15/10/2016 – Back on the bike!
Total distance: 8134km
Here, the first things I realised, is that everyone is trying to help me when they see that I’m a bit lost. I vainly tried to find a hotel in Labuan Lombok so I decided to cycle towards the west side of the island. It’s way easier than Flores, the slope ratio is pretty low and I can keep pedalling at a 18Km/h pace. Nothing in comparison to the 15% of some slopes in Flores.
The second thing I noticed pretty quickly is the air pollution. Climbing this easy slope was great but some trucks were releasing a huge amount of black smoke which was terrible to breath. I often felt like vomiting or dizzy certainly due to that smoke. It happened all the time from the beginning of the island to the end. Try cycling and smoking at the same time, it’s not easy!
It’s funny how every island has its very specific culture. On Flores everyone I met was catholic and this was one of their first question, all the time, are you catholic? No, I’m not. But here in Indonesia, even if you don’t believe in any religion, you have to choose between 1 of the 5 religion to put on your ID card.
Lombok is 95% muslim. I had a chat with Mulyadi, a friend of the family where I’m staying, about muslim religion because after all I don’t know much about it. It was very interesting and I learnt al lot of new things.
The day after, I headed up to Rinjani.
Guide and porters or not?
Here it’s crazy, as soon as you arrive in Senaru, everyone jumps on you and try to get you to their shop to book a guide and porters for the trip. They ask around 1 700 000IRD for 3 days and 2 nights. It’s more expensive than the boat trip from Flores to Lombok!
I told them that I don’t want a guide and I don’t want any porters neither. They started to tell me it’s impossible to go up there without a guide neither a porter. If something happens? Well, that’s the risk of living life, something can happen anytime, all the time. So to turn them down, I found a solution that worked pretty well. I said that I am a guide in NZ so there is no need of anyone else to come with me.
This shifted them totally and they didn’t try anymore to ask me any money but said that they have a lot of respect for me and started to show me the route and the places where to stop… he finally ended up the conversation by saying “well, finally you can’t get lost because there is just one way to the top and it’s well marked”.
So I will definitely not get a guide. As I always carried all my stuffs I won’t take any porter neither. As it is now a bit late to start hiking I will wait until next day and go to visit the waterfalls instead.
Don’t pay any entrance fee, there is no gates and no one to check. If you pay, what I did as a newbie, it goes to the company and not to the national park.
There is 3 waterfalls in Senaru. The first one is very touristy and a lot of stalls are set up to sell food and lolies to tourists. I didn’t like it. The second one is a bit further and way less crowded. Tiu Kelep. Maybe the fact that I was there late during the day helped to have this place almost for myself. This waterfall is huge and the stream is very powerful.
Then, there is a third waterfall, Sendang Gile, but if you want to access it from the second one you need some climbing gears. Tiu Kelep was great enough for some pics anyway.
The way up
So with only my backpack, my camera and my tent, I started to hike up. I started to follow some guides, then overtook them quickly as they were slower. That’s crazy, they hike up with a huge load on their shoulders and wearing flip flops as hiking boots. I don’t know why, but my legs were making me flying. No pain, no rest, just going straight up! Maybe I was a bit excited about seeing this amazing volcano living in this huge crater. I lost heaps of sweat. I wrung my t-shirt and got the equivalent of a glass of sweat off it.
Finally I started the last and arrived first on top. It was around 11:30am while I planned to reach the top at around 4pm. Well, I will just take the time now to rest a bit and discover the surroundings.
On the ridge
I finally arrived on the ridge in the fog. However I got the chance to be able to see the crater in the crater. I was so impressed! It’s gigantic! I was feeling very small. After a short break sitting down and just watching this beauty, I decided to keep going walking along the ridge. I met 3 Indonesians from Jakarta and Jogjakarta and we start hiking together along the ridge. We walked a couple of km following the wrong track. When we finally arrived at the base of a very steep wall, we decided to hike back. We were on the wrong way. We should have notice it by the clean area.
Indeed, on the main track, it is full of garbages. I was really sad and disgusted to see how polluted it is. There is plastic, human poo and toilet paper absolutely everywhere! This is a shame for a place that unique and beautiful. It was even smelling really bad and wild dogs started to live here as they can have unlimited supply by digging in the trash piles to find their food.
In Indonesia there is a real problem of waste management and it is impressive how it can be so dirty at some places. There is many small local actions made here and there but globally the population still need to be educated about waste management. Everyday, houses and little shops are burning their trash by the road and it stinks plastic. I even sometime can’t keep my eyes open so aggressive it is for the eyes.
Setup the camp
I decided to start hike down the crater to reach and walk along the crater lake but then I realised that the view is way better up there. So I came back up and this time there is tents everywhere! I’m going through all those people and a guide asked me where I was going as it is dangerous to go further. Then he asked me where was my guide. Sendiri. Meaning I’m alone. Then I kept going on the ridge. The further I was going the less trash there was on my way. When I reached an area whithout any trash and with a good view I set up the tent.
By night, I took a few long exposure photographs. I love the light from the moon. For some reasons it is very soft. I got cold during that night. As I didn’t have the space for a sleeping bag I came without it but with heaps of top layers. I put them all to keep warm by night. It was so cold that it was hard to sleep at some time.
The way down
I was pretty happy to have saved enough water for my way down. I was the last one to leave the ridge. Then I saw a guy walking weird. I came to ask him if he was alright and he explained me that he broke his ankle. He is going back by himself and the only thing he needed from me was a bit of water. I gave him my bottle he took 2 sips then kept going.
I joined him again and gave him my water bottle. He asked me if I was alone, I said yes and disappeared before he could refuse it. I now have not water at all anymore and my mouth is already dry after only 500 meters. It will be a hard hike down but I already been very dehydrated in the past and I now I can do it.
On the way down, I don’t stop, I just try to go down the quickest possible then I met two hikers. They don’t seem to have a guide with them. We start to chat for a bit and one of the is French. After something like 30 minutes of very interesting conversation, we decided to keep going each other in our own direction.
I start needing to pee all the time, It means I really need to drink water as soon as I can. After 3h30 of hike down I can finally buy some water on a stall by the beginning of the track.
While hiking back down to the hotel where I left my scooter, I decided to stop for lunch. I met the owner of the dragonfly hotel/guesthouse. If you want a gnarly place to stay while in Senaru, this is it! He asked me if he can show me his bedrooms. He made it all by himself sort of tiny houses with the best view ever, bedroom with private balcony and amazing bathroom. He told me if you come and say that you come from me, Alex the frenchman cycling, he can give you a family price of $20 / night instead of the regular tourist price of $40. And it’s not some marketing, it really worth the $40. I’m a bit sad that I didn’t know about this place one day before.
19/10/2016 – Cycling to the ferry
Total distance: 8197km
The day after, time to go to the ferry to go to Bali! My legs are hurting like crazy! As long as I cycle it’s ok. If I put one foot down, it is very very painful. Hopefully it goes off quickly. Lombok was a great island with amazing people!