Back to Episode 1 (or 4…)

Back to Episode 1 (or 4…)

Like I said in my previous entry, traveling light and keeping up a blog are not always an easy task, (my general laziness while traveling doesn’t help either).
Anyhow, so let us leave the old market streets of Brussels and go back to Paradise Island. What can be said about Bali especially 2 months after leaving, when the tan has faded, and the mojitos are completely out of your system.

I had agreed to go to Bali because I had friends who I desperately wanted to see that were going there but, in reality it wasn’t at the top of my destination list. Why? Well firstly, being of Romanian vampire origin, I don’t do very well in the sun and secondly, I expected Bali to be the ‘Disneyland’ of Indonesia, it had starred in movies, was the prime destination of loud Australians and arrogant French travelers…. Not my cup of Balinese coffee or so I thought.
I’m not saying that I like being wrong (and never out loud) but I do love it when my perception of things is pleasantly surprised. Bali had its fair share of tourists yes, but somehow it has remained as faithful to itself as possible, with few chain hotels or resorts, no starbucks or McDonald’s in sight, I hadn’t travelled for over 30 hours to go to Miami beach. Being the only Hindu island of the Indonesian peninsula, it is constantly trying to preserve itself and has, in my view succeeded.
Again, due to the fact that I have waited 2 months to actually post anything about Bali, I’m only going to tell one story, the rest of the tale is good food (so so good), good drinks, good friends, amazing beaches, interesting dives and just overall goodness.

The one thing I did want to write about was the 3-day hike up Mount Rinjani on the Island on Lombok or more specifically about hiking in general. Rinjani is the highest peak in Indonesia and stands 3726m above sea level.
Due to the repetitiveness of walking, the high amount of pain and personal pride which makes you hide the pain, hiking can be a highly meditative (and torturous) experience.
Hiking is a lot like life, when you plan to embark on a new hike, like embarking on a new relationship or new endeavour in your life, you plan the times, the distances, the food, the equipment and you remember the last time you hiked, how beautiful and rewarding it was. You put on your back-pack and take your first steps, breathe your first breaths of mountain air and feel so satisfied with your decision.

Then as time goes by, your bag starts getting heavier, the road more and more complex and you start to feel pain, and it’s a familiar pain. Suddenly, you remember this pain from all those other hikes you’ve been on, the back pains, the leg pains, the blisters and loss of breath (and yes on occasion the tears), the back-pack that weights 10kgs more at every step. The wind picks up, sometimes you get a little rain, you have to go up a 500degree incline, you stop noticing the beauty and all you can recall is the pain. Why did I do this to myself? All I want is to sit somewhere, be warm, not have 20kgs on my back. Most hikes start with an ascent and end with a descent, so the first few days are always the hardest.

Then comes your first night in your tent, it’s cold, there’s no space and going outside to pee seems like a life altering decision. But then, on the second day somehow you feel a little better, your body is adapting to the weight of your back-pack, your feet find their place with a little more ease and you notice the beauty around you again.
The day you summit, or you arrive to your objective is usually the most physically challenging day, and again on the way up you hate yourself and wonder why you’re not on a beach having a mojito…. But then you get to the top of Mount Olympus and look onto the world and you realise what a privilege it is to be where you are (but at this point you hate your back-pack again).

In the following days, your tent becomes more familiar, you enjoy that warm tea before bed, you get down the most efficient way to pee, your sleeping bag becomes more comfortable and even your own grossness doesn’t bother you so much. And then just when you think you’ve accustomed yourself to life on the mountain and are ready for your descent, you realize descent is actually more descent, ascent, steep up and down and going down is just as hard as going up and you hate it all again!!!

But again, as the road flattens, and the pain dulls and you start to look forward to how good that first shower is going to feel, you remember how much you love hiking, how proud you are of yourself for getting through it and secretly you even start thinking about how you’ll do things on your next ascent.


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