PLASTIC PATHWAYS THROUGH THE JUNGLE
(photos from the mountains and area surrounding a volcano in Indonesia)
From Jakarta we ride into the mountains to climb a volcano. Not a very relaxing way to start a trip:
- If they don't have exact small change at the quickie mart, they give you a little piece of candy instead.
- New euphemism for a "special friend" = live blanket.
- Seeing traditional muslim head scarves being sold next to t-shirts with Avril Lavigne on them.
- Sitting in an alley eating gado gado from a street vendor while a stray cat takes a shit in a gutter four feet away and stares at me the whole time.
- While climbing the volcano Mount Gede, we see monkeys!
- Sitting in a natural hot spring river under a full moon watching the steam rise in slices of moonlight cutting through the surrounding jungle.
- Our guide Frans doing half the hike up and down Gede in flip flops.
- Crossing over slippery rocks on the edge of a steaming scalding waterfall.
- To climb the volcano takes two days, the night we spend sleeping halfway up is freezing. We all huddle in our tents and try anything we can to keep warm. The ground is really cold and just saps the warmth out of you when you lie on it. I only have a fleece liner for a sleeping bag, I'm wearing my warmest clothes (shorts and a rain jacket), and stick my feet inside my messenger bag. I dream intermittently of people bringing me blankets in between many hours of tossing and turning on the cold hard ground.
- Before going to bed, Greg and Conrad spent most of the night trying to light a fire. None of the wood would burn, even when made into little shavings. Frans interceded and tried the "Indonesian way," which meant burning a bunch of plastic. Even that didn't work.
- Spending half the second day climbing the rest of the way up Gede, to the summit and ridge overlooking the smoking and sulfurous crater. We are well above the clouds, and they surround us like a lumpy white sea.
- On our way down we find even better hot springs.
- Our mountain guide Aba was amazingly cheerful and energetic. He literally ran down most of the mountain on our descent, and at the bottom was doing push-ups while we rested.
- Both guides, Frans and Aba, were smoking a couple packs a day on the way up and down the mountain.
- All of our legs are destroyed after the hike. For literally three days we all grimace any time we have to go up or down steps.
- Conrad gets sick. It takes him a week to shake it, even though his eye is still messed up.
- Chloe serenades us in the morning with her violin.
- Playing dominoes on the top of some weird diving platform as the clouds/fog rolled in.
- Little kids LOVE to have their photo taken when they get to see it on the camera afterward.
- Skeletons of kites caught in trees.
- A little kid who wanted a photo with Ira's "Kill Your Television" tattoo.
- Having a crazy time trying to disassemble our bikes and cram them into the backseat of the bus to get out of the mountains and down to the coast.
- The people of Indonesia have been exceptionally friendly and helpful, more than anywhere else I have traveled.
"Apa kabar" = How are you?
"Mantap" = Perfect.
"Air" = Water.
"Rasanya enak" = Taste's good.
"Tambah" = More.
"Selamat siang" = Good evening.
"Gunung" = Mountain.
A little video of us riding along the north coast of Java, more on that in the next post:
• Eddie Ray - You Are Mine
A band's place at last.