Conquering Mount Ijen

Upon receiving our itinerary for the Indonesia trip, I immediately reviewed the places we were visiting. One of the activities listed was "Midnight Hike to Ijen". Obviously, I wasn't really excited about it because I'm not the type who enjoys hiking up (and down) a mountain. I can still remember my friend laughing at me when I told them we were hiking up a mountain. All my friend was able to say was "Good luck." -- pretty much what I needed.

Fast forward a few days later and I find myself boarding a ferry at 5 in the morning to Denpasar, Bali. After the (not so fun) ferry ride to Bali, we headed straight to the airport to hop on a plane to Banyuwangi. We got in our hotel at around 3-4 PM and suddenly it occurred to me that at 12MN we start our climb to Kawah Ijen. I tried my best to force myself to sleep at 5 PM so that I wouldn't be so restless when we start our ascend to Ijen at 12MN. Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping at 9PM. Woke up at 11:30PM to prepare my stuff and get ready for the climb. We all met up at the hotel lobby, got oriented, and boarded the jeeps that will take up to the starting point of the climb. Luckily the drive was about an hour from our hotel so we were still able to catch so more sleep.

Note that the reason we wanted to climb up Ijen at 12 MN is because we wanted to catch the blue flames. You will only be able to see it in the dark so better if you leave at midnight if you also want to see this.

Kawah Ijen

We arrived at the starting point at around 1AM. It gets a bit chilly here (well for me at least) since the temperature plays around 10-15 degrees C. Better bring clothes for the cold if you're like me and you easily get cold. Gloves are available to be purchased (10,000 IDR) at the starting point too just in case you forget to bring a pair. Also make sure to have hiking boots on (or anything that helps you get a grip on the floor) since the trail can get pretty slippery.  For other equipment, make sure you have a gas mask with you even if you don't plan on going down the crater lake since the smoke usually goes up and reaches the trail. 

The hike up is okay. It's not hard but it's not easy either. It took us about 2 (or was it 3) hours to reach the top mainly because we kept on stopping every now and then. There are benches strategically placed (mostly in steep areas) where you can sit down, rest your legs, and catch your breath.

I wasn't really planning on creating a separate post for Mt. Ijen but after reaching the summit and seeing how beautiful this place is, I felt that it deserved to have its own post.

We reached the summit at around 4 in the morning and we were debating if we should go down (700m hike down) to see the blue flames. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time considering how slow we were going, if we went down, we won't be able to see anything anymore since the sun was about to rise. What we did was just to continue on the trail to a higher point to catch the sunrise. It was unfortunate that we were unable to see the blue flames in person but the sunrise from the summit was also a treat. Everything looked so dreamy and obviously, I went crazy and took a ton of photos. Ha!

DSC03619.jpg

Being up in the summit and watching the sun rise was just magical. 

DSC03483.jpg
DSC03528.jpg
DSC03520.jpg
DSC03592.jpg
DSC03635.jpg
DSC03571.jpg
DSC03643.jpg

Gorgeous mixture of light and fog (or sulfur smoke?) covering the landscape of Ijen.

DSC03637.jpg
DSC03650.jpg
DSC03660.jpg
DSC03690.jpg
DSC03666.jpg

We found a pretty spot to take photos and obviously, we all wanted a photo on that same spot. Haha!

DSC03732.jpg
DSC03703.jpg
DSC03697.jpg

We were hoping to see the lake from above but the fog was pretty thick and we weren't really able to see it clearly.

DSC03710.jpg
DSC03734.jpg
DSC03747.jpg
DSC03773.jpg

Probably the best photo I can get of the lake with the fog covering it. The Kawah Ijen lake lies at 2148m above sea level and is surrounded by the volcano's crater walls. The vent is a source of sulfur and collectors actually go up and down the mountain everyday.

A bit of trivia for everyone: Ijen is actually a quiet buy active volcano. 

DSC03781.jpg
DSC03817.jpg
DSC03825.jpg

View of the trail from the summit. Look at how small those people are!

