Woke at near 5am after a very uncomfortable night. The guide was supposed to have woken us up at 4:30am, but he was still asleep. Turned out he didn’t even have an alarm clock, or couldn’t be bothered to set his mobile phone alarm. Lucky the Swiss couple had set theirs. They had also spent an uncomfortable evening in the little tent, barely big enough for 1 nevermind 2. I’d heard them whispering angrily to each other all night, or maybe they were whispering sweet nothings. It was in German, so they certainly sounded angry.
The guide set off without so much as a ‘morning’….he really didn’t want to be here. I had to use my mobile phone flashlight to guide me up the steep ascent in pitch darkness. The Swiss couple had a small torch, but the bulb was dim. The girl wasn’t happy. “This is very difficult….without food” she moaned. Food? At 4:30am? She wanted food? Soon the guide dropped back so the Swiss couple could see better with his torch, and I led the way up.
Luckily, we reached the crater rim, Pelawangan I, in time for sunrise. It had taken us 90 minutes, and now we were at 2641m. It was all worth it. A beautiful sunrise, coming from the left of Gunung Rinjani. It loomed above the clouds majestically, and the clearing mist made for a real ‘lost world’ atmosphere. We couldn’t see the crater lake, but we could see Gunung Baru, the new volcano, which last erupted in 2004. It’s still very active, and last night we could here it rumbling ominously. Now, we heard it again, like an angry thunderstorm, and it belched up a huge cloud of ash into the air. It was an amazing sight indeed, similar to Gunung Bromo in Java, where Mount Semeru sends up ash every 15 minutes or so. The colours were vivid as the sun rose, and the whole thing looked amazingly beautiful. I was delighted. On the other side, we could now see the 3 Gili islands, and fantastic sweeping green hills like the Yorkshire Dales. Stunning.
We began to trek down. It had been a hard slog to the top, but the way down was a lot easier, though slippier. The guide ran off to camp to prepare breakfast, a task which the porter was obviously incapable of doing alone. We were able to enjoy a pleasant stroll down the mountain. It took about 5 hours in total to get down and back to Senaru, then another 3 to drive back to Sengiggi. We left without tipping the guide or the porter. They didn’t deserve it. The unfriendly scam artists weren’t going to profit from us. I fell ill on the way back, and suddenly realized that all I’d consumed in 2 days was one 2-litre bottle of water. I had a splitting headache, and was severely dehydrated. I had to get out of the car to be sick at one stage, as the Swiss girl watched me with the same scared and distrustful expression she’d watched me with for the past 2 days. I was embarrassed, and so relieved to get back to Hotel Dharmarie and relax. I was moved to room 108 – an improvement on the last room Id stayed in here, and a huge improvement compared to the tent. I had a shower – the first in 2 days – and got a great massage from 2 massage women. Just the ticket. My legs ached, and would continue to do so for the next week.
In the evening I decided to not take the 24 hour bus to Flores, and instead to fly, which meant another day in Sengiggi, but I needed another day of recuperation anyway. I paid 1.25 million to fly one way to Labuanbarjo. To celebrate my climb up Rinjani, I went to Happy Café for dinner and a beer to watch the band. I also drank 2 bottles of water, feeling incredibly thirsty. After that I went to Sahara Club – a typical dark, smoky and loud Indonesian club with nobody in it. I finished the night with a few drinks at Marina, where I met the arrogant and boring DJ. I thought she was a hooker. After I bought her a drink, and the band had finished, she got up: “I’ll be back” she said, got up, and started spinning on the DJ decks. Later, I watched on amusedly as an old man, his friends, and his 14 year old son came in. Dad introduced son to a bevy of hookers. “Time to make my boy a man!” He roared in his Middle America drawl. And the man an immature boy.
The next day I just chilled in Sengiggi. Had no desire to do anything productive. Went for a stroll along the beach in the late afternoon, to where the posh hotels were. Had a beer and watched the papaya sunset. In the evening went to a nice restaurant for a delicious pizza and watched a lovely little band playing an extremely chilled set. Retired early. A pleasant day and a chilled evening.