Jomblang Cave, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Droplets whisper kindly as they fall from the green web of outstretched branches, sprinkling shimmery, wavering gentle skylight from above

Friend who can’t stand holes kindly do not scroll down



Mt Merapi, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The highlight of my trip was Mount Merapi. I’m so happy to have been so close to it, to have stared into its crater. There are few things that can incite that buzz of excitement like seeing the things you’ve learnt about in books, come to life.

I wrote a draft, but it disappeared 😦 here’s repeating it round 2

The day before the ascent we watched the sunrise, looking at its golden rays above Mount Merapi. I thought: 24 hours on (or less), I will be there, at its tip. Hopefully. I was jittery and nervous. I tried not to think about it. I tried to stifle thoughts of eruptions and rain and other possibilities.
We set off for the base of Mt Merapi in the night. 
It rained a little, and at 3.30am or so, we stopped and they set up a fire for us. We huddled closer for warmth. Here, I learnt from a fellow traveller about a trail mix: his consisted of peanuts, raisins and M&Ms. Yummy!!
I remember taking this photo. At this point, it was my first glimpse of the layer of clouds. I knew we were reaching, 20 minutes away. Almost, WE WERE ALMOST THERE!!!! The city was waking up, the lights. The sun was rising. I was excited, pumped by adrenaline that fought the fatigue.

so happy :’)

so proud of US!!!! despite the rain and the cold and the fatigue we fought our ways up relentlessly. HAPPY!!!! 😀 😀 😀

then the downward descent begins

​Ramly has been a guide since he was 19, now he’s 41
Walkie talkie warning system
Ramly, my dear guide, holds a walkie talkie in his hand. It’s what he uses to communicate with others regarding the situation in merapi (fogginess at the peak, vulcanicity)
I asked how he might feel about his son being a guide. He seemed hesitant, highlighting the risks involved, and the fact that his son does not know of how to watch out for levels of vulcanicity

The government built the signs to stop visitors from proceeding; going nearer proved risky
Nonetheless tourists continue to proceed, except perhaps those people that come without a guide
You could see the equipments for measuring vulcanicity from a distance

Learnt many interesting things. Apparently, every year they do throw cows’ heads into the crater during some festivals as a form of offering. This explains the small bouquet of flowers we saw them selling in Mount Bromo.

Ijen Crater (Photo Log)

A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater / caldera.
Crater lakes covering active (fumarolic) volcanic vents are sometimes known as volcanic lakes, and the water within them is often acidic, saturated with volcanic gases, and cloudy with a strong greenish color.
‘The lake is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation, in which sulfur-laden baskets are carried by hand from the crater floor. The work is paid well considering the cost of living in the area, but is very onerous. Workers earn around Rp 50,000 – 75,000 ($5.50-$8.30) per day and once out of the crater, still need to carry their loads of sulfur chunks about three kilometers to the nearby Paltuding Valley to get paid.’

THE delicious blue flames licking the edges of darkness

tiny silhouettes crept closer towards it, the bellowing fumes that occasionally cloaked them out of sight


What I remember: Ijen is a more arduous hike than Bromo of course, stumbling in the darkness down the rocky steps with our gas masks.





Mt Bromo, Indonesia

More info and details at!

Closest I’ve ever been to an active volcanic crater, peering at it up close – I could hear faint explosive growls from the distance as looming grey plumes of ash clouds rolled slowly, unabashed, towards the bright blue sky. Stared wide-eyed and fascinated, in awe of the majesty of Mother Earth. Every now and then, if one took a closer look, the ash walls of the crater would crumble, eroded over time. What’s happening within your grumble?

The first day we landed in Surabaya, we found ourselves on the road for several hours before reaching Probolinggo, the base city of Mount Bromo. I recall feeling ravenous by (a pretty late) dinner-time, which may or may not have accounted for the ridiculously delicious indomee we had for dinner. It was so delicious, I remember wanting to gobble down packets of it. I could have easily eaten another 2 packets.

Photo-log below:












Surabaya / Yogyakarta – Bromo / Ijen / Merapi – Indonesia

The trip was a very fruitful one filled with lots of nature (volcanoes, caves, waterfalls!) and the best part (for me) was hiking Bromo, Ijen and Merapi, my dreams!
Cave tubing was a bonus. Lying on a tube watching the bats and coolness of the ceiling while sliding down the rapids –

Posing at the teletubbies hill in Surabaya, Indonesia
One of my favourite moments

Watching the sun rise over Merapi the day before, many alarming thoughts racing through my brain as I tried not to pay heed to them


Trotting on a plain of volcanic ash
Chasing skylight at Ijen Crater
Don’t forget your sulfur masks!
Far too many of the nebulous
Sunrise some 2000+m ASL
Sunrise, beautiful and calming in all ways

The moment we landed I thought – back to home, back to work. My mind scrambles for some ideas on how I can teach the types of floods. It’s as though it turns on ‘work mode’ automatically. Like the orange-flight-mode-bar.


