Postcards From Central Java: A Short Getaway With A Lifetime Memory

Going for a meeting during Jakarta’s rush hour can be quite a tough decision-making moment that its citizens have to face. You gotta choose between driving your car – or sitting comfortably at the backset of your Uber ride – but will be most likely late for your meeting, and order an online ojek (bicycle ride) that is twice faster yet could be quite tormenting with the humid weather and pollution rate.

If it’s for a meeting, or any time constraint events, I’d always choose the later.

Last Friday, I had an after office meeting, and only had about 1,5 hour to get into the meeting point. Thanks to Jakarta’s traffic, Google Maps told me that it would take about 2 hours. Not wanting to be late and in the name of trying to impress my potential client, I ordered the online ojek and hoped that I could get there in only 30 minutes.

However, I spent 1 hour and 15 minutes sitting on the motorcycle, with my driver trying his best to avoid every traffic jam that we encountered. The moment I arrived at the meeting point, I was drenched in sweat, and I stink like an old bus muffler. I walked directly to Topman to buy new clothes only for the meeting, and well, yeah for a wardrobe upgrade (LOL).

Anyway, spending 1 hour – which almost caused me a back pain – on a motorcycle, fighting your way through Jakarta’s cruel traffic made me missing a short getaway that I had just few months ago to Central Java. I’ll post details about several places and experiences that I got from the trip in another post. It was quite a short getaway over the weekend, yet it gave me one of the most remarkable memory that would last a lifetime.

As for now, please enjoy 9 best photos from that trip!

 

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The sky is blushing when the sun greets her in the morning.

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Sun-kissed.

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A loner looking for some gold.

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Because everything today has to be captured.

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Rockin’ my yellow jacket.

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Sitting above the clouds.

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A nice morning talk on the top of a hill.

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When you have the gleaming sunrise as your backdrop.

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The heights didn’t scare me. Imagining my camera fall down and hit the rocky bottom did.

Wait for more details of this trip, will ya?! Geesh, I literally have tons of content lining up to be posted here. Speaking of which, one of them will be good news and A BRAND NEW EXCITING stuff for The Perks of Being 20! Curious enough?

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

Postcards From East Java: Travel (is) Essential

Beauty is a matter of perspective. Take it from a guy who lived his high school life with zero nature traveling experience, thinking that beauty only exists in the city’s night life filled with shimmering lights and loud cranked up music. It was only a matter of time that I found my own definition of beauty.

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I was 15 years old when I started traveling on my own. My first solo trip destination was Japan. I was selected for a free international summer camp called PRIC. Boy, was my life changed. I never had a summer so profound that I came back with so much knowledge and passion to catch up to the rest of the world. More than that, I realised that my true definition of beauty lies in nature exploration. Since then, I pushed my spirit of exploration to the very limit, to discover more beauty to capture and enjoy.

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There are so much to discover. Even after I spent a full year of traveling here and there every month, I feel that I hadn’t done such a good job in exploring the world. I feel that I can explore so much more. There are more beautiful lakes to swim in, tall mountains to climb on and skies whose air I had never breathe in.

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There are animals I had never seen and there are more cultures I wish to soak myself in. I can never complete my exploration even if I spend a lifetime for it. Now that I graduated from college and a full time 9 to 5 staff, I can never accomplish my mission to travel the world. It is quite ironic that I am writing about how beautiful the nature is from the 27th floor of a tall building in the heart of a big city.

Even words fail to express how I miss meeting new people and traveling to places I had never set foot before.

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I guess that exploration is a lifetime work. Just because we’re growing up, doesn’t mean that we have to give up our dreams to see the world. Even more, our eagerness to see the world has got to grow as our time limit increases as we age. The challenge is to keep the spark alive, no matter how busy and how hectic life gets.

In the midst of my new schedules, responsibilities and sudden life changes, I will try not to forget my own definition of beauty, which lies in the true form of nature. To the sands on the beach, the birds chirping on a tree or even the sunlight blinding my sight, I will come back traveling for more of you.

Don’t let life gets in the way of traveling.

Keep exploring,

DR (@demasryan)

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The Last Part of Our Rinjani Hike: Summit Attack.

