Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Wonderful Mount Bromo -- Indonesia

I probably hate myself for the lack on consistency nowadays I would rather cuddle my little one than work in my office desk. Just like today, It's a Monday, feels off-peak though and I am on a 12-hour shift. Yes, I've been praying my shift to be over since about 3 hours ago.

Anyway, I better get started on this long overdue Mount Bromo post. Right after Kawah Ijen, our itinerary is set for Mount Bromo which is located nearer Surabaya Airport. We headed back to the homestay, packed our bags and checked out. 

It's a good thing we managed to negotiate with the rented cars to take us directly to Cemoro Lawang, a town in Bromo. It was way easier for us than to go by the bus.


As we arrived pretty late in the evening, it was chilling but I didn't bother checking what the temperature is because the pain in my broken ankle is getting more serious. There was a number of people gathered where the car stopped. They were drivers and homestay owners and care takers. Basically, people who usually deals with tourists. It was the right crowd we needed. We found a homestay, the 4x4 deal who will take us to Mount Bromo by 1:30AM and a ride back to Surabaya Airport all in one. 


We initially reserved a homestay at Cemoro Lawang but when we get we asked them, no one could tell us where the homestay is and ended up renting the homestay at the back of where our new found friends was. 

There was this guy about his 50's. Very friendly and helpful giving us directions and some tips. Turned out he was looking for passengers going back to Surabaya the next day. We then gave a haggled price just as what we read from other blogs, about 500,000 IDR = 51 SGD. Suprisingly, he didn't ask for any increase. The travel agency was asking 750,000 lowest price. This was a risk we took and we turned out to be so damn lucky since they warn us its impossible to get 500k. Guessing from his strategy, he wasn't getting any luck of getting a passenger going back to Surabaya that day so he had to agree than get nothing at all. We agreed meeting at 8:30AM just as where we met in getting back to Surabaya.

Fer and I hurriedly took the room, of course in a perfectly haggled price. We asked the locals where to get something to eat, turned out only one is open. We got to try a local noodles shop that serves beer perfect in that cold night weather. 
We had a nice chat at the restaurant about 50 meters away from the homestay and met a cute German baby cuddled by his friendly Daddy, 6 months and already climbing the mountains with her parents! Wish I could get the courage when I have my baby, but then again... Nope! I cannot imagine how they feed the baby in those long hours of travel at the same time they should be equipped with nappies, distilled water and the formula, not to mention clean clothing! I salute these parents.

Alright, passed one hour, we decided to call it a night. I had the hardest time cleaning myself up. I have done it the quickest way though. We were in our deep sojourn sleep when someone kept knocking on our door. I feel it was a little late for someone to check in at about 11PM and I got paranoid when I saw how someone could easily kick and break the plywood door open. We had to ask who was it first before we opened the door. It was a younger guy who said to be looking for the tickets we got earlier that we already handed off to the other guy who was going to drive us to Mount Bromo. He was scratching his head and walked away.

We immediately fell asleep under the cold night.

Fast forward to after 2 in a half hours. We are ready to hop in the jeep, especially me in my condition. As negotiated, we had the jeep all for the two of us, yeah.. plus the driver. The night was still deep, too cold for me but I managed. 

IMG_0013 copy 
I know, I'm nowhere close

As we reached the top, we hurriedly setup our camera for some long exposure shots. We were so excited to find our we were the first ones to be there. Camera mounted towards the endless dark skies end until my world just fell apart. First, I was wondering why my camera won't focus. Then, ERROR. It felt like my mind was blurring like a mad dog, disappointed but I tried not to ruin the day. I just told myself that it's just another bad luck, it'll pass, I won't be able to get one shot of that dream long exposure. T_T but, it will pass.... :)


Fer was nice to let me borrow for a quick ones on the Bromo mountain, I feel its too much to use her camera for long exposure but she had me take a few ones. If you guys intend to take some long exposure, be there as early as possible, we arrive at about 230am and we wished we were there another hour earlier, it was like a market place bustling in minutes. 


We just found ourselves pinched in the metal railing at this overlooking facade. People are all over the place, all holding their cameras. And I'm the one who dont'! We had enough at about 6am so we decided to go down. The view is amazing! No words can describe how beautiful the view was. I will live to you, as usual my photos does not do the view justice. You have to see it with your own eyes.


Approaching the sunrise, we met with the black ashes and wonderful sunrise shadows. A group of men would usually gather around and ask you for a ride with a cost of course. This is one of the tourist attractions and people earn a living by a pony-like ride going to the volcano. Unfortunately for me, I had to wait and see. I watched Fer go to the volcano and faded.


For non-hikers like me, you would definitely enjoy this. The walk to the volcano will not take you 30 minutes to see the crater that breathes sulphur smoke. I'd definitely be happier if it wasn't for my bad ankle. But who am I to complain, I've seen another mystery of nature!  


