Recipe for homemade antiseptic spray & anti-bug spray

Antiseptic Spray

Ingredients:

15 ml of calendula infused oil (usually jojoba oil)

15 drops of teatree or manuka essential oil (strong antibacterial)

15 drops of lavender essential oil (antibacterial and painkiller)

12 drops of cypress essential oil (stop bleeding)

Mix together and keep in a colored glass container. I use this mixture when I got a really deep cut on my shin hours before my hiking trip to the Alps. Not only this has helped my wound to heal fast and nicely, I experienced almost no pains on the cut the whole time. I suspect the calming effect of the lavender really helped.

Anti bug spray

Ingredients:

30 ml of purified water

2 tablespoon of vodka

30-40 drops of mixture of the following essential oils: rosemary, clove, lavender, lemongrass, geranium, peppermint and eucalyptus

Mix everything and pour inside a spray bottle. Keep in refrigerator.

This is also a refreshing spray which freshens me up before any runs.

Posted in Aromatherapy, Home Made Recipes, Trail Running Tips | Tagged | Leave a comment

Montenegro and Puglia – Remaining Hidden Jewels in Europe

This is a long-overdue writing on one of my most memorable travels to less explored part of Europe in 2010.

Why Montenegro and Puglia?
Have you seen the “best” ever made James Bond’s movie, Casino Royale? Supposedly most of the plot took place in Montenegro (although later I found out, most of the film shootings were done around Lake Como, Italy). I was swept away by the beautiful background of the movie and since then promised myself to visit Montenegro. I googled “Montenegro” on the internet and was convinced it is a great country to visit, less explored, the home of a few UNESCO heritage sites and has a vast outdoor potentials.

Puglia – no particular reasons aside that it is a convenient place to connect from Montenegro. And…I was intrigued by one particular eco-friendly b&b which we finally did stay at.

The travel crew
The second part of the work after convincing myself to go (which is not difficult) is to get some travel partners. Montenegro is definitely not a common place for Indonesians to go to, not even a country which Indonesians are aware of. A friendly stewardess asked us where we are heading to, and after hearing our answer, she said “Oh, that is a nice resort place with a nice casino!” Hmm, are you confusing it with Montecarlo?
Anyway, at the end I managed to convince my sister, C and her tomboyish friend, A to join this trip. I promised them a mixed of historical excursion and outdoor adventures, ended with a great gastronomic experience.

The journey – part one – Kotor, Montenegro
Without much hassles, we landed at Podgorica airport safely and timely. It was a quiet and organized airport with friendly immigration officers. We got our rented car and started driving to our first stop, the historical seaside town of Kotor.
But before getting there, we used the opportunity to check out another seaside town, Budva. As one of Montenegro’s beach destination, Budva attracts young tourists and has a bustling nightlife for Montenegro standard. It hosted world-class concerts like Rolling Stones and Madonna before. Standing for 2,500 years, it is one of the oldest towns in Adriatic coast. It has a lovely old Venetian citywall along its coastal side and some trendy establishments in the old town center. The old town itself has much influence from the Venetian architecture. We chose a quiet outdoor spot at one of the local restaurants for our lunch stop, after passing by what looked like white-walled residential area. We heard that most of the walls were taken directly from the Adriatic Sea. If you like a beach-type destination, Budva offers some really lovely beaches. Its nearby island, Sveti Stefan is the location of one of Aman resorts – think secluded, thoughtful services, and of course expensive!

After 30-minutes lovely drive from Budva along the coast of Montenegro, we arrived at the ancient walled town of Kotor, which is declared as UNESCO heritage site. Aside from a few other travel experiences (like Koya-san in Japan), arriving in Kotor made me feel like I was transported back to a place a few hundred years back, in a good way. We liked the fact that we were the only Asian tourists that traveled outside of a tour/cruise group there. But people were still really trying hard to be accommodating and friendly although they rarely encountered Asians before.

Kotor is a nice town to wander around, for a day! But it presents a few alternative destinations nearby. One of the must-do things in Kotor is to walk up its city wall which will lead you to its ancient fortress of St John (St Ivan in Montenegrin). But the best part of the hike was getting the chance to see the amazing view of Bay of Kotor from above (see my pictures below). It is an easy-moderate walk that will take you around an hour-to-two to do.

