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Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Monday, December 24, 2018

Experiencing PT KA's Priority Train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta

The region of Yogyakarta is the jump-off to popular attractions, Borobudur and Prambanan temples. One of the most convenient though lengthy way to get there is by taking the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta. The  8-hour journey maybe long but once you get to the countryside, you can enjoy an enlivening scenery of vast farmlands and mountains. 

Related Post : Visiting the Borobudur Temple Compounds

The PT Kereta Api Wisata's (KA) Priority train are private carriages attached towards the back of the train. It's open to tour groups who reserve the entire cart and is similar to the one taken by the president and his staff  when traveling to other provinces.

From Hotel Aryaduta, where we spent the night,  we headed to Gambir station, one of the major stations in Central Jakarta. Since the hotel's only 1.1 KM away, we got to the station  quite early for the 8:30 AM trip.  While waiting for the train, we stayed at the VIP lounge where there's free flowing coffee and water.
All smiles before boarding the train, my longest train ride to date!
(Photo from Nuri/Rizky)
Though I normally prefer solo trips, this being my first trip to Indonesia, I'm thankful that someone else organized eveything. On this fam trip to Yogyakarta, I joined fellow bloggers, Gretchen, Melo & Aisa, Michelle from Cebu Pacific, Ailene and Zarah from Stratworks, Gama from the Indonesian embassy in Manila, our wonderful  hosts in Indonesia who have really cool Instagram feeds - Nuri, Rizky and madam.
Inside the Priority Train to Yogyakarta 
Going in, we were warmly welcomed by two well-dressed staff. They look so polished in their navy blue uniforms, it felt like I was taking a private plane. 

After stowing our luggage in another room, we quickly  got acquainted to what was going to be our nest for the long travel to Yogyakarta. The elegant main room, which had two long couches on opposite sides and snacks on the side tables looks like a hotel lobby.
Mini theatre
Aside from having a swanky mini theatre, there's a bigger, 52-inch tv in the main area. Here, you can enjoy some movies or sing your heart out with the videoke.  

Our carriage had no individual seats, making it very tricky to take a nap. What kept me preoccupied throughout the course of the trip, was chatting and laughing away with blogger friends and of course - the complimentary food! There were snacks everywhere on the train, along with endless cups of coffee, tea or juice. A delicious, warm lunch was also served, buffet stye. 

I also sneaked in some social media time through our Flytpack which offered good wifi connection during our trip.
refreshing views on our way to Yogyakarta

(Travel Tip if your traveling solo:  Discover Your Indonesia offers a very helpful blog post on traveling from Jakarta to Indonesia by train.)

At the dining area of our carriage
A spacious bathroom, perhaps, quite bigger than your average train bathroom is also in the car, making the experience more comfortable.

After 8 hours, with all these conveniences onboard, we arrived with our sanities intact at Yogyakarta, where we explored several temples, resorts and ruins. I'll be positing about that next. :) 

Travel Tip : 
- Indonesia has type C sockets.  Bring a travel adaptor to charge your gadgets. If you, forgot, you can try asking the hotel reception or make use of the USB slots on the television and just keep it on standby mode. It takes a bit of effort to locate the slot but at least you can charge. Hehe!

- Indonesia's currency is Rupiah (IDR), where 1 USD is 14,555.16 IDR. The conversion can be dizzying, so downloading an app that you can use offline to check conversion rates is helpful. My friend Gretchen  recommended XE Currency and I found it quite useful when we shopped for souvenirs. 

Accommodation in Jakarta : 
Hotel Aryaduta Jakarta is a 4-star hotel, located 1.1 KM from Gambir station, where we took a train to Yogyakarta.  You can book it here, through Agoda.

Note : This trip was made possible by Cebu Pacific through their PR agency, Stratworks and the Ministry Tourism of Indonesia. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Hiking at Masungi Georeserve's Legacy Trail

I've been busy adjusting to a new job that I'm unable to hike as frequently as before (I used to hike 1-2 times a month), so I was really happy when my friend Celine invited me, to visit a new trail in Rizal. We were also joined by two other friends, Kara and Ferdz, giving us a chance to catch up! :) 

Our group was led by Ann Dumanglas, an inspiring, young lady (I feel old saying that, haha!) and one of the family members behind Masungi Georeserve. Opened in June, the Legacy Trail offers a moderately challenging approach to enjoying the mountain scenery of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Easy to  reach from Manila, it makes a convenient escape from the city. Commuting from Cubao only took 1.5 hours on an early Saturday morning. 
This was near the start of the trail, a nice warm-up on a steep set of stairs that got me sweating instantly :P
The hike starts at KM 46 of Marcos Highway, just a few minutes from the Masungi Georeserve gate at KM 47. From here, it's a  sweaty stair climb up! 

Though I prefer walking on natural trails as it's less stressful to the knees, having an established concrete path prevents hikers from creating new ones, a more sustainable option for highly visited trails. 
Passing by this nice bamboo tree area near the jump-off. 
The route goes around a reforestation site, a section denuded by logging and kaingin activities. With the enormous efforts by the Masungi Georeserve team, the forest has started to come alive again with new plants and trees.  We were surrounded with fresh life and once again, nature had given me some energy that I didn't have going into this hike. I had finished work so late the night before that I only managed an hour of sleep. My heart was beating pretty fast so I really took it slow. 

The Masungi team built some nice rest areas along the way, incorporating it wonderfully with nature. As we were also  joined by the Ann Dumanglas, one of the 
Celine Reyes of Celineism and hubby, Dennis Murillo, XOXO
After two hours of hiking, we reached the tree planting site and this is where we understood how the trail got its name.  By planting more trees and nurturing it, the Legacy trail is a gift of our current generation to the next. :)  

We were oriented on how to properly plant the seedlings to increase its charge of survival. There's a lot of effort involved - removing the surrounding weeds to ensure the plant receives enough nutrients, digging up the soil and putting it all back. Two seedlings under the sun and I was tired. I admire the people who take care of the entire site. It's a tough but valiant job.

After tree planting, we headed to the best part of the trip - an outdoor lunch and siesta at the floating huts! 
Photo from Ferdz of ironwulf.net

Here's some travel info if you want to hike and help in their reforestation efforts : 
To book a slot, go to the Masungi Georeserve website here.
Trail group is 7-14 people. 
Fee is 1,000 Pesos/head, inclusive of guide, set lunch (Notes: To minimize garbage, bringing of outside food apart from trail snacks is not allowed. Bring your own water and change of clothes.)

Masungi Georeserve
Garden Cottages, Kilometer 47 Marcos Highway, 
Baras, Rizal, Philippines, 1970 
E-mail Address: trail@masungigeoreserve.com 
Contact Numbers: +63 (929) 13 23 531, +63 (995) 186 99 11 

(Available from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Mondays - Saturdays)

Related Blog:
Ironwulf | Masungi Georeserve Legacy Trail: Into the Heart of Conservation

Masungi Georeserve also offers a unique experience on night hiking. Check out : 
EAZYTraveler | 7 Amazing Reasons to Experience Masungi Georeserve's Night Trail

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