What kills your creativity? What causes you to feel stuck and uninspired? In my case, it’s as simple as being stuck in Jakarta without any traveling plan in the near future. As much as a person enjoys the busy life, at one point he would definitely need a break.

It has been two months since our hike to the second highest volcanic mountain in Indonesia, Rinjani. I don’t know about DR, but I already found myself wishing for a getaway. Out of desperation, I looked up for an empty weekend in November where I could make a little vacation out of this city. Even if it’s just a two days trip to Bandung, I would take it. Yeap, that is probably how bad my longing is towards a short getaway.

Scrolling through my Rinjani or other traveling photos that I had done this year doesn’t help. The longing to be out in the open space and enjoy the nature got worse.  A sigh of envious feeling and a terrible desire to be back in the mountain was what I released every time I saw a traveling photo in the Instagram’s explorer. Especially, if the photo was taken in Rinjani.

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I miss the hike. I miss sweating like hell during the hike. I miss sleeping in the tent. I even miss getting lost in the dark when we got separated from the group. To sum it all up, I miss feeling so alive. That was the liveliest or the fullest moment that I ever felt as a human being so far, I guess. The adrenaline rush was exceptional. The exhaustion was priceless. The determination to fight your own thoughts was irreplaceable.

Speaking of Rinjani, a shocking news about the eruption came just a few days ago. This caused over than 100 hikers had to be evacuated. Thank God, it didn’t happen when we were there. Although, it would definitely be one heck of a story to be told to our grandchildren in the future.

Anyways, three different postings about the hike had been posted here. Now, let us share with you the best part of the story, that we had intentionally kept as a closer. They say you gotta keep the best for the last, right?

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After two days of hiking, and arrogantly conquered the first half of The Seven Hills of Regret, we made it to the last post called Plawangan at around 4PM. Sea of colorful tents welcomed us warmly. Unaccountable other hikers were already there settling in their tents.

The first thing we did when we arrived at Plawangan was walking to the nearest spring to shower. Sadly, we couldn’t take a shower and get ourselves refreshed. We had to be content and grateful that we could at least washed our hands and brushed our teeth. It’s been two days without shower, and apparently we had to bear another two days without it. Well, at the end, just like what DR wrote before, a total four days of no shower was totally worth it.

A good rest was very much needed, because we had to wake up at 1 AM and started hiking at 2 AM. So, after spending the afternoon playing some games with the other hikers in our group, photo hunting, and having a decent dinner, we decided to hit the bed (read: sleeping bag and thermal mattress) early. By 7 PM, we were already inside our tent trying to sleep.

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The downside of sleeping inside a tent is that you can actually hear anything that happens around you. That includes a loud chatter from the other tents. I had trouble sleeping and found myself still wide awake two hours later, because all the other tents near us were so unbelievably noisy. They simply couldn’t stop talking.. until about 10 PM.

At that point, we already got a bit cranky but there was nothing we can do. It was not a luxurious five star hotel, it was a public space and there was no certain rule on what you can or can’t do. But let me give you the first unwritten rule of hiking: Please be considerate of others, especially at night when people are already craving to have a good sleep. Turn down your volume, stop talking, turn off your music.

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My alarm went off at 1 AM, waking me up with so much excitement. The feeling that you’re about to go hike a very high place for hours in the middle of the night was just indescribable. I immediately sat down, put on my headlamp, my hiking shoes, grabbed my bottled water, camera, and went out of the tent. A little tip for you, make sure you went to bed with the clothes that you will wear for the summit attack. This would save a lot of your time.

It was dark, but you can see hundreds of tiny dots coming from the headlamps that every hikers wore, making a very long line up to the highest point of Rinjani. At one point, I had trouble noticing whether it’s a headlamp or a little star in the blue sky because they actually looked the same.

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First timers would take about 6 hours to make it to the top. I made it in 4,5 hours, while DR was 45 minutes faster than me. That was the most intense 4,5 hours in my life.

I still remember walking 10 steps upward, and sitting down for 5 minutes just to regain my strength.

I still remember feeling very sweaty in the midst of a cold night because of the three layered clothes that I was wearing.

I still remember almost falling asleep in the middle of the dark during one of my 5 minutes rest.

I still remember not wanting to look up and deciding to fix my gaze on my feet, because every time I looked up I felt that the summit was so near yet at the same time very hard to be reached.

