Mount Rinjani and the holographic pyramid

 

Note: The Romanian version on Alpinet.org Click here! (varianta in limba romana)

 

I love volcanoes and I love stepping on the Moon. It’s a great feeling and it gives me a big dose of energy. I already wrote about this while I’ve been climbing Mt. Merapi in Sumatra. And I want to feel that again!

Mt. Merapi as an active volcano which daily spews smoke over Sumatra

I arrived in Lombok, a small island in the middle on the Nusa Tengara small archipelago of Indonesia. This is a touristic paradise for many foreigners which are coming to the tropical Indonesia. And it’s very close to Bali, becoming the twin island. The capital city of this province is Mataram and my friend Dragos lives here.

Of course, the beaches are fantastic here and everybody loves them, but I came here with another purpose: climbing Mr. Rinjani.

Well, this Mountain is an active volcano which soars 3,726 meters over the Sea and the island of Lombok. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. What is so interesting about this mountain is the massive 6km wide caldera on the top of the mountain.

Otherwise, this volcano looks like a upside-down bucket with a glass of water poured in. Within the mountain is a crescent shaped lake, the breathtaking Segara Anak (the Child of the Sea in translation) which is about 6km across at its widest point. This lake of sulfur is located 600 meters below the crater rim. Rising from the waters of this lake is a new volcano, Mt. Baru, which is a result of a series of eruptions during the 1990’s.

The newest volcano and the lake

Dragos told me some stories about the lake, being mystical place. The Balinese come here each year and perform a ceremony where money and jewelry are chucked in the lake as an offering to the mountain spirit. This occurs usually at the end of October, so Dragos wants to be back then to catch up with those people again. But even this time he cannot accompany me, being busy with the Immigration staff..Haha..I already finished that and I’m sniggering at him.

There is a great phenomenon which occurs there almost all the time. Being situated on the Equator, as a great geographical position for the Sun, from the summit at dawn a holographic Pyramid is formed. Is a shadow of the mountain with the Sun in the back side. But, what is so amazing, is that the shadow is a perfect pyramid (or triangle) and not the shape of the mountain. Some friends of mine from Romania saw this shadow in different mountains, and the explication is just as an optic phenomenon closed to the position of the Sun.

Top of Mt. Rinjani, the holographic pyramid and the lake seen at sunrise

I left Mataram at 6am to approach the mountain a.s.a.p. After waiting for different buses and pick-up cars to give me a lift there, I finally arrive with a bunch of students with the same idea. I started climbing at 11am heading up to the Col, where I want to camp during the first night. The Sun is high on the sky and it strongly burns me. Usually everybody has to hire a guide/porter for the ascent, but I got lucky being a student in Indonesia and part of the MAPALA (Mahasisa Pecinta Alam = students who love nature, the student mountaineering association) as well.  Was very funny because absolutely everybody was asking me why am I alone and not with a porter/guide. My answer was simple: MAPALA!

A porter carrying heavy equipment

The landscape was amazing, a massive hill rising up into the clouds, similar to a savanna with small trees widely spaced. Crossing that thick layer of clouds I arrived in the Col and I met different people, especially foreigners.

My group of friends from Bandung I started with, didn’t come at the same place, they were slowly but sure and camped under the Col. So I was on my own there, but having the Blarney gift, in a matter of minutes I mingled with the guides and the local people and I got a place where to sleep and we shared together the food.

Savanna landscape in the mists

I spent my first night in a porter’s tent, where I couldn’t sleep almost at all. The Indonesian love to smoke, and they really smoke in the tent! By the way, the percent of people who smoke in Indonesia is 99%. Of course, they love to smoke, specially the clove cigarettes. So I woke up at 2am and at 3am I started my ascent during the night to be on the top at the dawn.

The sunrise over Mt. Rinjani

And so I was, I arrived on the top at dawn, just before the sun rised up. Were some people over there shouting and saluting the Sun. It was very cold as well. So called that I had to use my socks as gloves, cause otherwise my fingers would have frozen. The weather was perfect and I could see everything what I dreamed to. The Bali’s highest mountain, Agung, the lake, the volcanic crater and the Sea with its small islands.

