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 Batulao, Philippines

i think this look really suits me
Mt Batulao is probably one of my favourite hikes. Everything was perfect (except the part where my phone dropped in the water) – the weather, the gorgeous surroundings, and the perfect company. 
i have very lovely and beautiful memories here, particularly the few minutes where we lay on the grass against the rock, plugged in our earpiece (splitters and all) and bounced our heads along to the croonings of tdcc, etc.
 golden rays of the morning sunshine
hush whispers of the dawn
crazy people who brought wigs and all along with us LOL
we stopped by a home in the first leg of our journey. the girl waved back shyly. we watched them feed the pigs. gave them a polaroid. i wonder if they remember us.

motivational selfies

loveeee the ridgeline
this is so beautiful
i loved this hike because i loved how evident the undulating terrains were, the ridgelines, and how relatively easy and relaxing it was. 2 hours for this view!

just a sliiiight steep tricky part where you haul yourself up using the rope
on hindsight it wasn’t that difficult
but in that moment i do recall myself wincing a little at its steepness

yummmmm the terrains

q t

yay ascended!!! peaked!! CELEBRATING WITH ICECREAM!!! Both mine wheee

mi cielo! mi gordo!

not gazing at each other, but looking outward in the same direction (cheesy but hehehe am cheesy at heart)

Because we finished Batulao so early, we headed to Mt Talamitam

because we ascended mt talamitam too on the same day and we deserve more selfies


one of the last photos cz took before drama happened
before i walked with Russell too quickly and we lost track of cz
the mismatched paths and the return
the darkening sky and the setting sun
couldn’t find him, the sun had set
i had no torchlight, i stumbled upon the stones clumsily in the dark
we went for awhile, russell and i, hoping to find our way back to the car and hoping cz would be there
u-turning upon reaching an unfamiliar zone
me trying to laugh and gasping for breath because russell moved faster than i was, feeling bad for being slow
a villager pointed us the way
the sound of rushing waterfall
walking further towards light
a shout
and you

we laugh, putting the pieces together
how we mis-crossed paths
a household helped us, gave us some time to use his toilet
we gave them a polaroid

played music in the car, headed back
what a day, what a memorable day

such good memories. am amazed that 4 days, a mere 4 days can make such lovely memories i replay over again at times. loved it.

Pico de Loro + Monolith

Pico de Loro, which literally translates to Parrot’s Beak, is one of the three peaks in Mount Palay-Palay mountain range (officially, Mt Palay-Palay National Park) in the municipalities of Ternate and Maragondon, Province of Cavite. The other two peaks are: Mataas na Gulod and Palay-Palay. Though Mataas na Gulod resembles more like a parrot’s beak, mountaineers call the monolith beside it as Parrot’s Beak for some unknown reason. 

Pico de Loro – Parrot’s Beak
We woke up early in the morning, took a cab to the bus station, and took a bus. I had read many guides before this on how to get there, but I sadly didn’t compile / note them down. It’s not difficult though! We asked the hotel reception and they gladly directed us.

sleep-deprived but OK GO


scared of edge 😥
deceptively paved steps. I find going up the monolith rather heart-skipping for me, and probably one of my heart-pounding moments of the year.
finally ascended THE monolith!

how it looks like from our side

my feet were glued to the ground when i first reached the windy top. i glued my butt to the ground as well. i briefly imagined the strong wind hurling my tiny body into the vastness of the rocky earth. i breathed in and out 30 times. my butt could feel the slight rattle of the rock from the wind.
here, we met Russell and friend, who became our driver for Batulao the next day. Such fate :’)
he pointed out a guide, who would go over to the other side, to take a photo of the monolith, with a small tipping fee.
how it looks like from the other side
the ‘2 sides’ to Pico de Loro

descending the monolith:
going down was slightly less scary, but still rather alarming
We went down and around in Russell’s car after.



russell insisted on a selfie

actually, i am glad he’s an azn camwhore like me

I asked Russell how he had learnt to swim. “Oh,” he said, “my province didnt have a pool nearby, so whenever it flooded, the kids would go out and that’s how we learnt how to swim”

We talk about floods for awhile. “You know, I found it so funny when Singaporeans got so angry when Orchard Road flooded.” He continues to laugh. 

yay! love crossing paths with strangers who leave footprints later on

got forced to eat balut -.- WORST FOOD TASTING SENSATION EVER

the crunch of the bones, the bit of black feather still stuck in my braces… 😥 i could not bear to look at it, i could not, i could not

but i admit i googled the pictures later 


We spent the rest of the evening trying fresh oysters (:O), drinking a little at his little rooftop, under the open sky. loved loved such places. calm and quiet and peaceful to think.

nighttime in makati we ate corn and wandered

The grass is greener in the Philippines!


How time flies.