Wandering around the ancient town itself was an experience on its own. Especially close to night-time when the city illuminates its wall. True that it is not as grand as other European cities like Venice or Paris, true that it is not as well-kept either, but the rusticity and the smallness of the ancient town make it a unique destination. Four years ago, the level of tourism was still bearable to enjoy, I do not know how it is currently though.

Kotor's city center

Kotor’s city center

The view from top of Kotor’s city wall

The view from top of Kotor’s city wall

From Kotor, we made some day-trips, driving to nearby towns. One of the most memorable one was a visit to another coastal town of Perast. Walking around the coast at night where you would find some nice eateries was just so relaxing and enjoyable.
Herzeg Novi was another destination that you can go to, we went there for a lunch and a leisurely afternoon. But a great lunch stop from Kotor is the restaurant Stari Mlini in Ljuta, just 7km away, a 300-year restaurant, serving great fish dishes in a comfortable outdoor location by the bay.
In short, Kotor is a great base for a different-kind of relaxing coastal vacation in Europe where you can find calm and quiet.

Charming quaint town of Perast

Charming quaint town of Perast

Sunset near Kotor

Sunset near Kotor

Town of Herzeg Novi

Town of Herzeg Novi

Leisure lunch at Stari Mlini

Leisure lunch at Stari Mlini

Journey side note – a stop at Ostrog Monastery
I have to mention also our excursion to Ostrog Monastery (a meandering drive but really worth it). In short, if you have the time, do not miss it. It is a Serbian Orthodox church which was carved into a rocky mountain, 900m above sea level. It is a cave-like church, built in 17th century dedicated to Saint Basil. If this description does not convince you, some of these pictures might. The Asian comparison of this will be the Hanging Monastery Xuankong in Datong, Shanxi, China.

Surprisingly a delicious and friendly lunch stop at Braco, Jelovnik (on the way to Ostrog). The owners and locals were intrigued by us. They do not speak English but somehow we conversed well.

Surprisingly a delicious and friendly lunch stop at Braco, Jelovnik (on the way to Ostrog). The owners and locals were intrigued by us. They do not speak English but somehow we conversed well.

Journey to Ostrog

Journey to Ostrog

The cavelike monastery near sunset

The cavelike monastery near sunset

The journey continued – part two – Durmitor, Montenegro

As I promised my travel buddies that the trip would consist some outdoor adventures, after Kotor, we headed to the northern part of Montenegro, to Durmitor National Park (which is also designated as one of UNESCO Heritage sites). Zabljak is the gateway to Durmitor and the meeting place with our guide from montenegrohiking.com.

We were meeting our guide at the local restaurant Zlatni Papagaj, which turned out to be “the” place to be in town. Our guide came with his girlfriend and with excitement we listened to our adventure plan.

The next day, we were driven to the deep valley of Durmitor to stay overnight at a friendly cottage with an attached farm of “Jugoslavija” owned and operated by a charming and friendly family guy. The road to the cottage is long and windy but worth every pictures. Our beds were bunkbeds which was quite fun as we got to toss coins to see who got the top spot. Please note that you should not expect warm dinner served at night since A got really dissapointed that we only got some potato salad, cold cuts, and bread for the dinnner.  I assume since we did not do any substantial activities other than sitting our butts in the car the whole day, they thought we did not need too much calories intake.

Beautiful mountain pass along the way – Durmitor

Beautiful mountain pass along the way – Durmitor

Sunset in Durmitor with a country house in the backdrop

Sunset in Durmitor with a country house in the backdrop

Our cold dinner

Our cold dinner

The next day our main activity is to raft the river in Tara Canyon. Not many people know that at 78km Tara Canyon is actually the second longest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. It also has the deepest gorge in Europe. We had to hike a little bit from our cottage to get to the start of our rafting trip. The hike was leisurely, flat and downhill and along the way, we befriended a curious and active beagle. See in the pictures how he was following us.

The moment we saw the crystal-clear river, our first instinct was to jump into the water. Beware, it is frozen cold, even in August. But it worthed the try though as you will get warm right away wearing your bodysuit and paddling the raft.

