Friday, August 19, 2016

A Trip To Mt. Ijen's Blue Fire And Baluran National Park

After the business trip in Surabaya concluded, I went on a trip to Mt. Ijen and Baluran National Park with a group of colleagues. We took Mutiara Timur Siang, a morning train, that depart from Surabaya at 9 a.m. to Banyuwangi.

We were traveling as a group of 11 people, consisting of 3 men (Marto, Bar-bar and Arfan), 5 women (Me, Pristy, Friz, Deb, and Dwi)  and a family of three (Pak Mahar, wife and daughter).

A small minivan picked us up at the station and we went straight to our hotels to have a short break before dinner. I wrote hotels, because the boys stayed in Berlian Abadi Hotel (the same hotel with Pak Mahar & family), while the girls stay in Mahkota Plengkung Hotel, which is in front of Berlian Abadi Hotel.

We booked the hotel via, and there was a promo from Bank Mega credit card. The only person I know as a Bank Mega CC holder is DAP, so I ask if he could lend us the card, or else (hahaha, I'm exercising my Bibi power here). Being a gentleman, he lent us the card, and being gentlewomen, we gave him the money.

We had dinner at a local restaurant named Manizku (ha!). After dinner, we went to Boom Beach to see a kite festival, which happened to take place that day, but unfortunately there was no wind that night, so the festival was postponed.

We got back to the hotels and had another short break before we started the hike to Mt. Ijen. If you're wondering why we picked this particular little mountain (Google says it's 2,799 meters above the sea level, but local websites say it's around 2,443 meters above the sea level), we did it just to see the world-famous blue fire.

Ijen's blue fire has been documented by National Geographic photographer Olivier Grunewald.

This is a pre-hike photo

There is a small canteen at 2,214 meters above the sea level. 

The hike to the blue fire usually started at 1 a.m., the blue fire is usually showing up between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. and then vanishing at 5 a.m. as the sun drops its morning ray along the ridges of the crater. 

If you choose to start the trek after midnight like I did, bring a flashlight or any kind of lighting device, for the trek to the crater is nature-constructed and you may bump into big rocks or fallen trees. It was really dark, and without the flashlight the only light would be the whole star constellation above our heads.

I am a slow hiker, and soon I was left behind. I guess I have written it somewhere in this blog, and yet I would write it over and over again: know your limit and hike in your pace. Bar-bar kindly adjusted his pace to mine and helped me along the way. Hiking really shows who's the real caring person in the group.

We reached the ridge of crater at around 3.15 a.m. We could see the blue flame down below and started to descent. The trek down below is not for the faint-hearted, for sure. Sometimes we had to wait for our turn to pass because the sulfur miners were making their way up/down. The miners are carrying heavy loads, and it's an act of kindness to let them pass first. I've posted before about the sulfur miners (here and here)

After what seemed like hours (but in fact it was probably around 45 minutes), I finally touched down the bottom of crater and got a better look at the blue fire. The blue fire and the rugged rocky surrounding gave a feeling of out-of-this-world experience. Unfortunately, none of us had good photographic skills, so the pictures were blurry. We sat there in awe, admiring the blue fire flickering above and thanking the Almighty Lord for giving us the strength to reach the spot.

Photo by PB

Soon, the wind was blowing around, and the sulfuric gas cloud enveloped us. We quickly left the spot and climbed up again. The gas is not good on the eyes and lungs, so prepare yourself with proper gear (face mask, for example). I was not really well-prepared, though, I only bring a red wool scarf to cover my nose and mouth, and I even wore mountain sandals to do the hike.

The sun rose not long after we reached the ridge, and it was a eye-opening moment when we realized the trail we passed just a few hours before.

Mt. Ijen Crater Lake

The ridge

A group photo with a majestic view

The view from above

On our way back to the entrance gate

From Mt. Ijen, we went back to hotel, had breakfast, had another quick nap and headed to Baluran National Park, which is often called as the little Africa in East Java. We saw deer and stag, peacock and peahen, long-tailed macaque, and buffaloes.

