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Day 5 – These are not the droids we’re looking for
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Image by Reiterlied
I’m not really motivated thinking the advent photos for days 6, 9, 12, 15, 21 and 23. After the 5th day I already realize how hard it is to stick to project with constraints when those constraints imply having to shoot boring stuff. In particular I have no idea how to make an interesting picture with tomorrow’s gift without using the content of the next days…

Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani package
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Image by Trekking Rinjani
29th May 2010

We promised to wake up at 4, so that we could start the journey early, we wanted to reach Mataram earlier. B had told our guide but when I woke up at 4, I didn’t hear any activities outside. B suggested we went back to sleep, I tried, after a while, I heard some sounds and decided to go out so that they knew we were ready. Only our two porters were busy preparing something in the shelter, I brushed my teeth and went inside the tent because it was cold. I couldn’t see my friend’s face as he was whole big lump in sleeping bag and he didn’t bulge when I sit near the entrance. I wanted to prepare my bag and there was no other room, so I ignored him and started packing my bag, putting things around and even on him. Finally he woke up and we prepared to go, there was when a plate of pisang goreng came. Wahhhh, it was so nice and we finished everything this time. I went down to the lake for a while to take picture of the lake while he changed. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

The porter asked us to leave one of our bag and they wanted to carry for us. This was the last day so they had much much less load. So we use my bag to carry camera, first aid, windbreaker, raincoat, and some other small miscellaneous. B carried the bag, I carried two small water bottles. I think it was almost 6 when we started to walk around the lake perimeter, going through watery rocky shore. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

Today, from the lake at 2000 meter, we need to climb up to Plawangan Senaru at 2641 meter before decending down to Senaru village at 600 meter. Why like that? That is Rinjani. Up down up down. And today we will see another terrain. You name it, Rinjani has almost all terrains. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

After the lake, we started to climb up, it was tall grass earth terrain at first, then we walked into steep rocky terrain. This is the terrain I prefer more, but B didn’t really like it, he prefers earth terrain. We climbed up and up, some part was like rock climbing, again, we had to use all four limbs. In the morning, the weather was good; it was all sunny and bright.

After a while, I asked our guide are we going there? Pointing to the mid mountain with full of hope, yesterday I saw him pointing that way. He said no, we are going there, pointing at the top of the mountain where we could see very very small climber’s shadow. Ho ho ho… fat hope…

We reached a nice rocky rest area and B agreed to pass the bag to me. We rested for a while, as usual, we requested to move again first and left the guide behind. He would catch up, he always catch up. In fact, it’s not so common that he walked with us. He was either far in front or far behind. But we prefer it that way, so that we can have time and moved according to our pace.
The terrain was still the same, some parts was very steep. The sun started to dig into the skin, it was hot. I commented about the good weather but then being forced to knock my forehead in case I spoke too fast.

We moved up and up, stopped for a while to enjoy good scenery and took pictures. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

Breathtaking view from Plawangan Senaru overlooking Rinjani summit Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

We reached very high point in the rim and as far as we could see, we would begin to descend down. B took the bag again.

At one point, we started to hear human talking, and a big group of angmoh’s climbers were moving down while we were climbing up. There were still many bit and pieces where we had to climb up. Our guide caught up with us. After the angmoh group, there was a Singaporean group and their many many porters. It’s amazing to see them climb and balanced themselves with the crazy load they brought, wearing only slippers or sometimes barefooted. What a hard life.

I quite enjoyed the ‘rock climbing’ and it reminded me how much fun it was. The rock terrain was of course easier than rock climbing as we always had enough places and points to put our feet and hands. On the other hand, who said we came for rock climbing? We came for trekking. Trekking. Tsk tsk tsk… Rinjani…

We finally reached Plawangan Senaru where we could see 360 degree including Mount Agung in Bali from afar, Rinjani summit with the crazy two tier slopes. Hiy… cringe.
The scenery around was breathtaking.
We saw the beautiful lake and at the other side, nice rocky wide terrain where we were heading. From this point, our guide promised all down. Down. Down.

