Sunday, April 28, 2013

Banda Neira, my home in another life :) - Part two -

This is the second part from my previous post, story of my days in Banda Neira.

It was a beautiful morning in Banda Neira. Abba told us about good spot nearby the airport that has a great sunrise view from top. We all so anxious on see the view, yet we love the bed even more (lol). Though we were too late to catch the sunrise, most of us still wants to see the "view from above". Hop we go, 12 of us, with our pillow face, on.

Off we go
The pillow faces :p - Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Gigantic Abbey Road - Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 

It turns out, the so called good view point lookout is the edge of Banda Neira's airport! Have you ever been wander around at an airport runway? Well, we have, 12 of us had. And it was so much fun! We took some great photos there, one of the most fave photo is the gigantic version of Abbey Road. Inspired from Beatles famous album, Abbey Road, we kinda recreate the situation, using the airport runway. Cool, isn't it? Good thing that Banda Neira's airport only operate 3 days a week (lol).

Fly away...! Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
28 - Me | Photo courtesy +Fuyanto Debi 
Majority of people living in this island are moslems, so they celebrate Eid Adha with a huge parade. Kids, elderly, teenagers, they all wearing nice clothes look at their best. The parade starts from in front of Banda Neira Mosque and ended at the back of the mosque. They walk approximately 500mts long, singing Arabian songs (I should've know the songs, but sadly, I don't) all the way to the finish line. There were also a miniatures of Ka'bah, camels and a real goat which herded by the kids. It was fun to be a part of the euphoria. Aside the parade they also held several traditional contests. I kinda carried away back to my childhood memory during independence day, ah, a lovely memory. Although this parade messed our itinerary a little, we really enjoy our time.

Parade finished during the day, so we back on track. Schedule on this day was Sjahrir island (Pulau Pisang) visit for some snorkeling at the lava flow. We also took Ayu and her friend along. Ayu is one of the local girl we met yesterday. She's really friendly. She told us that she wants to work abroad when she's grow up, that's the main reason why she love to mingle with the tourists. In addition to English, she also learn Japanese. What a clever little girl.

Heading to Sjahrir island (Ayu sit in front) - Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 

Sjahrir island not far from Banda Neira. Within 20 minutes boat ride, we reach the island. Snorkeling in lava flow is a bit tricky, I suggest you use your fin as the hard coral made of lava flow was extremely sharp. The underwater itself quite good, full of colorful corals and various fish. But I can't say this is the best spot. No, not yet.

Snorkeling in Sjahrir island was not so impressive, at least to me. But is was all good. Colorful corals, plenty of fishes, I can say, it was a good start. After had a lot of fun snorkeling, the boat took us back to our hotel.

I never mentioned this on my previous post, but restaurants in Banda Neira had some issues with timing. We need to wait so frickin' long to have our meal. So, to avoid the long waiting, we decided to order for the whole group first, then go back there at the appointed time, so we don't have to wasting our time waiting. The chosen restaurant was NamaSawar. Although the name is NamaSawar Food and Ice cream, I can't say they made a good ice cream, but in the other hand, the food was delicious! I'm in love with their soup, what a perfection :9. After the marvelous dinner we go back to our hotel, prepare all the necessary things for Gunung Api hiking on the following day.

One of us, Bang Danny, having his birthday tomorrow. So, during hiking preparation, we also do some prep for a surprise birthday party. Few days back we ordered 2 piece of cakes from Delfika and bought a caping (hat) as a gift. We planning on woke him up in the middle of the night and give him the present (caping with our signs) and blow some candles. There were some magic moments during the surprise party preparation, and we can't stop laughing about it, hilariously funny! When the clock pointed 00:00, all of us gather in front of Bang Danny's room and make a huge noise knocking the door. Once he came out, we all yelled HAPPY BIRTHDAAAY~~~ Good thing we're the only group staying in Laguna Inn that time.

The coolest couple I ever met!
After a little feast, it's time for some rest, before the big day tomorrow (I mean for another 5 hours), the day when we have to face Gunung Api. Scary!

The mighty Gunung Api
5 hours of sleep, that's all I got (yes, I do am exaggerating). The only preparation I had for this mountain hiking was a bar of chocolate. Have no urge to eat breakfast (I ate a piece of birthday cake during the surprise birthday party, tho'), I packed some of necessary stuff for the hiking. We took off to Gunung Api island precise at 0530, 30 minutes late from schedule. Our guide on that day was Pak Said, the full of smile old man. The only pit stop this mountain has was in the first 100mts (I think), no more pit stop until the top (crazy, right?). I had no problem whatsoever for the first 1 - 2hours climbing, however it was getting so much harder afterwards!

The first 200 mts, still smilling - Photos courtesy +danny ramadhan 
View from the first pit stop
Climb up
 I felt so darn sleepy, it was caused by the lack of oxygen. No more chocolate that can give me strength to climb, my water supply was also drain up. Oh my! The track was so difficult (for me), way more difficult than what I had in mind. The sleepiness really tortured me, can't handle it any longer, I slept. Yes, I slept in the middle of no where, good thing there were no beast around. I continue climb up once I got a little strength after aslept for few minutes.
Banda Neira, from highest point I can reach
US!!! - Photo courtesy +Sofyan Ardianto 
656mts above ground they said. I felt what I climbed was tripled that. It took us about 4 hours before we finally reach the "top"! Well, not exactly the top, but hey, we can view the airport runway! Anyway, that the furthest I can climbed. Though it was only few meters left until the caldera, but the track is more difficult than the one we've just passed. I quite satisfied of my achievement :)

You're going DOWN!!! LOL - photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
It's true what they said, climb up is way much easier than going down! As much as I was tortured during climbing up, going down was multiplied by 2! My feet, oh my feet, poor you. The track was slippery, I can even walk straight, so I was going down using my butt instead (yes, my frickin' as*!). Rain falls down when we were going down, and for me it was a good thing. I no longer have water supplement, so the rain really help. It was like forever for me to reach the first pit stop! And once I reached there, my tear falls down (literary). I was so happy to know that I climbed Gunung Api! This would be my first mount climb after years! I used to love doing this, but now, I think I love the sea even more.

Laguna Inn!! Ah, I never been so happy to see this hotel!

We (I) were back to hotel all muddy and smelly (yuck), so it was such a heaven just to take a bath and have a good meal. That afternoon we all decided to take some rest before dinner at Abba. The funny thing was, during my sleep, I kept on dreaming falling from this height. And when I told the other friend about this, they also had the same thing. I suppose it was the hiking effect (lol).

It was 1830, we walk from our hotel to Abba's guesthouse for dinner. It was a buffet dinner with varies of menus, mostly seafood. Abba, the host, kept on pouring the food into my plate (a huge plate by the way), so I have this gigantic portion of food. But, since I had a very late lunch on this day, I can't seems to finish my food, although it tasted very delicious!

Dinner menu, huge! With the capital H U G E!
Abba knew that Bang Danny's birthday falls on this day, so he made a surprise. After we finish eating, he brought a birthday cake and we all singing Happy Birthday all over again. Ah, so fun! I love birthdays :)

Cut the caaakkkee :p
Finished with eating birthday cake, Abba played us BBC's Spice Trail documentary on Banda Neira. Although I already watched it back in Jakarta, it was so fun to re-watched it during my stay in the location.  

It was an exhausting day. A day filled with laugh and tears (of happiness). A day to remember. As much as we want to celebrate our hiking on this day, it's time to get some rest, as we still have a busy schedule ahead. Want to know what else to be done in Banda? Wait for my next post!