At Savana Bekol



And that's a wrap. Have a lovely weekend, my lovelies.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Food Tour Around Surabaya

I went to Surabaya a few years ago, and fell in love with the local food even if it was a really brief visit. Last week, I got a chance to come back to the City of Heroes for another business trip and managed to sample even more local delicacies.  Here are the foods I tried during the night jaunts with colleagues, and it does not do justice to the smorgasbord that is Surabaya's food scene.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Gone For A Translation Work

I was supposed to have a peaceful week after the meeting in Yogya last week, but my boss asked me to act as an interpreter and accompany an American researcher to Banjarnegara and Wonosobo, two districts in Central Java.

The research was about how the teachers in the districts use teacher working groups as a tool for professional development and how the school management (school principal and school committee) and the district education office support the teachers' professional development.

It was my first time acting as an interpreter. Sometimes I did the simultaneous translation (translating while the people are talking), and some other time the post-talk translation (waiting for the people to finish the speech and then do the translation). Sounds easy, but it was exhausting as I had to stay focused on the flow of conversation.
Sometimes I did a slip, talking in Indonesian to the American researcher or talking in English to the Indonesian audience. Sometimes I had to ask the people to repeat or to clarify something. We went to schools in both urban area and rural area. The people sometimes incorporated Javanese words in their sentence. Sometimes I had to use Javanese word to put the question into a local context (thanking my Javanese roots).  

Sometimes I had to act as a moderator of the FGD, because there was no one who would like to do the job. Other time, I had to give a statement to a local newspaper reporter about our activity, because the researcher refused to do so. Depending on the situation on site, I had to take a decision and execute quickly because we needed to get things done and moved to another appointment.

The people had been very kind to us. They would not let us too hungry, so there were snacks and food in every place we visited, and sometimes they packed the food for us.

I didn't take photos of our activities, but here is some work-related evidence :).

I was the girl wearing yellow floral headscarf on the left side of the American researcher. Koran Wawasan, 27 July 2016.

Updated. Magelang Ekspress, 2 August 2016.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tiger Kiss

Mulan Jamilah, a 6-year-old Bengal tiger, kisses caretaker Abdullah Sholeh in the garden beside their home on January 20, 2014, in Malang, Indonesia. Sholeh has become best friend and a full-time nanny to the tiger. Mulan's owner, Noer Muhammad Sholeh, 51, asked Abdullah to take care of the tiger when it was a 3-month-old cub at Dilem Village. Sholeh regularly sleeps, plays, and fights with the huge tiger. Found here

Friday, May 13, 2016

Good News On Sumatran Rhinos

Harapan, a young male Sumatran rhino, was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2007 to mother Emi and father Ipuh. Harapan spent time in three US zoos over his first 8 years of life: the Cincinnati Zoo, White Oak Conservation Center in Florida, and the Los Angeles Zoo. ( Rhino Foundation). 

A Sumatran rhinoceros has given birth at an Indonesian sanctuary. The female calf was born on Thursday, weighs about 45 pounds ( 20 kilograms ). Read more here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2 ?

Indonesian | 2016 | 123 minutes | Director: Riri Riza

((Beware of spoilers))

Ok, I finally caved in and watched it in the cinema. I mean, how can't I not watch it when everyone I know raved about it. I don't think I watched the first movie in the cinema (I waited until it was aired on TV), but here I am, watching the sequel on the big screen because it was the talk of the town.

The sequel opens with Cinta (Dian Sastrowardoyo), Maura (Titi Kamal) and Millie (Sissy Priscilia) gather to celebrate the comeback of Carmen (Adinia Wirasti) from a rehab center. They decide to take a girls-only vacation in Yogyakarta to cheer Carmen up, and to see the exhibition of a Yogyakarta-based artist Eko Nugroho (By the way, this guy is top notch!). 

