Off Trail in the Indonesian Outback, with Consequences

Sitting in a nice room at the Manohara Hotel at Borobodur, enjoying coffee and a view of gardens out the window, I can almost ignore my throbbing left knee. It is a reminder of many important lessons that were learned during a trek yesterday into the deep countryside.

Unfortunately, the young guide in charge of myself and two fellows from Latvia, Sergei and Vladimir, was over-confident that information about trails he got from the caretakers of a Hindu temple was accurate. As a result, we ended up scrambling up and down a very steep hillside with only a marginal trail, and sometimes hardly any trail at all. Add some mud and slickness to the rocks (when available), jungle conditions in a sauna climate with no wind, and you get the idea. We came within about 15 minutes of the ridge but the dead-end of the trail was definitive, so we had no choice but to retrace our steps.

The downhill was far worse than going up, and that’s where we all suffered our cuts, bruises and, for me, a slip and slide that wrenched my knee. I heard it go “pop” but since there was no swelling afterwards, I thought that perhaps it was temporary. Time will tell, but today is definitely a go-slow affair. I may or may not make it to Borobodur even though I have a two-day pass, courtesy of the hotel that is on the grounds.

As you can see from the photos, however, the first part of the hike was quite scenic and very enjoyable. The second part was a rather painful reminder that I need to trust my instincts and experience, and not defer to a person who is supposed to have the skills to lead paying customers into a memorable experience. It is memorable for sure, but not for the reasons we hoped.  Tomorrow will likely teach me whether I actually tore something or if recovery is possible.  Oddly enough, I am fairly accepting of the situation and really blame no one but myself for not speaking out.  Sergei, who walks regularly in a huge forest near his home in Riga, Latvia, says exactly the same thing: he also knew we were on a sinking ship but, out of politeness and good manners, didn’t protest our route up the wet mountainside.

Even a wild boar in Japan would have known better.

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6 thoughts on “Off Trail in the Indonesian Outback, with Consequences

    1. I hate to break the news to you, Charlie, but I canceled Burma! Visa problems, the bombs in mid-Oct. in Yangon that targeted foreigners, the impossibility of going where I really wanted–Myauk U–and other challenges were just too much to deal with while traveling in Japan. So I’m staying longer in Indonesia and am enjoying myself, preparing to head to a remote island chain for about 10 days. No big hotels there yet but they are on the way.

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