The old crater on the top of the mountain

What was the most exciting thing is that I was able to see the holographic pyramid which I was waiting for years. I saw many natural or meteorological phenomena as Aurora Borealis, Brocken Spectre, Sun and Ice pillars, halos, sea of clouds and this one was on my to-see list. Now I got it and I am extremely happy!

Remember, I told you it was cold… I forgot how cold could it be into the mountains. I got used with this tropical climate and I mislaid my mind. Without having gloves to keep my hands warmed, I used a pair of socks. When Tatiana, am Russian-named American girl asked me to take a picture together (we’ve climbed together) I couldn’t refuse her…But I mislaid to take off my gloves. So I have a great picture from the top with socks on my hands..Epic!

with Tatiana, a Russian-named American girl on the top of Rinjani

Later on, I descended to the base-camp which is at almost 2700m high. There I’ve been sleeping for two hours and go down to the lake. On the way to the lake I had part of a great light and many stunning landscapes. I also met loads of people going up or down in both directions.

Descending to the lake

At the lake, a massive base-camp where all the people were fishing. They served me with some raw fish and rice.

Indonesian people fishing on the lake

Down, there is a place called Goa Susu, in translation the Milk’s Cave, which is a small cave with strong. Hot pot! Cool, I missed something like that. Being situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire’s Belt, this mountain has a strong geothermal area. The locals love to come here to take a bath or to enjoy spending time in this hot watersprings. I stayed all night long here, relaxing and even taking a nap. I was very tired, and I couldn’t imagine something else to relax.

Two young Indonesians taking a hot bath

I decided to camp here, to sleep in this part for the second night and tomorrow to continue my way down. Of course, the Indonesian hospitality was at a high level, so soon enough, everybody invited me in their tents, served me with some rice and noddles and I shared my food with them again.

I’ve been sleeping over 10 hours and at the first hour in the morning everybody was packing. We are leaving! So I got some guides down the mountain. If I came by myself and yesterday everybody was asking me why am I alone and with no guide, today I got 10 guides! I’m sure the other tourist I met on the way down considered me very rich 🙂

The forest people guided me down the moutain

After 5h of descending I barely felt my legs, I was very tired. But I couldn’t complain at all, cause I saw on that path many women walking and scrambling with baskets on their heads and on the bare feet. And the road wasn’t easy at all!

Huge Valley and the Indonesians descending

Down in the village, I got an ojek (a motorcycle taxi) lift to the bus terminal, where I missed the bus with just 20 minutes. A nice man came to me trying to help out, and he proposed me to go with him to the next village from where I can hop in the bus. And he wanted just 1$ for this (10.000 rupiah), but being very tired I understood 10$ (100.000 idr), because in Indonesian the word are pretty much similar. (Sepuluh – ten; seratus – hundred) and I started arguing with him cause I’m sick and tired of getting ripped off.

Later, I was hitchhiking and I got a lift by some ppl from Singapore, and then I realized what mistake I have done. Sorry for that!

I finally arrived back in Mataram and I met Dragos. What an amazing experience to see Indonesia from above. And that pyramid as well!

20-06-2012, Mataram, Lombok, Indonesia

Advertisements

Dangdut show and the baptist mass

I met Horia, on internet. He was another Darmasiswa student with the same ideas of traveling. He went to Papua and PNG last year and I called him many times to gather information. I started reading his blog as well. In December, before Christmas I visited him in Solo-Surakarta, Java.  He is the first Romanian backpacker I’ve ever met, and I was for him the same. Well, birds of a feather flock together, they say.

So what is the best thing you can do in Solo? Going to visit the Sultan’s palace or to see the batik (the Indonesian traditional textile) museum? Yes, but maybe.

Horia knows this better so invited me to see a Dangdut show.

