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Monday, 26 November 2012

A Weekend in the Clouds

What started out as a bit of a bust month, has ended on a better note. On short notice I was sent to Singapore yet again for paperwork. While on the flight I had a bad cold and ended up damaging my eardrums. I was told not to fly before my holiday at Christmas so that I could give my ears a proper chance to heal.

So, my trip to the elephant sanctuary has been put on hold and I've been grounded! After spending several weekends in, I decided I HAD to get out of Jakarta and get some fresh air. Since I can't fly, I had to find something to do on this Island. Some friends recommended a spa a few hours from here. A friend of mine from New Zealand joined me and we headed up to the mountains and rainforest for an incredibly relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta.

We purchased an amazing package which included transportation to and from Jakarta, one night in a bungalow, four meals, guided hikes, exercise classes, and two spa treatments - All for under $150!! Amazing! You would never find a deal like that back home.

The drive to Javana Spa took roughly 3.5 hours. Driving across this Island is so unique. Tiny villages line the main roads to the mountains. While driving through these villages some not so unusual sightings include; cattle walking the street, naked children swimming and bathing in rivers and ponds, men and women coming to your car windows selling everything from peanuts to inflatable floaties for the pool, people doing laundry along train tracks, tiny huts with families including children sitting outside smoking, bird markets, skinny dogs and cats with only half of a tail (not sure why this is), a lot of garbage, beautiful traditional Muslim and Indonesian outfits, and so on. Overall, you can really see how little the people in these villages have. But, despite this you see a lot of smiling faces - children running around laughing, groups of men sitting around chatting and smiling, women proudly holding their children's hand, etc. It's very apparent that their living conditions are less than ideal, but they clearly are proud of what they have. Of the trips I've done around this Island, the drive is usually the most interesting part. It's very neat (and at times, sad) to see the way people live.

After some very steep roads up the mountain, with views of rice terraces and fields, we reached the spa that is nestled into the rainforest on the mountain's edge at 1200 meters above sea level.
We were greeted with hot towels and some delicious guava juice. The first thing we both noticed was how much cooler the temperature was up in the clouds and how clean the air felt to breathe in! It was truly refreshing.

The weekend was spent relaxing in hot spring lagoons that had natural water flowing from a mountain top crater, drinking tea and watching the storm clouds form around us, massages, hair treatments, jacuzzi time, walks around the grounds and hikes into the rainforest. The first hike was on Saturday in the pouring rain. We geared up and ventured into the rainforest. Upon arriving at the destination for the first waterfall on the tour, our guide told us we had to quickly turn back as the steep hill of stairs going down toward the waterfall was considered highly dangerous due to all of the rain. He said the ground could give away at any moment. That was all we needed to hear. We quickly made our way out of the rainforest and back onto a main trail.

Luckily, the next day the weather had cleared up. We took another hike and visited a second waterfall, this time actually making it to the falls. The water was extremely cold, but very refreshing. We hiked through some really cool paths with lots of lush green plants and flowers. Our guide told us about 4km further up, monkeys and jaguars could be spotted! I asked him if the jaguars have ever wandered onto the spa grounds or attacked anyone. He responded with a very straight forward "yes". His English wasn't great, so I'm hoping he just misunderstood my question!

The Javana Spa is designed to look like a Japanese inspired resort. Apparently it took five years to build due to it's remote location. It's definitely an excellent choice for a weekend break from the city and above all it reminded me how much I miss fresh clean air!!!

Looking forward to future adventures! Next stop: Thailand!

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