Mount Rinjani

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July 5th 2011
Published: August 8th 2011
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After our extended, very relaxing stay on GT we decided to not be such lazy beach lay abouts and wanted to do something active. So we had this fantastic idea to climb Mount Rinjani. I wish someone had stopped us there and said, 'Hang on girls.... this is a 3,726 metre mountain you're talking about climbing!' but unfortunately we booked the 3D/2N tour without a second thought and we happily waved goodbye to our beloved bungalow on paradise island.

We did not stay happy for long. The boat and bus transfer to the trek centre took a few hours. We were told that when we got there it would be no problem to rent shoes, rucksacks and jackets. Well, of course we were told that because the guy on GT who we booked our ticket with doesn't care whether we can or not, he just took our money! At the time of booking, we believed that he had even called ahead to the centre to check the prices with them before we left GT. We now think he was on the phone to his mate... 'Yea, I've got these two Brit girls in front of me that think I'm on the phone to the trek centre about renting some gear, what shall I tell them? 50Rp? So when are we going out tonight?' So the guys at the trek centre, after looking completely bewildered when we said that we need shoes and some other gear, brought out two old pairs of random shoes, roughly the right size for each of us. They didn't quite fit but there didn't seem to be any other choice so we set up off the mountain with the rest of the group totally unprepared for the hardest and worst climb ever.

And it got worse. Alex got blisters from her shoes and so had to climb the first day of the mountain in flip flops lent to her by our guide, La. She wasn't feeling very well at this point and we were going at a pretty slow pace. An Australian couple were also finding it harder than the rest so we made a slow sub-group making our way up the mountain. We got to near the tip of the crater rim on the first night and the view was stunning - you could see above the clouds over to Mount Agung on Bali. We slept (well, laid uncortably awake in the freezing cold on a hard floor in a tent all night) and set off the next day. We climbed for an hour to the crater rim and then began to make our way down to the volcano lake. We had lunch and I went and bathed in the hot springs. Alex's sickness was getting worse and worse at this point - she wasn't eating and she kept vomitting - but she had her personal guide, Bas, who helped her through it. After lunch, we had to climb up again to the other side of the crater rim, near to the summit. We had another horrible nights sleep. You had the option there to wake up at 2:30am and climb in the dark to see the sunrise at the summit. Out of 15 in our group, only 2 people decided to go. Everyone else was absolutely wiped. It's a 5 hour trip before breakfast followed by a 7 hour descent, so we decided against the summit trip. We made it down on the third day, Alex arriving long after sundown with Bas (and a bit of help from the porters and a sleeping bag!).

The climb was hard work. They say everyone can do it, but it's not easy. It's absolutely exhausting. And Alex did it with sickness and no food inside her - she deserves a medal!

We stayed one night at the trek centre and then got our transfer to Mataram. We had to renew our visas that day so we had to hang around immigration for a few hours. It was pretty easy to renew there though, especially since you hear how difficult it can be to extend an Indo visa. After immigration, we went to a hotel and stayed there. Alex was still very sick so I went out to dinner on my own.

The next day, when Alex had still not improved, I suggested we go to the hospital to see a doctor. She was complaining of itchy palms and feet and was developing a rash on her legs. The hospital was a bit of a shock to the westernised-system, but was generally good. It turns out Alex had dengue fever and had climbed the mountain with it!! We were admitted to the hospital and spent three nights there. Luckily, there was a bed for me in the room too. Hardly anyone spoke any English, so communication was pretty tricky. Alex soon improved and after 3 days of being on a drip and eating horrible hospital food we were told we could leave. Another day of hospital food would have pushed Alex over the edge I think!

Alex's mum, upon hearing of the fever, paid to put us up for a couple of nights in a very nice hotel called Lombok Raya. We had a suite... with hot water.... and a bath! Oh, the luxury! Thanks Helen! So we stayed there for a few nights and then thought it best to leave Mataram and the dengue fever behind us.

We got a bus to Senggigi which is a pretty sleepy seaside town on the west coast of Lombok. We found a very cheap place which was unfortunately situated between two mosques (!!) so we only stayed two nights there and then booked the trip back to Bali, to Ubud, by bus and ferry and bus again.

Next update, Ubud in Bali.
Love you all.
Thanks for reading.

Naomi (and Alex)

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