Thursday, April 10, 2008

Indonesia is Chaos, I love it.

Jakarta  april 10th 2008
Written in the Jakarta train station. Taken from my journal.

Indonesia is Chaos, I love it. I’ve been here for about a week now and already I can tell I have a future with this country.  Last weekend Jeanette and I went to Puncuk Pass,  a tea plantation about 2 hours outside Jakarta. We left early in the morning and managed to arrive before noon on Saturday. We spent the day exploring the hills of tea and checking out the amazing views. At one point we took a path through the rain forest which led us to a small lake which we later discover was the rainbow lagoon. The whole area was populated with macaques (small monkeys). Out in the open they were very friendly and mostly ignored us because we had no food. Later on we came upon a large family of them on a path next to the lake. There wasn’t much room with the mountain cliff to our left and a small cliff down into the lake on our right. But the monkeys were not at all impressed with our unannounced arrival. They quickly went on the offensive and started running at us and screeching only stopping when we would through sticks to keep them at bay. It was like tribal warfare, in the forest I was just another monkey throwing sticks to defend myself. They eventually disappeared into the trees but we kept our sticks well after their disappearance.  When leaving the lake we noticed it was fenced at the front and a few officials seemed confused as to how two foreigners managed to get in without paying. We payed the entry fee on our way out and tried to explain that we came from the rain forest but the idea seemed lost with them. The place we were staying at was high on the mountain giving us an excellent view of the valleys below and distant volcanoes.

 The next morning we rose earlier and made our way through the small town of Cipanas by onkat (small public van). We had heard rumors of beautiful waterfalls somewhere on mount Gede which towered above the town . We made our way through a park and down some well kept paths and found the first waterfall after about 20 mins. 

After that we started the trek up mount Gede after seeing signs for natural hot springs.  It was quite an incline and I was out of shape from my easy going coffee shop job back in Canada. The path at least was well kept. We met only one other group of foreigners during our whole stay, I think they were French. Judging by their gear they were bird watchers, this area was well known for a few rare species only on the island of Java. One hour into the trek we reached the first Waterfall, a beautiful 30 meter fall over a cliff into a small pool. There were also less people here because of the climb. After cooling off in the water we continued up the trail which was getting  steeper as we went further up. Jeanette busted a flip-flop but managed to repair it with a hair elastic, true travel genius.  It took another hour before we reached the hot springs by which time the sun was setting. Wait a minute. Sunset. We suddenly realized we are two hours hike up a mountain in the jungle and in about 25 minutes we were going to be in total darkness with no flash lights. Also the condition of the path had gotten worse the closer we got to the top. We decided to check out the hot springs and than make a game plan. The hot springs turned out to be treacherous! At a point the path started to go through the hot springs. The mountain wall was to our left and where the wall met the path scolding hot water gushed from the cracks burning our feet. The path was barely 2 feet wide, the water gushed forth and over the cliff edge falling further than we could see into the rainforest covered mountain below. Steam rose all around clouding our vision. A thin rope about knee height was all that prevented us from falling over the cliff edge as we traversed the slippery rocks and burning waters. The rope seemed more of a danger than a safety measure, it was at perfect tripping height. We reached the other side at last, our feet bunt and cut. On the other side we met a group of Indonesian trekkers who had been trekking the mountain for the past 4 days. Luckily they were well prepared. They had flashlights.  They offered to guide us down through the dark, we were very grateful. Ishmael, who spoke the most English, even let Jeanette borrow his sandals; he went barefoot and still managed to go faster than us. He hopped down the uneven terrain beyond the reach of the flashlights in bare feet with a 35 pound pack in total darkness.  We made it back down in about 2 hours through the pitch black of the rainforest.  We joined our new friends for a drink in a local shop not far away. What a weekend. To this day we are still friends with Ishmael, who lives in Jakarta. We learned a few good lessons that day.

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