Telunas, Indonesia – Going on a Hike

We came to Telunas prepared. Prepared to go on a hike. We brought tennis shoes, a cammelback, swimsuits, and mosquito spray.

  • Tennis shoes: while my companions (namely, Andrew and Tam) might use their shoes more often than me, I hadn’t worn my tennis shoes in over a year!
  • A cammelback: It is much easier to carry your water on your back than lug water bottles around. In addition, a cammelback doubles as a hiking diaper bag! 🙂
  • Swimsuits: We knew that the hike would bring us to a waterfall.
  • Mosquito Repellent: While we have often forgotten this vital ingredient, we thankful remembered it this time.

When we told the resort staff we’d like to go on a hike, we were briefed. She made sure we had appropriate footwear (she said it might be muddy), and bug spray. She also made sure we were able to leave by 9:30am because of the tide. At first I thought the start time would be too early because of Gideon’s nap, but Andrew reminded me that Indonesian time is an hour different making it more like 10:30 our time. Gideon ended up waking up early – before 9, so we were ready with time to spare. Between waiting for guys from the men’s group and waiting for the guide we didn’t leave till close to 10. This should’ve been our first clue that the hike would run on Indonesian time.

The trip started out with all of us headed out in a “local boat” to get to our destination. (I imagine it is this way with most of Indonesia, that the waterways are the real roads and passages.) The boat traveled along the open water and then traveled on a meandering river for quite a ways.

Getting closer (picture courtesy of Ross)

Getting closer (picture courtesy of Ross)

(Thanks to the friend we met on the trip, Ross, who shared some of his pictures with us!)

Finally the boat slowed and pulled up to a smaller boat. The smaller and shallower boat would take us up the rest of the river to our hike start spot. The catch was that the boat was smaller and could only take a few at us in it at a time. So we had to split up into two shifts. We got placed into the first shift and were dropped off on land. Next thing we knew we were waiting in the middle of Indonesia without anyone who knew the area or the language while the small boat went back for the rest of the crew. We joked that now would not be a good time to be lost!

We took the few minutes to gather ourselves and prepare for the hike. This included applying bug spray and putting Gideon into his carrier. Normally we put Gideon on the front. Actually, ’til this point he had only been put on the front. But as he is near the 20lb. point, the carrier is able to be reversed so that he sits on the back. Andrew rightly figured that this would be a more comfortable way to do a long hike. Gideon agreed.

Gideon LOVED riding on Daddy's back

Gideon LOVED riding on Daddy’s back

After a few more minutes the rest of our motley crew joined us. Good thing they did forget about us 😉

Our other half arrives

Our other half arrives

We set out with our guide (also named Gideon!) and a few men from the men’s retreat staying at the resort.

We set off into the Indonesian jungle in search of a waterfall. Except for a small portion of cement, the walk was a glorified dirt path used be the locals and their mopeds.

The simple path

The simple path

We traversed over (and through) puddles in the trail resultant of yesterday’s rain with an attempt to keep our shoes relatively mud free. Often this was accomplished by skipping on miscellaneous boards and planks that had been haphazardly scattered along the path. But inevitably, more than once, all of the shoes in the group ended up with mud sprinkled, splashed, or sloshed on them. Only Gideon who was shoeless to begin with and up high remained free of muddy footwear. I think he had the right idea, sleep on someone’s back while that someone does the hard work of trying to keep their own shoes clean.

In the pursuit of maintaining footing on dry land and following out leader, it was easy to forget to look up.

Psalm 96:12b - "... let all the trees of the forest sing for joy."

Psalm 96:12b – “… let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

Thankfully Tamarah (who had the camera for a while) remembered to look up and snap some shots!

A palm tree enjoying the sun

A palm tree enjoying the sun

But even without looking up very often, there were plenty of sights to enjoy on eye level.

A rubber tree being tapped by the locals for its latex (picture from Ross)

A rubber tree being tapped by the locals for its latex (picture from Ross)

As we continued throughout the jungle it became apparent that if we stopped to reapply mosquito repellent, that they mosquitos would take the pause as an excuse to bite. So we kept up quite the pass being mindful of the mosquitos hot on our heels. For a while I followed Gideon (riding asleep on his daddy’s back) and watched to make sure none were biting him, but the mosquitos didn’t seem like they were willing to land on him.

The pace was going well until we were halted by our guide. We had heard the noise of chain saws in the distance. Our guide asked us to stop while he scouted ahead. He came back with bad news: the path was blocked by felled trees and the activity of locals cutting trees down.

Physical evidence of the locals wood harvesting

Physical evidence of the locals wood harvesting

He searched through the woods for a while and eventually found an alternate path that we had to push our way through the light brush to get to. This added a bit of extra time onto our trip, but we had come to far to turn back when we were so close. The younger kids (pre-teens?) in our group were increasing in antsiness and saying, “it’s too far,” and, “are we almost there?”

But eventually we heard someone from the front of the group say, “Finally!” To which Andrew happily muttered his reply, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” We had reached our destination:

The cool water was in sight.

