If I’m only allowed to use one word to describe the ancient jungle at the foot of Gunung Gede, I would undoubtedly call it paradise. Like other tropical forests, the giant trees formed natural shelters over our heads and provided ideal habitats for a wide range of insects who orchestrated the jungle sounds tirelessly. Unlike their lurching danger and rotten dampness, the flowers blossomed proudly, and water streams flew with bursts of white foams and the air was punched with freshness. Everything was so vibrant, full and open that we felt completely free and unrestrained. We walked slowly, stopping at almost every step to take pictures of insects perched with their backs facing the lukewarm sun. We expanded our lungs deeply to breathe in the invigorating air. We smiled at each other, and relished the pulsating joy of this wild paradise.
Figure 1: the giant and ancient jungle
Figure 2: insect
Figure 5: a golden bee
Figure 6: colorful moth
Figure 7: butterfly
Figure 8: a spider family??
Figure 9: a cute bug
Figure 10: stick insect
Figure 11: play of light and water
Figure 12: abundant flowers
Figure 13: seed
Figure 14: the morning dew
Figure 15: the lush forest
Figure 16: nice pattern formed by the palm tree
We soon landed ourselves in front of two huge waterfalls. So far I have not described any human presence, but in reality there was a huge number of tourists. Normally Toni would be a bit annoyed if someone other than ourselves got to enjoy such beauty of nature, or to make things worse, made noises louder than the insects, but because of their sheer closeness to nature, we regarded them with such a friendliness as if they were also creatures of this jungle. Some of them bathed in the waterfalls and played with their mates, some ate snacks on the colorful mats, some flashed their teeth and took series of selfies. Since Toni appeared to be the only foreigner there (while I would be taken as an Indonesian Chinese), many young Indonesians took photos with us enthusiastically. They boosted Toni’s self esteem substantially by addressing him with “Sir” while ignoring me completely …-___-… Some also offered us biscuits and drinks, which we accepted with some embarrassment because of the scarcity of our food. Finally, their contagious friendliness made us loosen ourselves completely, and we walked into the waterfall with our clothes to feel the full energy of Gunung Gede.
Figure 17: waterfall
Figure 19: taking a cold dip
Figure 20: two amazing rainbows
In fact, there was a third waterfall hidden at the back. We had to take off our hiking boots and walk in the icy stream through curtains of white flowers to admire its grand beauty.
While we rested at the waterfall, we met a friendly family. The husband worked in Dubai and only went back twice a year to reunite with his wife and children. We chatted and drank coffee with him, and shivered whenever the cold wind blew through our wet bodies. He mentioned to us that there was a hot spring on the way to the top of Gunung Gede. We were told that the top of Gunung Gede was closed, but it seemed that we could still hike to the hot spring without any consequences. He brought us to the intersection and explained to the guards about our intention to go to the hot spring, and with excitement, we started our journey again.
Figure 23: photo with the friendly family
Figure 24: road sign
Figure 25: the trail
Even though we were stunned a number of times by the flowers, the waterfalls and the rainbows, when we saw steams coming up in the forest, we were stunned once again.
Figure 26: steam from the hot spring
Figure 27: walking into the steam
We had to walk past a steamy water fall with sulfurous stones, and I twitched whenever the hot water splashed on my pants. We met another group of hikers, shared their food and drink again, and followed their advice to bathe ourselves in a natural hot spring. There was no one this time, just Toni and me:)
Figure 28: we took a hot bath here
Figure 29: a strange looking monkey
Even though it sounded romantic in retrospect, we became a bit scared as darkness fell and quickly hiked back to our campground, which was converted back into a golf course. The ranger did not allow us to camp there any more because the big group of student campers had left. We walked out of the park hopelessly, but soon bumped into a group of students who studied tourism. One of them helped us find a new campground next to a noisy road. It was here that Toni and I had a big argument (which will be explained in one of the next series) and I didn’t get to enjoy the delicious drumstick at dinner because of that!
Figure 31: all about adventure campground