Hate the tent and the rubbish! If see carefully, the Mount Agung in Bali is visible.. above the tent a little to the left…

Plawangan Senaru 180 degree

There was a monkey who paid us a visit again, but we didn’t have food for him to steal and we were hungry too. So we all just looked at each other, hung around for a while and made a move.
Monkey, eh.. my friend was happy to run down the terrain. For me, again, I’m scared of going down, so I walked carefully step by step but I have to say going down was much better than climbing up after all the vigorous two days. After the rocky terrain, we were greeted by the pine forest in the cloud and beautiful Savannah grass. Sometimes I saw B walked through Savannah grass, on top of the terrain and disappeared behind it. It was picture perfect but the camera was with him.
He enjoyed going down and there was big distance between us, but he would wait and enjoyed the scenery. I felt jealous that he could run like that. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

We reached post 4, rested for a while. We were starving. B declared that he wanted to cook lunch and our guide promised to let him mess up with the stove. We were drooling so we jumped up and continued to walk so that we could reach the next post. Before we left we saw our porters behind us. Food. Food is here!!!

After Savannah terrain, we reached an area where there were scattered pine trees with misty cloud. We love that place because we could hear all kind of birds singing. We sat there for a long time just enjoying the wind and the sound. Sometimes we heard loud monkey sounds. Couldn’t take it, we took out our phones to try to record the sounds. We are both not high-tech, so had to fiddling for a while. When he activated his phone, all messages went in and they were all shits from work. Poor monkey. So we kept our phones and use video recording function in cameras instead, why didn’t we think about it?
(I promise to upload the audio when I have done with it)… Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

Every-time one started to record, the other made noise. Phone beeping, plastic bag rustling, zoom function, laughers and ridicule and foot step from our guide and porters who caught up with us. Finally after quite sometimes, we think, we recorded it. Preserving the moment and reluctant to move, we finally lift our butts. We were closer and closer to civilization! Shampoo! Food! Warm beds!

Not very far from that, we reached Pos 3, 2000 meter. So we were finally backed on the level where we started this morning. We went up 600 meter plus and 600 meters down the whole morning. Still 1400 meter to go!

We had some cold water our porters got from the spring. It looked like just came out from fridge.

As promised, B started to cook his Singaporean style instant noodle using my favorite Indonesian noodle. We took off our shoes and relax while cooking. The feet and thigh started to sore but I was surprised that my toe’s skins were still intact, although there were big blisters. Along the climbing down yesterday, I kept thinking that I had lost the skin because of the friction with the shoes. Alas, my shoes started to talk back to me. The glue started to give way, both fronts and backs were peeping, I hope it could last for the rest of today.

My monkey friend dropped the wok to my direction and wet the wooden bale-bale (big sitting area), luckily it was just water and not hot yet (thanks monkey!), but he is forgiven because he was really hardworking and determined to make good lunch. 🙂
We cooked the noodle in two rounds together while enjoying tea and coffee. He distributed coffee he brought from Singapore. It was indeed nice and great lunch. I think today we got our appetite back although B insisted that was because his noodle was very good. There were few monkeys around but they were quite well behaved not to disturb us while eating, instead they dug the rubbish bin and licked the seasonings.

Ten minutes after eating, both of us already started, leaving our guide and porters as usual. The terrain was denser and we reached heterogenic forest where we could see various moss and fern and beautiful vegetation where there are dense trees surrounding us, we also found a lot of gigantic earth worm, I saw one around half a meter long more than 1 cm in diameter, we always tried not to accidentally step on them. For both of us, this is the terrain we are familiar with for mountain climbing. This trip was the first time we met Savannah, volcanic sandy steep terrain and high density of rocky terrain. We love the Savannah, I quite like the rock. But volcanic sandy steep, we can live without it.

