Rinjani | Lombok, Indonesia

Because Lombok isn’t easily reached by direct flights, we transferred at Air Asia’s hub in Kuala Lumpur. By the time we got to Lombok it was already late evening. Lombok was an incredibly big island. The Airport was at the center of the island, and our stay “Kebun Villas & Resort” was in Sengigi which was on the North West side of the island, close to the port for the Gili Islands. The visa upon arrival was $35 USD, and there was only one luggage claims carousel since it’s a really small airport. There wasn’t any other choice of transportation so we got a taxi. It was about 120,000 IDR for a 1hr+ taxi ride. Usually you’d want to order a taxi from the formal taxi counters within the Airport. But standing at the exit, was crowded with more taxi drivers than I could count. It was very overwhelming. I felt like as if I was a politician or some kind of famous character. People crowded over and kept shouting prices at us, and the walkway was so narrow it only allowed one person through at a time. I’ve never seen anything like this before. 

There were no street lights at all on the highways or roads in Lombok. We drove in the dark relying on the reflection of the white lines on the pavement. Often we’ll see glowing eyes in the distance, which were the stray dogs. Apparently there is a big stray dog problem in Indonesia. The drive takes a little more than an hour and I fell asleep soon after getting on the taxi. 

We got to Kebun Resort around 10pm at night. We were getting picked up at 5am the following day to go to Rinjani. After arranging breakfast boxes with the hotel, we quickly caught up on sleep to prepare for the long trekking day ahead. 

5am, 26th of December, Boxing day. We were picked up by our guide and a driver and preceded to the village of Senaru, located at the North of the Island. The drive was another 1.5 hours away. It was completely dark outside but by the time we got there, the time was up. We enjoyed breakfast at the office while our guide briefed us on the trek. It would take about 6 hours to go up with a couple of breaks in between, and a bit less time than that to get down. Because of the recent eruption of the volcano, the park had been closed and was only opened recently. The summit wasn’t opened so we only went for the crater rim (2,641m) where we will be camping for the night to enjoy sunrise the following day. One porter was assigned per person for these 2 days, and they carried our tents, chairs, mattresses, water, food, cooking material and so on. They were dressed in shorts and t-shirts, and wore flip flops. I think it weighed a good 30KG at least per porter. Apparently this was their usual job, but when it’s low season they return to farming. I see that’s where they get their strength from. 

We started at base camp around 9am. We signed our names and passport numbers at the office before entering the park. There were people from all over the world, like the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, Australia, basically mostly western countries. It was my turn to put Taiwan on there, I feel proud because I flipped through a few pages and had not seen any other Taiwanese registered in the book. The first kilometer was just a walk from the office to the actual entrance of the trek. It was somewhat paved, and we could see people’s houses on either sides, some with chicken, cows, and goats. We heard from our guide that the craziest trekkers he met out of his 16 year career were a French Couple. They brought their mountain bikes and carried it all the up to the Summit (3,726m) and biked all the way down. I’m really impressed, that I don’t think I could ever do. 

At the entrance of the trekking trail, there were two rows of houses on either side. There was a family living there and they also had several puppies and kittens as pets. There were also other hikers today, including a girl from the UK, a couple from Sweden, a couple from Switzerland, and 3 German University students. It is really amazing to see people travelling all the way from Europe to climb this mountain in Indonesia. They really have love for the outdoors! 

From the base, it was a non-stop ascend through the rainforest. There were a lot of tree roots that formed staircase like paths. Each step up felt like doing a big lunge. It also started getting hotter as the day goes on. And there were insects buzzing around everywhere. I soon got used to my buzzing sound in my ears, but I could never get used to the speed and amount of sweat that was pouring out of my body. At 12pm we reached base camp 2 (Altitude: 1,500m). We were already in the clouds and it was foggy and sunny again and then back to foggy. We paused for a lunch break so we can regain some energy before continuing up the trek. While our porters and guides were busy cooking away, we exchanged some conversation with the other fellow trekkers about their backgrounds and how their trips were so far in Indonesia. There were also some hungry monkeys and wild dogs staring us down while we enjoy our meals, but they weren’t aggressive to a point where they’d come close. Another trekker joined us, who appeared to be carrying all his own gear. 

