Whirlwind Solo Week in Yogya- Mt Merapi Trekking

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October 8th 2016
Published: December 26th 2016
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Day 3, 4 Warning- Lots of photos.

Finally got to have one of the Good Karma legendary breakfasts- lots of fruit, delicious fresh omlette. Chatted with a few girls in Yogya for a few days, originally French, they are university in Jakarta for a year, then my day began.

Gave in and took a becak with the becak driver across the road. It's actually quite a nice way to get around the city. Went to the Kraton- Sultan's Palace set to wander around for a few hours only to find it utterly deserted. Closed. One of the infrequent days that it is closed actually. Anyway I decided to just wander aimlessly and ended up at the Water Castle- Taman Sari. This is part of the Sultanate's Kraton and was built as a royal garden in the 18th century. There were originally four sections to it: a large artificial lake with islands and pavilions located in the west, a bathing complex in the centre, a complex of pavilions and pools in the south, and a smaller lake in the east. Today only the central bathing complex is well preserved, while the other areas have been largely occupied by the kampung

settlement. There is an admission charge of 15 000 Rp which I unintentionally managed to avoid by getting into via a completely obscure route that I would never be able to find again. You can also rent a guide but I used my LP to give me the background info. I thought it was a really Interesting snapshot of the past. Photographically fascinating, lots of subject matter both in ruined architecture and people watching. I somehow missed the underground mosque! I'd recommend it if you had several days in Jogja and were visiting the Kraton. There were several small cafes in the surrounding kampung but I was keen to try somewhere I had seen yesterday... it was just a matter of getting back there.

So, after I don't know how many wrong turns I eventually got to the cafe called Runag Seduh - Many great points. Excellent flat white- just excellent and very unique banana cake. Decor- white, chic. Contemporary art on the walls. Staff- very nice. Summation- completely my kind of cafe and my best coffee experience on this brief trip to Yogya. Loved it. They also have a branch in Jakarta and a cool instagram account https://www.instagram.com/ruangseduh/?hl=en.

Still deserted

With now about 8km of walking under my belt I figured it was time to take it easy in preparation for my big Merapi climb (Merapi (2900m), aka Mountain of Fire, is an active stratovolcano that last erupted in 2010 killing 153 people). As I was leaving it started raining, as in really raining- torrential, thunder, lightning, etc. I paddled back to Good Karma. Would they cancel the Merapi climb? Would there be a risk of landslides? Apparently not, a weather forecast of lightning storms in the Selo region wasn't going to put anyone off. EEK. Does my travel insurance policy cover lightning strike? Low key afternoon followed by a 10pm pickup. The rain had stopped but the forecast was still dodgy. The group tour with Satu Dunia for the Merapi sunrise trek was 450 000 Rp, which I think was great value. I was picked up after 10pm in a comfy minibus and we collected the others- there were 10 of us in total from France, Russia, Malaysia, the USA China and Australia. Everyone pretty much said hi then fell asleep for the journey into the abyss (kidding, but it was pitch black and I really was a bit nervous about the lightning).

Arrived at New Selo around 1am and had a cup of tea at a lodge before getting given water, head torches and having guides assigned- we had 4 guides to the 10 of us. I took my own head torch and trekking poles which I was happy about (being 152cm the poles were really handy for the degree of uneven step ups and downs). They probably aren't necessary, particularly if you are young but I appreciated them!!!

The trek itself was well paced, the guides did a great job of looking after everyone. The up hill was pretty relentless. I forgot about the lightning, days worth of torrential rain and landslides as I sweated and puffed and panted forever upwards. There were lots of tree roots and steep spots that I used my hands to climb up (hint- take hand gel for the summit, it's on the way down in the light that the toilet paper and general rubbish becomes visible!). We took short breaks at each of the staging areas. As we neared the summit there were increasing numbers of tents next to the trail. At one point I got major cramp in my quads of my right leg- seriously dreadful. It took about 15 minutes to stretch them out and I was absolutely gutted that it might stop me (not an option), however it went and I kept going- so annoying, never had that before. At this point 3 of our group turned back. Anyway...on, on... the sky was lightening and not long after that we reached the section of the climb that is the start of the final push. Lots of campers here. Windy and fairly cool. Total rocky shale and sinky black sand all the way up to the summit, very slippy but soooo exhilirating to be so close. Sunrise happened without me- the others got there for "sunrise", I came in about 30 mins after them. The summit was completely clouded over so no views but for me that wasn't the point of it. Stayed up on top for nearly an hour. Superb. Cold. It was great to look over the crater edge although the visibility was poor. The rest of the group were popsicle cold by then so headed back. The guide who had stuck with me said we should rest for half an hour- sounded very good to me! I had hauled my thermos and lots of water and food up there in my backpack and I was going to use it!!!- coffee on top of Merapi with a sandwich and cake- awesome experience.

Trip down in daylight was good, took about half the time. Super wobbly legs, but no cramps! Very slippery descent, but no falls. The views on the descent were fantastic- across to Mount Merbabu in the north and Slamet, Sumbing, and Sindoro mountains to the west, as well as the immediate surrounding terrain- lots of flora, lots of birds. I'd love to camp out there next time- it'd be great to have more time. Lots of friendly Indonesian hikers. Met up with the rest of the group at a carpark at the base of the Merapi National Park (6,410 hectares around Mount Merapi has been established as a national park) and we drove back down to the hostel for a great little breakfast back of pancakes and coffee.

Really scenic trip back to the city - it was great to see it all in daylight. Very agricultural land and several local markets. My tour buddies slept (on my shoulder, in the case of the guy next to me).

10/10 trip. LOVED it!

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27th December 2016

Happy New Year
Your blogs are always a smiling inspiration Gill. Keep them flowing. I wonder where 2017 will take YOU - you make my now almost annual trips to Nepal seem quite unadventurous by comparison with your world-roaming !

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