Mount Agung – Peak

Post dedicated to the peak of Mount Agung

Frankly, I didn’t know it’d had such a lingering effect. It’s been almost a week since I was atop the peak of Mount Agung and every now and then my mind goes back to that scene. The view, the clouds, the cold. The summit. Such an incredible feeling. I can’t, can’t wait to hike up the mountains again; I feel restless flitting through my memory. So thankful I’m all booked for Salkantay. Sigh!!!!!! So excited I want to explode. <- How I miss feeling like this! This, the feeling I keep searching for.

Upon landing in Changi Airport:
This, this was the point I was waiting for. To land in Singapore safely after an amazing trip. Before the trip I always carry all these fears – fears of the flight, walking along the foreign street, the mountain, my body, the flight back, the multitude of things that could happen to me, that wouldn’t have happened if I haven’t stubbornly opted for the trip, the what-ifs (what if the trip was a mistake, what if something happened to me, my life) the dozens of fearful possibilities. And to reach this point of safety with the brilliant weekend that passed, that felt awesome.

Mount Agung

Would like to write these thoughts and feelings down before they escape me, or become overlapped by subsequent events 

So we made it, 3000+ m up – my first ascension of a proper mountain. It’s hard to believe it, I was waiting for this moment since last week, to be frank. 
Mount Agung, the dreaded Mount Agung I’d been fearing for the week. For that one week! After all those reviews I’d read! I was sickened to the stomach by my leaping nerves before the trip. (On hindsight, those reviews… while they did prepare me for the ’45 degrees steepness’ / the going-on-all-4s, the ‘mental preparation’ wasn’t particularly useful i think)

As someone completely inexperienced (until Batur!) it didn’t seem like a good idea. On the car ride I was facing some flutters in my stomach at the thought that I’d soon be confronting that dreaded fear. The two hours did not pass peacefully, dark thoughts flitted through my mind every now and then as I tried to ignore them. I could do Batur, I knew I would finish this, somehow, I just wasn’t sure how much I’d suffer. This was less than 12 hours after our Batur hike.
some favourites:


The night:

We reached Mayan’s house when the skies were still dark, had some hot tea and peanut butter biscuit, and set off to the temple. The night sky was vast and beautiful, and it was clear. Cz tried to take a photo as Mayan went to pray. Then, as the night breeze quietly blew, the stars twinkling from above, we set off, with about 250 steps. 

Up, up, up. End of the stairs. We then went to some sort of a jungle trek. Up, up, up. Over branches, going past some leaves. This was pretty interesting, I thought as I went through scratchy plants. Up, up, up. 

The first half of the trek was the jungle path, and a rocky path after. Rocky and stairs-like. Up, up, up. We stopped maybe about twice to have a sip of water and proceeded (in what I think is, hopefully, short breaks that wouldn’t hinder us!) 

Up, up, up.

Then came the dreaded part, the second half. The traversing was difficult, it was so tough I can’t picture doing it without Wayan. I was petrified, so petrified! I knew I had to go on all 4s at some point, but this! It was something I couldn’t trust myself to do, without getting injured, or straight into nothingness. I remember looking back at one point, panting, exhausted, muscles tense and aching from having to stand at that 45 degrees, the steepness working hand in hand with gravity to make things more difficult for me. Could I really make it? My thighs ached, I did question myself. But with Wayan I felt more assured, I just didn’t know if we’d be there by sunrise. 

Fear, fear. My fear was the most inhibiting of all. I wasn’t physically exhausted, but when I looked back behind me I saw a canvas of darkness, of nothingness that I could very possibly fall into with one loose footing. It was like the reviewers had said! No safety measures, whatever. I was here, clinging onto the mountain rocks, thousands of meters above sea level? That’s insane. The stars winked at me from above, the city lights glimmered hauntingly from below. It was a beautiful sight if I were on flat ground, but with my trembling feet trying its best to step on the right firm rocks (akin to rock climbing) it was petrifying. What if I fell? Gone forever? I thought about the NUS mountaineer who fell when he was taking a photo or something. We often think these things happen to someone else, someone else, but what if, what it this time it was me? I would regret ascending this in that scenario, I really would. It occurred to me then that often, the decisions you make are often the best or the worst. When things turn out well it’s one of the best decisions to have been made. I kind of knew I would get there, I was just thinking about how happy I would be the next day. The next day, this will be done, and I’ll be on the ground, celebrating my successful ascension. The next day, the next few hours, everything is easy on hindsight – wait for hindsight to come. 

