Explore the Amazing Mount Papandayan in West Java – Garut

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I’ve always wanted to visit Mount Papandayan, I heard so much about this places and its beautiful scenery, my fellow traveller invited me to join Mount Papandayan trip, and yes of course I didn’t want to miss this opportunity, 1 week before we already discuss about what we need, such as logistics and items to bring since we will be camping too. Since we will be travelling backpacking style we gather information concerning transportation and how to reach to the area.  We decided to leave at night because the bus trip heading to Garut will take approx 4-5hours. Heading to Garut many bus terminal offer this route and we are taking one from Lebak Bulus terminal station, the last post leave at 10 pm, and we all decided to be there at 9pm. Since I’m still new in camping and mount trekking, I still need to borrow some items from a friend such as mattress, sleeping bag and head lamp. We needed a tent and find it quite hard to find, since its a high season and most tent are out, I finally found one small company that provide tent for rent as cheap as 25,000Rp/day for a tent with 4-5 person capacity.

We left 10 pm sharp from Lebak bulus bus terminal using Primajasa bus, these buses leave every hour so there are many flexible hours for travellers who want to get to Garut by these buses. The bus are comfortable with aircon, it may look pretty empty at first but as the bus starts riding more and more people would enter. The bus arrived earlier than we thought at 2am in the morning, it was hard to sleep in the bus I must say, after arriving in Garut bus terminal, we still need to reach to Cisarupuan by public transport (angkot) most of these public transport you wont find them with signage, they would come to you and ask if you are going to “cisarupuan” or to go to “ Mount Papandayan” the transport looked more like minivan, but could even feel up to 10-15 peoples so you would have to be ready to squeeze yourself inside, after bargaining we manage to get a rate of 15,000Rp/pax to Cisarupuan it normally cost only 10,000Rp/pax but because it was too early in the morning they increased the rate, and we had to no choice but to pay that price. The journey from Garut bus terminal to Cisarupuan is around 1 hour drive. After arriving in Cisarupuan around 4am it was still too early for us to head to Mount papandayan, as we already made schedule to meet around 6am with our local porter. Meanwhile while waiting til sunrise we need to find another transport to head to entrance of Mount Papandayan, and this time we need a pick up car as the road heading are pretty difficult by normal cars/bikes. After meeting our porter and bargaining with the pickup car we finally get a price of 130,000rp/car if it was more than 4 people they normally give a rate of 20,000 rp/pax but since we are only four they have to charge the whole car. The journey up takes around 30 minutes.

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We start our trekking around 7am the entrance fee per person is only 5,000 Rp/ pax and we have to report in to the office. There are many porters there available, I already found porter through an online blog and spoke to him about our trip and we got a good deal of 200,000Rp for the porter, he is a very friendly and great person, although he went up first carrying our logistics and bags, he manage pretty well to carry our bags with his adventurous motorbike lol. Trekking through the Papandayan Mountain is very satisfying the first trek we went through hard rocks with sulphuric rocks and smoke the weather was pretty good and sunny. After a few km, we started entering the green forest where there is mud and cross by small river. The scenery is spectacular as you can see from the pictures. We stopped at our camping area “pondok seladah” here you’ll find many other travellers already set up their tent, the weather is very cold up there maybe around 8-10 degrees celcius, after arriving in Pondok Seladah, we set up our tent and ready to cook for lunch, we spent the whole day resting in Pondok Seladah, there are 2 places where we can go from here the one Is the dead forest and the other one is Tegal alun (edelweiss savannah) we decided to go the next day as we are hoping for a good weather.

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The weather gets cooler at night, I would highly recommend people going there to really bring warm clothes so you could sleep at night. The next morning we woke up at 5 to see the sunrise near the camping area, but we failed to see the sunrise due to heavy clouds and fog. We continues our sleep and woke up in a few hours. After having our breakfast we head to the dead forest, its about 30 min trek not so far from the camping area but the route heading there is filled with mud and lots of water puddle, so our feet was very wet. Dead forest was amazing I was really blown away by the scenery the places looks so epic, all the left over dead trees just standing there, it’s a different kind of scene and panorama that we all enjoy and started taking picture from every angle, we were warned earlier at the entrance gate that we should be careful due to the land slides that occur in the dead forest, I was lucky and brave enough to be there and have chance to take picture of the land slides. We plan to head back to the camp rest and continue to Tegal alun, but after hours of waiting the weathers gets worse heavy fog and rain, the porter told us to head back down instead, since the rain never stopped we continue our long walk down soaking wet and cold. The trekking trail that we went through suddenly become a small river of water flowing, it becomes very slippery and dangerous for us, we had to slowly walk down hold on roots and rocks so we won’t slip down, it was adventure until we stopped at the area where we have to pass through a huge river, I was quite surprise to see the small river where we used to pass by jumping on the little rocks now we cant even see the rocks the water was until our knees, so we hold hands and cross together. The weather started to slowly to get better but it was still cold! Since we are all wet and the weather is cold we quickly try to warm our self in a local shop and had our warm coffee. Overall I loved this trip despite the cold and rainy weather the scenery, the trekking trails the mountains, the crater the forest everything was just beyong my expectations it was simply magical as if im so far away from where I’m from. I would totally head back there!

