack Europe trip) another fear was being too slow for the guys and holding them back from reaching wherever we needed to go, so I really tried my best to keep up.. we were 4 guys and a girl - only 1 of us (the youngest and fittest) reached the summit as the road to the summit was just too steep and frustrating and we wanted to save time for the rest of the trekking program.. Even though I did not reach the summit (we were only about 300m away equivalent to 1 hour away according to guide), I felt a sense of achievement just by completing the 4D3N trek.

Thank God for keeping me safe and not spraining my ankle though it gave way so many times during the trek, causing me to stumble...I did not get any rashes/diarrhea/joint pain. Even though I could not sleep half the time. Total amount slept for 3 nites- maybe 8-9 hours? I am the worst sleeper ever, even with ear plugs and an extra pillow i carried around for 4 days. Soooo many things could have gone wrong. But all I suffered were a few blisters, a tan and I came out of this ordeal alive without having to be heli-evacuated. Oh and the volcano didn't erupt!! So I'm alive and kicking to blog about it!

Breakfast Time!
We set off for Lombok on Saturday 10th November on the silkair flight and arrived at about 620pm at the relatively new Bandara Internasional Lombok Airport. We were greeted by Mr Awenk, the trek organizer we engaged. It was a 2 and a half hour journey to the Puri Rinjani homestay where we would be retiring for the night. On the way, Mr Awenk bought us some street snacks like murtabak, coconut kueh and some keropok, and we demolished all the snacks in no time..We had a home cooked dinner at Mr Awenk's home/office at Senaru which was a nice touch, then we packed our stuff for the trek and went to sleep.

Porter and our supplies
Up at 7am - banana pancakes and coffee for breakfast. The rest of our luggage was kept in the office. The transfer to Sembalun Lawang in a truck took about an hour. Finally started off on our trek!

My backpak was kind of heavy, I really regretted not hiring a porter to carry my backpak. It was a 2 hour trek to the first rest stop where we had lunch. Accompanying us was 1 guide and 4 porters. The porters carried all our sleeping bags, mattresses, tents, cooking stuff, food and water - consisting 2 live chickens as well, plus they wore slippers. RESPECT.

Macaques were our companions
Maggi mee soup
Lunch was maggi mee soup and rice with lotsa vegetables plus hot tea. Thank God we all did not have any stomach problems cos we were doubtful about the water source the porters were using to cook. Then onwards again for another 5.5 hours til we reached the campsite at the crater rim. As we ascended upwards, the path got more difficult as the air got thinner, I had to take more rest stops to recover, some parts were so steep I was on all fours. My hands were all black. I was glad that we had brought trekking sticks along which we used during our practice runs on bukit timah hill. Walking in the clouds was a cool experience too, the higher we went, the colder it got.

The cooking station

Rest stop in the clouds- see the white background?

Thats me with my orange backpak

Toilet tent- so difficult to use!
live chickens
tiny little trees
After hours of groveling around in the volcanic ash to reach the campsite, we were greeted with a magnificent view of the crater lake Segara Anak, Gunung Baru, and the surrounding mountain ridges. A toilet tent was set up, with a hole in the ground. I sat in my tent and admired the beautiful sunset around me, as the porters started to prepare dinner. Nasi Ayam Goreng was delicious, what a treat to get fried chicken up on a mountain. After dinner, it was time to sleep because we had to wake up at 2am in the morning to climb to the summit. It was just strange to sleep so early, can't remember when was the last time I went to bed so early, it was difficult to sleep even though I was bushwhacked.

Sunset at 6pm
Crater rim campsite

Amazing we climbed so high up
As the sun rose, the sun rays started streaming in across the lake

The Summit
My Tent
I woke up at 1am, started dressing up for the cold, had some tea and biscuits and off we went with our torchlights. I was overdressed. Had to start taking out my jacket after 15 min of walking. It was getting harder and harder to breathe, the terrain was so unfriendly, I kept slipping backwards and was so slow. It was the most difficult part of the climb-1 step forward 3 steps back. Volcanic rocks- bane of my existence. I had to use the surrounding rocks for support, my legs were giving way, the summit looked as if it was getting closer but it still seemed out of reach, after crossing one ridge you see even more ridges, and finally at 6am, 4 of us gave up and started our descent. The guide said that from where we stopped we would take another hour to reach the summit, but that would also mean adding another hour to the descent, perhaps maybe even more, in our physical state. Kinda regretted not working out harder. I was probably too tired from the trek the day before (cos my backpack was so heavy) and the lack of sleep did'nt help either.