Together with heterogenic terrain, it was all earth, my biggest fear. We did stop a lot of time to look at those nice vegetation’s that B loves a lot. He took a lot of pictures while I was just grateful to rest my knee. Going down was a lot of pressure for the knees.

Not a moment too soon, I got nice momentum to go down; somehow I lost my fear of going down and could jump, balanced and ran through the earth terrain. Hell, it was fun, how come I didn’t pick it up sooner? Now I could tailgate my friend and amazingly I didn’t fall at all. In fact, for the whole Rinjani trip, I had less bruises and blue-blacks than what I got at home or in the zoo. If I recall, that is what I always been. Seem like I’m more balanced in nature setting and can survive better while I tend to knock my head on washbasin or table, hit the wall, miss a staircase step in the city. Wakaka.

However, the rain started to drop. From mild, we continued to walk. Then it started to pour. We quickly geared up, now B was wearing my zoo’s raincoat so that it could cover the bag properly, I wore my windbreaker and we continued. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

We couldn’t take picture or enjoying the scenery as the rain got really pouring so we just kept going very fast.
Trees around helped us steady ourselves when we needed too, but once or twice we grab the wrong thing and ended up grabbing palms with scary and painful thorns. Since then we avoided palms or touching anything if we could.

Jumping and running we reached Post 2. Post 2 had two big bale-bale shelter but both were full of people sitting, crammed with sad faces looking at the rain. They were dry and tried to keep themselves warm. We were wet, active and there was no way we wanted to squeeze with them, they must also felt the same. One guy at one shelter pointed another shelter to me. He thought I was going to sit with them. I said we only want to ask for direction so he pointed the way and we both went down fast.

From stream, the path had become ‘waterfall’ we ran down together with. B took time to stop and took the ‘waterfall’ picture then we started moving again. We kept going down and down; it was not tiring so we never stopped.

After long time, our guide and porters caught up, they were really good and fast because we actually moved very fast too. This time when we caught up we didn’t need to give way because we didn’t slow them down. I said, haha.. if it was yesterday or this morning, they would be impatient with me and kicked me down the mountain so that I moved faster. With his style of sympathy, B said, yah, everyone should kick you at least once, me too! Thanks again!

We reached pos 1 at 1300 meter, ate a banana. My shoes were flipping half way already. The rain started to quiet down, we rested for three minutes and proceeded again. Now that the rain had reduced, we could enjoy the scenery, the forest looked different already,the common forest we could find many where.

Whenever we rested for awhile and moved again, I felt my leg sore as if I just did 300 jumping frog. Once we moved, it was okay. We ran ran down and finally saw a big gate of Pintu Senaru… This is the other side of the mountain. We started at Sembalun, ended at Senaru. We could do vice versa but I don’t think it’s a good idea, according to our guide, it’s common to rain in Senaru. I definitely don’t want to start the whole journey wet.

Pintu Senaru we found a bit of civilization. Two big kampong shelter and they sold drinks at tidbits. We drank two cans of Pocari Sweat each. Our guide asked me to check for leeches on my leg, I told them, it’s okay, let them eat first. I was tired and didn’t really care about leech. The porters said normally other girls would jump around when they saw leech. I don’t think I could jump with my sore legs.
I got money in my pants since the beginning of the journey, it was just nice to buy three packages of cigarettes for both porters and guide. B was confused about this Indonesian tradition, now I actually kind of agree that it might not be good gifts in term of health. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

The porter helped me tied the flap on my right shoes with yellow plastic rope, it almost came off. We just found out that we were not there yet, we still need to go down some distance. Fifteen minutes, the guide said, but maybe thirty because it’s very slippery.

Indeed it was, from there on, the terrain were mud, slippery mud when you can sink your feet every time you touch the ground. He found some alternative ways in between trees but we still needed to go through a lot of mud. I think my shoes are really good that it’s really reliable in that terrain. Although now I could only see them as two lumps of mud, with yellow plastic rope tied around it, soaking wet and damn dirty, I vowed to wash it clean and bring it back safely to Singapore. It had endured a lot including being burnt. Kakaka…

We walked through some vanilla, grape, avocado garden and finally, finally, the first vehicle we saw was motorcycle, it was few seconds before we managed to make a proper bet about what we were going to see.