Fourteen years after the first movie, each character has continued with their own life, but they are still friends. Cinta works in an art gallery that handle work of arts and performing arts, she is also engaged to a young and handsome businessman Trian (Ario Bayu), Maura is now a sassy housewife, who still bosses around her friends, Millie is married to Mamet (Dennis Adhiswara) and they are expecting their first child, while the sporty and tomboy Carmen has just gone through a difficult breakup with her ex-husband.

The absence of Alya (Ladya Cheryl) is explained when they bade goodbye to Alya's ash burial. It was a bit sad to see Alya's character gets killed in this sequel, especially since it was Alya that made Cinta realized that she loved Rangga in the first movie. Can't you just make Alya in a comatose and then revive her in AADC 3, Mira Lesmana and Prima Rusdi?

Meanwhile, Rangga (Nicholas Saputra) has also made a living in New York. He opens a small cafe with a friend, while still continues writing poems and articles as well as taking photographs. People may not like looking older, but I personally like that Rangga has the dark circle and lines below his eyes. 

Rangga misses Dian in the cold New York, but he tries to bottle up all his feelings. Until one day, a young girl, who claims to be his stepsister, shows up at his cafe, asking him to come home and see his ailing mother. Guess where Rangga's mother reside? Yogyakarta!

During their trip, Carmen and Millie see Rangga. The girlfriends tell Cinta and advice her to meet him, for a good closure before she marries Trian. At first, Cinta refuses. But then Carmen set them to meet at an art exhibition. Cinta, who is not ready for the meeting, is furious with Carmen and says the things that she shouldn't say about Carmen's failed marriage. Carmen goes out all night to cool her head, and when she returns, the girls make peace. Cinta finally agrees to meet Rangga.

What initially planned to be just one-two hours of meeting expands into a 24-hour reunion. They tell each other what has happened during the years of separation, fight several times and then make up, and the best thing is they show the audience what makes Yogyakarta an unforgettable city.

The ending is sweet and expected, Cinta ditch Trian for Rangga, of course.

Random thoughts passing in the head during the screening:
  • I think the script is written in a rush. They could have done better. The banter between Cinta and Rangga, who is supposed to be in late 20s or early 30s, sounds like a couple of teenagers having a fight.
  • There is a line from the first movie that gets reiterated in this second movie: "Rangga, what you did to me was cruel."
  • Product placement in this movie is very visible and, to some point, annoying. A**le, L*n*v* and A*ua D*n*n*, to name a few.
  • I love it that AADC has this habit to instill political issues. In the first movie, it is told that Rangga's mother left him and his father because his father wrote a thesis that criticizes the government and led to Rangga's father being fired from work and considered as anti-government. In the sequel, there is a scene where Cinta and Rangga watch a Papermoon Puppetry show, titled A Cup of Coffee from Playa, which tells about the 1965 tragedy that separates a couple.
  • The first movie has one kissing scene, which stirred responses from the film censor body. The sequel has two, and both scenes are not censored! Perhaps there will be three kissing scene in AADC 3, hahaha. It is interesting to see that 14 years has changed the film censor body.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Events For The Upcoming Long Weekend

Hello lovelies, this week I only have three days of work because Thursday is Ascension of Jesus Christ and Friday is Isra Mi'raj. I'm taking a half day leave today to anticipate heavy traffic as people will leave the city.

It's been so long since I last wrote up a list of things to do on the weekend, I hope I manage to put all in one post. Here it goes...

Have a soft spot for foreign films? Watch them during Europe on Screen, which will run until May 8. I've already marked some of the films :).

Bookworms, there's a must-visit book expo at Big Bad Wolf Book Sale Jakarta.

Shrek The Musical hits Jakarta.

Jakarta Food and Fashion Festival is here again.

Other than that, I think I'll put the KonMari's method into action and perhaps go watch Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2

Hope you have a good one!