Cisadon and A Look Back at 2021

Asia, Indonesia, Southeast

The start of the hike

In a post I wrote last year, I referred to 2020 as annus horribilis, the horrible year, for life as we knew it suddenly ceased to exist. Cities became eerily quiet, our movements were restricted, we could only meet friends online, and wearing a mask became mandatory, among other changes we have since gotten accustomed to. That blog post to end the year was meant to celebrate the little things we had taken for granted for too long, and to appreciate life no matter how different it had become from what we envisioned.

However, when I thought 2020 was bad enough, 2021 turned out to be my annus horribilis. I lost my father in February, and a few months later I also lost my uncle (my mother’s older brother) who had been living with my parents for more than 10 years. On an unassuming Wednesday in June when I was resting on my sofa during lunch break, I got a phone call from my mother. She usually never calls me on weekdays, unless it’s something important. As soon as I picked up the phone, all I could hear was her frantic cries. His sudden death, presumably from a heart attack, just four months after the passing of my father hit us really hard. Being overwhelmed was an understatement, but we had no other option than to deal with it.

Everything that happened took its toll on my work; I couldn’t give my best to some of the projects I was handling at that time as there were details I missed because of all the meetings I couldn’t attend since I had to go back and forth between Jakarta and Semarang between February and June. An offer from a former boss to work at her company was the fresh start I needed, or so I thought. Only after a few months in the new job, I realized that I wasn’t in a better place, and it took me weeks to reconsider my options. After a long heart-to-heart discussion with her, I came to the conclusion that a break was what I needed after all. In October, I took the courage to step back from the fast-paced life I had known since I was reemployed in early 2016 following my six-month Spice Odyssey, to give myself the chance to do things I had previously never had the time or energy to carry out.

During the pandemic, it is evident that many of us are choosing to explore outdoor places for safety reasons. I’m glad, albeit slightly jealous, that this is exactly what some of my blogging friends have been doing. Caroline and Alison have been sharing their hiking trips (with gorgeous photos) from around western Canada, while Sue is exploring more of Alberta. Lex, on the other hand, recounted her epic road trip across the American West. Reading their experiences and looking at the awe-inspiring landscapes, scenic hiking trails, beautiful lakes, and all the greenery that is always present wherever they go made me think of doing something similar. This sedentary life I’ve been living since the beginning of the pandemic certainly isn’t good for my health. It wasn’t until September this year, however, when I finally told myself to just do it. Just go!

What a change of scenery from life in Jakarta!

A peaceful part of the hike

Ripening coffee cherries

The mighty Mount Salak in the background

A zoomed-in shot of the volcano

There’s a large beehive on one of the trees in this photo

Light at the end of the turn

Curious colors of exposed rocks along the trail

Tree ferns high up in the forest canopy

Shaded parts like this make some sections of the hike relatively easy

All the brilliant colors

Lush green as far as the eye can see

On a Friday morning in September when I was working from home, I got this sudden urge to go hiking in a place not too far from Jakarta. I’ve been telling people how much I want to do it, but until now, I had never really acted on that desire. This was partially caused by my reluctance to deal with the bad traffic Jakartans cause when they flock to the hilly and mountainous regions to the south every weekend. However, a friend reassured me that if I leave Jakarta early enough, I should be able to avoid getting stuck in the congestion. Then I looked up easy hiking trails near Jakarta that can be done without a guide, and many sites mentioned the Cisadon Trail in an area called Sentul. With some more information in hand, a weather forecast that said Saturday would be sunny, and the fact that the odd-and-even number regulation only allowed me to drive on even dates (which that Saturday was), I was convinced the following day really would be the best time to do what I’ve been thinking of doing for a long time. James was unsurprisingly less enthusiastic about the notion of getting up so early on the weekend to do a physical activity.