I think we rafted for around 3 hours with a stop at a small waterfall where we were braced again for another brave dips in the frozen but beautiful water. The raft was quite leisurely as the rapid was not at its highest in September. The best part was enjoying the view of the crystal blue water of Tara Canyon.

Fortunately, the following lunch at the cottage was hot and substantial, adding a warm feeling while we bid goodbye to the charming lodge.

Our cute little friend for the day

Our cute little friend for the day

 

Our guide, Vlatko, showed us to jump into the water

Our guide, Vlatko, showed us to jump into the water

Our waterfall stop during Tara river raft

Our waterfall stop during Tara river raft

Saying goodbye to our host

Saying goodbye to our host

Prutas – Second highest mountain in Durmitor

The next day, we increased our activities’ fitness challenge by one level. Our aim was to hike Prutas Peak (sound a bit like “puncak teratas” in Indonesian isn’t it? :-)), which is at 2,393m is the 9th highest peak in Durmitor. The highest peak of Durmitor is Bobotov Kuv, which is at 2,523m. It should be a moderate hike that could be done in 2-3hours. But C decided to increase the challenge by wearing her brandnew Vibram five fingers shoes for the first time ever. The combination of the non-existence sole with the rocky path had definitely left a lasting impression on her. After that trip, she had never worn the shoes again.

I think for this activity, our pictures speak more than my writing. Please see below.

To celebrate our climbing achievement, we partied the night away at the trendy Zlatni Papagaj with our new Montenegrin friends.

The ascent

The ascent

View to Bobotox Kuk, highest peak in Durmitor

View to Bobotox Kuk, highest peak in Durmitor

View to one of the lakes

View to one of the lakes

I cannot imagine happier time than enjoying the outdoor - at the peak of Prutas

I cannot imagine happier time than enjoying the outdoor – at the peak of Prutas

Small “monument” at the peak

Small “monument” at the peak

Tara Canyon at the background

Tara Canyon at the background

A photobombed my picture

A photobombed my picture

Hiking down

Hiking down

A mesmerized by the view

A mesmerized by the view

Cute friends

Cute friends

Well-deserved break

Well-deserved break

 

The next day, when we thought our adventure in Montenegro had come to an end. We had ceremoniously missed our flight to Bari, just because we could not find the airport sign and spent too much leisure time at lunch. Since the next flight is two days after, I was prepared with a back-up plan. We decided to take the overnight 9 hours ferry to cross the Adriatic Sea from Bar, Montenegro to Bari, Italy.

The ferry trip was an experience on its own. Since all the cabins were taken, we had to make ourselves comfortable sleeping on the ferry chairs, which were all very old and unkept. Armed with an iPad (which was just newly released that year – an attraction for other passengers), we spent the night staging an Angry Bird tournament among ourselves, a very mature and sophisticated activity.

Before boarding the ferry

Before boarding the ferry

Last part of the journey – charming Puglia

Arriving in Bari, we quickly got our rental car and drove to our long-awaited destination, Masseria Il Frantoio, which is an old olive oil mill turned into a charming bed and breakfast. The establishment is located in a 70ha field near Ostuni (the white city). It is a 16th-century building that has not only its own olive oil mill but also produces its own fruits and vegetables. These produces were the stars of the 10-courses dinner held there every other evening, which we fortunately  took part as well.

So it is quite easy to say that one of the highlights of our Puglia visit was actually the long dinner at Masseria Il Frantoio, where they not only served produces from their field and local markets but also paired them with the local wine. The setting itself could not be more beautiful. Outdoor among the olive trees under the Italian sky, we could not have a better place to fill our stomach with delectable food and dizzy our head with unending pours of wine.

One of the most memorable town visits in Puglia was to Lecce, a historic baroque town filled with magnificent buildings. It is often called as the “Florence of Baroque”. Cars are not allowed inside the old city center, which is a blessing, so after parking our car near the city wall, we had the choice to either walk or ride in one of the modern rickshaws. The city itself is very easy to navigate, starting from the center, Piazza Sant d’Orozzo, you can walk to St Croce church and any other churches around which was filled with baroque wonders. One of our favorite was the St Irene church, a small yet mesmerizing architectural wonder.