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Discover Mount Gallungung and Naga Village in West Java

Our weekend trip this time is to explore Garut and Tasikmalaya a city located 75 km from Bandung, I’ve visited Bandung several times as it’s the most popular weekend getaway for Jakartans! We had friends coming from abroad to visit Jakarta, and my other Indonesian friend arranged this trip. Since I never been to Garut myself and always wanted to go, this sounds like a great trip to attend. We have many options travelling to Bandung and majority of people would probably travel by car and shuttle, since its a Friday and Jakarta crazy traffic is the worse at that time, we decided train is much more convenient. Travelling to Bandung by train from Jakarta train station (Gambir) we took a nice executive train called Argo Paragyanghan that cost rp 90,000/pax and the journey only takes 3 hours. Since we are leaving late afternoon we arrived at night and rent a car taxi (fixed price) for all 5 of us, we headed for dinner at famous Sundanese restaurant “Ampera” and continued to my friends home near Dago area. Our plan was to leave early morning the next day to Garut around 5am. We were all excited since we came the weather was really good and clean air as his home is near the hills, the water was very cold. With little sleep we had too continued our journey to Garut by car and this takes around 3 hours drive. Heading to Garut we we’re surrounded by amazing scenery such as rice terrace, and volcanic mountains we knew that Garut had a very fertile soil the mountains we’re Mount Cikuray, Mount Papandayan, Mount Guntur, Mount Galunggung, Mount Talaga Bodas, Kandangwesi and Mount Karacak.

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If we only we had more time I would really like to go hiking Mount Papandayan, it is very well known with its great mountain trails for beginners, but since we only had 1 full day trip we had to skip it. There is also another famous attraction in Garut which we passed by is called Candi Cakuang is a small 8th-century Shivaist candi (Hindu temple) located in Kampung Pulo village, Cangkuang. The temple is one among the few Hindu-Buddhist temples ever discovered in West Javan region, other temples includes Batujaya and Bojongmenje temple. Getting to Mount Gallungung, we passed through very bumpy road as we arrived, there were many other local people travelling there as well, not many tourist from abroad knows much about this particular area as Garut is still not known for tourist destination but, after visiting Garut and saw all those beautiful scenery and mountains I believe Garut will become the next tourist destination in Indonesia specially in West Java area. Mount Gallungung is a very easy trek to reach, basically it has stairs all the way up to the top of the mountain where you can basically see the huge green crater. There are entry fees of around 10,000rp/pax by the time you entered the gate by car. They provide toilet as well (not free) alot of food stalls in the parking area. You might need to bring some water as you have to climb up a total of 620 stairs to reach Mount Gallungung which is 2,168 m. What I like about this place is the amazing view on top, its very relaxing, quiet and peaceful alot of young students seems to come here often especially students from school. After reaching top and the final stairs we took picture all together with the great view behind us the mount crater. After reaching top you can still continue walking either to your left or right because as I told we can walk down to see the crater thats probably another 2,168 m down, Me and a few of my friends decided to walk down through the stairs that reached straight to the mount crater and we did not regret it, it was stunning view not alot people we’re there most of them are at the top of food stalls having some snacks and drinks, the walked down the big stairs and found a perfect view for picture panorama. We sat on the stairs for some time enjoying the moment and take some great photos.