What is Dangdut?

Is the Indonesian popular music with some Hindu and Arabic influence over the Malay style. It is very similar to the Balkan turbo-folk. People from the lower class are loving it. And they are over the heals in this thing.

The Indonesian people making the Dangdut show

 

Usually a lady, a sexy bomb, is the vocal of this show, followed by 10 musicians with all kind of traditional instruments. The lyrics are fantastic, for example: Saya kerja keras / untuk beli beras = I work hard to buy rice;

But much better is to see this movie. Until the end!!

.

It’s the meeting place for many transgenders, or lady-boys in slang. Even the toilet sign is written for them. For ex. in Indonesian man = pria, woman = wanita, lady-boy = waria.

The toilet with the transgender’s sign

 

It’s a good dilemma though. Where to send them? If he’s a woman isn’t supposed to go to the Women’s toilet? Or maybe… Anyway in Indonesia, the transgenders are struggling a lot, due to the strong religious rules. But in Jogja or other big cities are even schools for them, religious schools as well, as a try to integrate them into the society. Horia told me he went to this kind of school, where the people are going to pray, reading from Al-Quran and later on straight to the Dangdut show.

The Indonesian transgenders cracking

 

I’m not a great fan of this music though, but in the end, the show is amazing and for sure is something to snigger at.

.

Next day, sunday morning. Usually the Christians are going to the church for the mass. There I’m heading too, this Sunday. But why?

Keluarga Allah is a nice church in Solo. From outside looks like a shopping mall with parking place, barrier, lifts, offices, shops…but inside…well, inside..

Inside of the church, a great show is ready to start

Inside, this church looks like a cinema. Or maybe like a concert hall. But much better than the dangdut from last night. With some American influence, this Baptism has a new view, much more attractive. I was shocked when I entered inside…for free. I thought they’ll going to ask me for ticket, exactly like when you’re entering in a concert hall.

The preacher is the number one, he starts singing, and then everybody’s following him, dancing, shouting and in the end even crying. It’s amazing how he can change the voice and tone suddenly from laughing to crying. Check out this video I have taken there.

.

With recital, orchestra, choir, musical band and even laser show, people praying, singing together and crying, this church show was the best crack ever. I love churches, I really do…but not for their mass, God forbid. I love these “crazy” ideas, imagination or other aspects, a different view of religion.

I’m a biggest fan of this.

and in the end, I believe this religion comes perfect for the Javanese and their lifestyle. 10 golden stars for this!

Jogja. Borobodur and Prambanan

Yogyakarta aka Jogja is situated on central Java and is the most popular city in Indonesia. It has a kind of bohemian style of life with many artists, singers and is easy-going and very cheap. It is the centre of fine art and culture, especially batik and it is world known for its batik – the Indonesian textile and for these 2 temples: Borobudur and Prambanan. Is the second main touristic attraction of Indonesian after the tropical Bali.

At 5am I arrived from Jakarta by night-train. I met Adjie who quickly became my guide and my friend there. So, we’re on the Malioboro Street, which is a boulevard where all the artist, students and street salers usually meet. You can buy everything what you want, you can bargain a lot and you can eat and drink as much as you want to.

night-life in Jogjakarta. Horse-carriages on the way

 

The Indonesian are known for their horse-carriages, rickshaws and other bicycle-wagons for carrying people. And they love to harass you by honking loud all the time at you. And if you’re not careful enough you might end up in one of those wheel-things without realizing that.