When we arrived at the trailhead, the parking area was already filled with cars. Clearly many Jakartans had turned to hiking as a safer and easier alternative to traveling to faraway places with all the pandemic-related hassles. However, when we started walking on the rocky path, I barely saw any other hikers. Presumably the owners of those cars had a much earlier start than us and they were already way ahead of us. With no one else on the trail, I decided to take off my face mask after a few minutes to feel the cool mountain air which was very refreshing. I walked in a brisk and steady pace, and my head was filled with excitement. Finally, I’m doing this, and the skies are clear. It’s perfect!

That thought was rather premature, unfortunately. Around 15 minutes after the start of the hike, I took a short break to catch my breath and to drink. However, as soon as I stopped, suddenly my head started feeling light and my vision began to blur. Then everything gradually became brighter and brighter, as though there was a brightness setting in my head and it had been turned to maximum. Sensing that this could be really serious, I turned my body and looked for something I could grab onto. Is that a branch? Or is it a root? I couldn’t tell for it looked too blurry. But I knew I should grab onto it to prevent myself from collapsing. While standing, I closed my eyes and tried to breathe deeply. Then I started yawning a lot, a signal from my body that it needed more oxygen. All I could think afterward was don’t collapse, don’t collapse, the hospital is far from here, and there’s no way James is going to take me there since he can’t drive in Indonesia.

Slowly I regained my vision. Everything still looked so bright, but at least it had been dialed down from its maximum level. I told James that we could start walking again, but he convinced me to wait for another five minutes. A little later, when my vision had completely returned to normal, I continued the hike, albeit at a much slower pace and with a lingering mild headache. As we went further up, the rocky trail occasionally turned to a dirt path, at some points wet due to rivulets and small waterfalls crossing it. All sorts of natural scents from different species of plants wafted in the fresh air, stimulating my olfactory bulb which attempted to identify them. Forest critters tried to outdo one another when it came to sound, although none of them was visible to my naked eyes. But out of sudden I heard a loud thump right above my head, high in the forest canopy. From the way the upper branches moved, it couldn’t have been caused by a bird. Maybe it was a small primate, although from my perspective it was impossible to confirm this.

A jackfruit that has passed its best time

More jackfruits up above

One of many bamboo-built rest stops along the trail

A ripening citrus fruit

Vernal mood by purple blooms

Standing high above the rest

As green as it gets

Bright flowers of Lantana camara

It’s getting hotter here

Clean water from the mountain

A brush of red on a green canvas

A view to the north

The higher we went, the better the view became. Behind us, far in the background beyond the hills of Sentul, the volcano Mount Salak loomed large with its distinctive eroded summit. Beneath its rugged peaks was a layer of air pollution hanging over the Greater Jakarta area, home to more than 30 million inhabitants. Seeing this – the very same air my lungs take in every day – from a far less polluted place was a sad reminder of the price people have to pay to live in the country’s economic hub where opportunities are abundant. However, another stark reality soon hit me. This very trail that connects the remote village of Cisadon to the outside world is already popular among city dwellers, so much so that 4×4 vehicles and motorbikes are now a regular sight on weekends. They forced us and other hikers to stand on the inner side of the path every time they passed us, and for short moments after that we had to breathe in toxic fumes.

More than two hours since we started the hike, we finally got a glimpse of our destination. Cisadon is a village of around 60 people. Despite its relative proximity to the Indonesian capital, it has no cellular reception and it’s not connected to the national power grid. Fortunately, thanks to the abundance of water around their village, the locals turn to a micro-hydropower system to generate electricity, just enough to keep the houses lit at night. Around 20 minutes later, we arrived at the village gate and kept following the pathway that led us to a small mosque at the center of this settlement. Most houses were quiet, but a few that had been turned into warungs (small, informal eateries) were lively and busy. Curiously, a communal washing basin nearby was emblazoned with the flags of Indonesia and South Korea. For some reason, this trail is popular among Korean expats (we met some along the way), and they helped install this public facility last year to raise people’s awareness of cleanliness and sanitation.