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After enjoying the full moment in Mount Gallungung, we continued our journey to Tasikmalaya to visit the Naga Village it takes around 30-40 min by car. Arriving in Naga village we were approached by a local guide there to bring us around, there were no entrance fee for us and you can find a souvenir shops at the car park. The local guide couldn’t speak English fluently unfortunately so I had to translate his word to my friends. He was very detail in explaining everything about his place about the past history and what the local village are during, he tells us what the men and women do in their daily activities. Reaching the Naga Village we have to go down around 400 stairs, it was abit tiring as we just climb the Mount Gallungung stairs, but the view and village looks so interested we just kept going, it wasn’t that though at all! J well from a far distance we stopped and the local guide took us to a spot where we can actually see the Kampung Naga, incredible it’s like finding a smurf village said one of my friend, you can tell from the way the house looked its very interested and traditional. Kampung Naga is a village which is inhabited by a community in a very strong tradition of holding the remainder ancestors

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When we walk towards the entrance of the village, we can the forest is which are known to be sacred because it is located in the ancestral cemetery. In the south you can see the rice fields, and in the north and east are surrounded by river Ciwulan a very beaituful river I must admit, which the source of water comes from Mount Cikuray in Garut, the local guide showed us the house and explained its architecture, we had the chance to enter to one of the local house and have a quick idea of how its like living inside the Naga houses, it is very interesting for me as the people there live life so simple yet they have what they needed, they don’t need electricity, they can grow anything on their grass field its wonderful to witness their amazing eco friendly life. You can also find men and women making great traditional handicrafts as well. The people welcome us with a friendly smile and we were delighted to be there with them, there are many children playing around it was a lovely day and we really enjoyed this village J after visiting the Kampung Naga, again we have to climb up 400 stairs hahaa to make things better we stopped and had a nice fresh coconut while enjoying the view.

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Semarang Weekend Trip

 

Last weekend I went to Semarang to attend my cousin wedding ceremony, Semarang is a city in the north coast of central Java, it’s place where my father grew up he spent his childhood in Semarang and Solo. Travelling to Semarang from Jakarta is very easy, you can go by flight, bus and also by train, many trains now operates across the Island of Java, the executive train I took called Argo Muria, which started from Gambir train station in Jakarta cost around Rp 215.000-245,000 one way, it’s an 8 hours long journey but very much comfortable. The train will pass by other cities such as Cirebon, Tegal and Pekalongan.

One of the well known trade mark in Semarang is Lawang Sewu ( A thousand doors) it is well known for its historic values and also spooky stories, based on the National Geographic show “ I wouldn’t go in there” by Robert Joe, its a very interesting place to stop and explore. I’m lucky enough to get a chance to pass by Lawang sewu even though its getting quite late, surprisingly Lawang Sewu is open until 9PM and entrance fee cost only Rp 10,000 per person but if you need a local guide to tour you around additional Rp 30,000. So for those who are interested to know :

Lawang Sewu was designed by C. Citroen Construction began in 1904 with A building, which was completed in 1907.[3] The rest of the complex was finished in 1919.[3] It was initially used by the Nederlandsch Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij, the national railway of the Dutch East Indies.

After the Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942, the Japanese army took over Lawang Sewu. The basement of B building was turned into a prison, with several executions taking place there.[3] When Semarang was retaken by the Dutch in the battle of Semarang in October 1945, the Dutch forces used the tunnel leading into A building to sneak into the city. A battle ensued, with numerous Indonesian fighters dying. Five employees working there were also killed (Source Wikitravel Lawang Sewu)

This is probably the 3rd time I visited Lawang sewu the first one I got the chance to go to the top floor and saw so many baths, the 2nd one I visited with my uncle and aunty was the most spooky part, it was a challenge we we’re lucky enough to get the chance to walk together on the basement. The basement was covered with water til our feet, we had 3 flashlight because its very dark inside it’s a long walk from one end to another. My visit this time was so much different the government have renovated the building and closed most of the parts of the building, the painted the walls and doors adding pictures is more like a museum now.

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I stayed at Wisma Sakinah a great budget motel starting from Rp 170,000/night and you’ll get a free wifi in room as well as good breakfast, it is located near Semarang airport also not far from the wedding at Museum Ronggowarsito that I will attend to the next day.

I get the chance to visit Gedung Batu temple or Sam Poo Kong the oldest Chinese temple in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia originally established by a Chinese Muslim explorer. We arrived at night and the ticket counter welcomed us with a smile we payed only rp 3,000/ pax. The area is so big and huge I was very impressed with this place. The Sam Poo Kong temple complex includes five temples in a mixed Chinese and Javanese architectural style. The temples are Sam Poo Kong (the oldest), Tho Tee Kong, Kyai Juru Mudi Temple, Kyai Jangkar Temple, and Kyai Cundrik Bumi Temple. An additional worship site, Mbah Kyai Tumpeng, is also located within the complex. The buildings are spread over 3.2 hectares (7.9 acres). After many times of renovation due to conflicts and landslides I must say this place is very peaceful and sacred. It’s worth to visit.