Then we saw asphalt road and car. There was an area where we could wash up and B suggested we took shower because we had 2.5 hour journey to the city. I was in panic attack for a split second because I didn’t have anymore fresh clothes left, then he reminded me that we had our other stuffs in the car.

We took turn to take shower. The bathroom was dark, typical kampong style with stone tub and almost broken wooden door, but it was clean. At first he suggested me not to take a shower because of the condition but upon smelling fresh water and thinking of having to sit in the car filthy but he was all neat and clean, no way…! The only thing I worried about was the broken door that couldn’t be locked properly, but he was out there keeping a lookout for me, so I felt safe.

The water was damn cold but it was goooooooddddd. We also washed away the mud from the shoes. I think it was around 5-6pm when we said goodbye to our guide and porters (they had to go up Rinjani again tomorrow, what a life..), settled the rest of payment and moved back with the car. Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

B planned to take a nap but we ended up chatting all the way and enjoying scenery. We were moving to Senggigi, one of the famous tourist area.
We saw sea of Lombok, saw lights of boat and people enjoying themselves. We were starving and ate the Snickers he brought.

Luckily, in less than two hours, we reached the hotel. Since we fortified our stay in Gili Nanggu, which cost more, plus the boat transfer cost etc, the operator promised to give us good hotel. It was not bad, very spacious, but not very clean. We found seven small croakcroaches in the bathroom and my superhero friend got busy making a lot of noises beating up the croakcroaches with bucket. Thanks to him though, I had pest free bathroom everytime I went in. I saw one huge gecko on the terrace and three fat house lizards. Anyway, I think Rinjani kind of numb me quite well. I feel like I was not and shouldn’t be afraid of anything anymore. Kambateeeeeee!!!!!!!
House lizards, disemboweled by my cats, stuck to my feet, no longer scares me…will it?
Okay.. when we went back to city, we’d talk about this again.

I hung my raincoat, windbreaker, gloves and buff outside at the terrace. We put the shoes inside the room, hoping the aircon would dry it up, but it never was. We decided to do some laundry, it was not cheap, but quite reasonable. Our clothes, pants especially were in very bad shape that we needed it washed. We filled up the big bag, I washed more including two thick trekking socks. From the whole big bag it was converted into small flat clean bag when we collected, I think it’s worth it.

We went out for dinner to look for spaghetti, B was craving for spaghetti and cream soup, while I was craving for vegetable soup like what we had in the mountain, didn’t know why.
We walked around the street. Everywhere was offering diving, trekking to Rinjani, kayaking, car and bike rental, laundry. In fact, it was quite annoying as people kept touting us. The touting was worse than Bali.

We decided to have dinner in a small cozy restaurant. Nice place, but I didn’t like the guy there, who seemed like the manager or whatever. After the waitress took our order, this guy asked us where are we come from, and proceed to argue with me when I said I’m Indonesian. No, you are not. No, you are not. I was supposed to be Japanese or whatever. Where on earth that I look like a Japanese? Flat eyes, definitely not. Fair skin? You should see my wok/kettle-backside color because of the tan I got. And I speak Indonesian with Indonesian slang. I finally said, why you insist? you know me more or I know me more?

They also allow touting inside the restaurant, which we think was very uncomfortable idea. Anyway, the food was quite good; we just ignored the surrounding and had our coca cola with ice that we had been waiting for.

After dinner, we walked around for a while to buy some drinks. There were many pubs but we were not interested, so we walked back to the hotel, and took long shower.

