Tag Archives: Holidays

A special visit …

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My sister came to visit me! For the first time since I have gone overseas to teach, someone from my family came to visit and I can’t describe how exciting it was. It is just so different speaking to them on skype and showing them pictures or videos to actually being able to show them around in person. Carla, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming all the way out here, on a tremendously long journey just to come see me and I am so glad you enjoyed yourself.

Carla arrived on the Sunday before we finished school so I felt so grateful she was able to come in and see my beautiful school and meet my class and see me working in my job. I think she might have had this rosy tinted view of me coming here and hearing of all my holidays around Asia to what sounds like amazingly exotic places, that my work was perhaps a pretty light load. I think she got a real reality check into how busy my day is and how much there is to do as a Kindergarten teacher. She said it was hard for her to keep up her enthusiasm and energy as well as a smile all day! I love my job but it is seriously hard work. I wouldn’t change it for the world but I work really hard and I am glad Carla saw me in my work environment doing what I love to do!

Then once school had finished, we travelled to the Gili Islands. Carla is a little (understatement of the year) of spiders/ ants/ cockroaches and actually anything that moved. She did try to deal with her phobias well but I guess she had to since Indonesia is TEAMING with insects. We arrived in a monsoon rain and got soaked looking for some accommodation.

I guess the first place wasn’t such a good choice because Carla found seemingly a zoo of creatures. We moved the next day and Carla like the new accommodation much better.

The Gili Islands are so beautiful and relaxing and it was a great few days there. Carla even tried a try dive and I was so happy she did because I love diving and wanted her to experience it. She was so excited to see turtles which are so numerous in the waters surrounding the Gili Islands, you can and we both actually did see them snorkelling not that far from the shore.

We enjoyed good food, some great books and some serious chill time .. I heart the Gili Islands!

Carla tried to pretend she wasn’t burnt … but once I took this photo, even she had to admit it. LOL. That’s what happens when you paste yourself with coconut oil in the Gilis. I told her this is serious sun, but did she listen? No!

Still at least she is smiling 😀 We ate lots of wonderful food, and we had a lovely meal on one of our last evenings. I had this goats cheese salad which was so YUMMY!!!

After the Gili Islands, it was off to Singapore which Carla liked very much because there were no insects! LOL. We had a great time and were fortunate enough to be able to meet up with my good friend Kerry and take the (very expensive for what its worth) Jewel Cable Car ride. Pretty enough I guess. We also wandered around Sentosa and had lunch at the beach with them. Carla was braver than I and held a snake for a photo opportunity and claimed ‘Snakes don’t bother me at all, just ants, spiders, cockroaches etc’. Hmmm, I’ll call on you next time I see a snake in my house! Carla to the rescue! We stayed near Clarke Quay when we were in Singapore and our hotel was lovely.

Considering this post has been in my saved drafts for about a month, I’ll just add photos here because otherwise it might never get published … Oops. Carla, thank you so much for coming to see me and I hope you had a lovely time! Much love x

Enjoying a very expensive and TINY cocktail!

The Serenity of Krakatoa

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I did it! Moment of pure exhilaration …

This photo, I think for me, epitomizes the exhilaration I felt at the top of Anak Krakatoa. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but being there, in the silent calm actually brought tears to my eyes. I was there, alone, staring at the beauty of Mother Nature, marvelling at her enormous power, and feeling quite simply on top of the world. It was a moment for me where I realised that all that has happened in my life is irrelevant now, that I made it, to here, to now and just feeling how wonderful that feeling is. It was so still up there, as soon as we stepped foot on the island, I felt the awe inside me staring at this volcano, the product of such devastation caused by a tremendous explosion in 1883. Anak Krakatoa means ‘Child of Krakatoa’ which is what was created from the collapse of Krakatoa 44 years after the enormous explosion in 1883.