DSC03837.jpg
DSC03856.jpg
DSC03857.jpg
DSC03870.jpg
DSC03898.jpg

For people who get tired during the hike, there are people who go around with these carts (usually used for carrying sulfur around) who offer taxi services. You can ride these up (or down) the mountain for 500,000 IDR (around 40 USD)

DSC03906.jpg
DSC03921.jpg
DSC03919.jpg
DSC03887.jpg

I initially thought that I would dread this trip to Ijen but I was wrong. It was actually one of the highlights of my trip to Indonesia. The hike was definitely worth the view. If you ever find yourself in Banyuwangi, maybe you can try and book a trip going up Mt. Ijen. Just make sure that you are in top shape and have the correct gear with you. Better to research the stuff you're going to need before climbing up!

 

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders

Exploring Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia

Continuing our adventure around Indonesia, from Makassar we flew back to Jakarta and boarded another plane going to Lombok, the main island in West Lesser Sunda Island. After a couple of flights, we finally landed. We boarded the bus and headed straight to our hotel to sleep before exploring the island.

We left the hotel at around 8AM and headed straight to Sasak Sade Village.

Sasak Sade Village

We were greeted by these local playing traditional music as soon as we got down our bus. Sade Village is a traditional village found in Central Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat. Houses in this village remain traditional. The roofs of the houses here are made of alang-alang leaves and the walls are made of clay and cow manure.

Interesting trivia: our guide also told us that in Lombok Island, if a young man wants to marry a girl, he must ask the hand of the girl from her parents and negotiate the marriage proposal. If the family does not agree, the man must kidnap the girl and take her to his house. After kidnapping her, he will report to the village chief about his elopement and the chief will negotiate on behalf of the young man to the girl's family to accept his marriage proposal.

DSC02823.jpg
DSC02826.jpg
DSC02835.jpg
DSC02833.jpg
DSC02844.jpg
DSC02839.jpg

Before going around the village, they performed a few of their traditional dances for us.

DSC02848.jpg
DSC02860.jpg
DSC02850.jpg

Above: Tarian Gendang Belek - Welcoming dance | Below: Petuk Dance - Dance performed during circumcision ceremony

DSC02865.jpg
DSC02880.jpg
DSC02892.jpg
DSC02881.jpg
DSC02884.jpg

Above: Perisaian Dance - To celebrate Indonesia Independence Day and to appoint a warrior | Below: Amak Tempengus Dance - a dance to entertain the warriors who return from war

DSC02899.jpg

After all the performances by the villagers, we started going around and the first thing I noticed are these beautiful sarongs and table cloths made by the women in the village. Naturally, we all went crazy and bought a bunch to bring home to family and friends.

DSC02938.jpg
DSC02919.jpg
One of the villagers showing us how to weave ikat cloth.

One of the villagers showing us how to weave ikat cloth.

Gorgeous details

Gorgeous details

Walking around the village

Walking around the village

Tiga Gili / Kepulauan Gili

After going around Sasak Sade Village, we got lunch and headed to the port to ride a speedboat to Gili Trawagnan. 

Tiga Gili  (Three Gilis) / Kepulauan Gili (Gili Archipelago) is an archipelago of three small islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air - just off the northwest coast of Lombok.

Our bumpy speedboat ride to the island

Our bumpy speedboat ride to the island

DSC02998.jpg
DSC03017.jpg
DSC03012.jpg
DSC03032.jpg
DSC03036.jpg
DSC03055.jpg
DSC03067.jpg
DSC03059.jpg

The next morning, we got on another boat to go snorkleing around the archipelago. We got to spot a few turtles while snorkeling (such an amazing sight to see!). Love how clear the water is Gili Air. We got to spot a bunch of fish in the area! I really need to get myself an underwater camera so I can take photos when we go snorkeling. :(

Aleah (solitarywanderer.com) 

Aleah (solitarywanderer.com) 

DSC03071.jpg
DSC03106.jpg

Trisha by the beach in Gili Air

DSC03119.jpg
DSC03088.jpg
DSC03133.jpg
DSC03136.jpg
DSC03170.jpg
DSC03179.jpg
DSC03198.jpg
DSC03265.jpg
DSC03287.jpg
DSC03291.jpg
DSC03316.jpg

Our last sunset in Gili Trawangan before packing all our stuff and getting on a ferry at 5 in the morning the next day to go to Denpasar to fly to Banyuwangi.

