Category Archives: Photography

Merapi & Merbabu

20130516-175557 HDR.jpg20130516171141.jpg20130517-061556 HDR.jpg20130517061556.jpg20130517062851.jpg20130517072203.jpg20130519065600.jpg

Oh my, I did not even create an entry about my back to back mountain trip in Java recently! That’s how unpopular blogging has become. We were there from 15-21st May 2013. Altogether there were 18 of us. Few were first timer hiking a mountain. However 17 from 18 of us, including your truly never tried hiking two mountains in 3 days. Since it has been a while since the trip, I can’t recall everything pretty clear.

Upon arrival at Merapi basecamp in Selo on the 16th May, we went straight away to Pasar Bubrah. We departed at about 3-3:30PM. Yeah, pretty late already. The group split into 3 different pace. I led the first group of 4 people, the middle group, they said led by Jo (ha ha ha) and the sweeper, led by dR Ali. The first group arrived after about 3-4 hours walking. We hiked for almost 4KM & gained slightly more than 1000m. I think the last group arrived around 11PM.

The very next day the weather is not so good, nevertheless we managed to get good photos of surrounding montains. After shooting sunrise, we summit to the peak. Well, actually only one person really reached the real highest point of Merapi. Me, scared of hight, managed to reach to the brim of the crater….and it was really scary indeed. I made it in 56 minutes. The guide said, they normally need around 30 minutes to reach the peak. I was a 500m distance with 200m vertical. The loose sand really make the hike difficult. However it was nothing compared to what I experienced in Rinjani.

After a quick lunch, we descended to Selo. Then we decided to stay in a nearby guest house. It was a nice time to recapitulate what we endured during Merapi hike. It was also a great moment especially to our friends who attempted the mountain for the first time.

The next day, we went to Merbabu basecamp. I can’t remember the name of the village. The scenery during the journey to the basecamp was already very beautiful. We had nasgor (nasi goreng or fried race) as our breakfast. This was my first time to Merbabu. The guide decided to take tje long route to Merbabu basecamp (Savana II). It was a 5-6KM distance with 1100 metre high. I took me about 4 hours to reach Savanna II, just enough to avoid the heavy rain. Most of our friend was however not lucky enough. They had to climb those steep terrain, especially the one just before Savanna I in a heavy downpour. That day, with wet jacket, pants…and not that great food, the mood was pretty bad. But alhamdulillah, the sunrise on the next day was superb! In fact some managed to photograph great milky way before that. I salute them for their perseverance. I was too lazy to stay outside the tent too long. Cold!

The very morning, after an awful breakfast, we summit to the peak of Merbabu. It as relatively longer ascend compared to Merapi but not that steep. The weather was great. My moving time was 20 minutes, but I stopped many times for photo. It was really a great moment being able to complete the Merapi to Merbabu back to back. It was not really tough for most hardcore hiker, but for us, it was a satisfying accomplishment.

Me & Hafizuddin decended from Savanna II at around 1:30PM. Few friends already descended earlier. This time I was not lucky. It started to rain when we were at the last steep descend. We reached the basecamp at about 6PM. We cleaned & ate the dinner before we rode a bus to Magelang. The adventurous part of the trip was considered over when we reached the hotel. The subsequent day, few friends visited Borobudur, while some of us just waited outside. We then travelled to Solo, stayed another night before going back home.

All in all it was a great EXPAT!

The next one will be Semeru….

Snow Mountain

I just came back from a 6 days trip to Taiwan. We managed to climb Jade Mountain (Yushan) in 2011 which is the highest mountain in Taiwan, and this time we climbed Snow Mountain (Xueshan).

Only me & Ali went to the mountain. It was supposed to be 5-6 people trip, but the rest didn’t able to make it for various reasons. Since I already paid almost RM1000 for the AirAsia flight, it would be a waste of $$$ if I cancel the trip.

Day 1, upon arrival, the first thing I did was purchased a data package from Taiwan Mobile. At Terminal 2 Taoyuan Airport, turn left from the arrival hall. You should be able to see an area where few telcos are selling their product. I bought 10 days unlimited data package for 800 NTD. Many people were buying, so expect some times before you could get your turn. Then we bought Kuo-Kuang bus ticket to Main Station. The ticket cost us 125 NTD. Initially we planned to book e-Go bus to Wuling Farm for the next day but we realized that we need to book at least 5 days in advance and it should be a part of travel package from Go Travel (Go Travel is located at the Main Station). After asking few people including from the friendly staff at Taipei Bus Station (beside Taipei Main Station – i.e. the railway station) we went to Kamalan’s bus express and booked tickets to Yilan.

