5. Santa Ana Volcano, El Salvador

One thing I found interesting about El Salvador was the many sellers who boarded the bus at stops to sell their items / share – ranging from chips, drinks, fruits, sandwiches, to gadgets like iPhone cables, and even bible preachings.
More interestingly, some would stand at the front of the bus to present to all the passengers on their products for minutes, their advertorials complete with demonstrations on how to use them. They would then get off a (few) stop(s) later.

I was beginning to feel at ease in El Salvador, a country that just last year I had some preconceptions about. One of the highest homicide rates in the world – that was a scary thought. But on the bus here everyone was another ordinary person, going about their ordinary lives. Smooching on the bus, playing with their babies, texting heart shape emojis to their loved ones.

It was a long ride from Antigua to Chalchuapa. We took a tourist shuttle at 8am from Antigua to El Tunco, which was very comfortable and which I would recommend for tourists (RooneyShuttle – 18usd after a firm deal with a tourist agency who was a father with a sweet child and her bear), and from there we took a bus to San Salvador and then Chalchuapa. By the time we reached Chalchuapa it was past 7pm. I started worrying from 5.30pm, when the sun had set and the chicken bus was full, my sense of safety not much aided by the glowing red lights at the side and back of the bus. But all was well – people were very helpful, a man offered to walk us to the park, another delivering food waited till we had rung the doorbell of Yuca Mix hostel and Alexis had opened the door.
Santa Ana volcano was the highlight. And the delicious food, of course.
The hike costs $8 for the parking?, $1 for the guide, and $6 for the park fees. It only started at 11am, and the park ranger explained the rules of the hike – the three different sections (forest, volcanic ash and a rock path to the summit) and shared that we should refrain from too much noise or play our music loudly, but listen to the ambiental sounds.
  • why are milkshakes hot in El Salvador?
  • Back of vehicles as a way to sell food
  • Taking pills 2x a year to clean their stomach – water
  • Land of hammocks

Couldn’t have missed hiking a volcano in El Salvador – aka ‘land of volcanoes’ with more than 20 surrounding ones. Muchas gracias por la buena comida y los recuerdos!

Santa Ana was a lovely start to El Salvador. As usual, I felt the flurry of excitement when crossing the border. I was in El Salvador! 
It was a long, long journey to reach Chalchuapa (Santa Ana). We caught the Rooney Shuttle from our hostel (villa estrella) at 8am, to move towards El Tunco. By the time we had reached El Tunco it was almost 2pm; by the time we ate lunch and the bus came it was almost 315pm. Another hour or more to San Salvador, and then many hours to Chalchuapa as we were caught in traffic. By the time we had reached the hostel, it was 7pm. That’s almost 12 hours of daylight travel.  And what did I do during all these time? Let my thought drift – luxurious.
I had a few conversations. The conversation with the man at the bus stop who was a primary school teacher and who loved it. The man who was recovering from depression – he shared that his mother had passed away from a sickness in her intestines, and his brother had passed away, and his sister was a traveller in her motorbike and had travelled to so many countries, including Egypt. In Latin America, or rather in this part of Latin America, it pleased me greatly that they almost had no choice but to converse with me in my mediocre Spanish, because my mediocre Spanish was in fact better than their basic English. It also pleased me greatly that I was in fact able to converse – to express my thoughts about their opinions, and my own. It made the hike down from Santa Ana volcano shorter. Ilamatepec, it’s called, the volcano in Cerro Verde, Santa Ana. 

I loved how there were so many signs promoting the benefits and importance of the forest. It made me feel like the person who conceptualised these signs, he or she must have felt passionate about the environment and the things it had to offer. Listen to the environment, it had suggested. Take nothing as everything goes back to the ground where it belongs, he said. Nothing leaves – it only transforms and takes different forms along the way.

In the evening, Alexis took us to eat some delicious food around Chalchuapa. The cheese sticks were amazing, so were the pizzas and the typical Salvadoran breakfast the next morning.

 

4. Mount Sibayak, Medan, Indonesia

One of my favourite hikes, because
1) it was a low-effort, high-rewards kind of hike :p
2) relatively manageable – yet confronted with so many geographical features up close. the hissing vents! the massive crater. accompanied by the sulfur scent (?)
The pink hue in the morning, when we started our walk uphill. I recall staring in wonder as the glow of the sun’s rays reflected off the rough brown surface of the volcanic slopes, turning into a pinkish orangey glow. 

at this point, we started hearing some crackling sounds. 


going on – as you can see, a relatively flat terrain.


nearing some hissing vents


some people were taking selfies near the active vents – directly in front. check out ‘mount sibayak’ on instagram’s location tags to see their selfie videos with the hissing sulfur.
i wouldnt do it, duh.

the start of the rocky uphill

looking down / back upon a vast landscape


seems like it’s an inactive(?) and dried-up crater; people had climbed down and placed volcanic rocks beneath, to form heart-shapes, love and friendship declarations boldly strewn across.


summit! gorgeous.
that moving mist – it was somewhat scary, i wasnt sure what it was. what gas, or cloud? it was hard to tell. not cloud. some volcanic belch. hmm


Mt Sinabung right across is apparently one of the most active volcanoes in the region. I briefly wondered how it’d be if it were to erupt during my time in the summit there and then. D:


another view of the crater


closer-up of Mt Sinabung. look at that belch D:

there were just so many views, angles in this terrain. that’s what made Mt Sibayak a ++ too, this view from the summit looks different from the other viewpoint.