Monday, August 1, 2016

Torstein Ivar de la Cruz - Welcoming this precious blessing!

It's been three months of another hiatus in a wonderful motherhood. I cant believe it has finally happened and I didn't even know I am capable of bearing a child. I must say, its true what they say. It seems my family has been completed by this baby boy.


May 14th, 2016 caesarian section. I was ditching the CS expert OB-Gyne eversince I arrived in our hometown hoping I could deliver normal. It was normal at first but since my BP has been going bad, Doctor has tried to induce me for an overnight stay in BRTTH where she is a resident consultant. It was a public hospital, I saw every several mothers shouted in pain and even one screaming, literally throwing tantrums like a kid on the floor. Shouted, she can't do it anymore. I didn't feel scared, I was confident I can deliver normal because I feel like I have a high tolerance of pain. Well, I wouldn't know, I never had a chance to prove it. I had a second OB, first Doctor had to refer me over because she is going out of town on my expected delivery date. The moment I told her I had a headache and high BP she said, go to the hospital now and I will have you deliver today (May 14th). That time, I felt being nervous! Truth be told, my precious little boy was born 10:30pm. I saw him right after they pulled him out of me. The doctor said, here's your baby boy and he's a big one at 3.9kg! I had a glance for I am still nauseous with the anaesthesia.

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I think I'd be posting more of baby photos. 
Maybe get baby product reviews? Haha! Yes, I definitely have one in mind.😁
Travel posts? Yes, I promise i have a lot of backlogs. Trabaho teh? Next stop on my blog is Mount Bromo. 
We are hoping to add more trips this coming year. Thanks for dropping by! 😁

Torsteins candles

Graphics not mine, personal use on my baby's baptismal.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Kawah Ijen's Famous Blue Flames, Indonesia

So I thought Mount Pinatubo was a rough path...

kawahijenKawahIjen 2

As I was trying to fulfill my only 1 mountain to break bucket list. The ironlady (Fer) and I opted for a quick 3d2n getaway to explore 2 mountains. Kawah Ijen and Mount Bromo. Kawah Ijen is a volcano and crater lake in Java Indonesia. National Geographic popularized this location when they featured this place for its workers in sulfur mining. Aside from sulfur mining, this place is also famous for its burning sulfur, the blue flames. Check out amazing photos posted at the Daily Mail UK.  


The original plan was Bromo alone, but then CM suggested this volcano. Upon seeing the photos, who wouldn't be amazed? We dig a couple of blogs and we enjoyed entries from travelmuse. Anyway, lets get this going. September 9 came and I was early at the airport. I had no idea the castaway didn't want to be waiting at the departure area so she came in just before we were boarding.


This is our itinerary. Kawah Ijen came in first because it is farther from the Surabaya Airport compared to Mt Bromo. Going to Kawah Ijen:

Surabaya - Bondowoso
From the airport, go out and take your left. You will see a huge ATM Center and beside it are Darmi gray buses going to the bus terminal. Damage is 25000 IDR = 2.48 SGD

Terminal - Bondowoso
We took the economy and thought it was the ordinary bus without A/C. We were wrong, This bus will not leave until its full. Going to was not an issue, there was ample time for the travel. And we could risk getting there at night time. The bus operator advised we would reach Bondowoso around 530pm when we left the terminal a little after 11AM. The mini vans are available only until 3:30PM so Fer and I thought we only had ojek (motorcycle) to reach the homestay. We traveled for more than 6 hours like forever.
Damage - 50000 IDR = 4.95 SGD

Bondowoso - Sempol 
Sempol is the nearest base camp to Kawah Ijen.
The journey has not yet ended. 2 hours by car and definitely with a little difference if riding an ojek. We got acquainted with a group of French foreigners + a German and decided we could go together and hire a car going to Sempol. We met this guy Wahyu who is a dispatcher and hooked us up with his comrades. Price was 450000 IDR = 44.59 SGD per car, we were 8, so we had 2. The deal was, Bondowoso - Sempol Homestay, Sempol to Kawah Ijen Entrance and Vice versa. We couldn't get the bargain lower so it was good enough deal. The night is fast approaching and we had to reach the mountains before 9pm so we could still rest.

So we reached Catimor Homestay where we had a reservation. The guys were lucky to get an available room for the 6 of them. Be sure to bring enough warmers. It is freezing when we alight the car at Catimor. Cold is worse early in the morning. Good thing the water heater is working so I managed to take a shower before going to sleep.

Wake up call was 12:30AM.