How the islands changed after the enormous eruption in 1883

Wiki describes the event as follows;

”The best known eruption of Krakatoa culminated in a series of massive explosions on August 26–27, 1883, which was among the most violent volcanic events in modern and recorded history. With a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6,  the eruption was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT (840 PJ) – about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little boy bomb (13 to 16 kt) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and four times the yield of the Tsar Bomb (50 Mt), the largest ever detonated.nuclear device. The 1883 eruption ejected approximately 21 km3 (5.0 cu mi) of rock, ash, and pumice. The cataclysmic explosion was faintly heard as far away as Perth in Western Australia, about 1,930 miles (3,110 km) away, and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, about 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away. Near Krakatoa, according to official records, 165 villages and towns were destroyed and 132 seriously damaged, at least 21,007 (official toll) people died, and many thousands were injured by the eruption, mostly from the tsunamis that followed the explosion. The eruption destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa. Eruptions at the volcano since 1927 have built a new island in the same location, named Anak Krakatau (which is Indonesian for “Child of Krakatoa“). This island currently has a radius of roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) and a high point around 324 metres (1,063 ft) above sea level,  growing 5 metres (16 ft) each year.‘ 

See this website for more information about Krakatoa and its infamous eruption in 1883.

First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat
First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat

Saturday morning, at a very early hour, we headed to Carita with some good friends, Sinead, Kim and Chuck. Sinead had scared me half to death with tales of her last stay there where she said there were literally about 20 cockroaches in her room, scuttling all over the place. I was determined we would find somewhere much nicer where I wouldn’t spend the night in terror! After arriving in Carita, we drove in search of a hotel and the first one we stopped at was so eerie, it reminded us of ‘The Shining’. It freaked us out and I was starting to think maybe the cockroaches were inevitable …  We kept looking. Linz was about to turn around after travelling the long coastal road when Kim spotted a place just a little further and thank goodness she did, it was wonderful! A real gem. Gorgeous little chalets, 2  lovely swimming pools and nice, helpful staff. We got a 3 bedroom room for one million between all of us! Total bargain! We had already decided since it was 11am we would head to Krakatoa the next day so we chilled out at the pool, napped (it had been an early start and a long day of driving) and played poker in the evening which was tremendous fun. Without poker chips, we had nothing to bet with so we collected rocks from the path and each of us had 20 rocks as ‘betting chips!’. The Indonesian people in the chalets nearby must have thought we were mad, collecting the rocks from outside! Still it worked and it was so fun. I haven’t played poker in a long time and I really love the game.

The next morning we set off to the boat excited for the day ahead. I had forgotten with it being rainy season that the boat ride might be choppy. Heck, it turned out to be an enduring ride… At first it was okay, but as the time went on, I got whiter and whiter in the face and all I could think about was getting onto dry land. Chuck also felt the same which comforted me, I wasn’t being a total wimp. Sinead loved the boat ride telling us she loved the sea. As you can see from this picture, she was feeling slightly brighter than me!

Sinead looking gorgeous … X

A prize of 5 rocks was decided for the person who saw Krakatoa first. Linz won that one. Pointing out the smoke plumes, we stared at the distant scene. As we got closer, we could see the magnitude of the islands. Vegetation was growing all over one of them, a testament to the wonder of Mother Nature after such a natural disaster which must have destroyed everything that was there with hot, fiery power. We were getting closer and closer to Anak Krakatoa and the water was azure blue. We finally arrived at the beach and we all got off. The sand was black and velvety smooth. Pumice lay all over the sand. There was a calm serenity to the place which we all felt. The only sounds as we walked through the jungle to the trodden path up the volcano was that of nature. It’s something I never hear in my urban life. Calm, quiet peace, buzzing insects, the wind blowing through the green luscious trees.

Disembarking from the boat
First steps on Anak Krakatoa

We explored the landscape of sandy, layered formations with huge rocks which must have been thrown from the caldera. It was so interesting to see how the very land we were standing on had been created.

The rivulets cut into the sand by water on the island

Then we started the long, steep climb up the bottom half of the steaming volcano. Boy was it dusty! Flip flops are probably not the best shoes to wear to climb this, be warned. To be fair, we weren’t actually going to go on the island due to the 3 KM exclusion zone set by Indonesian Law due to the Volcano’s recent volatility. However, we risked it after deciding it was a chance of a lifetime. I’m so glad we did. The climb up seemed to go on forever, and eventually some of the group decided to head back down. Kim was striding ahead to the top and I was following, wondering what I would see at the top.

Sinead on the climb up .. striking a pose!
Climbing up the dusty path ..

I finally reached the top, as far as we could go and it was spectacular … The view of the surrounding islands beneath us was breathtaking, the sulphur lay in crystallised patches over the dry foreboding land. There were rocks lying shattered following their crash landing after being spat out from the burning caldera.