Great food, amazing coffees, friendly people, beautiful small towns, we were really happy to end our vacation in Puglia.

Dinner preparation at Masseria Il Frantoio

Dinner preparation at Masseria Il Frantoio

Fireplace inside Il Frantoio

Fireplace inside Il Frantoio

Romantic table for two

Romantic table for two

Inside of St Irene in Lecce

Inside of St Irene in Lecce

At Piazza St d’Orozzo

At Piazza St d’Orozzo

 

Montenegro Summary

Used to be part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro is a one of the youngest countries in the world.

Best time to travel:  April to September. Montenegro has two weather patterns – the coastal side which follows the Mediteranian climate and the mountain side. The coastal cities like Kotor and Budva are popular stops for summer cruises and tourists, thus July and August can be overwhelmingly crowded.

Visa: for Indonesians, we can stay in Montenegro for up to 7 days if we have a valid visa to the United States, United Kingdom, or the European Union. If we plan to stay longer, we need to apply for a Montenegrin visa. Please note that this does not apply to Croatia (Dubrovnik is a short drive away from Kotor). We tried to cross the border and were politely rejected by the Croatian immigration officers.

Our trip’s length: 7 days in Montenegro and 3 days in Puglia

Country’s info:

  • Currency : Euro
  • Language : Montenegrin
  • Popular destinations : Coastal – Budva, Sveti Stefan, Kotor, Herzeg Novi; Inland – Durmitor National Park
  • Popular activities : Hiking and rafting in Durmitor, beach vacations in coastal area
  • Interesting fact : Immediate citizenship will be awarded to foreigner who invest as little as Euro 500,000 in Montenegro
  • How to get there : Flight via Rome by Montenegro Airlines or Air Italia
  • Getting around : Best way to get around is by renting a car which is not too expensive. Train is not very safe (thefts) and bus can be very slow
  • Nearby destinations : Croatia, Serbia, and Italy
Posted in Agriturismo, Europe, Farm Stay, Gastronomy, Hiking, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Living – Recipe – Breakfast Drink – Coffee Flavored Cashew Milk

I have a younger sister whose characters are the opposite of me. She is kind and gentle while I am impatient. She takes her time doing her things while I am always in the rush. Interestingly, while opposite in characters, we look kinda like twins. And we also have very similar interests.

Anyway, while I studied engineering and finance, she took nutrirional science as her major. So when the two of us were living together in Singapore, I learned a lot about nutrition from her. I owe it to her for teaching me a lot of these healthy eating habits. One of those was the need to reduce my consumption of dairy products. Since dairy can worsen any inflammations that I may have in my system.

While it was difficult to stop drinking milk when we have been drinking it every day since we were born, we managed to experiment with a few nut milk that we enjoyed to have. We tried everything from rice milk to hazelnut, millet, and quinoa milk, that were available over the counter. Nonetheless, we never thought of trying making of of them on our own.

Little that we know, there is one nut milk that is very easy to prepare at home with the help of a blender (not necessary a powerful one). This is cashew milk.

Cashew milk is a healthy substitute for cow’s milk. It is rich in mono-nonsaturated fat, which is beneficial to keep our cholesterol in check. Also, it is a good source for vitamin B and plenty of minerals, including Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, and Manganese. It does have less proteins than cow’s milk and higher calories. Thus, anyone who is watching their calories intake should be careful in drinking these creamy milk.

I experimented a bit and came up with a healthy morning drink which is great tasting and also nutritious. I added a dash of strong coffee for my caffeine kick and good taste, a spoonful of chia seeds (who does not love chia seeds these days? It has fun textures and is loaded with nutrients, anti-oxidants, omega-3, and supposed to help us to lose weight), a dash of cinnamon, and some protein powder to compensate for the milk’s lack of protein.

