20.08.2008 - 25.08.2008 25 °C
Back to the Bandung bus terminal early in the morning, I boarded another local bus for Cibodas after bombarded by sellers trying to unload their drinks, bread, cigarette, towels, books, snacks on passengers one more time. Their tactic is to place what they are trying to sell next to you and if you don't keep and pay for it, they will take it back. After crawling for two hours, we arrived in Cianjur and changed into an AC bus. We waited further for the driver to finish lunch before moving on to Cipanas. My patience was running out after over four hours on the road, got off before the proper stop and took an ojek up the steep winding road up to Cibodas trying to balance with my backpack at the same time.
Cibodas proved to be a lovely place with its cool, misty weather and potted plants amid small gardens along the village's major road. I checked into my homestay, then walked to the famous Cibodas Botanical garden next to the entrance of the Gunung Gede National Park. Situated inside primary rainforest, this botanical garden hosts many species of plants from all over the world including many trees hundreds of years old. I walked around aimlessly from the Sakura garden to the herb garden, crossing over the large lawn with pond and fountain where young couple camp overnight.
Before dark, I left the botanical garden and headed for the internet cafe. Over the next two hours, I chatted with Ipai, the owner, also a mountain guide about everything including the notorious spirits that exist in many mountains of java. His last encounter happened during a week-long cleanup trip at the summit with other rangers when they saw a circle of villagers on the plateau below. Another time he saw the legend of Gede in a fireball floating in the dark sky at 2am towards Bogor and joked that this spirit was annoyed by all the young boy scouts camping in the park.
The next morning, I registered and paid at the office and started the hike an hour away to the waterfall with groups of teenagers. After letting the impatient youngsters pass me next to the beautiful turqoise lake with fishes the size of one's arm, the waterfalls finally appear saturated with bodies playing in the water and laughter.
I left the crowded waterfall and kept trekking up along the rocky trails to the air panas (hot spring) about two hours away. 'Now I can enjoy the jungle by myself', I told myself and at the same time, strangely wary about the daytime spirits which might just happen to hover around me. At noon, I finally reached the steamy forest high up in the mountain and held on to the rope tip toeing on the hot rocks to the rest area where a few local campers was having lunch. I enjoyed the serene atmosphere amid the humid air for a while and made a wish.
Another long and crowded minibus ride with a friendly driver later, I arrived at Bogor which like other indonesian cities, filled with too many exhausts choking the air. I took another ojek on the highway with my backpack to another homestay and headed to the famous Bogor Botanical Garden early on the crowded Sunday morning. Students and families from nearby Jakarta made this otherwise quiet park very lively. To beat the crowds, I walked among ancient trees and their roots. While elementary students asked foreigners for 10 minutes to chat in English, I was interviewed by high school students who are overjoyed by their 'discovery', a tourist who looks just like them.
A short stroll in the orchid greenhouse and the main lawn filled with families and karate students later, I walked back to my guesthouse and headed to the bus station back to Yogya.