Gili Trawagnan, hiking Mt. Rinjani, Komodo Cruise

Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Oct 05, 2008

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Friday, July 4, 2008

After my amazing motorbike adventure around Bali, it was time to hit the beach and relax. I had heard many great things about the Gili Islands and so Becca and I decided to head there. We said goodbye to Ben and started our journey. We took a bus to the coast of Bali where we boarded a ship that resembled something out of a pirate movie. We met some friends on this trip that stayed with us for the rest of our time in Indonesia.
We got to Gili Trawagnan around 9 o´clock after 11 hours of travelling. Once we found a hostel we went out to get some drinks. Becca and I got shakes and had a fantastic time on the beach.
Spent the next day relaxing on the beach while Becca got her scuba diving certification. The following day I did my deep water certification which allows me to make deeper dives. On this dive I saw my first shark! It was a white tip and was about 5 feet long. It quickly swam off, but I also saw a blue spotted stingray and a massive sea turtle that swam so close I thought about grabbing on and going for a ride.
On my last day on Gili I talked to Michelle and our relationship ended. It made me really sad, especially because we were supposed to see each other in less than two weeks, but now I think it is for the best. That day I booked a trip to Lombok, with plans to trek up Mount Rinjani for 3 days and 2 nights. The summit of Mt Rinjani is more than 10,000 feet and is the second highest mountain in Indonesia. I figured the exercise and being in the wilderness would be a great distraction.
We took a two hour ferry to Lombok and immediately boarded a bus to the base of Mount Rinjani. I had heard from other travellers that it was a very exhausting, but rewarding trek; they were right. On the first day we hiked about 6 kilometers of steep uphill through the rainforest to the first campsite, which took us about 4.5 hours. There were lots of monkeys at the campsite and our guide dübbed himself the "monkey policeman".
The next morning we hiked to the top of the first crater where we were presented with amazing views of the lake, the volcano in the center of the lake and our ultimate destination: the summit.
We hiked down to the lake and immediately made our way to the hot springs where I got my only shower of the trip. After showering and eating lunch by the lake, we made our way up to the second camp. In total we hiked about 8 kilometers that day which took about 7 hours.
On the last day we woke up at 2:30am in order to be at the summit for sunrise. It was very steep and gravelly. Each time I took a step, I slid about 1/2 a step back. It was not a very long hike to the summit, but it was more than a kilometer of verticle, combined with the difficult terrain and the altitude it made for the most difficult hike I have ever done! In all it took about 3 hours to make it to the summit, but the beautiful sunrise made all the work worthwhile. It was very cold on the summit, around 35 degrees, so we made a big huddle of hikers in order to stay warm. I definitely did not expect Indonesia to ever be so cold!
After watching the sunrise, we ran back down to the campsite. Running down was lots of fun and felt very similar to skiing because you would slide on the gravel with each step. After a huge breakfast of banana pancakes, eggs and bread we continued our hike. That day alone we hiked more than 20 kilometers, which took 10 hours!
That night we stayed in a guesthouse, hoping to get a good nights sleep, but the sound of roosters crowing and kids playing outside our room prevented that. The next morning we took a bus to the coast for our next adventure: the komodo adventure cruise.
We spent the next 4 days on a boat sailing to many amazing, often deserted islands. We visited the most amazing beaches, snorkeling spots and had a fantastic time. One of the highlights was our visit to Komodo national park, the home of the infamous komodo dragon. The park is actually two islands: Komodo and Rinca, we visited both. We only saw one komodo dragon on Komodo, but we saw more than a dozen on Rinca. Two of them were espcially large, about 7 or eight feet long!
After four days on the boat we arrived in Labuanbajo. For those of you keeping track that was a more than a week of adventure on Mt. Rinjani and on the boat. During that time I slept in a real bed once and got one real shower-quite the experience for me and for those who had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to me.
The next morning I caught a bus back to Bali in order to connect with my flight to Jakarta, in order to connect with my flight to Bangkok, in order to connect with my flight to Madrid (halfway around the world in a few days). The bus ride was supposed to only be about 30 hours, but it ended up taking about 40. It started on a ferry, where we caught a small bus to the center of Sumbawa. Our guide from the boat ride travelled with us, and suggested I ride on top of the bus with him. I did and it was very fun. I felt like the president as we drove because everyone in all the villages was waving and screaming at me: "the bule" on top of the bus. I passed the rest of the time on the ferry/bus playing indonesian monopoly with locals and chess with Becca.
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