Coffee-Flavored Cashew Milk

Ingredients:

– A cup of raw cashew nuts (I bought one from Kem Chick supermarket under the brand Finna – I do not think this is organic – the price was around IDR 98k for 500grams)

– Filtered water

– Dash of cinnamon

– 3 tablespoons of chia powder

– 1.5 teaspoon of high-quality ground coffee

– A dash of sweetener to taste – I use stevia but you can use maple syrup, coconut nectar, honey, or even palm sugar

– 1 tablespoon of protein powder of your choice – I use Whey Powder (OPTIONAL)

– a dash of salts to taste (OPTIONAL)

Steps:

1. First soak the raw cashew nut in filtered water overnight (at least 4 hours). This soaking will soften the nuts and supposedly release the beneficial nutrients of the nuts

2. Drain the water and rinse with water again and drain – repeat several times

3. Use this proportion 3:1 for water and cashew (less water for creamier texture). Put the cashew into a blender and top it up with filtered water

4. Pulverize for 30seconds until it is white and creamy

5. Pour into serving glass or jugs (it will yield around 800ml)

6. Make a cup of strong coffee using your prefered method (I did mine using coffee filtration)

7. Mix all the other ingredients into the cashew milk (coffee, chia seeds, cinnamon, sweetener, protein powder) and serve. I like to use a shaker to shake everything and have a frothy drink.

8. If you want to refrigerate it, do not add any of the flavorings until you want to serve it

9. This should keep for about a week

You can add or substitute any of the flavorings with the followings:

– nutmeg powder

– vanilla syrup

– coconut oil

– a dash of berry juice

A note of caution: cashews contain oxalate salts which may interfere with your calcium absorption. Accumulation of calcium may develop into kidney stones. People who are prone to develop kidney stones should limit their consumption. Cashew is also known to be allergic for some people.

 

Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Daytrip to Mount Pangrango, West Java

Earlier this year, a friend introduced me to trail running around Jakarta. That has opened my eyes to the plethora of opportunities in exploring the beautiful surrounding of our beloved town, Jakarta. In the midst of this new excitement, a small group of friends decided to do a daytrip to climb up Mount Pangrango.

Following a request from a reader, please see my side post on what equipments to bring for a trip like this.

Gunung Pangrango (Mount Pangrango) is the second highest mountain in West Java at 3,019 m above sea level. It is one of the two peaks that form the famous Gede-Pangrango National Park (Taman Nasional Gede Pangrango).  A 50km drive from Jakarta, it is easily accessible with many transport options.

We chose the easiest and most accessible route to ascent, which is through the Cibodas Gate. The drive to Cibodas Gate was surprisingly short, leaving Jakarta’s SCBD area at 4:30am and reaching the parking area of Cibodas gate by 6am. Cibodas Gate is the main entrance for the National Park. It is filled with warungs (traditional food stalls) which also offer alternative to sleep in. The accomodation is very basic as you may expect, basically just some sleeping space for you to sleep with your sleeping bag. They also provide place where you can clean yourself with fresh cold water but no hot water facilities as far as I know of (note that I do not write shower as none of the places I saw has showers).

A few of the friends I went up with were spending the night there. Our group had 6 people in total, with two newbies (never hiked the mountain before) which included myself. Armed with a hearty breakfast of fried rice at the warung, we started our climb to Pangrango at 7am.

First thing I noticed in Cibodas Gate was the freshness and coolness of the air (temperature felt like 18 degree Celcius at that time). At 1,250m above sea level, Cibodas and its surrounding is blessed with cooler climate and healthy soils to grow vegetables and fruits. My favorite produce there is the sweet Ubi Cilembu (Cilembu sweet potato) which is baked along the street side toward the entrance oozing beautiful caramel flavor. Coincidentally, sweet potato is one of my favorite fuel to bring along on a trip like this.

At the Cibodas gate entrance, you will be checked for your hiking permit. This needs to be lodged a few days/weeks before the trip. The only thing you need to bring for the permit is a photocopy of your identification and the entrance fee, which is IDR 33k for domestic tourist and IDR 230k for foreign tourists.

Pangrango1 Pangrango2 Pangrango3 Pangrango4

Then off we go to start our hike! The sights and surroundings were surprising to me and to my foreigner friend. Who would have guessed, by driving less than 2 hours from Jakarta, we would be able to experience a rainforest walk like this. I thoroughly enjoyed the start of our walk passing through the canopies of tall Rasamala trees. Crossing the Gayonggong swamp, the trail changed from natural rocks and dirt to man-made concrete walk with wood logs shape. A little bit old-fashioned but I had no complaints. I had to keep on reminding myself to be careful here as there were many holes along this man-made walk, which showed the unkempt condition of the overall trail.