After having very refreshing and deeply satisfying young coconuts from one of the stalls, we took a short tour of the village before going back to where we started. That day I was happy that what I had been wishing for was finally realized. But now, looking back at that fine Saturday in September, I can’t help but draw some parallels to what 2021 has been like for me. First, the fast ascent. Moving at a high speed and living a fast-paced life may well be the norm these days for most people. But we often put aside what our bodies need, and only start paying attention to them when problems arise. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down from time to time, and if you need a break, just take it – exactly what I did in October when I decided to quit my job. Then, those motor vehicles along the trail. For me, they are like problems which we will always encounter in life. And that’s totally normal. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to just let them pass, and allow peace and serenity to return afterward.

My annus horribilis has definitely not been easy, but here I am in the last month of 2021, cautiously excited for what 2022 has in store. Happy New Year everyone! I’m wishing you health and happiness, always.

A glimpse of the village of Cisadon from the hiking trail

A runner on the dirt path

A two-story structure near the village

A tunnel of bamboo

A typical house in Cisadon

Where to go next?

The village mosque

Drying Kopi Luwak beans, essentially the droppings of Asian palm civets

These coffee cherries didn’t go through the civets’ digestive system

Possibly a Gomphocarpus fruticosus, native to parts of Africa

Drying fish in the sun

A short walk in the village

A friendly-looking dog at the gate to the village

Leaving Cisadon

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

66 thoughts on “Cisadon and A Look Back at 2021”

  1. Looks like a wonderful walk. Glad that you are able to get out after such a bad year. The plants and the terrain seem to be similar to those we find in many parts of India.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks I.J. Despite the initial challenge, it turned out to be quite a nice walk, indeed — exactly what I needed after being unable to go anywhere for months. The similarities of plants between this part of Java and India sort of make sense. When looking up the origins of the houseplants I have, I often learn that the native habitats of some of them span much of Southeast and South Asia.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Amen to every single thing you said. Thanks Cornelia! I hope the rest of 2021 will be good and 2022 will be better for you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a heart warming post Bama. I love your positive outlook despite struggles with your loss and job stress. And glad you were able to get out in nature. I hope the coming months let you do that a lot more. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having the ‘right’ people around me — very supportive mom and friends — helped me deal with everything this year, and I’m grateful for that. We’ll see about doing more outdoor activities in the coming months since January-February is usually the peak of rainy season in Jakarta. But when the weather is good, I’ll be sure to make the best out of it. Thanks Maggie!