I still remember having the thought of giving up once I saw the sun rise. Not knowing that the summit was only about 10 minutes away from me.

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I still remember that moment when I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? What have I gotten myself into?”

I still remember taking my phone out to play one of my Spotify playlists with the loudest volume just to boost my spirit.

I remember a lot of things. But the most wonderful memory I gained was the moment I put my feet on the highest ground of Rinjani. The moment I sat down and enjoyed the scenery from 3726 metres above sea level. DR had his own memory about the hike that he has shared on his travel blog if you wanna read his side of the story.

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The view at the top is reserved for the uncommon people.

When I finally met DR at the top, we didn’t waste our time to only sit and do nothing. We did what we always love doing on a weekly basis: Exploring. While the other hikers were busy taking photos at the most common point in Rinjani, we went exploring around the area. Oh the thing we do to get some good photos.

To end this post, and sadly, to close our whole story about the Rinjani hike, here’s a vlog from the Rinjani trip, skillfully crafted by our friend, Omar Alvaro. Can’t wait for our next trip, which unfortunately up until now still remains as a mystery. Hopefully it won’t take too long until our next trip.

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Postcard from Rinjani: 4 Days With No Shower

You read that right. There was no privilege of shower, moreover the facility to poop without having to dig holes before it.

With that said, the summit view is only for those who are willing to pay the price. The price in this context also means becoming a 4 days shabby. Physical pain was not the only price we had to pay. Still, with that kind of situation, our curiosity to explore was unstoppable. We were always taking photos and posing whenever possible.

Why?

Because, we paid so much price to get to the summit. Personally, I would never walk back up the same mountain again. Might as well take some time to capture everything I could before leaving Rinjani for good. Anyways, here is a collection of photos from our cameras we think worth showing to you. In the short run, we hope that you will so intrigued by these images that you will climb the Rinjani yourself. Even when physical hygiene is one of the prices you need to pay.

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A group of foreigners having a picnic in the middle of the hike. They were always using improper hiking outfit. I wonder why.

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Climbing Rinjani on a national holiday is like queuing for a ride in Disneyland.

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The hills.

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More foreigner spotted.

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Capturing the fluffy white cotton candy.

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Ignore that pimple.

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The rocks we had to climb on to the summit. 2 steps up will bring us 1 step down. The key lies in perseverance.

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Summit view. Hey, we’ll post more photos from the summit soon! We’re kinda keeping it for another post.

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I look like a Mongolian.

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Woke up to this view.

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Woke up to this sun. It’s the same sun everywhere in the world, but it felt different when you’re in Rinjani. No kidding.

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HG was staying fashionable even without shower.

 

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Our porters who were on their flip flops, hiking here and there faster than a roadrunner. They have got to be on steroids!

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Preparing fish for lunch. Segara Anak Lake is where you can fish after going down from the summit. Be prepared for the devastatingly long walk!

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Last glimpse of Segara Anak Lake before we head back to the base-camp.

You can look at more photos on http://www.demasryan.com, or simply head to our previous post about Rinjani. Easy, you can even find those photos in our Instagram accounts.

If you ever see me, please don’t ask me: “When is your next travel?” That question really ticks me off because I won’t be traveling for a while until I graduate from my masters program. I wish I can explore again soon, preferably another mountain. As much as I love showering and pooping, I’d probably prefer being outdoor even without all those hygienic facilities. That’s the sacrifice I am willing to do.

With that kind of sacrifice, most probably, I won’t be getting a girlfriend anytime soon.

Keep exploring,

DR. (@demasryan)

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Breath-Taking Bromo. 2015.

I have only known Bromo from my geography class when I was still in Elementary School. I have never really seen the actual Bromo until Nan Triveni Achnas made “Pasir Berbisik” in 2001. That was my first glimpse of Bromo. And that was it, until this year.

My best buddy asked me to go with him to Bromo for his pre-wedding photoshoot. I was excited of course, but I didn’t really know what to expect. I have always been more of a beach person and was never really been a mountain person. The only concept I know about hiking or spending some time on a higher ground was camping in Puncak, or going to Bandung, West Java.

