MALANG: not only volcanoes but also waterfalls and hot-springs.

Dear explorers,

Malang is the name of the town as well as the region which is situated in the hearth of east Java land, this region like Banyuwangi  offers a variety of nature from volcanoes to plenty of waterfalls as well as hot-springs, most of them are not known by any foreign traveler  (I might have been the first brave guy getting there :-D).

Briefly, I summarize for you three key outdoor attractions which worth trip to this region:

  1. Night-Morning hiking trip to Bromo National park
  2. Waterfalls: Coban Putri , Coban Rais , Coban Talun and Coban Rondo
  3. Cangar (Hot-springs).

I personally made the decision to start the challenge with the touristy night-morning hiking to Bromo volcano, here you have two choices to get there:

  1. Rent a proper off-road motor-cycle
  2. Book a basic package tour through your accommodation provider

I went for the second option since I just arrived in Malang exhausted after a not-sleeping night spent on the train I found no time to look straightaway for a motorbike. What I could recommend is that if you want to ride a motorbike to Bromo, get a motorbike with off-road tires and be with a travel companion; secondly, ride very carefully especially at night-time since you will get to ride through a steep and hilly narrow road, moreover you will be passing through a Savanna,  the scenery will look like a desert at your eyes, once you arrive at the top viewpoint it will be very tricky to park your motorbike because of thousands of visitor will be getting there!

Even Bromo is very popular, it is worthy to go for it and practice your photo-shooting skills!  Look at the pictures and a video below:

After the night-morning challenge at Bromo national park, I was back in Malang and I just hang around some noodles restaurant and cafeterias to chill-out and get ready for the next adventures.

The following day as a first thing I decided to rent a motorbike from a rental point which was recommended by a local CS guy Makki, here below you have the google-link:            https://g.co/kgs/iCHqQV

The name of the lady owner is Ibu Larasati  and her whatsapp contact is +62 822-4040-1929 , she was kind as well as funny, since I ran a bit late with the time she came to my accommodation to deliver the motorbike, she greeted me with a warm hand-shake and then asked me for a picture with her (as usual in Indonesia) to cunningly promote her local business whose the link is mentioned below:

(for more details just check out https://wuzz-rental-motor-malang.business.site/ )

The motorbike itself was a brand-new Yamaha Aerox 150cc which was comfortable and powerful powerful to deal with the hills.

When I was all set, I started off the waterfalls mission which I listed before, in my opinion the most challenging one was Coban Rais because the path was really wild with rocks and flowing water streams in-between, so because all of that, a good practice would be to hike through the path with bare feet as most of Indonesian people do otherwise if you are picky with the waterproof shoes then you will get water inside and the result for your feet will be a way worse! So if you are not picky like me, just go by bare feet 🙂

The second thing was that in here I was just the only European alien, all the others were either locals or few guys from Singapore, when I reached the bottom of the waterfalls to record the scenery, some members of a numerous family approached me for few group-photos, YES, still here the alien is a news for them!

Finally, I dedicated the last half-day to Coban Talun and the Cangar hot-springs, none of those places were touristically touched, apparently only Bromo attracts the burden of foreigners and locals from Jakarta who come there for the weekend only for that purpose. I am not going to drill down into many details on those attractions, just you need to experience it personally, however here below you can check out few pictures taken by my Sony alpha 6000 camera:

In conclusion, spending in Malang three and half days is the minimum you could stay, it would be worthy to spend there even five days because I hadn’t much time to check for some spots in the town of Malang suggested by Ibu Larasati such as Kampung Warna which is a kind of street artist.

A special thank to Ibu, Makki and Iik who assisted me as local advisers and I wish I will travel there back soon in the future!

Feel free to comment and/or just ask for informations!

Giuseppe

Banyuwangi: the four great natural attractions of East JAVA

Hello to everybody!

After so long time I am back to write more about JAVA of Indonesia.

Banyuwangi is basically the main town of East Java region, the four places which you should dedicate four days at least of your Indonesian journey are:

  1. Trekking to Ijen volcano crater with blue fire (if lucky to see it).
  2. Exploration of Baluran national park
  3. Exploration of Pulau Merah (Red Island)
  4. Exploration of Alas Purwo national park

The list above is based on what I personally managed to visit out of four days, however be aware that the list could become longer since there are more (hidden) spots that could be visited or even found out 🙂

Here below I state four reasons to visit those amazing attractions:

Why Ijen?

