Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Holiday in Hell.

Hello guys! So James' birthday was coming up and I decided to organise a surprise trip for him. There was a long weekend coming up in ...

Hello guys!

So James' birthday was coming up and I decided to organise a surprise trip for him. There was a long weekend coming up in view of Hari Raya Haji and we're always up for trips which don't require us taking any leave.

As you may know if you've been following my blog, James is a very busy person and has to constantly squeeze in time to complete his work. Even when we're on holiday.
(In Norway, Malaysia and South Korea).

Keeping all these factors in mind, here's how I planned a holiday which James really did not expect, and came up with...

#1 Early mornings.

You know, when you're planning a holiday in hell, you need to ensure that everything terrible is accounted for – starting from the time that you need to wake up. So I made sure that James would not getting a good lie-in that he was hoping for during the holiday.

On the second day (after our first sleep), I organised for us to watch the sunrise above Mount Bromo. What time did we have to wake up? 2.30am. Did we have a nice smooth ride to our designated spot to watch the sunrise? No. We sat at the back of a bumpy 4x4. Did the sun rise once we reached our destination? No. We had to wait for 1.5 hours and one bag of jellybeans before the bloody sun rose. Did we have a nice restful time and a cozy spot to watch the sunrise? No. We stood on a ledge freezing our asses off while annoying tourists shined their torches into our eyes as they pushed past.
Was it worth it?
Yeah we were quite pleased with it. 
Bloody crowded though. Here's a picture of someone trying to whack me with a selfie stick.

#2 Unearthly hours.

So judging from the smile on James' face, my plan to wake him up in the wee-hours of the morning had obviously failed to make him grumpy. There was hence only one thing to do. Wake him up even earlier. The very same day, we woke up at 11.30pm. Like the same night. I mean, if the early morning wasn't hardcore enough then logically I had to wake him up before that came.

And James had an assignment to complete that day. So while I spent the free afternoon and night drinking beer and sleeping, James spent it working. He wasn't too pleased. (Read: SCORE!)

#3 Poor sleeping conditions.

But just in case he didn't mind waking up even before the crack of dawn, I made sure that all his sleeping conditions were appalling. I mean the first room wasn't too bad. It wasn't the peak of luxury – I mean it wasn't bad. It's just something that you would expect at a foot of the mountain. Basic, functional, with outdated fittings and decor.  You know, nothing special but you can make do.
(Note James' smiling face. Tired, but still a smile).

But the second room we were staying in, wow that was terrible. I mean we were lying on the bed, when the springs below suddenly gave way. No, we were not getting jiggy with it. Yes, I am an ardent fan of 90s' hip-hop. But you know, we were just lying there in a vegetative state, and five minutes in there was a loud crack and a portion of the bed sank beneath us.

And also the bathroom was very stained, there was a lizard living behind our bed, our room had no towels and when they came, the towels had holes, stains and a funny smell. Oh and also James saw a decomposing bird near the pool. Like, not dead and cute like the bird below, but DECOMPOSING.
(Via Giphy).

James was not so happy with the room. But then again, neither was I. I kept imagining that the lizard behind the bed would crawl into my ear as I slept. Luckily I did not sleep for that long.

#4 Harsh weather.

So you wake up in the middle of the night, get dressed, and get dragged to some godforsaken place that's two hours away in a place called goodness-knows-where. And you've already gotten over with you having to wake up at 11.30pm because you managed to have a good sleep in the car. And then the engine stops, and fuck it's freezing.
(Via Giphy).

Haha and there James was being all sceptical about me packing ski jackets for Indonesian weather.

#5 Strenuous activity.