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders

Exploring Makassar, Indonesia

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a friend asking me if I wasn't busy. I wasn't sure why she was asking if I wasn't but as soon as I answered "Nope, I'm free. What's up?". She immediately asked if I wanted to come to Indonesia. At first, all I was able to say was "Weh?? Di nga?" (It sort of translates to "What? Really??"). I couldn't believe that she was asking me if I wanted to come. I think I even teared up a little. I've been wanting to go to Indonesia for the longest time and I'm so glad that it finally happened. I've been to Indonesia before but it was only for a weekend so I don't think that counts. Ha! Fast forward to a few days after the phone call, I found myself at the airport (still in shock that I'm going to Indonesia for 11 days!) meeting up with my friend who called me and new faces also traveling with us. We were to explore Makassar, Lombok, Banyuwangi, and Bandung (I'll be writing one blog post per place just so the entry doesn't get too long.)

We arrived in the middle of the night in Jakarta and was scheduled to leave at 5 in the morning to go back to the airport and fly to Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi. Our first stop in Indonesia.

We arrived in Makassar just right before lunch. We hopped on the bus and made our way to Bantimurung National Park. The park is in Maros Regency, 50 km north of Makassar (an hour drive) or 20 km from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport (30 mins drive).

At first I thought that we had to hike somewhere to reach the waterfalls but luckily it was just an easy stroll. At the end of the path, the Bantimurung Waterfalls will greet you.

DSC02131.jpg
DSC02148.jpg
Bantimurung Waterfalls

Bantimurung Waterfalls

DSC02158.jpg
DSC02161.jpg

This path leads to a cave which unfortunately I wasn't able to get to. 

DSC02175.jpg
DSC02202.jpg
DSC02190.jpg

One of the many activities you can do in this place is rent a life saver and ride down the water. It seemed really fun. I kinda felt bad that I wasn't wearing proper attire and didn't have extra clothes with me. Else, you'd see a photo of me here in a life saver riding down the falls. 

There are also huts around the park so you can just sit and listen to the sound of the water falling while having lunch or a cup of coffee. 

DSC02318.jpg
DSC02235.jpg
DSC02234.jpg

Day two in Makassar, we woke up early to head to the dock and ride a boat to Kodingareng Keke Island. It is one of several uninhabited islands in the region of South Sulawesi. The island is located 14km from Losari Makassar, or 20- 30 minutes from the island of Samalona.

DSC02337.jpg
DSC02331.jpg
DSC02344.jpg
Morning scenes at the dock

Morning scenes at the dock

DSC02370.jpg
DSC02375.jpg
DSC02377.jpg
DSC02391.jpg
DSC02404.jpg
Kodingareng Keke Island

Kodingareng Keke Island

After about 30 minutes, we finally saw the island. We couldn't wait to get off and start swimming! The water is super clear. And just from the shore, you can already start snorkeling. Tip: Better wear some aqua shoes or sandals if you plan on swimming since the corals might hurt your feet. 

DSC02446.jpg
DSC02448.jpg

There were boats parked at the shore and of course, we didn't let this opportunity pass! We grabbed our cameras and started taking photos. Haha!

DSC02473.jpg
DSC02490.jpg
DSC02515.jpg
Snorkeling

Snorkeling

DSC02552.jpg
DSC02555.jpg
One of the participants, Motulz, drew the island while we were there.

One of the participants, Motulz, drew the island while we were there.

This is Samalona Island where we had our yummy lunch by the beach.

This is Samalona Island where we had our yummy lunch by the beach.

Makassar from our boat ride going back

Makassar from our boat ride going back

DSC02356.jpg

On our third and last day in Makassar, we tried out some local food (Yay!)

DSC02681.jpg
DSC02684.jpg
DSC02677.jpg

Pallubasa - a traditional food found in Makassar. It is made from long boiled internal meats/organ parts of a cattle and is served with slices of meat and an egg yolk on top. 