Even it is touristically advertised, if you like to enjoy a night trekking experience then it is 100% worthy, just before booking it with any tour agent be aware that the price of the package should be max. 400.000IDR (about 24€), if more then they are likely raping the pockets of the foreign western tourist. Me and a two German guys managed to get a negotiation for 250k IDR (about 15€). If you want to hear more about the tour agent details feel free to contact me and I will share the details.

The trekking itself takes apx. one hour but it is very intensive since the uphill path is aggressively steep, you will be hiking from about 1600mt of altitude up to about 2400mt, and the highest peak is 2799mt, so before going for the night trekking is recommended to take a nap 😉

Once you reach the top point you will enjoy a gorgeous scenery over the sunrise, so be provided with a camera and proper trekking shoes since you will get to walk quite a long way along the perimeter of the crater! Last thing but not the least keep in mind that you are supposed to wear the gas mask since the smell of sulfide is heavy to be breathed by your naked nose; the mask is provided by the tour agent or at the entrance point if you get there by yourselves.

Just take a look at the below pictures:

Why Baluran national park ?

If you like exploring a savanna which is full of buffaloes and colorful birds; in addition, you have opportunity snorkeling on the coral reef which is 100mt from the beach at the edge of the park then do not miss it! You need to rent a motorbike to get there unless you want to go by a tour agent.

Why Red Island?

This spot is really chilling and ideal for enjoying one of the best sunset when in Java, all you need is patience to get there, it is two hours and half of riding from Banyuwangi.

Why Alas Purwo national park?

If you are curious to see monkey taking a bath on the water streams just get there and record some funny movies (I will soon upload one), this park compared to the Baluran one is much bigger, I personally did not manage to get to the very end point because it was getting late and the off-road was muddier and muddier so ride carefully!

Of course there is more and more to talk about East Java, just it is too long to just fit it in a single article, however if you are curious about any detail, I will be glad to provide you with the needed information(s) as long as my knowledges support me 😀

Every comment is welcomed!

Giuseppe

Koh Lipe: explorers, local residents and Thai gypsies community.

Once again I am here to talk about a South-East Asian society which is the Thai one, just this time it isn’t related to a volunteering action: after three years since last time, I decided to visit a new Thai island which is close to the border line with Malaysia. The island is Koh Lipe which is part of the Tarutato National Park:

Koh Lipe

The aim was to explore new breathtaking landscapes by hiking and snorkeling dive; for such a challenge I planned to stay on Koh Lipe for just two days and after that I would have kept travelling to Malaysia which is by far less touristy than Thailand is.

My approach to Koh Lipe was nothing like surprising as I previously traveled to other gorgeous Thai islands, however as I arrived on Koh Lipe, I was keen to start exploring around the walking streets, as first and usual thing I needed to withdraw some Thai-Bath money by catching a cash dispenser, I asked one Thai guy what the way to the “centre” was, then he offered me to give me a ride there by motorbike as a warm welcome, as first I thought that he’d have expected a tip from me, in fact he didn’t but still I found nice to provide him with a 50-฿ tip.

As a second thing, I needed to find an accommodation with modest claims since I don’t like to have everything super-planned: in the worst case scenario I’d have slept one night on the sand by sleeping bag which wouldn’t have been the end of the world 😉 However I succeeded in finding one, that took me less than an hour 🙂 It was SHANTI hostel with air-conditioned for 400฿ per night which was reasonable.

 

The walking streets on Koh Lipe are full  of restaurants, cafe, shops and some diving schools like in any other well-developed Thai island with the only difference that this island is much smaller and quiet if compared it to Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi.

In addition to that, if you walk further to the sunrise beach you you’ll discover an area which is populated by local Thai nomads, these people typically live in rustily-furnished shelters and conducts a simple and cheerful life-style, obviously as a curios photographer I didn’t renounce in stumbling into their village, I know they wouldn’t have ripped me off  by any means 😀 but instead they appeared to be pleased by my photo-visit, moreover they started to play some random folklore music which made everyone in a cheerful mood as shown in the short movie below:

As I kept walking through their village I noticed they were even provided with a small bazar for food and beverages which was owned by themselves, and not far from their village there were the shelter of most of Thai and non-Thai residents of the island, not only do the gypsies live in such a simple conditions but also all the rest of residents do, including the Italian owner of SHANTI hostel, since the island life doesn’t involve them to live with any formal clothes.

