Alright, so I slacked at the end of my trip at blogging. I’m writing this post after reading through my travel journal. I want to have the whole trip documented here.
After Singapore Martha and I flew to Bali, Indonesia. After paying to enter the country we took a van to Padang Bai where we spent the night. In the morning we took a ferry to Gili Trawangan, one of three Gili Islands (Meno and Air are the other two). These islands are tiny, and no vehicles are allowed. We stayed at La Boheme Hostel. I think this was my all time favorite hostel not because it was nice (it was just fine), but because it was so friendly. Everyone there wanted to get to know each other so we made a lot of good friends. Gili is really famous for it’s insanely aqua blue waters and intense sunsets.
Basically we spent five days watching sunsets, bar hopping (each night a different bar is designated the party bar so the island can share the business), and walking around. It was beautiful but all tourists and horse drawn wagons which I thought was unnecessary because you could bike the whole island in like 45 minutes. And on an island like Gili, you’ve really got no where to be in a hurry.
Mike, Ben, Mar and I went snorkeling off Gili Air which was cool because I saw my first sea turtle in the wild. Mar and I were itching to go diving again after that. At one point when Mike, Ben, Mar and I were swimming I got absolutely taken out by a wave. Like my entire swim suite came off. So that was cool.
After four days on Gili we decided it was time to hike Mount Rinjani, something I had been looking forward to for months. This three day, two night trek was one of the most challenging things I’ve done physically and mentally. They don’t tell anyone how hard climbing this 3,724 meter volcano really is because the guides really need the money. I’m up for a challenge but I really didn’t know it was going to be as hard as it was. I was so out of shape at this point. I hadn’t ran since I left in May. We ate too many pancakes in Thailand and drank too many Bintangs on Gili T haha.
We got a boat to Lombok to start Day one of the hike. It was a steep uphill hike for five hours. I got blisters approximately one hour in (from lack of wearing anything but chacos and flip flops for three months). I knew I carried those tennis shoes around for three months for a reason, but that reason was not to get gaping blisters. I still have scars from on my heels two months later!! Epic battle wounds! Thank goodness for Rory, aka Lolly, and his blister thingies that saved my life. I hiked about half of each day of this trek in my flip flops.
We spent that first night at a base camp on the ridge of the lake. It’s a sick view when there are no clouds but unfortunately we spent the evening in a cloud so the view was not picture worthy. The crater lake of Rinjani has another little volcano that grew inside of it! The next day we hiked down for a couple hours to the lake where some of us went swimming. I passed on that because I thought it was too cold out! We also went to a hot spring for a little bit where people swam! Then we started the hike uphill for about 4 hours. This was even more uphill than the first day. I remember the last hour being very hard on everyone. Each step got harder as our quads got more tired. We made it to base camp two where we were level with the clouds. This was a great night. We could see a volcano on Bali from where we were. We were all exhausted but had good attitudes. Unfortunately, Rinjani is pretty dirty. It gets many visitors and the guides often leave trash on the mountain. Our guides were conscious of taking the trash with us and reusing bottles. I think they are learning, as in many parts of Southeast Asia, that taking care of the environment is important.
The group we had on this trip made it worth every step and kept me going mentally. Lolly from London was silly while Caroline from the Netherlands was bubbly and dramatic in a good way. Moniek was a cool girl from the Netherlands who quit her job, boyfriend, and sold her house to move to Australia. Alice and Katherine were chill girls from London who later went on to survive a shipwreck off Komodo. More on that later. We all bonded so quickly and the dynamic personalities of the group made my Rinjani memories so rich. As we drank our tea we tried to keep the “tinder fire” alive by blowing on it and adding more tinder every five mintues until there was no more tinder to be found. It was like stirring a pot of soup and adding more ingredients. It lasted a lot longer than any of us expected.
We all woke up at 2am the next morning to prepare to hike to the summit of Rinjani for sunrise. After some breakfast and tea we started our ascent up the treacherous volcanic ash slope. Two steps forward, one step back. It was dark but the super moon guided us so head torches were not necessary. I’m thankful I could not see too far ahead of me. Not knowing how much further made it easier. It was two and a half hours for some of us and three for others to the top. It was hard, but SO SO SO worth it. And because it was so hard, it was even more rewarding. At the summit, we froze. Two Kiwis (hooray for kiwis!) saved us by lending us a sleeping bag (brilliant idea). We all cuddled for half an hour while we waited for the sun to start rising. The view from the summit was so rewarding. All of the hard work we put in was gratified by that view. Words cannot describe how accomplished we all felt.
After appreciating the view we basically ran back down to base camp. It was fun because we just flew down, digging our feet into the ash, kind of bounding our way to the bottom. After we packed up camp we continued down, seven hours in total that day. I’m not even joking when I say we literally ran down this dirt hill for hours because it was harder to try and walk. Our toes became so sore from the pressure against our tennis shoes that we all went in our flip flops after a while.
That was Rinjani, one of the highlights of this three month trip. Our Porters are the strongest people I’ve ever met. These men carry supplies uphill, with only one day off per week. I thought it was hard with only a small bag, but to carry what they carried… I can’t even imagine. These people have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but they make good money in their society from people who want to summit Rinjani. And our guide Sap was so humble and kind to us. All and all an incredible trip!