My friend was fascinated with Indonesian drama, it was sooooo dramatically ridiculous that we both spent a lot of time picking on it. There was one guy threatening his girlfriend that he would commit suicide by drinking bleach if she didn’t want him or whatever.
There was this girl called Karmila or what’s her face who kept crying everytime she breathes and his father who was on the deathbed but never dies, who looked more like his boyfriend. The scene went on forever. We kept shouting.. drink the bleach! Quick lah! Or die quicker… or stop the bloody tears… aiyoh!!…

Around 10, we suddenly felt very sleepy, anyway, we only slept around few hours a night and we must be damn tired. We didn’t have wake up call or terrains to scale tomorrow, so we didn’t set time of when to wake up, as long as we don’t miss the breakfast that finished at 11am.

Visit Web site Trekking Mount Rinjani Email:

Our house in Omaha – spring 1955
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Image by Ed Yourdon
This is a picture from the top of the hill, looking down the road known at the time as "Child’s Crossing" where we lived in Omaha. Our house if the visible one on the left.

It’s now known simply as "Childs Road," and technically it’s in the suburb of Bellevue, which is in South Omaha. (I’ve geotagged this photo, so you can see exactly where it’s located.)

Note that the road was unpaved at this point; I didn’t remember it as such. In one of the later photographs in this album, you’ll see that by 1992, the road was paved.

The area to the right of our house was simply an open field; I’m sure there’s a house there now. At the time, my neighborhood friends and I played baseball in the field … but the weeds were so high that we often lost our baseball …


Some of the photos in this album are “originals” from the year that my family spent in Omaha in 1955-56. But the final 10 color photos were taken nearly 40 years later, as part of some research that I was doing for a novel called Do-Overs, the beginning of which can be found here on my website

and the relevant chapter (concerning Omaha) can be found here:

Before I get into the details, let me make a strong request — if you’re looking at these photos, and if you are getting any enjoyment at all of this brief look at some mundane Americana from 60+ years ago: find a similar episode in your own life, and write it down. Gather the pictures, clean them up, and upload them somewhere on the Internet where they can be found. Trust me: there will come a day when the only person on the planet who actually experienced those events is you. Your own memories may be fuzzy and incomplete; but they will be invaluable to your friends and family members, and to many generations of your descendants.

So, what do I remember about the year that I spent in Omaha? Not much at the moment, though I’m sure more details will occur to me in the days to come — and I’ll add them to these notes, along with additional photos that I’m tweaking and editing now.

For now, here is a random list of things I remember:

1. I attended the last couple months of 6th grade, and all of 7th grade, in one school. My parents moved from Omaha to Long Island, NY in the spring of my 7th grade school year; but unlike previous years, they made arrangements for me to stay with a neighbor’s family, so that I could finish the school year before joining them in New York.

2. Our dog, Blackie, traveled with us from our previous home in Riverside, and was with us until my parents left Omaha for New York; at that point, they gave him to some other family. For some reason, this had almost no impact on me. It was a case of “out of sight, out of mind” — when Blackie was gone, I spent my final three months in Omaha without ever thinking about him again.

3. Most days, I rode my bike to school; but Omaha was the place where one of my sisters first started attending first grade — in the same school where I was attending 6th grade. I remember walking her to school along Bellevue Avenue on the first morning, which seemed to take forever: it was about a mile away.

4. As noted in a previous Flickr album about my year in Riverside, I was a year younger than my classmates; but I was tall for my age, and thus looked “normal” at a quick glance. But because I was a year younger, I was incredibly shy and awkward in the presence of girls. Omaha was certainly not “sin city,” but by 6th grade and 7th grade, puberty was beginning to hit, and the girls had grown to the point where they were occasionally interested in boys. The school tried to accommodate this social development by teaching us the square dance (and forbidding the playing of songs by Elvis Presley, whose music was just beginning to be heard on the radio). I was an awful dancer, and even more of a shy misfit than my classmates; I continue to be an awful dancer today.

5. My bike ride to school was uneventful most days; but the final part of the ride was a steep downhill stretch on Avery Road, lasting three or four blocks. My friends and I usually raced downhill as fast as we could; but one day, my front bicycle wheel began to wobble on the downhill run, and my bike drifted uncontrollably to the side of the road and then off into a ditch. I got banged up pretty badly.

