Mount Bromo, Indonesia

31st January – 3rd February 

My friends and I have been talking about this trip for ages and when we finally made our first mountain climbing trip as a group happened, I was pretty impressed with ourselves for sticking through the decision. But for many reasons, Mount Bromo wasn’t what we expected.

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We first arrived in Surabaya city in the afternoon and because of our adventurous travel spirit, we decided to head down to the mountainous area through a slightly longer route – via a 3hr train ride to Probolinggo followed by another 2hr car ride to Cemoro Lawang, the base of Mount Bromo. After almost 5 hours of being cramped up on the local train and a bumpy car ride, we finally arrived at the mountain base in the evening.

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And here came the first thrilling part of the trip that we didn’t come prepared for. We totally did not anticipate the weather change that will vary from being in the city (Surabaya) to the mountainous area. We experienced the sunny Asian humid weather that we were used to, to freezing 2 degree cold wind weather at the mountainous area. The windbreakers/jackets that we had in our backpacks were not enough to protect the fatty layers of our bodies!

We knew it was going to be cold, but we didn’t know that we were actually embarking on an adventure in one of their ‘bad weather’ season. But like how tourist places are, the locals are always there to save the day. We had no choice but to rent out thick jackets and bought gloves/scarfs and beanies to protect ourselves throughout our stay in the mountainous area.

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Knowing that we wanted to hike up the crater of Mount Bromo with our legs, with no tour guide and jeep to transport us up, we decided to stay at the closest guest house (Cemara Indah) that has an easy access to the start of the mountain base hiking trail for our early morning start at 3:00AM in the morning.

And here came the next thrilling part of our trip. Imagine this – it was totally pitch dark and the only lights we had were the one shining from our average joe torchlights and the light shining from the ‘thousands of jeeps’ that drove past us. I could certainly bet that the drivers were wondering anxiously if these 5 little kids knew where they were heading to. Well they guessed it right, we didn’t know where we were heading to. We thought we will be on the right track if we followed the direction of the jeeps but we thought wrong. The jeeps were basically heading towards the mountain opposite Mount Bromo called Mount Penanjakan where people usually sit at the summit to watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo.

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By then we were already walking on flat asphalt land, but of course due to the darkness around us we could still not see where we were. And by the Grace of God, we were saved by a local on a motorcycle whom out of nowhere appeared beside us. He assured us that for a small fee, he will guide us to the base of the Mount Bromo crater. The five of us gathered in a circle, had our shortest and most productive discussion ever, and agreed to trust the local to lead the way. Till today I truly believed the local was God sent at the time when we really needed Him the most.

Due to the bad weather, we were practically the only ones on the crater of Mount Bromo together with another hiker, waiting patiently and optimistically for the sunrise that never arrive. The sandstorm was pretty bad and till this day, I still didn’t know why we were holding on to that optimism over our safety.

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Here we are waiting patiently for the sunrise that never arrive

But despite the cold, dusty lungs from the sandstorm and freezing sleepless nights back at the guesthouse, we made it work around our optimism and laughter. Here is something that I truly believe in – it is not where you are but who you are with that really matters. Till the next crazy adventure guys!

P.S Check out more photos from the trip here.

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36hrs in Bali, Mount Batur

19th January – 21st January

So here’s the thrilling part – Bali came right after my trip to Penang. Needless to say I had a pretty awesome traveling week last week.

My parents thought I was crazy enough to have the guts to take a midnight arrival flight and proceed to climb Mount Batur at 3AM in the morning. But I’d say, “Why not?” Because the sunrise view high above is beyond magical.

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Isn’t this view just spectacular? MashaAllah

But the decision to go to Bali just to climb Mount Batur alone didn’t come as easy. Here’s a little backstory of how this Bali trip actualized.

Technically, I’ve been to Bali before and the decision to go on this trip was triggered because of the fact that I could redeemed free return flights on Air Asia with my membership points – hello, come on let’s go. But here’s the catch, the timing was undesirable.

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Minutes before the sun start to rise pretty fast

It was a midnight flight. I had a little bit of anxiety issue when it comes to arriving in another foreign country at night. I mean who wouldn’t – its midnight, there’s a risk you might not find a cab, get cheated … and the list goes on. And the return flight was 7AM in the morning.

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Not to mention, I haven’t climb a mountain alone before. Climbing mountain has always been a thing for my bestfriend and I, and it all started back when we were in South Korea for our student exchange in 2014. And well, technically that’s where the comfort of climbing mountain with someone else has always been there subconsciously.

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Spotted here a wild mountain monkey. There were a lot of them by the way.

I had a slight trust issue with the hiking tour operator even though it was recommended by a friend who had used their services before. I think there were a few factors that influenced this – the simple English language being used over the email conversations, and even though there was no payment made prior to arrival in Bali for the guide, the simplicity of booking confirmation made it too good to be true.

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Other hikers preparing for the trek down after sunrise. And the black landscape in this picture is the volcanic ashes of Mount Batur.

It took me about 2 – 3 days to be reasonable and figured that this is all part of the journey of traveling alone and the final straw hit me when my bestfriend said this to me:

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I knew then I had to go for it. And well it was the best decision I made within that week. So yes, my Bali trip was literally just to climb the mountain, go for a 4hr spa session after and fly home at 7AM the next day.

P.S Check out more photos here.

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