We woke up very early the next day and escaped from the driver’s family. Toni complained about rats running around in his room, but I was simply too tired to notice anything during the night. We walked onto the street and was embraced by the serenity of the village.
Figure 1: the peaceful village in the morning sun
Figure 2: we had breakfast at this small food store. I looked like a giant for the first time!
It turned out that the only grocery store did not have ATM, so we had to take a taxi downhill, only to find the only available ATM in the vicinity spoiled. Left with no choice, we followed the taxi back to the super busy road and withdrew our money in the dirty dust. It was two hours later when we finally returned back to the entrance of the park.
The strange thing about our feelings was that we could hate one place so much and yet fall in love with another place just 20km away from it. Once we were in the park, we were again wrapped in wonder about Indonesia’s rich flora and fauna.
Figure 3: dragonfly
Figure 4: damselfly
Figure 5: lady bug
Figure 6: butterfly
Figure 7: spider
We realised that the park did not belong to nature alone. In the lush forests, slender workers waited patiently with their pots to collect the “blood” of the giant trees. The scars they inflicted on these trees had given the trees a peculiar bulk at the bottom. We followed the sign to a small waterfall where a family resided and converted the surrounding into a cozy and clean campground. Toni and I had our best Nasi Goreng there and we dreamed excitingly about our future together as nature guides or researchers (field researcher and his assistant) or teachers (teacher and his assistant).
Figure 8: workers extracted sap from these giant trees
Figure 9: taking another cold dip
Figure 10: the best Nasi Goreng – cheap (approx. SGD 1.50), filling and tasty!
Figure 11: smart design
Figure 12: a natural tunnel
Figure 13: ancient forest
We forgot about the stress from the previous night and the early morning, and just enjoyed ourselves 🙂 (I have used up all the words in describing our joy)
Figure 15: the “real” entrance
Figure 16: colorful signs on the trail
Figure 17: the steep trail
As it got darker, the trails also became steeper. During our dinner where we savoured some energy food (kueh lapis, rice packets and salted eggs), I had to implore Toni to stop our hike for the day because I was simply too tired to hike further. We decided to camp right at the resting area – a small flat platform next to the cliff of the mountain. It was barely big enough for our small tent and I think we almost slept with our feet extending out in the air, but finding another flat area nearby was almost an impossibility. The loneliness of the whole trail played some tricks on our mind and I could not stop imagining leopards or huge monkeys staring at us from the darkness. We brushed our teeth 100m away from our tent and stored all our food there. Despite all this, I had to admit that the view of our campsite was really stunning. We could literally see smoke coming out from Kawa Ratu – the biggest crater in this national park, which I first mistook for forest fire!
Figure 20: we enjoyed the sunset at our campsite
Figure 22: Kawah Ratu – the biggest crater at Gunung Halimum Salak national park
Figure 23: our cozy campsite and my messy hair