 

Further to that, on Koh Lipe unlike other Thai islands, only residents are provided with motorbikes, I mean that nobody rents motorbike to the visitors since the roads are narrow and with no asfalt which makes pretty much sense because it is part of the Tarutato National Marine park; basically they want to protect the natural park from the any source of pollution.

To sum it up, although I expected Koh Lipe to be busy like Koh Phi Phi is, in fact it wasn’t like that, at least on November, besides that, here there no disco-clubs attracting bunches of youngsters who are willing to get drunk and that’s all 😀 Here the environment is chilling and relaxing which conveys the right harmony in the evening, then especially when you you want to enjoy a tasty sea-food dinner and a chill-out just after that, perhaps with a healthy hot herbal tea with butterfly pea as shown below 😉

20171120_215045

One questionable point is: having considered how the Thai gypsies and all the local residents live, are we Europeans really sure that our happiness and fulfillment depends on how many gadgets and belongings we have on our hands?

Or are there any other key-factors which determine our fulfillment and joy of life?

Having said that, I will leave it up to you to figure out what make you feel happy, and base on that we can identify our room for improvement for our life-style.

I wish you all a Happy and Joyful Christmas day! 🙂

Everybody is warmly welcomed to comment and make suggestions on it!

Giuseppe

Langkawi: one day spent on the waterfalls by facing troubles with the wild monkeys

One day later than the riveting kayaking experience that I described in my previous article, at a good morning time I went for the Temurun waterfalls which are situated in the north-west side of the island, although the way to get there might seem long and juicy I had no rush since after the kayaking this was just a chilling trip with some hiking involved 🙂

I arrived first at a sport which was characterized by red rocks and some water pools both at the bottom and top side of the rocks as shown below:

DSC04737

Being an attractive spot, I stop by, and I took some pictures of the scenery with the rocks on the left side of the road, meanwhile some monkeys were nearby among the rocks, they looked like they were just woke up from sleeping therefore hungry and seeking for food as they usually do over the morning time, they were moving around and me as a keen of recording ‘wild animals in action’, I started shooting some pictures as they were getting close; one of them came to the edge of the road, still I couldn’t resist in doing further practice by zooming in my lens to make a proper foreground for him so that I slightly stepped away from the motorbike I rode and guess what next?  He targeted the motorbike by jumping into it, so that he gave me a further chance to take one more picture of him sitting on the saddle of the motorbike! 😀

So far, everything may just look like funny and harmless, but as he jumped out of the motorbike he turned out with a funny and unpleasant joke, guess what?

He ripped off my smartphone which I accidentally left placed on the open slot-pockets of the motorbike, I’d have never imagined they would have grabbed my smartphone by believing that it was something eatable :O

My first reaction to such a funny ripping was to call the attention of the monkey to convince him to give up the booty, however there was nothing to do and instead he was turning into an aggressive way by showing off his teeth like to say ‘Do not dare to step into me otherwise I’ll bite you!’. Unfortunately there were no natural weapons to hunt him 😀 , moreover one more monkey joined the thief monkey so I was in minority, all I could do was to let them to go and hopefully he’d have left the smartphone somewhere on the red rocks! Our healthy life is always more important than a ripped smartphone, perhaps not all of us are aware of the fact that if bitten by a monkey you might get the HIV virus so now everybody knows it 😉

As a last but not the least attempt, I asked for help to an american guy who was by change riding down on the road, he didn’t think twice to support me, moreover he was very-skilled in climbing up and down through the red rocks, he managed to find the closed-cover of my smartphone but without it! OMG! They must have frighted hardly for my smartphone…unfortunately there was no track of the smartphone, so there wasn’t anything else the kind US guy could do for me 😦 and the monkeys were run away into upper-level jungle surrounding the rocks. I felt there was really nothing to do, on the other hand it wasn’t the end of the world.