My first time in the Philippines! It was a quick 4-day weekend trip. My last lesson in NIE ended on a Thursday afternoon. I went home, grabbed my backpack and headed to the airport. My 40l backpack and my now-very-much-aquainted-and-highly-dear-to-me-clack-clack-hiking-stick, my chargers and I left. Always hesitant to tell Gramma, I told her I was going for a sleepover. I came back grinning sheepishly that Sunday – tadah! By which she already knew I had gone abroad (and back!).
I can sense them getting used to it though. It makes me quite delighted.
Manila! It was a beautiful 4 days and as I listen to Rachel Yamagata now (always stirs swaying EMOTIONS in me) and I’m glad I went ahead, as I’m glad for my company
I didn’t write then, but some things I do recall:
1. My surprise at the paperbags used in Makati
What a good idea! So pretty too! My initial thoughts exclaimed indignantly
Later I was questioned: Is it necessarily (biodegradable =) more environmentally friendly? Cost? Waterproof – feasibility?

me acting cute

2. Meeting Russell!

home-cooked adobo

the fire video – that disappeared 

when i think back, i still find some bits funny

eating balut – worst thing in my life



3. Oh right, my phone zapped the last of its life in the river that clumsy cz fell into
iCloud, magical icloud did save some photos though
last few pictures it saved before it crashed

La Paz – Death Road

Well, I stopped my posts because I wanted to access the pictures from the CD that came along with the death road package. Unfortunately I scratched the CD and it no longer seems to work 😦 I’m slightly disappointed that the mental images I have in my mind when I browsed them on the computer in Loki Hostel are gone, and may come to fade. But it’s alright, I still have some of these memory triggers:

Biked down Death road, supposedly the world’s most dangerous roads. It got its name because .., now it’s filled with hoards of tourists daily. Was pretty nervous the night before but honestly, the bus ride back down the mountains – the dust smog that clouds the windscreen and its visibility – is worth greater anxiety.

My October self: I was so nervous the night before though, questioning if I made the right decision. I had to wake up groggily at 6am or something so the bus could pick me up in the wee hours of the morning. I was cold and rather nervous, and I remember being the only Asian in the male-dominated bus, which if I might add, actually made me feel rather sheepishly proud of myself. Lame, but it’s true.

On hindsight, I’m glad I went for it. I’m almost glad I faced the wave of nausea, that resulted in my abandonment of the city tour, and the extra time to look for the tour operator for the next day. I’m always curious about how things work out the way they do. Of course, this is me, happily uninjured, safe, and I’m glad, just glad I went ahead with it. It’s exaggerated though, this whole ‘death road’ thing, considering there was a German father (athletic, if i might add) who brought his 16(?) year old daughter along. She was volunteering in Bolivia for a year. Such a life-changing year it was going to be. I’m truly envious. I wonder if the rest felt nervous like I did.



The night before:
Death road – I walked along the streets of Santa Cruz and found several tour operators. I settled on the second as 310 bolivianos was reasonable enough. My bus ticket to Copacabana is 35; from 345 I negotiated to 335 for both. Pretty reasonable for the middle standard bike. With only front suspension. Good enough I think….
The first section was that of paved roads, pretty smooth, I did not have to peddle, just allow myself to roll down the mountainous roads. Reminded me much of Da Lat’s motorbike day.
Lunch – a banana, a bun with egg, a chocolate bar and a bottle of coke
Second and third sections were a little more rocky; we rode past waterfalls and cobbly streams that splashed up my jeans and soaked my socks. Despite my annoyance, I grinned. This was pretty fun.
Dusty road
Nothing particularly frightening, I hardly peddled in the first and second sections. We just rolled down, I only needed to grip my brakes.
The third section needed a little more physical energy. We needed to peddle up at some points. As I grunted, pushing one foot and the other down in rhythm, I was reminded of my days in the gym on the cycling machine. I remember that self gritting my teeth and persistently trying to get the best timing, and I rode a little faster. This is just my gym day, the ones I missed for far too many weeks. It’s nice to think that there was that version of me last semester, working physically for this. In moments like this I do feel proud of myself, I like working for things. But then I think about the times I slack and I wonder if I over credit myself, or if I under credit myself because of my Asian mentality. Qian xu, my Chinese teacher once told me. That’s important.
At some points as I rode down I thought to myself, is this me? Is this the person I am now? When did I become this?
What I mean is, I have a conception of my timid self that does not quite match this activity. But does this activity necessarily mean I’m not as timid as I think? Maybe everyone does it. I mean most people do it, it’s that touristy. But I carried a lot of fear last night, questioning my decision (as usual). And now I’ve completed it. It was easy, once again another example of mental-fear. As with paragliding perhaps.  Sometimes I wonder about the person that I am becoming. When did I become so calm about taking risks? What am I doing to myself?
And the other side thinks, what are you talking about, I think everyone does this. More interestingly, I am alone and hence the decision was mine and solely mine to make. I wonder if I opted for the tour because I was curious about the person that I am – maybe I want to opt for new standards to measure myself. What standards? The other side thinks.
I suppose you can bargain, but today I found that the average wage of a Bolivian is truly meagre, so I do try not to be too obsessed with every penny.


Valle de Nevada – part of the Andes chain

Yesterday on the Andes tour someone asked me how old I was
Cuántos años tienes?
Veinte-tres, I say
Oh, you’re just a baby! She exclaimed with laughter
I suppose I am, in some ways
But it has occurred to me that – I have always presumed myself to be able to live to a ripe old age, perhaps exceeding my 60s (I wonder if everyone else pictures their futures as such too?) but if I were to pass on at 40+, about half my life is already over (and in a flash too!) and thinking about it makes me a little anxious because there’s still much I want to absorb, to learn, to appreciate, to do