  3. Bama, you have been through so much this year. I wish you a kinder and gentler 2022. It sounds like you are taking the right steps to take care of your physical and mental health. I enjoyed reading about the parallels you drew between your hike and the challenges you encountered in 2021. I’m continuously amazed how many life lessons I get from my hikes and walks in the forest. You may be a tad jealous of the landscapes and greenery you see on my hiking posts, but when I look at your photos of tree ferns, bamboo tunnels, the Lantana camara flowers, Asian palm civets…it all sounds so wonderfully exotic. After reading James’s post about this hike, it was fun reading it from your perspective. I wonder if your scary incident on the trail was related to all the stress you’ve had. I’m glad you were OK in the end and could continue the hike. You gave me an extra scare when you wrote about the thumping in the forest canopy. For a moment I thought one of those giant jackfruits was going to come careening down…but let’s not jinx things. You take care of yourself. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I surely wish 2022 is gentler not just for me but also for everyone else who had a rough 2021. I can say these days I’m less stressed out about things — I can handle my emotions a lot better now than I did a few months ago. Sometimes what we need is right around the corner, but we need other people to nudge us toward that direction. This is how I felt about your hiking posts, Caroline. So I thank you for that. I’ll see what I can during this really wet period until the end of rainy season (typically around April or May), and if I do stumble upon a ripe jackfruit, I might as well enjoy the sweet, delicious fruits inside. Can’t help but draw a comparison with life itself: whatever it throws at you, sometimes it’s best to enjoy it. Thanks Caroline! All the best to you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really sorry to hear about the irreplaceable losses you’ve had. However, what could be better than ending your annus horribilis with a hike in the outskirts of the city. Glad to read that you could finally do it. More than that, I call out your courage in quitting your job. That I think is certainly not easy. Suddenly feeling giddy during a hike is terrible but good that you could resume after a slight rest and it didn’t come back. Also, that the found the trail quite empty is really good. Lovely photos of the trail.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Neel. Actually in October (a month after I did this hike and right after I quit my job), I went a bit further to a small city in West Java to do more hiking and sightseeing. The timing was (almost) perfect and it turned out to be a very nice trip. I’ll begin posting the stories next month. In the meantime, I hope you’ll have a relaxing December to wrap up 2021!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such pleasing to read. It reminds me of my hometown province here in the Philippines which by the way I get to visit again after many years of working in the City. I’m excited and thrilled! 2021 is about to end and surely affected many people and has taken a toll to everyone. However, no matter how hard 2021 for so many people, it does left us valuable lessons, that is to appreciate people around us and life itself. Thank you for sharing this and I hope everything will get better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you found this an enjoyable read, Christopher. In which part of the Philippines is your hometown located? I’d love to go back to your country one day to explore more (I’ve only been to Manila). The past two years have definitely got us reevaluate our lives, and think of how to move forward in a post-pandemic world (which hopefully comes sooner than later).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was born and grew up in Roxas Capiz, Philippines (seafood capital). Then I moved to Manila to study high school and college and been living and working here since then. I hope you get to visit soon when every thing goes back to normal or at least when things get better. I still believe this pandemic will end soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahh, it’s on Panay. I remember when I was a kid I learned about Iloilo as the rice basket of the Philippines (or something that goes along the way). Let’s hope you’re right about the end of the pandemic!


  6. Despite all the challenges I’ve had in my work since the pandemic hit, nothing can compare to what you’ve gone through in the past 12 months. I really hope 2022 will be a much better year for you and your mom, and that your next job will be fulfilling and not too stressful. Although I wasn’t a fan of the pre-dawn departure from Jakarta, I’m glad you took us out of the city for some much-needed exercise back in September. All that greenery and the streams of crystal-clear water from the mountains made for a wonderful change from the concrete (and shocking pollution) we’re used to. Cisadon was a great warm-up before Papandayan the following month… hopefully we’ll have time to fit in one more hike before the end of the year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I surely hope so! I know you always hate leaving very early in the morning to visit places or do excursions, but that often paid off. A case in point: Karangasem in Bali (and also Nara). I was so happy to find out that the weather forecast for Cisadon was accurate so we could have those glorious blue skies throughout the hike. And I’m glad we did this before Papandayan!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mas Bama…my deep condolences for your losses. I hope after what happens in 2021, everything can go better in 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a year you’ve been through, Bama. Wow! I found I was holding my breath in certain parts of the narrative! I’m glad to hear that you realized it was important to take steps to take care of yourself, and my wish for you is definitely a gentler and kinder 2022. And may you find a job that will accommodate a slower pace, so that you can go on many more rejuvenating hikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I plan to spend the rest of the year just relaxing and doing things that keep me active — taking care of my houseplants, going out to exercise, doing some more hiking if possible, you know… stuff like that. I hope 2022 will be kinder to you too, Jolandi, and hopefully before you know it all things related to the bureaucracies of moving to Portugal will be sorted out completely so you can live peacefully.


      • Cheers to that, Bama. I trust we both will find a gentler 2022. It is wise of you to take time for yourself. Enjoy these slower moments of self-care and insight. My they be small blessings on your journey to the life of your dreams.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What an absolutely beautiful post Bama. Right from the heart. I feel your pain. While I didn’t have immediate losses like you, I did go through some very difficult family times. Last year was extremely hard. I too find nature as my cure. It gets hard where I live as it is beautiful but when winter comes, it is long and cold. It is harder to seek beauty and peace. Life is always too fast paced and the only beauty of last year was slowing down. But now we are rushing through life just the same and the pandemic is still here and in full swing.