A glimpse of Java hidden Gem

Until this moment not many people around the world know much about Indonesia tourism attraction majority of them only know Bali, but there are so many potential places for tourist across the globe to witness and experience this hidden gem of Indonesia, well we can see how strong tourism board are around us that challenge us such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. We are surrounded by developed countries that are able to successfully promote its tourism destination at all levels, it made me disappointed somehow, knowing that Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world With 18,330 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited with almost 250 million people, Indonesia’s tropical forests are the second-largest in the world after Brazil. We have so many great potential that should be able to compete with our neighbouring countries, even I myself are amazed with the hidden beauty my Island of Java has to offer, I don’t hear people talk about it, or say much of it, I don’t blame them they basically just didn’t know these kinda place exist, there are so many and still are many places undiscovered that have a high potential for tourism spot, alof of virgin beaches, rich forest and high mountains to explore, Nowadays many young Indonesian try to shout out to the world by their own piece of project which I call a masterpiece and one of the kind, I really salute these young innovative people that knows how to get the attention, one that made me blown away is the project they did called “Epic Java” a 30 minutes glimpse of Java breathtaking moments that occurred from east to the west of Java. I would highly recommend anyone who loves travelling to watch this first screening in their local city cinemas, hopefully it is screen internationally. Here are the trailer hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Tips to get a Student Visa – Bureau Immigration Philippines

Based on my own experience being in the Immigration can really caused an emotional breakdown, so I decided to help my other fellow friends from Indonesia or any other country’s who are pursuing their studies in the Philippines to get a Student Visa this is for those who decided to get their visa on their own without any AGENT involved unless of course if you want to pay more, but seriously you pay enough just by student visa and ACR- CARD. So, one important thing to prepare is YOURSELF MENTALLY I must say that the immigration people are not the “Friendly” type of person that gives you “Useful information”. Please note that! people here are like your enemies but they are acting as if they are there to serve you. Okay I might sound a bit to harsh on them but this is true! anyways, here are important tips to let you know BEFORE heading to the IMMIGRATION.

1st Make a lot of Photocopies of Important Documents
That includes your passport, bio-page, arrival dates, and quarantines stamp any other important documents needed at least 5 set’s or more of copies because the photocopy at the Immigration is expensive one page for 1.50pesos, you can get as cheap as 50-60cents outside. Another Important thing is PICTURES yes in here people need your 2×2 picture so at least prepare 5 of those.

2nd Go to the Public Assistance/ Affair for your Student Visa Applications form
Some people would directly go to the student desk and start to fall in line and wait, but the first thing for you to do is get the application form you can get at the Public assistance desk as you enter the immigration it’s located in the middle. Also ask NOT just the application form but also the detail forms of the kind of documentation needed. They are in numbers like a checklist for the documents that you must have, your is VISA CONVERSION from TOURIST VISA to STUDENT VISA.

3rd Always Ask Questions if You Don’t Know
When you wait in the line, after reaching the counter sometimes the person behind the counter wont say much, they will start doing things to your documents and give you a note. It’s always important to repeat or ask again or just to make sure so you wont get the wrong idea. This happens when I wanted to apply for the ACR I-Card after getting all documents ready into (2 sets) and filling the ACR-ICARD application I went to the next counter the old man started writing something on the computer and gave out the receipt, and this was a total of 3 different receipts. It was almost 4pm and knowing that the total amount of getting ACR ICARD was alot we decided to go home and come back the next day. The receipt isnt clear they give 3 different amounts 50 us$, 500 pesos for fast lane and  2670pesos legal fee. our bad we thought it was 2670pesos and the 50 was the amount in usd if you want to pay in US dollar. But we were wrong after the next day we ask another person they say the total per person is the total of those 3 amounts which resulted for almost 5300pesos/person. You will experience this a lot, but its always good to come back to the public assistance for questions.

4th Best time to come is in the Afternoon after Lunch
This varies and depends actually but based on my experience going there around 10-11am you will start falling in line for an hour or more then it’s lunch break from them. So it’s best to come around 1.30pm after they have filled their tummy hopefully they are in a good mood.

5th GET  The right format for student visa application Letter
Again, when we first heard the information they say we should write a letter that said all documents are legally obtained, but actually they have their own format and we must follow it, so I will give you the format and later you have to go to a Notary Publicy and get it stamped, another tips its better to get the stamps near your home where the price is cheaper arund 50pesos, if you get the notary stamp in Intramuros you will get double than that.