It was another 2-hour hike to station 3 but I still couldn’t see any view because of the thick forests I was still in. 2 hours felt like forever. My body was heavy, my back aching from carrying my heavy backpack, and by right heel in blistering pain. I asked to stop at station 3 for a short nap because I just felt like I had no energy. There was a British girl already napping there, but she woke up hearing our arrival. She was barefoot, and had a branch as a walking stick. She also had one almost empty bottle of muggy water. Apparently she had hiked up herself, but descend was taking longer then she anticipated because she was low on energy and water. We shared some chocolate biscuits with her, and then continued our journey up. 

The last hour was a completely different scenery. It was filled with grass and some trees here and there. The soil was loose and often slippery. You start seeing ferns and pine instead of lush tropical rainforest trees. There were hardly any animals and insects up there. Following the grass hills were steep rock boulders. It felt more like bouldering than trekking at one point. You always felt like you were reaching the top, but there was always something higher up. Sometime between 4-5pm, I finally reach the top. I was racing against incoming clouds that would block the volcano, but I managed to get there in time. There was a rush of relief, excitement, and a fulfilling sensation. I had did it, my most difficult trek. I had been looking at pictures through my screen for the past 2 months, and there it is, the volcano and the lake right before my eyes. I burst into tears as I watch the scenery in awe, but quickly wiped away as other hikers join. 

The porters set up camp at the crater rim. At 2,600 meters, it was only about 12-15 degrees during daytime. We took many many photos, and sat there and watched the sunset. It quickly cooled down to a chilly evening, something below 10 but I have no clue exactly how cold. I had my warm chicken noodle soup in the tent. My senses seemed duller and I was drenched in exhaustion. I crawled into bed at 8pm hoping my legs wouldn’t be completely useless and sore the following day. Reluctantly I had to get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet (a temporary small tent, on the edge of a cliff, I don’t know how I didn’t fall off). I drifted in and out of sleep, only remembering some thunder in the distance, and the wind tapping on the outer layers of the tent. 


It was 5:30am, I had a good 9:30hr sleep. The sun wasn’t up yet but other campers were already up, waiting for the sunrise. I jogged in place to keep myself warm, and it wasn’t until 6:30am when the sun rose. It lit up the whole camp and the lake and it just felt wonderful. I think this is maybe only the 3rd sunrise I’ve seen? The others were on a building and on a plane. I much prefer this one. I jokingly said that this is the best date ever, well under the condition that you’re up to a difficult 6 hours’ hike up. 

After a hearty breakfast we started descending down at 8:30am. It was very tough and my knees were hurting like crazy. It was super slippery and felt like forever. To be honest, going downhill was much more difficult than going uphill. The tree roots also often caught my foot so I had to keep stopping myself from simply rolling off the mountain. There isn’t much to say here, other than that I b*tched the whole way down. I felt like my twisted my knees and someone had pulled out my toenails. The last stop was at base camp 1 around 12pm. Almost half the time it took for us to go up. This was our last meal in this rainforest mountain, and we rushed through the rain. After 2km we hit the entrance. I felt a sense of relief as I saw the gate. But at the same time I felt sad I had to leave. It’s hard to gather words to describe Rinjani. I could just sit there, quietly watching the view forever. And I could easily do this all over again. It was truly an amazing trek. 

We tipped the porters and said goodbye to them, and then continued on the 1.5hr drive back to Sengigi. It was only early afternoon around 3pm when we got back to Kebun Villas. Immediately I took a shower. I unpacked a bit and reshuffled things in my luggage. At that point I was having difficulty kneeling down or standing up, so I rested in bed for a while. Dinner was at a beach side restaurant by the shore. And the sunset was an incredible mix of pink and purple colors. 

The following day we just took it slow and had some food before heading to the airport. I wished we had more time here, but at the same time I knew how broken I’d be after Rinjani. Indonesia is a very big country and there are still lots of other places to explore! But for now it’s back to Malaysia, and this time on “Gaya Island”, a 10-minute ferry ride from Kota Kinabalu.

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