DSC02745.jpg
DSC02699.jpg
DSC02788.jpg
DSC02794.jpg

Making Jalangkote - a fried pastry with veggies, some egg and meat. 

DSC02771.jpg
DSC02772.jpg

Left: Fresh from the fryer Jalangkote / Right: Es Pisang Ijo - It's banana warpped in sago flour dough and served with ice, coconut milk and rose syrup. It's one of the most interesting desserts I've had in Indonesia. It's one of South Sulawesi's specialties so if ever you find your self in the area, don't forget to try it!

That's it for our Makassar adventure. After all the food we ate, we headed to the airport to fly to our next destination, Lombok

 

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to be part of their blogger tour #TripOfWonders

Exploring Batanes

You know that feeling you get when you get too excited about something and you feel vomiting? That's what I felt when I was the airport waiting for my flight to Batanes. This place has been on top of my "places to visit in the Philippines" list. I can't believe that I can finally cross that out. 

I slept through the whole flight. Luckily (and thankfully) I got startled when the captain announced that we were preparing for landing. Obviously, the first thing I did was look out my plane window. The only thing running through my mind was "Holy crap I'm here!" Batanes looked amazing from above which got me even more excited to explore this place.

This is going to be a very long post (probably my longest post yet!) so I hope you guys like the photos!

DSC01904.jpg
DSC00806.jpg
DSC00841.jpg
Mt. Carmel Chapel

Mt. Carmel Chapel

This chapel is beautiful. It's just sad that during our visit, it was being renovated. 

This chapel is beautiful. It's just sad that during our visit, it was being renovated. 

Usual sights when driving around Batanes

Usual sights when driving around Batanes

DSC00962.jpg
DSC00927.jpg
DSC00992.jpg
DSC00959.jpg
DSC00999.jpg
DSC01007.jpg
A device used to measure how hot sunlight is!

A device used to measure how hot sunlight is!

This is one of many tunnels built by the Japanese during the war. First time to actually go inside a cave. It's amazing how deep these tunnels go.

This is one of many tunnels built by the Japanese during the war. First time to actually go inside a cave. It's amazing how deep these tunnels go.

Waves from Boulder Beach

Waves from Boulder Beach

DSC01075.jpg
DSC01142.jpg
DSC01123.jpg
DSC01086.jpg
DSC01085.jpg
DSC01177.jpg
Of course, this was my favorite part of my first day! Spaghetti (Filipino style) and Halo-halo!

Of course, this was my favorite part of my first day! Spaghetti (Filipino style) and Halo-halo!

DSC01193.jpg
Vayang Rolling Hills. One of the many beautiful sights in Batanes

Vayang Rolling Hills. One of the many beautiful sights in Batanes

DSC01213.jpg
DSC01211.jpg
Lighthouse at night

Lighthouse at night

DSC01246.jpg
DSC01257.jpg

Woke up early on our second day to ride the ferry to Sabtang Island. The boat usually leaves at 7 in the morning and goes back around 12-1 PM. (If you plan on visiting Sabtang, make sure not to miss the ferry going back because the next one will be on the next day)

Believe it or not, the arch you see there was naturally formed! Amazing right?

Believe it or not, the arch you see there was naturally formed! Amazing right?

DSC01339.jpg
DSC01265.jpg
DSC01309.jpg
DSC01311.jpg
DSC01314.jpg
DSC01320.jpg
DSC01321.jpg
DSC01348.jpg
DSC01351.jpg

The houses in Batanes are usually made of stone because typhoons would normally pass this island so they had to build something sturdy to withstand the typhoons

Oldest Bahay na Bato in Batanes -- Almost 100 years I think!

Oldest Bahay na Bato in Batanes -- Almost 100 years I think!

DSC01357.jpg
DSC01358.jpg
DSC01362.jpg

Above: We passed by a house that was open so we took a peek inside. This is the kitchen area of the Bahay na Bato. Trivia: The Bahay na Bato houses usually are big because the living area (where the bed, living room are) is separated from the kitchen. The story behind it is so that when something catches fire, the whole house won't burn down and it will be easy to contain the fire. And also, for hygienic purposes, the toilet is very far from the house.