We left the homestay at 1:20AM which is 20mins late from the itinerary. But you know itineraries are always meant for diversion. Travel time from homestay to the Volcano entrance is 30 minutes. By 2am we started trekking. It was freezing. My shirt, base layer, jacket and another layer for the waterproof jacket wasn't enough. It was hard to breathe as we ascended. I got the ironlady a little worried since I wasn't talking but I was sure I answered her that I was okay. Thanks for carrying my bag on our way up. It was my 2nd volcano after Mount Pinatubo but this time, Jr is not with me. I admit I feel nauseated. I just realized whats causing my heavy breathing on our way back. The dust is ridiculously thick. 

Ironlady Fer

The climb was 2 hours and another 45 minutes down to the crater. According to my Map my Walk App. I walked 19.57km for 5hrs and 21mins. 

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A mountain view on our way back to the base entrance.

Down the crater was quite a challenge too. The pathways are unfriendly and narrow. Sometimes we had to stop to give way to the workers bagging up those sulfur in a basket or two.  I realised we were getting closure as I smell the rotten eggs, its the sulfur. The majestic blue flames was firing up with the wind. The tourist were all round up holding their own camera's it was like of the red carpet premier, with the blazing flash lights on every click.

amateur video

I thought it was going to be an an easier trek back to the homestay. Boy, I was wrong! Since I was busy breathing in and out to survive the ascend, I didn't realize how steep the paths were in descend. It was becoming harder and harder by the minute we walk. Then the unfortunate happen, I fell down and broke my ankle. Still considered myself lucky for getting that break inward, if its outward, I might have ended up in a clinic after 2 painful hours. Wasn't able to get up in about a minute. I even fell for the second time. I am however thankful for the workers who happen to work in this dangerous road and at the same time tries to earn a little extra by guiding the tourists. Someone walked with me until the end, we were literally holding hands. 

Blurry but paint-like.

I was so thankful and gave an extra bucks to the man who walked me throughout the base camp. I couldn't ask what his name was because he doesn't speak English. He happened to tall me the names of the 2 mountains we saw and I can only re call the other one named, Arung (or so this I thought is the right spelling). I encourage you to ask for a guide to help the workers earn a little more extra for the day.

I can't imagine how hard it is to work in this environment, if it's hard on your way up what more on this steep trek downward. I hated the dusts powdered up on my shoes. I felt some of it has conquered my feet, already felt soaking only it was dry. By the time I was in the finish line, I couldn't even bend my left leg. I swear it was a very hard climb for me as a first timer and just as I realize I am better off in the waters.


Finally reached base entrance camp.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Fortune Island, Nasugbu Batangas

Enthralled by Lakwatserongsulit's blog post about the island. I pursued myself and several friends to tag along on my impending trip. Was able to ask a friend for his car while he is away.


One of the perfect date's to catch the sun and the beach together, it was the month of March. We were 7 in the group and I didn't have to do much since I was still in Singapore. I was able to feed important information along the process but It was RB who found the boatman, Contact Mang Dante +63939489-5292


We were charged 3500Php to and from the island, but decided not to spend the night. We left Manila about 3am since we wanted it badly to get there early. True enough, we were there at the island first! Arrived before 7am, it wasn't long before we realised there was another group coming to the island. By noon time, people were scattered around the island.


By arriving first, this is where the best part of the island goes. We owned the back part where you have to climb and down below is a small cliff like 6-meter drop. We spent the half day there by just jumping and diving over again. When we got tired, it was time for the lunch. Lunch cost 150Php of your choice from chicken, pork and tilapia. Packed in a banana leaf. Since the island is just more than 30mins from where we left off, Mang Dante and crew went to get the packed lunch before noon.



I suggest you explore this part at the earliest when the water is calm because when it approaches lunchtime water will be rough. It won't be safe to dive in.

pardon the bilbil part


After lunch, explore more at the Greece-y part of the island, took some group photos and swam and snorkel the beach front. I didn't expect much before but when I laid my eyes on this island, I was bewitched. The sand was obviously granular unlike of Boracay's but it was white. This place was said to have rented for 5 years by the Korean's to a politician named Leviste for diving purposes. There was an old but huge cottage there lying that seemed to be intentionally wiped out or by storm. In fact, every structure there were damaged except for the lighthouse of course for its serves its purpose on the island itself. There was also a huge dismantled boat, not sure if it was also wiped out or unfinished.


As soon as we roamed the island we bravely climbed up to see the lighthouse. There's nothing much to see but with that kind of weather, It was really hot and you better make sure you bring a bottle of water with you when you climb. You will see the lighthouse within 30 minutes or so. No need for a guide, the locals had a blue colored rope in there to guide you through the course.


Around 5pm, we decided it was time to go. Please bring your thrash when you leave and dispose at the proper bin when you reach Nasugbu.


Expenses for this trip:
Bangka - 3500 for 7
Food - 150 lunch
Island entrance fee - 300
Miscellaneous - Food

Thank you Ron, Ya, Jr, Mandel, Lyn, Rina, Kim