Somebody said, “When you want to travel with others, start by looking for congenial companions, not for desirable destinations.” In my case it was relatively simple. I have been traveling with this group of mature, congenial friends of different backgrounds for years. Two common threads holds us together. One is a shared interest in trekking. The second is the pleasant memories of past trekking trips dating as far back as a decade. I like this bunch. They are wonderful people and I feel relaxed with them, even though a few new “trekkies” joined in recent years.
These folks typically plan for 4-5 trekking trips a year. This year they have plans to go to the Everest Base Camp and to climb the Pinnacles near the Mulu Caves. I usually join them for at least one trip a year. This Rinjani trek was the big one for me this year. I have missed out on quite a few interesting ones in recent years because the planned dates clashed with church priorities. Hopefully next year I can make it for at least one of the big trips.
I am still packing. Packing is always a chore that has to be done. A list of items. Searching for some rarely used items in the storage. Buying some stuff. Organizing which goes into the bag that the porters will carry and which goes into the bag in the hotel and which goes into the bag you are carrying. From miners torch, to woolen gloves, to camera and energy bars – you want to be sure everything you need will be inside.
Tomorrow at dawn the MaxiCab will take me and four others to the Changi Airport Terminal 2. From there we fly to the island of Lombok, east of island of Bali, in Indonesia. There is a challenging climb up the volcano called Gunung Rinjani (literally mount princess). I will get to admire my Father’s world. Marred by sin, His world is still beautiful and wonderful and awesome. Imagine the new earth and the new heavens!
As usual the ascent of the peak is a challenge. And so is the overnight camping in tents for three nights. However when I look at some of the photos and videos of the crater lake and the volcano, the pleasure and delight ahead outweigh the hardship of weeks of training, and of the trek itself.
So here I go for a whole week. I hide under the shadow of the Almighty – and that is a very big shadow, like a huge mother ship in the sky, watching and backing us up. Praise God.
The last time I went to Pulau Ubin, I was a teenager. With a few friends we took a boat across to the island and walked across the small holding farms and orchards and forest to a small beach front. We swam an hour or two and then made our way back. All I remembered was feeling weary from the long hours of walking and taking the public bus from Bukit Timah to Changi.
Now it is so much easier. We drove to the car park next to the Changi Village hawker center. The ferry point is just in front of the car park with electronic meter so there was no need to worry about the number of coupons to use.
When there was a load of 12 people, the boatman brought us aboard a boat and brought us across to the island. The boat ride took about 15 minutes and we paid $2.50 each directly to the boatman. Soon we were on Pulau Ubin and walking on bitumen roads.
We walked from 9am to about 1pm. At the ferry point on Pulau Ubin was a small village where we had a seafood lunch at one of the restaurants. The highlight of the walk was an encounter with “wild” boars that seem very used to human encounters, and the boardwalk through Chek Jawa, one of Singapore’s conserved ecosystems, a coastal walk, “a unique natural area where six major habitats meet and mix”. It was more an enjoyable excursion than a trek. Cycling would be more fun, and there were many shops with all kinds of bikes for hire. Maybe the next time, that is what I will do.