Note: Basically one should differentiate Main Station (which is the train station – including HSR), Taipei Bus Station (multiple stories bus station – very impressive), and Terminal A & B bus station (where one can get the bus ticket to airport)

That night we plan to stay at Happy Family Hostel, but the owner got mixed up with our booking. Therefore he topped up some money & asked us to stay in a hotel about 1.5 KM away instead. Even though we had to walked extra kilometers, but at least the room was much better than the hostel.

The next day we rode the first bus to Yilan, but upon arrival at Yilan, we missed the 7:30 AM bus to Wuling. Therefore we had to wait the next bus at 12:50PM. It was a public bus. It took about 2-3 hours to reach Wuling. The most challenging part of this Taiwan trip is the weather….it was raining on Day 1 till the day we started climbing. At Wuling, we had to walk about 1 KM to the police station in the rain. However we managed to settle the the mountain permit there (we already have the park permit applied earlier online). Thanks Allah, we managed to hike a van to the camping site. Thanks to Mr William & family for the ride. Else, we had to walk 4 KM in the torrential rain with more than 30 kg luggage to the campsite. We rent small tent (Area B) for 1000 NTD. I was so tired. Cooked the spaghetti and I slept early that night, a bit demotivated due to the rain. Was thinking not to climb the mountain at all. Thanks to my partner, Ali who encouraged me to proceed.

The next morning, the weather however was pretty nice. So we proceed to the trailhead, about 2 KM hike from the camping site. There we watched the safety video & handed over the first set of documents prepared by the police. We started the journey at about 9 AM.

We were told that Xueshan’s trail is easier than Yushan. That’s why we brought heavy camera gears. I personally bring D3, 50mm, 14-24, 70-200 & tripod. That is already about 15 kg of weight. Overall, I was carrying about 30 kg of luggage. In retrospect, the trek is OK provided you don’t carry too heavy like we did. So we faced a lot of problem carrying such weight to reach 369 Cabin, about 7 KM away.

After 2 KM we reached Chika Cabin. I met one big group of local hikers, and one couple from Norway & Australia. We took some rest at Chika & continued the journey at about 11 AM. After less than 1 KM me & Ali already separated. I continued with my pace until 12:30PM. Then I prayed Zuhr & waited for him, but after 30 minutes Ali still did not show up. So I continued till the Crying Slope (KM 4). Again I waited for Ali but it started raining….and since there was no shelter, I decided to continue moving. The rain never stop. I reached 369 Cabin at 5:45PM. Immediately find my sleeping area & changed the wet cloths. At about 6:30PM a ranger approached me & checked my documents. I told him that Ali still had not arrive. At 7:30PM he came & checked on me again & asked about Ali. When I told him Ali still has not arrive, he began to worry. He called few friends, asked me a lot of questions, and finally decided to give Ali till 9PM. If not they will searched for Ali, but by 8:07PM, Ali arrived. What a relief! Seriously with more than 30 kg load, it was very tough trekking and definitely not easier than Yushan.

Me & Ali had a good chat even though almost all people had slept. We only went into our sleeping bag after we had our dinner. We decided not to trek to the summit too early in the morning. And we made a correct decision!

20130407-055947DRJ_1211

 

The sunrise was superb! The cloud was dancing. The air was so fresh. We spent about 1 hours shooting the sunrise. Then we cooked our breakfast. Being so happy with the weather that morning, we decided to attempt the summit!

At 8AM we started climbing. It was a 4 hour walk, initially trough the beautiful Black Forest, then the cold and tough climb to the summit. There were patches of snow, and that was enough to make us very excited. We reached the summit slightly over 4 hours time.

We took few photos and even perform Zuhur/Asr prayers there.

20130407124948We thank Allah. We could not achieve this without His guidance & permission. We know, we don’t have the strength.

After less than one hour there, we descended. Ali took many photos. As for me, I was simply happy shooting with my Sony Xperia Z. We took only 2 hours to reach the cabin. To our surprise, there we just us left in the cabin plus one new Taiwanese couple occupying the other wing of the cabin. That night we slept in a very cold condition. The temperature was -2C!! I can feel the cold air creeping through my sleeping bag.

On the third day of trekking, we decided to descend early. By 5:20AM we were already on the move. I set quite a high pace (for my self actually). Took an average 25 minutes per KM. We reached the trailhead in less than 5 hours! The office was close. So I just slipped the second set of document into the pigeon box. We managed to get help from a couple who were visiting the trailhead to send us to the bus stop. We waited the bus, but instead of taking the 1751 bus to Yilan, we took 1764 bus to Luodong as it was the first to arrive, and according to the driver we can get to Taipei from there too. Yes, true enough, at Luodong, we rode Kamalan’s bus to Taipei!

That night we stayed at Happy Family Hostel & had our dinner at Ali-Baba Restaurant. About 2KM walk from the hostel. We had briyani for dinner.