Below: If by chance you get left behind by the ferry in Sabtang island or you just want to experience what's it like to sleep in a Bahay na Bato, there are a few places in the area like this one that you can rent for a night.

DSC01376.jpg
DSC01379.jpg
DSC01383.jpg
DSC01410.jpg
DSC01428.jpg
DSC01451.jpg
DSC01469.jpg
DSC01477.jpg

So nice to see that in the middle of their small town is a mini library where children can borrow and read books.

Our boat driver uses his foot to steer the boat. Pro.

Our boat driver uses his foot to steer the boat. Pro.

DSC01493.jpg
DSC01505.jpg

Flights to Batanes are usually only in the morning because of their erratic weather. I was told that it was easier to determine the weather in the morning than in the afternoon. So usually the airport is already closed in the afternoon and the runway is open to the people if ever they want to bike around of jog. It might not look it but the runway of the airport is actually uphill.

DSC01569.jpg
One of the many lighthouses in Batanes

One of the many lighthouses in Batanes

We got to meet a shaman of one of the fishing villages in Batanes. 

We got to meet a shaman of one of the fishing villages in Batanes. 

DSC01644.jpg
DSC01846.jpg
DSC01671.jpg
This is the church where they held the first catholic mass in Batanes

This is the church where they held the first catholic mass in Batanes

DSC01766.jpg
DSC01786.jpg
DSC01763.jpg
DSC01757.jpg

We saw this man from afar fishing. What he does is every time a wave comes in, he would throw his net to catch fish that ride the wave. We were lucky that we ran into him on the road after taking these photos. He showed us what he got and told us that he was planning to make Kilawin.

DSC01775.jpg
DSC01776.jpg
The people in Batanes usually ride bikes or motorcycles to get around the place. You would rarely see cars here.

The people in Batanes usually ride bikes or motorcycles to get around the place. You would rarely see cars here.

DSC01787.jpg
DSC01779.jpg
DSC01821.jpg
DSC01830.jpg
DSC01828.jpg

A visit to Batanes wouldn't be complete without visiting the Honesty Store. This store has no shop keepers. What you do is if you want something, you get it and drop your payment in the bin. You would also have to log your purchases on the notebooks on the table.

DSC01899.jpg
DSC01858.jpg
DSC01876.jpg

Looking back at the photos, I still can't believe that I finally got to visit the place and see everything with my own eyes. I don't think my photos did justice to the place. Everything about this place is amazing. The food, the sights and the people were all amazing and I'm so glad that I finally got to visit this place.

 

To whoever reached the end of this post, I highly recommend that you plan a trip to this beautiful place ASAP. (also thank you for your patience in reading the whole post!)

Mövenpick Hotel in Cebu

I've always wanted to visit Cebu. Last April, I finally got the chance to visit. It was my first time in Cebu so naturally, I checked where to stay online. I stumbled upon my friend's post about Mövenpick Hotel in Mactan Island Cebu and decided to look it up. I asked around and heard good things about this place (and their ice cream too!). Let me give you a mini virtual tour of the place:

DSC09252.jpg
DSC09238.jpg
DSC09275.jpg
DSC09244.jpg
DSC09362.jpg
DSC09303.jpg
There's this game area where you can play pool or table tennis if you're all beached out.

There's this game area where you can play pool or table tennis if you're all beached out.

DSC09314.jpg
DSC09498.jpg
DSC09308.jpg
View of the pool area from above (aka dangling my camera 10 stories high)

View of the pool area from above (aka dangling my camera 10 stories high)

DSC09542.jpg
DSC09319.jpg
DSC09335.jpg
We also tried out Ibiza Beach Club's Balearic-inspired signature 15 course grill. Didn't get to take photos though since it was really dark. You'll just have to try it if ever you find yourself in Movenpick. 

We also tried out Ibiza Beach Club's Balearic-inspired signature 15 course grill. Didn't get to take photos though since it was really dark. You'll just have to try it if ever you find yourself in Movenpick. 

Mornings by the beach

Mornings by the beach

Lounging at Ibiza Beach Club

Lounging at Ibiza Beach Club

DSC09428.jpg

Disclosure: This post was made in collaboration with Mövenpick Cebu