    I hope you are finding some peace right now in life. I’ve found solace in my outdoor sports and activities. yet it isn’t always easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nicole. I remember what happened to your family last year when your husband and children got Covid. I’m glad everything went well in the end. I can imagine how cold it must be in where you live during winter! I also feel that life has (almost) gone back to normal, although people are still required to wear masks here. We had a really bad second wave a few months ago during which almost on a daily basis I saw friends and relatives announcing that someone they love had passed away because of Covid. But because of that, the vaccination rate in Jakarta is now very high (it’s pretty much equal to that of Singapore). I wish you and your loved ones a very nice and relaxing end of 2021!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I empathise with you on 2021 being worst than 2020. My dad also passed away in February from cancer. The months of Dec 2020 until Feb were the worst because of the deterioration of his condition, while we watched and couldn’t do much except wait for the inevitable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry for your loss, Edwin. It sounds like our fathers were struggling around the same time — the last time I could talk to him normally was in December 2020 and since then his conditions deteriorated fast.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. There is so much to digest here! First of all, thanks for the mention of my road trip and the post about it; getting outside in the past year has been a deep solace for me amid all the difficulties of the pandemic. You were so wise to listen to your heart and body in the last few months. You’ve borne so much emotionally, and not being able to get out and work off some of your stress was surely a factor in your hiking scare. Losing two family members is certainly a cruel blow amid everything else. I hope a new job search in 2022 turns up a perfect balance of job satisfaction and the ability to take care of yourself and have some FUN, too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you about how getting outside has helped many of us cope with the pandemic — it makes us stay sane! I try to always listen to my body because what’s the point of pushing so hard until our body breaks and everything we do abruptly stops. I think this break I’m taking does have a positive impact on my mental state and health, which will certainly help me think clearly when I’m looking for a new job in the near future. Thanks for the kind wishes, Lex. I hope 2022 will be better for you too! (I remember you’re working on your new book, aren’t you?)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for remembering about my book, Bama … it has been stop-and-start since summer when I had to throw myself into our daughter’s wedding planning. Now we have the holidays (more excuses, I know), but in January I plan to hole up alone in our little place in Colorado and try to get a whole edit and new draft done. We shall see … Hope your January is productive, too (in a healthy way)!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Congratulations on your daughter’s wedding, Lex! I hope you’ll have a relaxing yet productive time in Colorado next month.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so sorry about the loss of your father and uncle Bama. My condolences. It’s obviously been a really difficult time for you. Good for you for recognizing that you needed to take a break, and then having the courage to take it.
    I remember reading James’ account of this hike. It sounds, and looks, lovely – so lush and green, even if there are 4×4’s and motorbikes (which would drive me nuts I think).
    I hope your initial illness on the trail was just dehydration and nothing more serious.
    I hope you’re both well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was certainly not an easy decision, especially with the additional responsibilities I now have. But not taking a break didn’t sound right either. I think if we had done this hike on a weekday, we would probably have seen far less motorbikes on the trail. But of course since I was still working back then we only had the weekend to do this. Thanks Alison!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Looking back at the start of the year, we were very optimistic and happy to leave the hot mess that was 2020 behind us, but it turns out that was just a preview for what 2021 would be like. Sorry to hear about your father and uncle. It’s good that you were able to take a break from work and focus on your own health and wellness. I find it very soothing to spend time in nature. Looks like you went on a lovely hike. I love all the various types of fruits and flowers. Take care, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 2021 has been very challenging, but it’s also the year when I finally did things I had wanted to do for a long time, for example this hike. Thank you, Linda. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog and found some inspirations for my future adventures. I hope 2022 will be treating you better as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I cannot imagine the emotional toll of this past year on you Bama. My deepest condolences once again. So glad you are able to take time off to enjoy and heal in nature. And glad you could take your mother along on one of your outings. I do hope you got a thorough health check-up done after that scare.