What's worse than waking up after a sleepless night than having to do anything other than going back to sleep? Having to wake up, haul yourself out of the car and into the freezing cold, and climb a mountain in the dark. And, the climb, while certainly manageable, is no walk in the park. It's steeper than you would imagine, and you start to rethink all your recent life decisions.
Did you really need to eat that much chocolate last week? Is the Coke Light addiction finally eating away at your stamina? Should you become vegan and take up yoga?
Luckily, I have mild ADHD and those thoughts did not stay with me for very long. Then you start stripping off your ski jacket because damn this climb is hard work. And then comes the other layer of Uniqlo heat tech. Is the weather hotter as you ascend the mountain? Or is it just you working you way to a hotter body? Only the lucid of mind can tell.
Look at me all proud of myself one hour into the walk. What a naive fool I was.

And then you reach the rim of the Ijen Crater and you're like, I DID IT. But no you did not. Because you're here to see he blue fire at the bottom of the crater. So down the fucking steep and slippery steps you go.
Us at the bottom of the crater.

And then what happens after you are all the way at the bottom of the crater? You climb back up. Wow. What a wonderful activity to wake up to. Oh and the masks? I'll get to that in a minute.

#6 Hazardous conditions.

So James had actually imagined that we were going on a beach holiday (HAHA silly boy. Why would we go on a beach holiday when Singapore has such nice beaches filled with imported sand?) And then one day, he came home to see me trying on masks. And then he stated doubting how well he knew me.
Oops wrong mask photo. I meant to put this.
Anyway, apart from the really tedious climb, I forgot to mention that Ijen is an area which is notorious for sulphur mining. This means that the air is full of sulphur fumes, which are, extremely smelly and can be damaging to health. It's okay really. Until you go right down to the crater and watch the miners do their thing, at which point your eyes start watering like you're watching that scene in The Lion King where Mufasa dies.
(Via Giphy).

Our guide, who's also a miner, was extremely nice to us. He went all the way down to hack off blocks of sulphur, and also got some liquid sulphur from goodness knows where (there were fumes, I couldn't see) and poured it on the rock and passed it to us to touch once it had solidified. The rest of the tourists, were extremely jealous of our guide, and also us.

#7 Jealousy.

Speaking of being jealous of our guide, after clambering up the sides of the crater and watching the sunrise, we proceeded to make our way down the mountain. I thought going up was tough. Going down was a different game altogether. The ash and sand which covers the sides of the volcano makes it extremely slippery. Mr Wito had to hold my hand as we went down. This man was as strong as 20 horses. There was a point when I was almost falling, and Mr Wito just casually held his hand against my shoulder, took on my full body weight, and prevented me from falling flat on my face. I don't know how he did that.
Anyway, there was a particularly slippery bit and James offered his hand to me. And what did I say?
"Nevermind, I hold Mr Wito's hand."
Me trotting along with trusty Mr Wito by my side.

Poor James. But still, nothing compared to what I did to him at Bromo.

#8 Abandon him.

In the middle of Indonesia no less. That's what I did. Chose a horse and rode off with a random guy, leaving James to scamper after me.
You doubt, but I'm not lying. James ran 4 km that day because he had to keep up with my horse.
And that's about all the hell-ish things that I subjected James to on our holiday. He was, so tired. He usually can't sleep in cars, but after the Ijen climb, he passed out and didn't even wake up for a coffee plantation.
Anyway! So that was the holiday in hell which I had organised for James. But it turns out that both of us had a great time! Partly because you know, I'm such a delight to be around. We had lots to do and tonnes of amazing things to see. Like the blue flames of Ijen.
And the very acidic lake of Ijen.
And the bubbling of Mount Bromo.
And the Madakaripura waterfalls, which as an experience, is by far better than visiting the Niagara falls.
 It's very surreal, and you get to swim in it! As in, you can. But no one seemed to be as idiotic as us to do so. Damn was it cold.
So yeah. We had a fantastic time. And if you do want recommendations for a guide/ driver in Surabaya, we recommend the people from OurTrip1st. They were very well organised and accommodating to all our requests. And even though I got us our own masks in Singapore (I went all the way to Lavender to get them for $4 per piece), they provided us with a set each! Clean and exactly the same model as the one I had gotten after extensive research.

Okay and now I have come to the end of my post and please enjoy this song slowwwwwly slowwwwly.

❤ Jac.

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