Arduous almost never-ending rocks later we were still traversing leftwards, zig-zag manner instead of upwards, which was a little mentally draining. What, another hour?? After so long there’s still another hour of this?? Sigh. My kind was blank, I simply focused on getting there. During our rest stop we ate bananas and bang bang. I wish I took a photo of it- the little chocolate bar, how much I appreciated it at that point. Left, left, up, up, up… 

Finally, it felt like I could see the summit. Felt a surge of thrill coursing through my veins as I climbed up, up… I was there. Wow. I was at a flat plane, at last. Wayan pointed in front – there, the true summit. I walked along the ridge towards the highest point. At this point, I was quiet. It’s hard to explain the emotion – it’s some sort of joy, relief, and a wave of calmness, assurance that I had done it, I knew I would and I have, I have. At last, I thought as I steadily trudged forth, step by step, up, up, up. On my left, the dark sky was cracking open with the golden hues of the sun. Then, I was there. At the summit of Mount Agung, 3142m above seat level. 

I looked around me – we were so high, there were the mountain views to our front, and the crater, and the clouds. My legs were trembling a bit. I sat down and drank hot tea that Wayan prepared (he carried a thermal flask with him) and ate cup noodles. Took photos, until it got very, very cold, and we made our way down.  

Photospam of the process in daylight, because it deserves it, and I want to remember as much as I can:

 why cant i just slide allll the way down….

 Wayan effortlessly takes a selfie. How?!?!1 How does he hop so readily from one rock to another??

 what?? 5 more hours to go????

 spot the human

maybe it’s the bang-bangs

 as usual, me always a step ahead……..

Descending – after 6 long hours of climbing up, I wondered how long it’ll take to get down. The walk down wasn’t any easier than upwards (as with Batur), but at least that inhibiting fear of getting hauled into the darkness forever was slightly negated by my ability to see. My legs hurt with each strong step downwards; it would be easier to sit down my butt and slide. Slide, slide, walked and balance (failing quite a bit), slide, and after what felt like a long time, I took this photo. What, it has only been an hour? Or two? Not even halfway down. 

Slide, slide, walk clumsily, cling onto side rocks, walk, thump, slide, look down and saw this greenery. How do I get there? Why can’t I slide down all the way? Ugh, traversing sideways sucked. Ate some bang bangs, handed Wayan my camera at this point. He chirpily sang Indonesian songs as he hoped from rock after rock effortlessly – damn! How does he do it so easily while I’m struggling with my steps! One camera in hand, one hiking stick the other, and sometimes me. Walk, walk, walk – are we halfway there yet? Can we walk on a normal path already? 

Basically, walking and walking and walking 
Passed the halfway mark – finally!!!! Damn these rocks, I need a normal straight path please. The next part was descending the rocky steps. So this was what I climbed on my way up, it was interesting to see what the night concealed. Down, down, down… 

Repeat this for another 3-4 hours or something 

Finally! A less rocky path. What I was waiting for. The water pipes! The place we first stopped and tried to take photos of the Milky Way! The forest trail, we were nearing. (About an hour +, which, on second thoughts, felt long but so short) Down down down down
The rhythmic clacking of my hiking stick I now declared my best $10 purchase of the year
Wayan showed us some berries that monkeys ate. They were round and red, and burst in my mouth. The berries of the wilderness! I liked it. The sun started to beat down. Sweat beads rolled down. Down, down, down,

Reaching! At the flatter paths, I was so excited I wanted to run. “Last one is a pig!” That side of me emerged, hehe. 5 minutes to the exit. 5 minutes! Wow. Half jogged my way out, and with my last triumphant step I got out of the jungle trail, onto the concrete terrain I stepped foot on 12 hours ago. Wow. 

I was waiting for this moment, the moment where I stepped foot on the concrete terrain and declare that I’ve made it. I looked up – I can’t believe I was there a couple of hours ago. Life is pretty amazing. We are so small in the vastness of the universe. 

The last 200-300 steps. Please, what were these in comparison to all we’ve clambered through the night? I happily hopped down (just kidding, more like clumsily painfully foot-by-foot walked down with my dear hiking stick) and we finally reached the ground. Gave our thanks (MY IMMENSE GRATITUDE- COULDNT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT HIM!!!) and made our way back to Ubud. Showered, basically collapsed into a deep sleep. Abolished my plans to explore Ubud.