    I love the gorgeous greens from your trek. Much as I envy my western friends their fall colours, it is the fields and palm trees of my childhood that I’ve been dreaming of. Have a road trip planned finally but the panic surrounding the new variant is giving me jitters. We have three state borders to cross and they’ve been changing regulations daily!

    Wishing you a happier new year Bama. And much good luck on the job front.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Madhu. Being out in nature does heal me in a way — I love it when I breathe in fresh air, when my eyes are treated to such a verdant landscape, and when my ears are exposed to the sound of the wind and animals.

      Speaking of palm trees, I’ve actually been thinking of going somewhere where I can see a lot of them. I hope you’ll get to experience that scene from your childhood again. The omicron variant is very concerning indeed, but I hope its effects won’t be as severe as the delta variant. About changing regulations daily, that sounds just like Indonesia! Although for the past few months we’ve been seeing less of this.

      Thanks again, Madhu, and I hope you’ll be able to travel more in the coming months.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. hcyip says:

    This looked like a fantastic hike with the lush greenery , volcano views, and the village at the end.
    2021 has been a very rough year especially due to the loved ones we both lost, and it’s understandable why you’d want to take a break. I really hope 2022 will be better though I’m not too optimistic. I’m glad that the situation in Indonesia seems to have improved a lot and let’s hope Omicron or whatever new variant doesn’t arrive in our respective countries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a nice hike, but I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I had done this in rainy season because the trail can get really muddy. Let’s hope 2022 won’t be such a rollercoaster for us as 2021 has been. And let’s hope that the vaccines people have got will be still be effective to deal with whatever new variants that may come.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hcyip says:

        Indeed, let’s hope there won’t be any more new variants and waves and that somehow the pandemic gets under control next year. It would be terrible if the same time next year, we were having a similar conversation as now.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I am sorry to hear about your challenging year. I certainly hope its nothing but uphill for you from here. Sending your sunshine from California. I always look forward to your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Bama,
    I’m sorry to hear about your father and your uncle, I can only imagine what this year must’ve been like for you after enduring the difficult year in 2020. I’m really glad you got to go out in nature and start hiking. Last year, I read an article about the benefits of nature as therapy for mental and emotional distress. I also started visiting new State parks in my area that I have never been before. The outdoors became my go-to places since the pandemic started in 2020. I wish you a Happy New Year full of health, peace and healing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Liz. I really hope 2022 will be kinder not only for me but also for all of us. If there’s one good thing coming out of this pandemic is that it has made a lot of us reconnect with nature, and remind us why it’s extremely important to have green spaces like this in and around the area where we live. Happy New Year to you too, Liz!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Sorry to hear you had a very challenging year, Bama. It sounded like one thing after another, and quitting your job seems like a very bold move – and seems like it is what you need right now. That incident at the start of the trail sounded so scary and good that you didn’t faint and could carry on. It seemed to parallel 2021 for you; many challenges and you have been at your breaking point, and you come out stronger.

    The Cisadon trail looks like such a refreshing trail to hike, especially with all that greenery around. Interesting to read that there is a small village in the area and they life off-grid remotely sans cellular reception – the simple life.

    So agree with your sentiments at the end. We often neglect our body and health, taking notice when something goes wrong. This year hasn’t been too bad for me but I’ve found myself in new situations that tested me. I’ve also learnt to take things slow and sometimes taking a different path is just what you need. Wishing you well this holiday season, Bama. Take care and all the best for 2022 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mabel. I’m currently in my hometown to spend some time with my mom. It’s nice to wind down and to take her out to eat and visit some new places. I hope I’ll come out stronger after everything that has happened this year. But for now I focus more on slowing down and getting healthier.

      It’s good that you managed to take things more slowly and walk down a different path, Mabel. Sometimes in life we have to embrace uncertainties although they might feel daunting at first. I hope 2022 will be even better for you too!