In order to release myself from what happened, I went through the path of the waterfalls and I continued my photo-tour as best as I could, here below some amazing pictures:

After cooling down myself, I wanted to attempt again to look for my smartphone, this time I found at the red rock spot a local malay guy Gurkha who were stopping there by his motorbike, so I approached him to ask for some assistance, the goal was to get through the jungle where the monkeys ran away, however it didn’t appear to be feasible because there were lot’s of bushes and brambles spread-ed which made the jungle impenetrable for humans :O At this point, I decided to give it up and forget. So I smoothly finished my half-day trip and headed to the small town where I stayed in Langkawi and I bought a brand-new smartphone.

In conclusion, waterfalls scenery is always amazing, you’ll never regret it! When it comes to the wild monkeys in action the story changes: perhaps I was a naive, however I have seen many of them over my past journeys into the South-East Asia, but the ones I met in Langkawi are really aggressive and they pick-up everything what they find.

The learned lesson is: Never step away from your motorbike even shortly for just two meters by leaving any unattended valuable stuff when there are wild monkeys in action, they will attempt to rip off whatever they find on the front slot-pockets of your motorbike what exactly happened to me!

Short version: NEVER TRUST THE MONKEYS!

Everybody is welcomed to comment on it!

Giuseppe

Czech Republic: wine-surfing on the viticulture hills of Palava with Grand Finale

The autumn has come and it’s time to enjoy and talk about some great things to do in a geographic area located in the region of South-Moravia which is not-so touristically advertised.

The idea of such a great trip came from a Slovak guy Michal who is a dedicated guide for arranging guided-tours for hiking trips mostly in Slovakia. Considering that I used to live in Czech Republic, I was aware of about where we’d have gone for such a trip, so I joined his idea without thinking twice.

We were thirty of us altogether and we organized as small groups to arrive at the planned meeting point in Mikulov at a guest house where we all gathered and enjoyed a potluck-style dinner with BBQ and obviously some wine as  a welcome party phase.

The day after we started our challenge at a good morning time by first getting on a bus which the organizer booked only for us since altogether we were thirty people, it dropped us off close to the beginning of a hiking path which gets through the Devin hill shown below in the snapshot of the map:

Since the hiking trail wasn’t that long and intensive we got plenty of time on the way so that we decided to stop by a ruined fortress (4th landmark) which was a key-viewpoint since from such a spot we could take some great pictures of the surrounding scenery with the Palava lake, here below I show you two pictures to impress you with an idea:

All the way from Klentnice to Pavlov took us approximately two hours by counting that altogether we had three breaks in-between. The hiking wasn’t struggling on the purpose of the wine tasting session for which we got prepared by having a chilling lunch at a small typical Czech restaurant.

Winesurfing_n

Since I consider myself very cautious with the consumption of alcoholic beverages at this stage of my life, I decided of saving my energies for the wine tasting by not going for any pint of beer before that, moreover the mixture of alcoholic drinks is well-known as the mother of all bad-asses stomachache as well as headaches, so let’s be wise for one time: wine with wine and beer with beer! 😉

Soon after, we were done with the lunch we slowly walk to the small downtown of Pavolov where we found this funny small square with spreaded  pumpkins on the grass

Pavlov itself is the hearth of Palava and it’s pretty common to likely find private individuals who sell Burčák (Czech version of Must) every fifth metres, it’s the result of the partially fermented wine grape and it’s very sweet; so while walking up to the street we identified one advertised with a portable backboard and since we had still a gap of time before enjoying the proper wine tasting we stumbled into it, the owner, an old guy, turned up and served us with that on the glasses, the price is pretty inexpensive 20CZK for 2dcl, here again unlike many others did, I still resisted to such a sweet temptation and I waited for the proper wine instead, however if you never tried it don’t hesitate to go for it, I used to enjoy it on my past wine trips, just lately I’ve become a picky guy 😀

When the tasting time came, we got into the cellar of the winery and they offered us a taste of six different wines of which four were white wines and two rosé wines, some of those were kind of dry and some other a bit sweet. We were provided with a small set of appetizers as well as some water with lemon slices in order to clear off our mouth from the taste of the previous wine, for each of the six tasting sessions the owner provided us with some notions about the fermentation process. Our six tastings went quite fast, however the owner gave us the left wine of the opened wine bottles to let us to smoothly complete our entertainment. Here below a summary slide-show of our wine tasting:

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I was pretty satisfied with the tasting so that before leaving I decided to buy a selected bottle of white wine (Ryzlink vlašský) to bring home to be enjoyed for future culinary dinners 🙂 Among other things the selling price of 160CZK(about 6€) was out of questions pretty affordable. If you want to know more about the winery you can check it out at http://www.vinarstvitopolansky.cz/

After our first wine challenge was done, we were headed straight back to our accommodation to have a rest and get ready for our second challenge in the evening which the organizer called it as “The Grand Finale“, Yes, indeed, another accurate selection of white/rosé/red wines was waiting for us, provided with proper food which consisted of not only just appetizers but also plenty of cabbage soup and Czech goulash in honey sauce.

Obviously, we all were in a mood of completing the wine day celebration as much great as possible so everybody of us get read on time with the wine-drinking mood 😀

Personally, I have to admit that I have become quite a moderate drinker and knowing myself I preferred to give up enjoying just after 10pm, considering we started our 2nd challenge around 8pm. The food itself was pretty enough to fill in our stomachs but be careful of not filling your stomach just with appetizers, ensure you enjoy the wire with a proper meal instead 😉

The most interesting thing of the “Grand Finale” wine session was the fact that owner of the winery took us up to the rooftop terrace of the winery to tell us some history background of Mikulov as well as some legends, the funny thing was that the owner not only could also speak Slovak and Polish but also he ended up making some jokes out of those legends he told us which were mostly referred to the relationships between men and women during the middle-age. Of course I’won’t drill down on it now 😉 Just you need to lively experience it! Just check out https://www.penzion-mikulov.cz/ (Vinny Sklep Barta).

To sum it up, such a wine-surfing trip is worthy as long as is properly organized with a good balance between outdoor activities and chilling time, just drinking from the early day time is not a recommendable practice, so have first some physical activity and then chill-out, our health is to be respected as best as we can!

I hope I have given you enough hints to enjoy your future wine trip!

Everybody is welcome to leave any comment and/or ask for recommendations!

Eggiamp

ICELAND: Golden circle vs wild nature of the long Icelandic perimeter

It was the year 2011 when I and my Italian friend Walter made the decision to go for the amazing wild nature challenge in Iceland, even though my friend had in mind to travel somewhere in Asia, I felt I wanted to complete my geographical overview of the Scandinavian Europe, so as soon as I proposed him such an amazing Country he got soon convinced and excited without thinking twice since neither him nor me had never explored Iceland.

After doing some research, we first figured out that the most comfortable as well as not-so-touristy month would have been June, so we didn’t hesitate to book our flight tickets; as a second thing, we decided to rent a car with which we benefited a lot since we wanted to explore the nature along all the entire perimeter of Iceland by starting from Reykjavik and by heading first through the south and then to the north like a counterclockwise. When our journey time came close we found by a Couchsurfing group that an Indian traveler was by coincidence flying by the same air-line from Oslo as we did, so we met with him at Oslo airport and we all gave the chance to share our Icelandic experience all together, Yes, three is better than two!

Although the Golden Circle is well-known for its tourist attendance, it is still 100% worthy to be checked as a first approach to the wild Icelandic nature, it basically consists of six key-spots:

1. Thingvellir 2. Laugarvatn 3. Geysir 4. Gullfoss (waterfall) 5. Secret lagoon 6. Selfoss

Tengd mynd

As most of us know, Iceland is famous for the Geysers, Waterfalls, Lagoon and Hot Springs, like many people we couldn’t resist to the emotion of lively enjoy the eruption of a geyser, it was told us that these HOT spots regularly erupt approximately every four minutes: (a live video is available below)

Further to that, we hiked to the Gullfoss waterfalls: the scenery itself is breathtaking, just be aware that it is often hellish windy so be equipped with a proper wind-jacket or even better with a waterproof one (with cap), the wind is such strong that you’ll get pretty watered soon by the huge splashes of the waterfalls hitting the hiking path. Apart from that, all the way through was a great scenario just a pity that on that time I wasn’t yet provided with a proper camera, next time definitely it will!