Then, the first notable stop from the Cibodas Gate was the T-junction toward the Cibeureum triple waterfalls and the two peaks. This is around 2.4km from the gate. There will be an additional detour of around 400m to get to Cibeureum waterfalls. I would recommend to save the visit to the waterfalls on the way back as you will see why later. The walk so far took us around an hour.

Pangrango5 Pangrango6

After this junction, we continued our walk toward Kandang Badak (around 2,350m above sea level). Both Mount Pangrango and Gede shared the same route from Cibodas Gate up to Kandang Badak, a large and not surprisingly the most popular camping area due to its location sandwiched in between the two peaks. The most fascinating spot that we passed before Kandang Badak was the hot spring waterfall. Personally, I have never seen such thing before in my life. And we had to walk pass it, wasn’t it exciting?! I could feel the steam and the hot water touching my socks while scrambling through the waterfall. We did try to stop for a nice photo but unfortunately the picture did not come very nice for us.

Pangrango7 Pangrango8 Pangrango9

The leg from the T-junction toward Kandang Badak was one-step more challenging than the earlier path. Total time for us to reach Kandang Badak was 2.5 hours. But according to our more experienced friend, the best (or challenging) part was yet to come! Coming to the hike with a bit of hangover from last evening’s drinking, I did not feel prepared for what was more to come. But mystified by the beautiful surroundings so far, I braved myself to continue.

Turned out, my friends were right. The next leg of hiking was pretty challenging. But it was a thrill! I have not had that much fun for quite some time. As one of my trail running friend put it, it felt like one of those Takeshi Castle’s games.

The climb was quite steep and there were many fallen trees so it was not rare that I had to climb down or jump over the trunks. The inner child of any nature lover will be satisfied here.

We clocked in 4 hours total time to get to the peak of Mount Pangrango. Okay, the view was not spectacular as it is a rainforest covered peak. Nevertheless, I was pretty satisfied and happy to reach there. We could see the smoke puffing from the Mount Gede’s crater across.

After a long break at the peak and some obligatory peak photos, we did a quick visit to the romantic Mandalawangi edelweiss’ field. I have been intriqued to visit this spot since high school due to the poem below, composed by a well known student activist and mountain lover back in the 60s.

Mandalawangi – Pangrango

Senja ini, ketika matahari turun
Ke dalam jurang-jurangmu

Aku datang kembali
Ke dalam ribaanmu, dalam sepimu
Dan dalam dinginmu

Walaupun setiap orang berbicara tentang manfaat dan guna
Aku bicara padamu tentang cinta dan keindahan
Dan aku terima kau dalam keberadaanmu
Seperti kau terima daku

Aku cinta padamu, Pangrango yang dingin dan sepi
Sungaimu adalah nyanyian keabadian tentang tiada
Hutanmu adalah misteri segala
Cintamu dan cintaku adalah kebisuan semesta

Malam itu ketika dingin dan kebisuan
Menyelimuti Mandalawangi
Kau datang kembali
Dan bicara padaku tentang kehampaan semua

“hidup adalah soal keberanian,
Menghadapi yang tanda tanya
Tanpa kita bisa mengerti, tanpa kita bisa menawar
Terimalah, dan hadapilah”

Dan antara ransel-ransel kosong
Dan api unggun yang membara
Aku terima itu semua
Melampaui batas-batas hutanmu

Aku cinta padamu Pangrango
Karena aku cinta pada keberanian hidup

Djakarta 19-7-1966
Soe Hok Gie

Isn’t it inspiring (okay, I will need to translate this poem later)? Side note: Soe Hok Gie was a real inspiring figure for many Indonesian youths. He died while hiking Mount Merapi in 1969 at the age of 26.

Pangrango10 Pangrango11 Pangrango12 Pangrango13 Pangrango14 Pangrango15

The climb back down up to Kandang Badak was again a fun and exciting walk. However, the next few kms all the way to the gate felt soooooo long as the trail was all rocks. That is why, I think it was the most excellent idea when my friend insisted that we made a quick stop at the Cibeureum triple waterfalls.