      • Yes, definitely focus on getting healthier, Bama. Things always seem slower when your physical or mental health needs attention. Take care of yourself and take things at your own pace 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  19. It looks like a challenging trip, Bama! The heat exhaustion could turn serious if you didn’t take a break. But I am glad that you could finish this hiking trail. The landscape is blissful. So green! Much needed for someone who wants to get away from the city. I am not good at cheering people up, but I do hope 2022 will be kinder to you 🙂 Wish you a happy and healthy holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should remember to do it slowly the next time I go hiking. Right now that trail I took in September must be really wet and muddy since we’re already in the middle of rainy season here. So I should wait until dry season arrives to plan something like this again. Thanks for your kind words, Len. Wishing you a nice and peaceful holiday too!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh Bama, what a year you’ve had! I’m so very sorry for the loss of your father and uncle.Their passing leaves a hole in your heart and life that can never be filled. I can absolutely relate because I nearly lost my baby sister in February and we’ve spent the year trying to deal with her illness. On top of that, trying to maintain your career and work during the pandemic adds additional stress. I hope that making a job change will help you recover from your annus horribilis. The analogy you draw between your hike and life is both excellent and insightful. I’m with you in expressing cautious optimism for the year ahead. As always, it’s a joy to read your posts – they’re a feast for the eyes and food for the brain. Wishing you all the very best, Terri

    Liked by 1 person

    • When it happened, all I could think of was just how surreal everything was. But over time, I began to acknowledge that there is indeed a hole in my heart. Oh I hope things are getting better for your sister, Terri. This has been a really tough year for both of us, so I hope that 2022 will be gentler. It’s good that you and James still managed to explore some parts of the US this past year. Thank you for your kind words, and happy holidays to both of you!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I am glad to read here in the comments how surrounded by love and support you are, Bama. I add my sadness that you lost your father and your uncle. The way you described the phone call from your mother really struck me and I can tell that it sticks with you. I wish healing for you. I lost my ex-husband, father of my only child, this year. Though we were divorced, we were friends and the loss is still so hard. So many of us around the world have lost people during these two anni horribilis. It looks like you have a little fire inside that keeps you optimistic, and gets you outside! I love all these photos and just looking at them is warming me up a little bit, as wet snow falls outside my window at this very moment. Your narrative voice is poetic and I appreciate your photos so much. If only we could trade places for a week and explore each others’ worlds. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m forever grateful to know that I was surrounded by love and support during and after those really tough times. I am so sorry for your loss, Crystal. Losing someone very close with us is never easy. I guess 2022 for both of us (and your child) is about learning to live in acceptance of our losses, as well as allowing good things to come our ways whatever they might be. Trading places for a week sounds like a really fun idea! 🙂 Always appreciate your kind words, Crystal. I really do.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m so sorry for your loss Bama. The passing away of a relative, not to talk of a parent, is heart-wrenching..
    I lost my dad in the summer of 2019, and I still haven’t got over it, so I know how you feel.

    I was happy to read your blog post though, because as travel bloggers in 2020 /2021, most of us lost our mojo, our readers, or both! Having said that, it was lovely to see how much nature there is in Jakarta.

    Like yourself, I haven’t really travelled abroad in the last 2 years except to Austria & England, but I spent a really large amount in the countryside practically every weekend, and I didn’t have to go far either, as much of it was about 30 minutes away.
    Who knew?!

    Happy New Year & Welcome Back!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Victoria. I share your grief. Sometimes it still feels surreal to realize that my dad is no longer with us, but I like to believe that my mom and I have been dealing with this loss relatively well, thanks to the people who support us and who are always be there when we need them.

      I do realize that travel blogging has been much quieter in the past two years. But I hope as people start traveling again (that is before Omicron came, of course), we’ll see more stories shared in the blogosphere. A few days ago I read somewhere that some people predict 2022 as the year when this pandemic ends. Let’s hope that is true.

      Glad you were able to travel a little further from your home. We all need a change of scenery after being restricted to where we live for an extended period of time.

      Happy New Year to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I am sorry for your losses and the hard year that 2021 was for you. But I am happy for you that in the end you pushed yourself to find joy in the outdoors. I wish you many more wonderful adventures in 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

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