My weekends have been busy with academic competitions and general chaos, but once in a while I manage to escape for a day or two and see some cool diddies around East Java. My goal this week is to catch you all up on my adventures outside of the classroom, with pictures of course.
Today, I’m talking about Sempu Island.
Here’s the list of awesome places that I’ve visited since I’ve been in Surabaya, also my checklist for blogging.
– Pulau Sempu wildlife reserve
– Malang, Mt. Bromo
– Pulau Madura (Bull Races)
– Teman Safari II, Pandaan
– Bali: Seminyak and Ubud
The first real out-of-Surabaya trip I took was with a group of people that I met from Couchsurfing.org. I know that many are hesitant to join something like that, but I highly encourage it. You meet the locals, get to know the best places to go, learn some of the traditions, make great friends. Not to mention when you travel you don’t have to pay for a hotel. Bonus! We planned on driving all night to Pulau Sempu (Sempu Island) to watch the sunrise over the water. Unfortunately, as it commonly happens here, there was some mix-up. Our one car that was supposed to drive all of us was rented to someone else, leaving us slightly stranded. We ended up splitting the trip, some drove in a van with our friend and the rest took the public bus to Malang to hang out for a while at the home of another Couchsurfer while things got sorted out for the next leg of the journey.
Once we finally figured out everything from the house in Malang, we were on the road, 4 hours behind schedule. The sun, however, came up at a perfect time as we were driving the uber-windy road over the pass. When we reached the top, the clouds cleared and the sun was shining through the trees. Gorgeous. Once we reached the town where we could get a water taxi to take us across the inlet, I had a sad, sad realization. The entire time I’ve been in Indonesia, I hadn’t seen the water from the ground. Only in a plane. It had been 8 weeks and I hadn’t been to a legitimate beach. That was the longest period of time where I hadn’t been to the beach since I was in Spain. Crazy, huh?
Once we got across the water, we waded through the “it’s shallow enough here at thigh deep” water to the trail head. The sand was different from anything I had ever seen. It was ALL coral. No rocks, no shells, all coral. It was a little hard on the feet, but the aesthetics of it all compensated for the few cuts.
We had about an hour long hike ahead of us to get to the beachy part. What I didn’t realize was that this was a real jungle hike. Once the vines and mud came into view, I was stoked. Lupi, one of the CSers, practically ran the entire trek. I definitely did not. We hopped over logs, climbed up rocks with the help of vegetation for hand holds, tripped over roots, fell on sharp rocks, got muddy and extra sweaty. We sweated a lot.
It was so cool to hear the lagoon before you could see it. The water splashed over the rocks, under a rock arch and into a nice shallow lagoon. There were tons of fish and coral reefs, but it was really surprising since the water was also partially freshwater. The girls and I spent most of our day in the water. It was so peaceful. I floated much easier closer to the arch, but farther away, the water was colder and not as salty, but the fish seemed to like it better over there. I chased a little ray for about 10 minutes when I had the lone pair of goggles. Why didn’t I think to bring stuff for snorkeling? That was an immense fail.
Higher up from the lagoon, rocks surround the entire island. In a way, the Indian Ocean was acting as a big moat, the rock cliffs were our castle walls, and we were the happy royalty inside. It was paradise. I got brave and decided to climb to the very tip-top rock peak of the island that overlooked the lagoon and the ocean. Well, I almost made it all the way. My feet slipped a few times and I definitely did not want to fall on those rocks. They were brutal. However, the view from “the highest possible point I could reach” was awesome. You could see other islands, the cliffs, big freakin waves, the trees, the jungle, the lagoon, Java, it was awesome.
On the trek back through the jungle, I met this not-so-little guy. I nearly stepped on him (accidentally of course.) As much as I hate spiders, I kinda liked this one. Rowan and I chased after him for a while. Sucker was fast!
After a day in the sun, I could feel my skin radiating heat on the walk back. I applied spf 50 five times throughout the day, and I still got scorched. I was in so much pain the next week that I almost couldn’t make it though the day at school. It made me so tired. I peeled like crazy and all the teachers at my school asked me if I had a disease and called me a zebra. I guess I had it coming, being a bule and all… getting fried was inevitable. Crazy thing is that most Indonesians have never been sunburned. Ennik didn’t believe me when I told her how our ice cold shower was warm by the time the water reached my hands. When she helped me put on aloe, she suddenly understood. She kind of pulled her hand back as if she got burned by something. Welcome to my life post-sunshine. Totally worth it.