What got me all excited was the idea of spending several days with some of my favorite people, outside Jakarta. Bromo was only a place to go to. Another, so I thought, place for tourist to go sightseeing and then leave with some nice photos.

Apparently, I was wrong. The Bromo experience was way more than that.

We had to wake up at 3am to catch the sunrise. Okay this is new, I’ve seen too many sunsets, but I’ve never seen any sunrise. Normally, I’d still be sleeping when the sun rises. So yeah.

I was told that I had to wear mask to cover my nose, my mouth, specifically my lungs, from the sulfuric air. I was told to wear boots, because it’s not really a friendly environment for any of your beloved fancy kicks. It has to be boots. Well, if you love your shoes that much just like I do,  boots is the only option. I was also told to wear layers, so I did. I put on a comfy tanks with a long sleeved denim shirt, with a thick sweater (which I’d only wear in winter countries), and a super thick wool knitted shawl. I took it fashionably serious.

And there I was, stepping out from my comfortable hotel room at 3am. It was freakin cold, and the sulfuric air was undeniably annoying. The bright side though, the sky was full of stars, which was a rare thing to see if you’ve been living in Jakarta your whole life.

We hopped on to the jeep that would take us to our first stop, the Bukit Cinta (the Hills of Love, it couldn’t get any cheesier than that), to watch the sunrise. It took us about 30 minutes ride, I couldn’t really remember because I was sleepy as hell, and the journey was bumpy. It’s not really a good deal for your empty stomach to endure such trip that early – so a little tips, before you leave your hotel you might wanna grab a snack or bread, otherwise you might get all dizzy and wanting to vomit during the trip. And it’s all dark outside. Can you imagine being inside an airplane at night where you can’t really see anything and you have to experience a heavy turbulence? Yea it’s four times worse.  So I just closed my eyes and tried to sleep, even though I couldn’t, and prayed that this will be over soon haha.

We stopped at the bottom of the hill and we had to hike all the way up. It took me perhaps only 5 minutes or less to reach the top, but it felt like FOREVER. I was running out of breath.

When we got to the top, it was almost 6am. The view was magnificent. When the sun made its first peek behind all the mountains – like a shy cute puppy hiding behind a wall, I literally held my breath and stopped moving. It’s really beautiful and it lasted longer than watching a sunset. I couldn’t describe it in words here, you have to experience it yourself.

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Sunrise

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First time experiencing Sunrise

We climbed down the hill at 7-ish am. And moved to another spot, the Savana, it’s a huge cogongrass (ilalang) fields. The sun was out already, but it was still freezin cold. Some of the grasses even had ice on it. From the Savana you can see the top of Bromo covered in mist.

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The Hills of Love

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Savana

We had a break for breakfast which we brought from the hotel and ate it inside the jeep. Oh by the way, we were staying at Java Banana Hotel. I’d really recommend Java Banana because it’s very comfy, clean, has good service, and most importantly the foods were delicious. I dislike hotels that can’t serve good foods.

Another stop we made was at the Pasir Berbisik. I’ve never been to Dubai and went to its Desert Safari, but I’ve seen some photos of it in Google, and from what I saw, this Pasir Berbisik area is pretty much the same. As far as you could see, it was all white clean sands greeted by the blue sky and rocky mountains afar.

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Savana

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Pasir Berbisik

We took a lunch break, and a short power nap before we continued our journey. I didn’t really remember what was the name of our last stop, but it’s pretty much like the Savana, but it’s quite far and pretty much hidden. We spent the afternoon there, enjoyed the mesmerising golden hour, which as you can see from the photos were pretty much look like the Desert Safari in Africa. From to Dubai to Africa.

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Golden Hour

We waited for the sunset before we headed back to the hotel, changed our clothes, cleaned up, packed our bags, checked out and left the hotel. We continued our trip to Surabaya, but that’s another story. We left at 7pm and arrived in Surabaya at 10.30pm, I slept all the way of course.

So yeah, to sum it up, here are some few tips to Bromo first-timer:

  1. Make sure your powerbank and camera are fully charged.
  2. Wear boots! My boots were all dusty.
  3. Wear layers!
  4. Had a mini breakfast before you leave the hotel.
  5. Choose your travel companions wisely, I thank God for this troops I traveled with.

 

HG. (@gersonhenry)

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The Bromo Troops