Souvenir market on the Malioboro Street

And this street is the best place to buy some crafts, souvenirs or batik, the Indonesian textile. Very cheap as well, if you know how to bargain. One thing is interesting in Indonesia, many shops don’t have prices, they just make up a price when they see you. If you’re skin is white, being a tourist you get a massive price, that’s the golden rule in Indonesia. But otherwise, you can get up to 60% discount if they like you.

a Batik shop, the traditional Indonesian textile for sale

I came here in Jogja first time in December last year, where I visited my Australian mate, Nick. We were having a party and next day I had to go to Surabaya to catch a ship and I couldn’t go to see Borobudur. But right now I came specially for this. And with Alina, another Romanian Darmasiswa I hit the road towards Borobodur.

the Borobodur temple

Borobudur is the biggest Buddhist temple on Earth. With many platforms and stupas and more than 500 Buddha statues, Borobudur was discovered 1814 by a British statesman, Sir Thomas Raffles, which was the founder of the Singapore state. The temples dates early in the 9th century, but a volcanic eruption covered this temple for 1200 years. The temple was built in Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty and shows the Indian influence on this area.

Borobudur’s panel relief’s walls

These bas-reliefs in Borobudur are showing many scenes of life in 8th century Java. Different trades, temples, mythical spirits such as asuras, gods, boddhisattvas and so many others. You can see the whole history of the ancient Java with many subjects as economy, fashion, transportation or architecture.

For example, this is the most important relief of Borobodur: Queen Maya riding a horse carriage retreating to Lumbini to give birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha.

the birth of Buddha’s relief

a Buddha statue

Borobudur has many statues of various Buddhas, all are seated in a lotus position.

Buddha’s statue sitting in the lotus position

At first glance, all the Buddha statues look very similar, but there is a small difference between them in the position of the hands or the orientation.

I wanted to say that this place is very quiet, but the place is crowded with tourist and everything what you can here is just the click noise of the cameras. I’d like to come another time, during the Waisak (the birth of Buddha) or Nirvana, to see the traditional Buddhist festivities.

.

Later on, having a free time I decided to go to Prambanan, the other temple of Jogja. This time I will see a Hindu temple.

the Prambanan park

Prambanan is called the most beautiful Hindu temple in the world. It was buit in the ninth century during the reigns of two kings namely Rakai Pikatan and Rakai Balitung.

On internet I read about a legend, but nobody told me there about that. As the story tells, there was a man named who loved a woman named Roro Jonggrang. To refuse his love, Jonggrang asked the man to build a thousand statues temple only in one-night time. Then the request was almost finished when Jonggrang asked the villagers to pound rice and to set a fire in order to look like morning had started. Feeling to be cheated, Bondowoso who only completed 999 statues cursed Jonggrang to be the thousandth statue.

another temple in the Prambanan complex

Prambanan is dedicated to the Trimurti (three forms) as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva), from which the Shiva temple is the tallest and largest structure.

the interior garden

Similar to Borobodur, Prambanan contains many walls with relief panels, some of them with birds, others with Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit epic.

another wall with some panel reliefs

A bass-relief with Ramayana

.

Indonesia consists of a 88% of population of Islamic religion, which is relatively new in Indonesia. Not more than 400 years when the first Arab merchants came to Aceh in Sumatra and brought this religion. After I visited this ancient temples, the Buddhist Borobudur and the Hindu Prambanan I cannot stop asking myself. It’s not a pity not following this old and beautiful religions? with such an old and conserved history? I am a big fan of these beliefs, but usually a religion means other interests.

Jakarta, a social phenomenon

So, I hit the road east and the first stop was in Jakarta. About Jakarta I have told all my friends that this massive city is a social phenomenon. With tribal villages between skyscrapers, with the most expensive shops in the world and nasi goreng (fried rice) sellers in front of them and with so many extra-crowded trains or buses with people on top .

Ibu Kota Jakarta (Mother-town Jakarta, the Indonesian word for the capital-city) is the largest city in Indonesia and in SE Asia with more than 10 million people. Was known as Batavia during the Dutch occupation and was developed as a trade-city for many merchants from all over the world.

Jakarta view in the middle of night

 

.

My idea was to come here for 4 days, to attend the closing ceremony of Darmasiswa, the scholarship I got last year, to get the visa for Papua New Guinea, to do some shopping, especially for my equipment and to meet some friends of mine.