The feeling of dipping our sore feets to the ice-cold water around the waterfalls were sheer bliss. Instantly, I was converted to a strong-believer to the effectiveness of cold water immersion for the muscles after a strenuous workout.

Pangrango16 Pangrango17 Pangrango18

Total hiking time with the detour was around 7 hours. The drive-back to Jakarta was unfortunately a pain, which took us around 4 hours.

Posted in Hiking, Jakarta, Running, Travel, West Java | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living in Jakarta…. and finding it exciting! Part 2 (Day trip to Gunung Salak)

Another exciting find in Jakarta is its surrounding area. Lately, I have been going to Sentul or Bogor in the weekend for some outdoor activities. End of August 2014, a friend asked me to join an activity organized by both Sentul Ultra Trail Running Academy and Trail Maniak to do a trail-run to Gunung Salak.

Gunung Salak (Mount Salak) is a volcano in Mount Halimun-Salak National Park, which is administratively located inside the regencies of Bogor and Sukabumi. Mount Salak has its special characteristic which is it has a few summits

A group of 10 runners started the trip in Bogor, which is around an-hour drive from Jakarta, at 6am. We waited a while for the angkot (small public pick-up chartered for our group) to pick us up. It took us only around 30-minutes from Bogor to the start of the trail, which is at altitude of 900m above sea level. Then at our own pace, we climbed the mountain to its first peak, Puncak Salak 4, at altitude of 2,020m above sea level, which took us around 1-1.5 hours depending on the pace. From there, we just followed the small undulating path along the peak to the next 3 peaks, which is Puncak Impressa, Puncak Salak 3, and finally Puncak Salak 1 at 2,211m above sea level. The path is quite clearly marked although we had to be extra careful as there are cliffs on both left and right side. The mountain is always surrounded by mist as well which to my opinion adds its surrounding beauty and mystery. But it is a mountain that is known to be a little scary and mystical. There is a small tomb of Ki Salak on the summit of Salak 1, which we think is actually empty but some locals frequent for praying. Hiking here is actually walking through a tropical rainforest. A fellow hiker claimed that he saw a macan kumbang (panther) up on the trees while we were hiking.

Any nature lover living in Jakarta should consider a trip to Gunung Salak as climbing here is really fun because: 1). you rarely meet any other hikers especially if you take the same route as us which starts at Sukamantri. 2). you barely feel the sun as you will hike into the forest and surrounded by mist, 3). it is fairly an easy day-trip from Jakarta that can be done within 4-5 hours time if you are fit.

The cons of hiking Gunung Salak are: 1). There is no fresh water supply along the route, 2). There is barely any views you can see from all the peaks as they are always surrounded by mist, 3). The route gets quite muddy and slippery while hiking/running down especially during the rainy season – wear proper trail shoes and prepare to get dirty.

Note on the route, which is generally called the Sukamantri Route or Kopasus Route:
Starting point: Cows farm at Sukamantri village (take a public bus towards Curug from Bogor and stop at Sukamantri intersection)
Total distance: Around 10-12km according to Endomondo
Elevation gain: Around 1,300m
Difficulties: Moderate as there are sections where you need to scramble (fun!!)
Total time: To reach the final peak – Salak 1, it will take around 2-3 hours depending on fitness. It will take around 2 hours to walk/run down through Cimelati route, which ends in Sukabumi. Cimelati route is an easier route since it is wider and very well-marked. You will also encounter more hikers on this route. It will take you around 2 hours by public transport to go back to Bogor.