The next day, we visited Shifen Waterfall at Pinxi District. It was fun being uncertain of what to do as everything are in Mandarin. But we still managed to get to the waterfall & shot some photos.

20130409-144010DRJ_1445That night we planned to celebrate by eating beef noodle at 101 Tower. We thought in 2011 we ate the halal beef noodle there but we were not able to locate the restaurant. It was also so frustrating not being able to go to the next restaurant because the taxi driver could not read English! Therefore, we decided to go to Ali-Baba again, and again, an Indian delicacy for the second night! :(

However we learnt the lesson. We got back, and Ali remembered than he had printed the address in pinyin. So the last day in Taipei, we got into a taxi & went straight to the address. Yes! We managed to get each of us a bowl of super delicious halal beef noodle at Ai-jia (Yusuf) Beef Noodle. And the best part was, the lady owner treat us instead. To all muslims searching for halal beef noodle in Taipei, don’t miss this place.

At 12 noon we went back top our hostel, get the bags & went to Terminal A (infront of Main Station – the East side) and boarded a bus to Toayuan Terminal 2 airport. That was the end of our 6 days wonderful adventure in Taiwan!

 

 

My Rinjani 3.0! A success story – The rest of the day

Day 1 of this 3rd Rinjani trip was hectic, but Day 2 onwards were fun!

I woke up my friends at about 5:30AM for Fajr prayer & for sunrise shooting at Senaru rim. It was only 5-10 minutes walk to the rim. It was a happy moment seeing fellow friends in awe looking at the caldera at the early morning lights. As for me, the weather was great but it was not as great as when we saw Mt Baru Jari in 2009 when it was erupting.

Nevertheless we took our own sweet time shooting at various angles.

By 9AM, we went back to the campsite, had our breakfast cum lunch & started packing before we moved down the rim to the caldera. It was a dangerous journey down. Steep descend. It took us 3-4 hours to reach the lake. However the scenery was magnificent.

I took the time at the lake to recover & to rest. We had a great & refreshing bath in the hotspring nearby. There were a lot of photography opportunities. So many people there, camping & fishing. However I still feel disgusted with all the rubbish scattered almost everywhere at the campsite.

At nights many of my friends shot the milky way. I slept early. Too tired.

The next morning at around 9AM, after breakfast (cum lunch – again!) we started trekking into the savanna before the tough ascend up to Sembalun rim. Since we did not have any specific target that day, many took the opportunity to leisurely walked & snapped plenty of photos. The climb was just OK. Not that tough but tiring. Some of us arrived early & we slept for about 1 hour before we moved to the campsite.

The guides set the tent & waiting for the sunset at Sembalun was one of the best moment during this trip.

We wanna sleep early that night but dinner was only ready at 10:30PM. Hmmmmm…….

At 12AM, I woke most people. Some were simply difficult to wake. By 1:30AM 11 of us were ready to summit. Three of our members decided not to summit. Oh my! It was one of the toughest hiking I had ever done! The last 200m was hell! Every step up on that loose gravel was actually two steps down. I exhausted all my energy. It took me 2 hours just to complete that last 200m. I only got the energy to move on after I prayed Fajr. However the view up on the summit was so beautiful . No word can describe my feeling.

If the ascend was hard, the descend was no better! Now I realized how horrible the trek was. It was a long walk down. I spent 3 hours walking down that loose sand & gravel. The trek was not clear & many got lost. I reached the campsite at about 10:30AM. I tried to rest considering we need to trek down to Sembalun basecamp before 5PM, but it was too hot. There was not many tree at Semabalun rim.

By 11AM, we already packed all our things but few of our friends were still have not arrive. But just before 11:30AM everyone were already at the campsite. It was a relieve to see all my friends were safe. But looking at everyone’s face, I knew how tired they were….so did I. I think I only have 10% of my energy for the final walk to the basecamp.

At 11:30AM those who were ready started trekking down. The journey to Post 3 was so painful & tiring! At Post 3, we prayed Zhr & Asr. I took some time to sleep. Then we moved very fast almost non-stop to the basecamp. By 6PM, we reached basecamp. We were so happy. We bought a lot of drinks, bathed & changed cloth! It was so refreshing! Then we waited for the rest of our friends to arrive. By 9PM, everyone had arrived & we quickly took the van to the jetty. We managed to get the 1:30AM ferry to Bali. We were lucky to get that small ferry with small rest area but not many locals inside. We conquered the ferry! We had a good sleep & everyone was happy when when reached Padang Bai at about 6AM the next morning. We had a good breakfast cum lunch & then immediately went to the hotel we had booked in Sanur. We only stayed for 2 hours in the hotel. Enough to repack & buy some souvenirs before we went to the airport.