The cool water was in sight

It didn’t take long for people to divest of their sweaty shirts down to their swimsuits and slip into the cool water. This is when we discovered what Tamarah had already ascertained during our walk: Mosquitos do not consider spandex a proper barrier or repellent. Poor Tam had been eaten alive. We had not applied bug spray where her exercise capris had been, and the mossies had attacked her through the insufficient barrier. Her legs must’ve had 50 (easy) welts on them. We were filled with regret for her painful situation. She mustered up a cheerful, “oh well,” response to the nasty sight and found a bit of relieve in the cold water!

While people were cooling off, Gideon, who had woken a little while before we reached our destination, was refueling.

You can see G and I cooling and refueling in the shade

You can see G and I cooling and refueling in the shade (picture from Ross)

But don’t worry, once that was accomplished, we went in the water too. Gideon was not happy when his mom jumped into the water (I think he was a bit startled by my impulsive jump), but he seemed to enjoy cooling off in the cold water well enough.

For fun, Tamarah and Andrew (along with others from the group) jumped off the rocks into the pool. But Gideon and I (aside from my initial jump) were content to enjoy the simplicity of sitting in the water.

The waterfall that fed the cold pool

The waterfall that fed the cold pool

Once we were all sufficiently cooled off, it was time to head back. Refreshed and with better idea of how long the trip back would take, it was more enjoyable to head back. It was nice to have landmarks along the way that we recognized to signal, “oh yes, we will get back.”

The hike didn't wear down our spirits or smiles!

The hike didn’t wear down our spirits or smiles!

While on our way back we could hear a mechanical noise, but not quite the same as the chainsaws we had heard earlier. But this time the noise got closer and closer until we realized what was behind us:

The local way of transporting the harvested wood!

The local way of transporting the harvested wood! (picture from Ross)

We were impressed with his set up and method of “carrying” his load of lumber through the jungle path.

Despite the trip back going [mentally] quicker, our trip had still taken a while. When we arrived back at the waterway by which we arrived, it was obvious that the tide had gone out by a bit. It was even too shallow for the small boat that had been used that morning to use its motor.

Consequently part of group pulled the boat filled with priority people (aka Gideon and the younger hikers) along until it could reach deeper water.

Manual Towing: the downsides of low tide!

Manual Towing: the downsides of low tide! (picture from Ross)

You can see how many stashed their shoes in the boat to keep them dry (even if they were already muddy). Once they had pulled the boat to deeper water they were able to get the people that pulled the boat into the boat and motor the boat away to the large boat that could hold all the people.

The first crew to leave

The first crew to leave

The rest of our group didn’t want to stand waiting for the group to tote the boat all the way back to us, so we walked through the river until the boat could return for the last load of people.

"Waiting" and "wading" in the river (Picture from Ross)

“Waiting” and “wading” in the river (Picture from Ross)

I felt like part of the scene in Swiss Family Robinson where they are wading in the river.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that traumatic! It was actually a low-key and fun adventure to wade in the water. Also, despite the unconventional method of wading through the river, it was quite refreshing! After walking a bit through the water feeling our way through the murkiness, we met up with the boat that had come back to pick us up. Finally, the whole group was re-united and we could use the deeper water and the larger boat to get back to Telunas.

Out on the water we realized how gorgeous the weather was. We had been trapped in the jungle enjoying the scenery of vegetation, but being out in the open water was a nice change of pace!

Being able to look at the greenery from afar was just as enjoyable as the up close experience

Being able to look at the greenery from afar was just as enjoyable as the up close experience

By the time we got out of the meandering river and back to the open seas we were really able to cruise along!

The faster pace to usher us back to Telunas

The faster pace to usher us back to Telunas

We did arrive back at Telunas, at least an hour later than planned. Between the detour in the woods, the Indonesians’ relaxed sense of time, and the issues with low tide, we were a bit delayed. The good news though is that the staff had prepared a hearty lunch for our arrival. Besides, the outing was a great way to enjoy nature and  get away from city life and city pace. We did learn a few things though:

  • Indonesian time has two meanings: 1 hour different than Singapore, AND it is a relaxed pace
  • Tennis shoes would get muddy
  • A cammelback worked well as a water supply and diaper bag
  • The waterfall and natural pool were worth the hike
  • Mosquito repellent was a must, but next time we will spray clothing especially any spandex material!

Thankfully though, although Tamarah had been devoured by mosquitos she was able to still enjoy the hike and she made a full recovery from her attack with the mossies so that she was able to enjoy her stay with us in Indonesia and back in Singapore.

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One response to “Telunas, Indonesia – Going on a Hike

  1. Age, You have such a delightful way of sharing your observations of life through your blog. (I accidentally typed “blob” though I corrected ‘cuz I’m not quite sure how one shares life through blobs!) I love especially to see you glorifying God in all things “so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do [insert applying bugspray, dipping into a waterfall, so forth an so on], do all for the glory of God!”

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