Start of the trail from Sukamantri - fairly thick vegetation for around 500m

Start of the trail from Sukamantri – fairly thick vegetation for around 500m

Reaching the first peak - Puncak Salak 4

Reaching the first peak – Puncak Salak 4

Surrounding view of Puncak 4 - all misty

Surrounding view of Puncak 4 – all misty

Heading to Puncak Impressa and Puncak 3 - cliffs on both sides

Heading to Puncak Impressa and Puncak 3 – cliffs on both sides

At Puncak Salak 3 - not much different from the other peaks

At Puncak Salak 3 – not much different from the other peaks

Some scramblings

Some scramblings

Finding way

Finding way

Finally, Puncak 1 of Gunung Salak at 2,210m

Finally, Puncak 1 of Gunung Salak at 2,200m

 

Running down on Cimelati route

Running down on Cimelati route

Clean water for drinking and washing ourselves at the bottom of Cimelati route

Clean water for drinking and washing ourselves at the bottom of Cimelati route

End of the hike - waiting for our pick-up to arrive

End of the hike – waiting for our pick-up to arrive

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Living in Jakarta …. and finding it exciting! Part 1 (Pasar Santa)

It has been almost 2 years since I moved back to Jakarta. Surprising to myself, I am finding living here exciting. Especially recently.

The past few months, we, Indonesians, have been engaging ourselves (both in our daily and mostly in our virtual life) with the Presidential election. I even felt a post-election blues then, fortunately I went straight to my 3-weeks long vacation right after.

The result of the election is said to give positive developments for the creative industry and small businesses. But even before that, Jakarta has seen the sprout of creativities popping out in every corner of the city, not only in the “Pusat” (center) area but all over Jakarta. Later, I found that part of it is thanks to our beloved governor who has just been elected as the new president.

One of the proofs to the above is: Pasar Santa (on Jalan Cipaku, South Jakarta)
A traditional market strategically located between South and Central Jakarta, Pasar Santa is becoming the “it” place in town. Despite its lack of air-conditioning, a few creative hip shops and eateries are opening up in this space. Started with abcd_coffee or A Bunch of Caffeine Dealer, with their pop-up cafe and pay-according-to-your-generosity policy, Pasar Santa is crowded with curious visitors especially towards the end of the week.

ABCD Coffee is the current talk-of-town among coffee lovers. A coffee school, it also serves quality espresso with trial beans from different roasteries around the world during certain weekends. Their main business is providing coffee lessons to interested students in small groups. Friday is their Milk Day where during certain hours they will give-away 30-something cups of cappuccino to the market’s visitors. Why? Because this is the day when the students are learning to make cappuccino so they have an overflow of cappuccino made by these students. Their options are to throw it away or to make other people happy.

A lunch visit to the market found me with two servings of bakmi ayam (noodle with chicken) at the barely a week-old Mie Chino. Started by a young ex-chef, who gained his experience in Melbourne, mie chino sells a simple dish loved by local Jakartans. Their only menu currently is just that chicken noodle, however, you only need one good dish to have people come and frequent your shop.

Visiting the market the next evening gave a different flavor and ambiance. With a few more shops opened, we got more glimpses of what this place will hopefully become. Bear and Co., helmed by a team of husband-and-wife, sells hand-crafted drinks and cakes. Their signature drink is Nitro Cold Brew Coffee and Tea infused with CO2, served directly on tap. This is probably the first in Jakarta. They can also make different twists as cold cappucino and others. A really refreshing and fun place to hang around.

Another curious shop opened that time was Ketan Pasar, serving Indonesian sticky rice with your choice of condiments. We loved their tiny serving of this ketan with our choice of sweet (coconut, milk, and sesame seeds) and savoury (spicy soybean cakes) ones.

Siomay Tiban, which is a bit hidden from the happening-stair-area, was sold-out by our order. Like other shops, this place serves only one item, siomay or Bandung fish cake, and at a very reasonable price, IDR 3k per piece.

Chatting around the market, we learned that this is one of Mr Jokowi’s initiatives which is to provide a creative space and community in a traditional market. All of the spaces on the second floor have been fully leased out and the management was actually asking for a grand opening of the shops on August 30th last week. However, many of the spaces are still undergoing construction or even left empty for now. But if you are looking for something different in Jakarta and tired of going to malls, visiting Pasar Santa is a good alternative.

BearandCoffee

SiomayTiban

PasarSanta

Ketanpasar

Posted in Coffee, Food, Jakarta | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sea – Pablo Neruda

THE SEA

I need the sea because it teaches me,
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

It’s not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of its gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from a sliver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.

What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.

It seems a small thing for a young man,
to have come here to live with his own fire;
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in its abyss,
the cracking of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with its foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of its pure movement.

By Pablo Neruda

 

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