So here are the steps
1. After having all documents compiled, get a file and filed it up according to the checklist numbers (on documents needed) the Public Assistance will check again for you PS: you need to get NICA clearance which takes 2 weeks normally, this is on the 3rd floor (photocopy of passport, bio page and arrivals + pictures 2×2)
2. Go to Student desk (Receiving) Window 6
3. After they check all your documents, you would have to go to Window 8 and give your passport then they will give you a colored note, and receipt in which you have to pay in this case around 6550 pesos/ pax STUDENT VISA, they will tell you to come the next day to get your passport
4. Go to window 13, the Cashier get it payed
5 Go to Window 7 show them your receipt and later you will get your notes stamped “paid” then you would have to call to a number in 10 days
6 Normally this takes 2 weeks, not 10 days after calling you go to Immigration at window 8, they they will ask you to sign and photocopy some papers and ask you to wait an hour or come back again the next day, they would ask for your passport
7. after waiting or come back the next day you will receive the letter of approval from the Bureau of Immigration and have your passport stamped conversion to 9f student visa for 1 year.
8 Proceed to the ACR I-CARD counter window 38, fill in application get the documents photocopied 2 sets (the documents which you receive from window 8 and passporit copies) after photocopied get stamped on window 7
9. Go back to Window 38 she will check again, and refer to the next window 39 which the person will give you the receipt for your ACR amount payment
10. Pay in window 41-42, after paying they will refer back to window 39 the person who gave you the receipt
11. After window 39 already checked your receipt after payment go to window 40 for another check
12. Then go to window 43

Exploring Hidden White Crater “Kawah Putih” in Bandung

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Kawah putih or white crater is located in Ciwidey area on a mountain called Mount Patuha with its height 2386 m the distance is around 46 km 2.5 hours drive from Bandung city. Because of its mountainous location the temperature is cold there, it could reach from 22 to 8 degrees Celsius. Our journey went smooth as we followed our GPS direction and plus the signage made it easier.

Before heading we made an online survey and heard about the expensive cost of car entrance Rp150.000 per car for those bringing their own car up to the mountain, of course there are additional charge. But there are other ways you can do, most people would just park their car before the entrance, and uses a shuttle bus that goes up and down which cost Rp10.000 per person, they would have to wait until the bus is filled with a lot of people then they would start driving up. We decided to rent motorbike, as we were approach by a local who gave us a motorbike with only 60rb including tickets, which was alright, even though it cost more, but along the way up to the crater we are able to stop and take pictures.

Heading up to the crater was incredible experience, and we didn’t regret using bike we are able to witness amazing tall trees and rich jungle and the contrast green colors it was like postcard scenery. We struggled a little with our bike as the road become steeper, so we had to slow our speed. We could feel the temperature it was very cold along the way, especially when we travel with motorbike the wind just blew us away, so it’s good to wear something that keeps you warm.

When we finally reached our destination we could feel the temperature rise colder as we park our bike we walk towards the “Kawah Putih” and just before that you will see local’s offering us masker,because from a far distance we could already smell the crater, at first you will start coughing but later you get use to it. When we start walking down, “Wow” that was our first impression it was absolutely beautiful and looks just like the way it looks in pictures. You can see the contrast colours of the water crater, and the mountains around it and the rocky surrounding its feels as if you are not on a top of mountain, but like a tropical beach. As we walk further we spot the best place for photos, and we couldn’t stop taking more and more pictures as we discovered this place of beauty.

On the right side you will see there is a cave a five meters deep man-made cave that said had once been used as a sulfur mine. That mining factory was named Zwavel Ontgining Kawah Putih. The reason why the crater was formed was because of the eruption of Mount Patuha in 10-12 A.D as you can see the soil is grey to white color , this is because it composed with sulfur.

The colour of crater can also vary depending on the sunlight; sometimes the water is green and bluish, when the weather is bright, sometimes brown. There are also a big stones around it that are beautiful. Various types of plants and animals add to the value of these sights. Some species of plants including Cantigi, Lemo, Vaccinium (typical plants of the crater area), and Eidelweis. While these types of animals that often seen include eagles, monkeys, mouse deer, wild boar, panther and leopard.

A great sweet escape, surely gives me that satisfaction of natural attractions, no wonder many couples uses this place as their pre-wedding pictures, the location and scenery are like heavens, the combination of colors, the history, the plants everything makes it a really exotic place worth visit