6. But this accident was nothing compared to my worst mishap: a neighborhood friend and I enjoyed playing “cowboys and Indians” in the woods near his home (and his younger brother usually tagged along). I had a bow and a few arrows for our adventure, and we often shot at trees a hundred feet away. Unfortunately, the arrows often disappeared into the underbrush (because we were lousy shots) and were difficult to find. Consequently, one of us came up with the clever idea of standing behind the “target” tree, so that we could see where the randomly-shot arrows landed. Through a series of miscommunications, I poked my head out from behind the tree just as my friend shot one of the arrows … and it skipped off the side of the tree and into my face, impaling itself into my cheek bone about an inch below my eye. An inch higher, and I would not be typing these words … (meanwhile, my friend’s younger brother grew up to be an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and he tracked me down on the Internet, decades later).

7. In the summer of 1956, my parents decided to spend their summer vacation prospecting for uranium (seriously!) in the remote hills of eastern Utah, where my dad had grown up on the Utah-Colorado border. This entailed a long, long drive from Omaha; and it involved leaving me and my two sisters with my grandparents near Vernal, UT. My grandparents lived in a very small mining village outside of Vernal; and while they had electricity and various other modern conveniences, they also had an outhouse in the back yard. Trips to the “bathroom” in the middle of the night were quite an adventure. On the way back to Omaha at the end of this vacation trip (with no uranium ore having been found), we stopped for a couple of days of camping somewhere in the mountains of Colorado; you’ll see a couple of photos from that camping trip in this album.

8. There were no lizards in Omaha, and thus no opportunity for lizard-hunting with my slingshot—which had been a significant hobby in my previous homes in Riverside and Roswell. Indeed, there was almost nothing to shoot at … and I couldn’t find anyone with whom I could play (and hopefully win) marbles, to use as slingshot ammunition. But for reasons I never questioned or investigated (but about which I’m very curious now), there was a small vineyard in the field behind our house, and I was able to climb over the fence and retrieve dozens of small, hard, green grapes. They turned out to be excellent ammunition … but I never did find any lizards.

9. A few months before my parents left for New York, I told them about the latest craze sweeping the neighborhood: “English bikes,” with three speeds, thin tires, and hand-brakes. I desperately wanted one, but Dad said it was far too expensive for him to buy as a frivolous gift for me: at the time, English bikes had an outrageous price tag of . I was told that I would have to earn the money myself if I wanted one … and the going rate for young, scrawny kids who shoveled sidewalks, pulled weeds from gardens, and did babysitting chores, was 25 cents per hour. That works out to 100 hours of work … but I did it, over the course of the next few months, and when I got to New York, the first thing I did was buy my English bike.

10. Toward the end of my 7th-grade school year, everyone in my class was subjected to a vision test: we were lined up in alphabetical order, and one-by-one read off a series of letters that we could barely see on a large placard taped onto the classroom blackboard. Because my surname starts with a “Y,” I was usually near the end of the line … and by the time I got to the front, I had usually memorized the letters (because they never bothered to change them, from one student to the next) without even realizing it consciously. But on this particular occasion in 7th grade, for some reason, they decided to line us up in reverse alphabetical order … and I was the first in line. For the first time in my life, I realized that I could not see anything of the letters, and that I was woefully near-sighted. When I got to New York, my parents took me to an optometrist to get my first set of glasses (and, yes, all of the neighborhood kids did begin taunting me immediately: “Four eyes! Four eyes!”) … and I’ve worn glasses ever since.
Three years after I arrived in New York, the glasses saved my vision when a home-brewed mix of gunpowder and powdered aluminum blew up in my face in the school chemistry lab (where I had an after-school volunteer job as a “lab assistant”). I suffered 2nd-degree burns on my face from the explosion, but the glasses protected my eyes. That, however, is a different story for a different time.

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