These rocks killed me! This is where we stopped to take a rest, enjoy the sunrise, and a bite, then headed down again.

On top of the world: Morning light

Going downhill was scary cos it was so slippery, I fell down so many times, slid down on my butt many times, my backside was so black. Slipping and sliding all the way back to the campsite. We ate breakfast, then packed up and headed off to the Lake Campsite. Walking down was really bad for the knees. It was Rock path x1000 difficulty. I had several abrasions on my legs and hands due to the rocks I had to hang on to climbing down the cliffs. Treacherous rocky paths next to cliffs. But awesome views of misty mountains and valleys. Lunch was at the lake, Chicken Lontong. We rested for a bit and headed off to the hot springs for a much needed bath. It was a great relief for our aching muscles, minus the algae and sulphur smell.

Gunung Baru Volcano

Admiring Segara Anak
When we returned to the lake it was time for the chicken slaughter. I didnt have the heart to look at the chickens getting slaughtered.  The 2 live chickens became Ayam Bakar. Kampong chicken is very chewy and has very little meat. I gave up after chewing on one piece. The porters took our leftovers and fried the chicken parts again. They also caught some fish for their dinner. After dinner it was time to sleep as it started to rain. Simple life. Climb, Eat and Sleep.

The crater lake from the top
Finally we can rest!
In the clouds
In the morning we headed off towards the crater rim, where most people camped if you took the 3d2n program. It was another difficult climb cos our thighs were aching like crazy. Of course I was the slowest ..... It was as if we were training to become monkeys, some areas are so steep it was like rock climbing, using our arms as well to push ourselves up the rocks. And so we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the lake at the crater rim, and after that downhill again, which I found running was easier than trying to walk, but toes kept jamming against the front of the shoe. Lunch was yummy mee goreng with hot tea and coffee. We were in the clouds again, and there were slight drizzles.

Gorgeous lake

Beautiful mountains and valleys
Lake campsite

Taking a rest
 Down again towards our waterfall campsite. We walked much quicker this time round cos we really wanted to camp at the waterfall. Now this part of the trek was on more familiar terrain - through a forest, similar to bukit timah hill. It was very cooling and much easier to navigate around the tree roots. It rained when we reached POS Extra. We found some leeches and killed them. The rain lasted for more than half an hour so we had to walk in the rain with our raincoats.

1.5km to the waterfall!!!
 First time I saw a leech
Finally we could hear the rushing sounds of the waterfall! It was lovely getting a cold bath and massage at the waterfall. We felt CLEAN for once. We were the only ones camping at the waterfall, so we had it all to ourselves. As it was the last nite we stayed up later, played tai-ti, talked with the guides and porters. We tried a sambal vegetable dish where the guide picked the vegetables from the forest during the trek earlier, and tried their version of rum, and it was time to sleep (at 8pm!!!)

Bath time & massage time

The Familiar Forest
Being a porter is not easy!
Waterfall campsite, getting ready to leave
We've come to the end of the trek!

Saying goodbye at the office in Senaru

So some people I met during the trek said that this is much harder than Mt Kinabalu, so if you are considering going there, you might want to try Mt K first. The terrain is rough even for guys' standards especially the rock climbing parts, the only SUPER difficult part is the last 300metres of the summit push where the air is really thin and rocks are frustrating to the max. The rest is really doable, provided u are prepared to walk for at least 7 to 8 hours a day on an inclination. And of course u can't bathe until u reach the hot springs and the waterfall which is like 2 days later. Wet wipes and prickly heat powder FTW. I must say I enjoyed the trek, getting back to nature, basking in the magnificence of the mountains and feeling so insignificant next to them, everything else just fades away. Simple pleasures of inhaling fresh mountain air, admiring the sunsets, looking forward to a bath at a waterfall, is worth the punishment to the legs and roughing it out, besides, we all lost weight. I felt so proud of myself, I felt so brave to have completed such a feat, it was a feeling I have never felt for a long time.

I would most likely climb Mt Kinabalu next! Or maybe Mount Fuji??? Excited to plan my next climbing adventure! Anyone else wants to sign up?