First thing Darmasiswa. Darmasiswa is a scholarship program issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia for all the countries Indonesia has relationship with. So students from all the countries of the world are coming to Indonesia to study art, culture, crafts, traditions as well as the language.

Darmasiswa scholarship attendants

 

I came here in the end of September with a German and a Hungarian friend, arriving in JKT in a Monday morning, 8 am. We were sent to the hotel and we started to explore the city. Of course, we got ripped off in a matter of seconds by eating some fried stuff from the street.

Later on, during one week of staying here I met so many friends from all over the place. And this time was the perfect opportunity to meet some of them again.

the Serbian girls from Solo – Surakarta performing a photo shooting before the dance

But this time, as I figured out, everybody speaks Indonesian and I could easily communicate with some Asian students or other people which cannot speak English so well.

Each university presented  a show, singing some Indonesian cultural songs or dance some traditional tari (the Indonesian word for dance). For example in this picture are some students from Madagascar, which are studying in Sumatra, dressed in the Minangkabau traditional outfit.

the students from Madagascar dress as “Orang Minang” (Minangkabau region man)

Next day I took a stroll to Monas, the word for Monument Nasional. This is a 130m tower which represents the fight for independence. It is topped by a flame of gold, called the flame of independence.

Monas, the National Monument of Indonesia

Briefly, Indonesia became independent from the Netherlands in 1945 and Sukarno was the first President from ’45 to ’67.

Unfortunately, the museum which is downstairs Monas, wasn’t open, but in the park was a kind of social-democrat election party and many people all over.

Monday 11am I was at the PNG embassy. It took me almost 3 hours to arrive there, sweated to hell. I completed the visa application, I got my picture, everything seemed normal and the next day I had to come back. All’s well, except that Tuesday they told me is just a minor problem, the machine cannot print the data on my visa, because my arriving date in PNG will be on 30th August. Bloody hell!

So 4th June – 30th August – more than two months ahead and then I have to get the visa from Jayapura, the capital city of the Indonesian Papua.

Mount Merapi

Just after I’ve climbed Mount Merapi, I realized what I like most in my life. To go out of this world. And how do I do that?

By stepping on the Moon. Sounds a bit funny, but what I mean is that are some places in this world who resemble the Moon. Usually there are some volcanic deserts, covered by ash and rocks. And when I walk and hear the volcanic ash squeaking under my feet I feel like I’m witnessing the creation of the world.

Mt. Merapi spewing smoke over the island of Sumatra

Mount Merapi (or sometimes called Marapi) is an active complex volcano situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire in Sumatra, one of the biggest islands of the Indonesian archipelago. It means Mount of Fire in Indonesian and it belongs to Padang Highlands, a part of the Barisan mountains which are sweeping down towards the coastline of the Indian Ocean.

Seen from above, the whole mountain range looks like a bombed field with a plenty of craters, volcanic lakes and wrinkled valleys.

A crop of the Sumatran map, issued by Google

My friend Kalli, an Icelandic ranger showed me in Asbyrgi the encyclopedia of volcanoes. This beast spewing smoke into the sky was on the cover of that massive book, being one of the most representative smoke eruptions registered.

Mt. Merapi puffing smoke, seen from Bukittinggi

Otherwise I have had part of a great climb with some great guys from UI, Univerisity of Indonesia, Jakarta. Thanks to my close-friend Fahmee, I steped again on the Moon, but at this time I was floating on a cloud above the abyss.

people from Mapala Padang, and Universitas Indonesia. from Ripto

It’s the Final Countdown!

Eight months passed since I came to Minangkabau. A new bunch of friends, experiences and dreams. But I got the most important thing. This baby, this project. Now it’s time to hit the road again.

For all those who supported and helped me, you will never be forgotten!

So long, Minangkabau!

.

When I arrived here, I had part of some traditional dances.

And just before I was preparing to leave, I ran into them again:

But this time, I tell them:

Farewell and adieu to you, Indoes Ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Minang…kabau;
For we’ve received orders for to sail for New Zealand
But we hope in a short time to see you again!!