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Traveller's Tales

 

Lombok


Bali, no doubt, known, locally as well as internationally, as the most popular tourists destination, in Indonesia. However, there are many things that the next island Lombok has to offer than Bali. Bali has Kuta beach, Lombok too has Kuta beach. Lombok has many white beaches Gili (Islands) and more spots for snorkeling. However, perhaps the most attractive place of interest in Lombok is the “Segara Anakan” lake/crater, in the belly of the majestic mount Rinjani. The relatively new little active mountain “Gunung Baru” (new mountain) coming out from the lake that make Segara Anakan looks, both mystical and indeed beautiful and it is a place that is considered sacred by both Hindu, as well as Islam believers.
 
 
Equipped with state of the arts traveling gadgets, full spirits, backed up by experience porters (kind of sherpa of Himalaya), but of course lacked with the necessary stamina, I decided to climb mount Rinjani, to see the legendary “Segara Anakan Lake Crater”.
 
Mount Rinjani (3.725 meters), the third highest summits in Indonesia can be reached from many parts, namely: Sembalun village (east) and Torean village (south), but I decided to try my luck from the supposedly the easiest way, through Senaru (north), a village around 2 hours driving from Ampenan, up north, then down south. In order to start early, I stayed overnight in “Gunung Baru Cottage” in Senaru village.
 
 
Accompanied by my assistant Benny and 4 porters bringing all sorts of equipments and supplies, with the plan, as laid out by the organizer, for the journey up and down that would take 4 days: 2 days up climbing, stay 1 day in the lake crater and 1 day down the mountain. We started around 6AM from Senaru village, to the edge of the Mount Rinjani National Park, around 2 kilometers. The distance from this “zero” kilometers ( S-08.19/E-116.24 - 804 mtrs), to Plawangan in the edge of the crater (around 2.500 meters) is around 10.5 kilometers. The 10.5 kilometers heavenly distance is divided into 5 resting points (or Ranger Posts) with distances between posts, vary from 1.5 to 2 kilometers. Post I (S-08.19/E116.24 - 975 mtrs) – Post II (S-08.20/E116.23 - 1,552 mtrs) – Post III (S-08.22/E-116.23 - 2,080 mtrs) – Post IV (S-08.22/E-116.24 - 2,475 mtrs) and Plawangan Post (S-08.23/E-116.24 - 2,585 mtrs). However, between Post 1 and Post 2 there is a post called “Post Preparation” (S-08.20/E116.23 - 1,224 mtr), a sensible thing to have and another good reason to have it, is that in this particular place there are two trees that somehow embraced and joint in the top, forming one tree, a sacred place for the Hindu believers.
 
 
With no physical preparation at all and zero stamina, the first climbing of 2 kilometers, where in most places the elevation around 90 degree, was killing me slowly. My muscles started to transmit all sorts of signals advising my brain to be sensible because I would never make it…… something that I discovered the truth, the hard way later on.
 
 
I decided to make a camp and stayed overnight in the Preparation Post, because my legs started to betray me. The next morning, we started the climb around 7AM and I discovered that the terrain was getting worse and worse, so as my whole body. I decided to make a camp in Post II instead of, as plan, in Post III: a four and a half kilometers journey in two days …(hope this explained my stamina status).
 
 
The next morning, not just my legs that betrayed me, but the whole body seemed to join along and refused to obey my still high spirits. I reviewed the situation and sadly I have to bow to my body and decided a sensible solution: cancel the journey to heaven. However, I asked my assistant Benny to go ahead climbing with 3 porters and I, the loser, went down hill, head down and humiliated, accompanied with one porter …..
 
 
There are two main religious events conducted in Segara Anakan: the yearly Mulang Pekelem, normally done during the dry season to ask the Goddess in heaven to shower the earth with rain. Worshipers offer sajen (kind of gifts of fruits and foods) to the Goddess in heaven and throw accessories made from silver and gold normally in form of fish, turtles ets to the lake crater. Bumi Sudi ceremony done every 5 years, aimed to ask the Goddess in heaven to clean the earth and the body and soul of the people of Lombok, in order to be able to live in harmonious coexistence with one another and with the universe. In this ceremony, animals such as buffalo and or cow are sacrificed. Legend has it that those poor animals seem to know their religious duties and are very cooperative, happily willing to climb along the 90 degree slop simply to be sacrificed. Meanwhile, any Muslim who has a special wish, normally go up to Segara Anakan, carry-out prayers there and release animals, normally chickens. After the ceremony, they normally plunk themselves in the hot-water spring coming out from the little active volcano in the edge of the lake crater, to clean their body and soul from any evil that might still dwell in their body.
 
 
The traffic along the heavenly path to Segara Anakan is pretty busy, except in the middle of the rainy seasons. However there is no facility, especially the sanitation facilities along the way and people simply do it in the bush …. Garbage bins are not provided and litters are everywhere. The ruins of supposedly toilet facilities found in Post IV, made a few years ago and problem was that the toilet was not equipped with the necessary running water …… very typical! Equally so, there is no sanitation facilities in the edge of the lake crater where many people set up camp there, what a shame…..!
 
 
It was interesting to note that, besides carrying all sorts of equipments, the porters duty’s also involved providing foods to the climbers and the menu seemed universal amongst them: Hard boiled eggs and bread for the breakfast. Noodles soup with hard boiled egg on top plus a bowl of rice for the lunch or Mixed Vegetables Fried Rice with fried egg on top for the dinner. In the afternoon, they normally make Fried Bananas and coffee or tea served in between meals. I must say that the foods looked “yummy-yummy-yummy”, provided we do not bother too much, if at all, with the hygienic aspects of it. Having observed how they prepared the food, my appetite quickly left me….. However the foreign tourists seemed to give thumb up to the porter’s specialty and enjoyed the foods thoroughly…... While I am not belong to the blue blood (thanks God for it), but this time around I pretend like one and rightly or wrongly say deep in my heart: We are what we eat ……and I continued consuming high protein and carbohydrate crackers that taste like hell …..(just to keep me going and of course avoid going to the bushes………).
 
 
My very high respect go to those porters, while they carry around 40 kilos of supplies in their shoulder, it seemed as if they were floating instead of climbing. I have never seen them grumbling and smile never left their beautiful face. However, to my horror, the resting for them means simply sitting and smoking …..I wonder, perhaps The God makes their lung with a different kind of material than any of us …..? God bless them.
 
 
 
Well, I do not know whether I could go up there to see the mystical beauty of Segara Anakan personally, but at the moment, I was satisfied enough to see it through the rather beautiful set of photos taken by assistant Benny, although in rather hazy/cloudy conditions …..
 
Until the next articles. Bye for now.


 
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