Bomb blasts .. shattered rocks … the power of nature …

Having made it to the top, Kim and I took the chance to reflect. I waited for Kim to start her trek back down so I could just sit by myself (and a guide who I wished would do the same instead of pacing loudly over the crunchy gravel whilst he waited) to appreciate the silence and the moment. It was beautiful. The guide finally sat down and I was able to sit in wonder. How wonderful it was. I felt so lucky to be there, right then in that moment. To feel alive in such a breath taking place.

Quiet reflection …

Foreboding and ominous ...

Kim and I celebrating reaching the top 😀

Finally I set back down the mountain which was considerable quicker than going up. We found Sinead, Chuck and Linz at the bottom and off we set for the next adventure, snorkelling in the azure blue waters surrounding the islands.

Kim and I heading to the snorkelling spot ..
Smiles all round!

The snorkelling was lovely! We had saved some of the very dry and tasteless bread from breakfast to feed the fish and it’s safe to say they liked it a lot more than we did. There were so many fish swimming around us, diving forward to snatch a bite before retreating to savour it in safety. The reef was healthy and beautiful. Kim spotted a cuttlefish, one of my favourite things to see and we all watched as it hovered below us. We saw trumpet fish and one very sad looking black spotted pufferfish with its morose black eyes. We also spotted some weird jelly blobs which we worked out must be jellyfish. Guess who ended up stung on the lip by one?

Angelina Jolie Impersonation!

 With lunch finished (which was surprisingly tasty) we headed home on a slightly calmer sea which both Chuck and I felt thankful for. We waved goodbye to Krakatoa grateful for such a wonderful and thankfully safe day on an active volcano!

All aboard!

One final swim in the hotel swimming pool and it was time to head home. Huge Kudos to Linz for navigating the way home, especially over roads which were potholed to the extreme. There could be a whole TV show, perhaps called ‘EXTREME POTHOLES” filmed on these kinds of roads in Indonesia. At times, it appeared that the road had simply disintegrated! Passing trucks belching with black fumes, we were happy to finally hit a real road on the Tollway from Merak to Jakarta.

Potholes the size of ….
Eco friendly trucks …

What an amazing trip. I am so glad we went and it was a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Amazing friends, good company, beautiful sights and adventures. If you have the chance to go, do! I’ve been inspired to explore more in Indonesia. No more sitting around on the weekends …

Krakatoa …

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So beautiful, looking forward to exploring this ...

I’m off to Krakatoa in the morning with some great friends and I’m excited. I’ll post on Sunday when we are back, hopefully with some  interesting tales and exciting photos … We hear the snorkelling is amazing so looking forward to getting into the sea and swimming with the diverse aquatic life of Indonesia. I haven’t done a lot of travelling in Indonesia (although I’ve travelled to Gili Trawangan many times now!) and I’ve disappointed myself a little in my lack of exploring the beautiful country I reside in. I put it down to being so busy at work but I can also say that the traffic is a huge factor. Getting anywhere here is so arduous that it definitely puts a dampner on plans to explore. However, I know many people who have travelled so I can’t blame it solely on that. Anyway, I hope it will be a wonderful weekend. We won’t climb the volcano. There is currently a 3 mile exclusion zone, in place since Nov 1 after Krakatoa’s volcanic activity escalated after Mount Merapi erupted, with thick plumes of smoke containing toxic material emitted from the volcano. Let’s hope we make it there and back safely.

Here are a few photos from the web I found this evening in preparation for tomorrow. Enjoy .. Have a lovely weekend people. We are lucky enough to have 5 days off for Chinese New Year so Happy Year of the Dragon everybody!

Plumes of smoke ... maybe we'll see this tomorrow ...

Hopefully we won't see this tomorrow .. !

Gili Trawangan

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After two weeks in cold, miserable England in the depths of Winter, I booked myself some well needed sun therapy in the Gili Islands, one of my favourite places to go here in Indonesia. Off the coast of Lombok are three gorgeous little islands, Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan.

I really enjoyed chilling out here in the glorious sun for the final week before the mayhem of school started again! I especially liked learning how to Paddleboard, doing a little diving (in strong currents … everything was whizzing by), snorkelling (and seeing an enormous school of Trevally feeding!) as well as swimming a lot, eating good food and reading a few excellent books. All in all an excellent holiday although now we’ve begun school again, I keep thinking, ‘Was I really only on holiday this time last week?”

Here are some photos of the island that I took on holiday … enjoy 😀