6.2 Swaziland – Sibebe Rock

Sibebe rock was quite an easy hike, we didnt really need a guide, to be honest. Nonetheless we did – and we would have been pleased to support the local economy, if not for a grumpy guide that wanted to leave us halfway, while overcharging us from the start which got us off to a rather unpleasant vibe at the beginning.

Nice view at the top, breeze.

5. Pidurangala Rock, Sigiriya

my ideal state all day

While deciding between Pidurangala or Sigiriya, we opted to climb the former first. It was cheaper, less crowded, and by cheaper I do mean it’s more than 25 times cheaper.

Ready!

I forgot how we got there, but http://www.yonderingsoles.com/2017/11/30/dambulla-sigiriya-pidurangala/ knows. Convenient cache of memories!

We never got to Sigiriya in the end because it closed by the time we went down and walked over. Well, we got a glimpse of it from our viewpoint, so I wasn’t particularly bummed about it. =D

3. Adam’s Peak

Hatton – Dalhousie

My favourite pictures are from Adam’s Peak.


It’s funny, I had so many hours of train rides on this trip, hours and hours chugging along the tracks, but somehow I had chosen to while my time away instead of jotting down my memories. It’s not a bad thing really, I was immersed in the moment I suppose. The continual movement of myself provided a justified limbo for myself, a space where I did not have to do anything, if I didn’t want to. What a luxury! What a luxury. Or maybe I should stop measuring the quality of my time using the notion of productivity.

Doing nothing is doing something. It is being in the moment. Being present.

Base of Adam’s Peak (Dalhousie)

We had slept at around 10pm, brushed our teeth and gone to bed, and set our alarm at 2 or 3am. Another midnight hike, where we set off in the breezy night, my quiet breath overtaking the ones around me as I followed cz’s pace. I remember the coolness of my right hand as it brushed against the raindrops along the silver railings – an impression I recall despite the darkness, a flashing torchlight by the French tourist behind me perhaps – a stillness that jolted my bleary mind slightly as I walked on, half-dazed from my lack(?) of sleep.
The sunrise was nice. If I were to be honest, the view wasn’t particularly impressive. We had reached at 5am or some sort, ahead of our schedule, and had to wait 1-2 cold hours at the top. I rocked forward and backward as I hugged my knee against my chest. We ate the lemon and chocolate biscuits as we waited for the sun to rise. The rows of spectators watched, and murmurs emerged along with the awakening colours. At last, the people around us got up and waved their hands in the sun. 

6.4 Sofeh Mountain, Isfahan

Hello, Sofeh mountain.
selfie-ing every few steps, i recall

Our chicken rice for lunch. In my opinion, it tasted great :p I miss how Azar’s mum would prepare the SWEETEST HONEYDEW i’ve ever eaten in my life (no lie), so juicy and an absolute bliss in the heat 😥

 

Set off to Sofeh mountain!

 

 

 

Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the hike (barely started) because a man started asking me many questions about where I came from, how long I was here for, etc. Elhem got worried and decided that we shouldn’t proceed with the hike. While I was hesitant to stop, given my one-chance at Sofeh mountain and Cz’s recommendation, I could tell Elhem was growing increasingly uncomfortable as we bumped into the man again. Eventually she persuaded me again and i relented, and we went down. While I was a little disappointed about missing the hike i was looking forward to, i found consolation in spending the rest of my day with the girls.

Thank you Isfaha, it has been absolutely lovely 🙂

Mount Ophir, Malaysia

The interesting thing about Mount Ophir was how we had to count and account for every single item we brought up along with us. We had to write them down on a form, all the items that we had with us, and bring our baggage back to check with the forms after the hike. Apparently, 5RM will be charged for every missing item. That meant every packaging (e.g. 5 packets of biscuits, 2 socks, 1 hairtie, 1 hand sanitizer…)

While I was amused, I appreciated such measures. Sometimes it’s necessary for such actions to prevent the laziness of human from contaminating the environment.

I liked this part :p

These were rubbish from before they implemented this ‘count the amount of items you carry up’ regulation – and possibly the reason for it

The next day CZ and I stayed in JB and walked around for a local food hunt.

 

Mount Ophir with friends – Malaysia

IT’S A BIRD!
No, IT’S A PLANE!
No….. IT’S MOUNT OPHIR!!!!!!!!!111!!!!!111!!!!!!
(no it’s actually cashew nuts)
crew!
partner!
SUMMIT!

I liked this weekend trip, I like how a single weekend becomes memorable. A quick getaway to another place, unlike a usual routine weekend.

I also liked how my friends came along this trip. 😀 With work these days, it’s quite hard to find time to get everyone together. This was a great opportunity, and I’m really glad and appreciate that it was organized ❤

Photospam of memories, of people I appreciate in my life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mt Pulag – film

The last of my lomo smena 8 before it officially departed. 😦

 

 

 

 

 

 

​ Had a really lovely break chasing sunrises and the sea of clouds, waking up to cows outside our tent, sleeping under a million stars, soaking in nature’s calming playlist – the rhythm of the rushing waters, the hushed whispers of the waving trees, and the gentle pitter-patter of the rain. Running into the vast embrace of the grassland, in that moment stripped of all responsibilities. So blessed, so thankful, so happy :’) Special mention to my Pulag partner @moonlitsunsets, and to @ganworm for challenging me to take on more difficult routes, always. 😘