Mount Rinjani is an active volcano on the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. At 3,726 metres, it is the second highest mountain in Indonesia (excluding West Papua). On top of the volcano is a crater lake called Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). At the eastern edge of the lake is a smaller volcanic cone (post-caldera cone) called Gunung Barujari. The lake changes colour (steel grey, cobalt blue or green) with the direction of sun rays falling on it. At higher elevation, the mountain peaks, floating clouds, crater rim and lake combine to give one of the most spectacular scenery on earth. Mount Rinjani and its surrounding areas are projected by the Gunung Rinjani National Park. At 41, 330 hectares, it is slightly bigger than half the size of Singapore(714 sq km). Although animal sightings – apart from monkeys, are quite rare in the park, there are a few decent hot springs and waterfalls to dip in.
The Gunung Stong State Park (GSSP) also known as Jelawang Jungle lies in central Kelantan. There are several peaks in the area, the most popular among climbers and hikers are Gunung Stong, Gunung Ayam and Gunung Baha. The other popular attraction is the seven-tiered Stong Waterfalls, reputed to be the highest in Southeast Asia. Not far from GSSP lies a group of caves formed over 225-million years ago. Collectively known as the Dabong limestone caves, the caves have now become a staple part of the tourism packages offered by tour operators to GSSP.
My first impression of Penang is as that i have stepped back in time into historic Singapore, back in the 1970s. Most of its buildings/ shophouses built back in the 1950s/ 1960s are still intact and it is refreshing to see the skyline of Penang not being dominated by skyscrapers and swanky new tall buildings like most of the other bustling cities. Even though the facade of Penang’s shophouses may seem like they have lost their past grandeur, (with their faded walls and all), one can still pretty much imagine how life was back in the 1970s. Take a walk around Georgetown, a designated UNESCO world heritage site, the shophouses coupled the street peddlers hawking their wares in a pushcarts would make you feel as if you have really travelled back in time. To make your experience even more nostalgic, I would recommend renting a retro bicycle (with the basket in front of course) to explore around with. Tip from me: Do pick Sunday to cycle as there is no traffic in Georgetown (they have closed off the roads specially for tourists). I did my cycling exploration on a Friday, which was a working day, so i basically had to jostle with motorbikes, trucks and cars along the streets. Being a Singaporean who is used to obeying traffic lights, I must admit that i was initially a little frazzled while trying to cross / cycle across Penang’s streets. Continue reading
Upon arrival at Denpasar Airport at 11pm, we were picked up in a MPV by our friendly English speaking driver Botak to the village at the base of Mount Agung. Along the way, we dropped by a 24-7 convenient store to buy some mineral waters and snacks for the climb. It was a 2.5 hrs. drive to Botak’a house in the village where we met up with our mountain guide Ketut. After some refreshment of coffee, tea and snacks, we were driven to the park office for climb registration (approx. 10 min drive from Botak’s house).
A week before our Flores trip, Mount Rinjani located just across the Straits from Bali erupted and caused flight diversion and Bali airport closure. The situation was not optimistic and we thought that we might have to cancel our holiday again. Fortunately just one day before our trip, the volcanic activity subsided, Bali airport reopened and our flight to Flores resumed. We boarded the plane happily without worrying whether it was really safe to fly near an erupting volcano.
We flew in to Labuan Bajo from Singapore with a transit in Bali via Garuda Airline. The flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo took about 1hr 30min. For this short flight, we were expecting to take a small propeller plane but to our disappointment it was a jet plane instead. The plane cruised at a relatively low altitude throughout the flight, we could see dozens of pretty small uninhabited islands and even some volcanic peaks (including the smoking Rinjani) through the plane window. Komodo Airport in Labuan Bajo was a very small airport with only 1-2 planes in the field; giving us the impression that we were really in for some outback experience. To our amazement, there was a taxi booth inside the airport with a list of fares to the various hotels in town. The fare to Golo Hill Top Hotel (http://www.golohilltop.com/) was 60K IDR per vehicle. It was quite expensive considering that it was only 10 min drive to the hotel. However we took the cab without much complaint for we knew that it was a “wholesale” rip off rather than a tout rip off which we experienced ample times in Bali. The driver was conversant in English and was very friendly. He even stopped along the way to allow us to take some nice photo of the scenery. Golo Hotel ran by two friendly Dutch ladies was about 10 min walk from the town center but its location on top of a hill overlooking a tranquil and scenic bay more than offset the slight inconvenience. The room was very clean with air-conditioner and reliable hot shower – something which most Singaporeans can’t do without.
Mount Kerinci, located in the province of Jambi, is known for being the highest volcano in Indonesia and having the highest peak on the island of Sumatra. It is surrounded by the lush forest of Kerinci Seblat National Park, home to the endangered species of Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Rhinoceros. Kerinci is one of the most active Indonesian volcanoes with eruptions virtually every year. The mountain can be accessed from Village Kersik Tuo, which is 6 or 7 hours away from Padang by car or bus. The climb to the summit and back takes about 2 days, with an overnight camp at one of the checkpoints. The area around Kerinci has 15 lakes, of which the biggest are – Kerinci Lake and Gunung Tujuh Lake. Gunung Tujuh Lake is also known as the Seven Mountains Lake, as there are 7 peaks surrounding it. At 1,992 meters, it is the highest lake in Southeast Asia.