 

Moving on the next day, here the greatest of Iceland comes: we planned out the route along all the perimeter by driving through the south first, we weren’t sure how far we’d have been able to go at the end of the day, however we managed to arrive in Egillstadir around 10pm so we decided to sleep out overnight and the day after drive further through the north side. Here below there’s a summary of the key-stops we took through the south way:

  1. Selfoss
  2. Skogafoss (waterfalls)
  3. Anonymous spot with cliffs and high-waves sea with grey sand
  4. Vik
  5. Jökulsárlón (Icebergs)
  6. Egillstadir  

We started our trip at 10am, considering that the 3rd spot is pretty hidden and so we had to look for it, I’d say we had checked enough spots over the day 🙂

I will be focused from the 3rd place on: the purpose behind such an anonymous place was that we wanted to record some Puffins as we were told that there are many of them on the part of the coast which faces the small Vestmannaeyjar island, unfortunately we had no luck in catching one, probably wrong spot or wrong moment, who knows? 🙂 The only sure thing was that the wind was  such overwhelming that we had to open the car doors by strongly holding those by hand! We did struggle a lot in hiking through a cobbled path to the cliffs but we made it and we survived!

 

Of course we weren’t enough satisfied so we kept driving further to Jökulsárlón by stopping in Vik for a re-cognitive pause, the first signs of tiredness were coming up but nevertheless I kept the lead of the steering wheel and even slowly we arrived at our 4th stop 🙂 If the average temperature in the Icelandic country-side is +12°C over June, at Jökulsárlón is +2°C or less, so don’t be surprised!

 

After that, despite getting more and more tired we could never resist to stop by at some particular spots and moreover the roads in Iceland have narrow lanes and any wandering wild animal can suddenly cross the road at any moment, as a result of that, we didn’t manage to make more than 70km per hour, here the explanation why we arrived at Egillstadir around 10:30pm which actually was the worst time since every food bazar even the ones at the petrol stations were closed but still we had some food and drinks and we could re-fill the tank of the car by self-service. Our questionable point was: where to sleep?  Here our possible choices:

  1. Just in the car
  2. Outside with the sleeping bags
  3. By randomly asking somebody to be accommodated

Apart from us, nobody was around, so we felt like all we could do was either to ring some bells at the Icelandic people houses or just sleep in the car which we actually did! Our next day started very early, since we could not sleep properly we took up driving at 2:00am and we checked out the following itineraries of the Northern Iceland:

1. Myvatn

2. Akureyri

3. Glaumbauer museum

4. Kattarhryggur                                                                                                                                    

I can say that Myvatn is the least touched natural attraction, it was just a pity that by the time we checked it we were still not recovered by our tiredness but instead we had to stop again and keep sleeping what actually we did.

Finally, after three more hours of sleeping we were in a shape to enjoy the next, we drove to Akureyri where we stop for having a pleasant coffee with some sweets and walk around. I’m not going to drill down into many details about this small nice town, all I recommend you is to have a chilling visit at the Botanic park which is worthy.

 

At the final stage of our perimeter tour on the way to the North-west we realized a farm house with turf houses in which there is the Glaumbauer museum, the main characteristic of this place is that over the summer you can sleep in one these houses and as for the museum itself it is just representation about the rusty style how the farm houses are equipped, just visit it!

Before getting close to Reykjavik our attention get caught by Kattarhryggur, here there’s hiking path to the crater a volcano, yes that’s right Iceland is a volcanic island, don’t forget that! Of course we hiked till the top of the crater which was impressing the contrasting panorama between it and the rest of fabulous surrounding nature!

 

In conclusion, the total perimeter of the Iceland is about 1300km assuming you mostly follow the road no.1, but of course you can make it even longer and juicier! So unless you are in a rush with the time and you have the freedom to escape for a while from the ordinary city-life, I’d strongly recommend to plan your journey to Iceland much longer than just one week (as we did), two weeks at least, but ideally one month! Both Southern and Northern Iceland are  very demanding,  we just regretted of not having had much time to be dedicated.

Naturally, if you’re going there for a travel expedition then that’s another brilliant story!

Enjoy your future Icelandic trip!

Every comment and remark is warmly welcomed!