📓 Entry #21 — New Netflix friend, Twitter-incidence and one of the most dangerous jobs

Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour
Published in
8 min readJun 2, 2018


June 1, 2018

Indonesia has been filled with so many special moments that I have wanted to share… but the wifi here has been a piece of work (meaning it sucks and I hate it!).

To avoid me being super frustrated trying to publish multiple posts... I made one to sum up three awesome things that happened to us while we’ve been here 😀

The Netflix Friend

Before we left on our little detour trip, I was already a fan of the Netflix documentary called Departures. It’s these two guys from Canada that go traveling for a year and turn their trip in it a multi-year/three season tv series.

Now a days, I watch an episode before we visit a country to inspire the trip and build some good excitement. So before coming to Indonesia we watched the respective episodes (there are two!) and followed Justin, Chris, and Andre as they move from Java Island to Bali exploring everything from traditional ceremonies to volcanos to a cricket fight — yes that’s a thing (there is much more, you should watch the episode!)

During their time here, they had a local showing them around named Oka who genuinely looked like the coolest guy. He loves Indonesia and introduced the guys to some incredible people and places.

So after the episode… Oli started googling Oka to see what he was up to these days and managed to find him online.

My grandpa was Indonesian and I really wanted to make our time here special so I thought life was too short not to reach out and ask Oka for coffee to learn more about the country.

Some how we totally lucked out. Oka responded and agreed to meet up with us! The next day we headed to a local restaurant and the waitress came up to us to say Oka would be joining us shortly. He pulled up and had us jump in the back of his car — and he took us for a full day around Bali. It was by far one of the most special days of our trip. 😊

Oka shared with us his family, his home, incredible food and drinks. We spent the day talking about everything from local history and traditions to various philosophical perspectives and personal stories. Then ended up next to a volcano for a cup of coffee with his wife and son.

Both Oli and I left at the end of the day and couldn’t believe how lucky we were to spend this time with him (and how generous he was in sharing with us) but also our stomachs and minds were filled with great food and food for thought. Oka has some incredible initiatives locally in Bali, if you are looking for great food, unique places to stay or a creative hub to get work done, he has just the place for you. 🙌

Here are our pictures from Ubud.

ps. Oka if you ever read this — thanks for being a highlight of our year!🙋‍♀️

A Twitter-incidence

After a week of scuba diving in Gili T, we left our friend Mark CW to become a Dive Master and made way by boat over to Lombok, Bali’s sister island.

We didn’t know what to expect in Lombok, mainly because we had only booked a place to stay.. and not what there was to do. But we arrived at our homestay and food poisoning had taken over my body from the previous night and had me laying on the bathroom floor most of our first few nights.

Lombok isn’t as developed as Bali, but you can tell they are well on their way to making it a tourist hotspot with trendy restaurants and stores popping up all along the streets. But as things came around, we made our way down to Kuta beach and rented a scooter to explore the island.

The crazy thing was every beach was the most beautiful beach I had ever seen and there was hardly any people visiting it! (seriously, like the most people at one beach was 10).

So on our third day we went to a beach that had a large rock formation to climb. We climbed up and started watching all the aspiring surfers catching waves in the shallows when a man came over to us and commented on how beautiful the view was.

It was hard not to agree 😀 We started chatting on the top of this rock, in the middle of no where and got to know each other. Marc is a French guy who lives in San Francisco and works in tech so we had lots of things in common to chat about. But things got super random when we learned that we have a few awesome friends in common both in Montreal and San Francisco!

It seemed too random to be true and we ended up spending the rest of the day with him. He also did a round the world trip in 9 months and we got to enjoy some normal life conversations which we haven’t had the chance to do in a while. We became fast friends and are already looking to possibly meeting up again when he heads back to France this summer since we’re starting our euro trip next week!

More pictures from Lombok

ps. Marc! If you read this.. thanks for saying hi! This chance coincidence was awesome and we look forward to seeing you in Europe, San Francisco or heck.. another random rock somewhere else in the world! 🌎

One of the most dangerous jobs

Oli and I really wanted to hike the volcano Rinjani while we were in Lombok, but our athletic abilities these days are minimal due to hot weather = not a lot of activity above water.

But a friend of Oli’s recommended a company that does a multi-day road trip to visit a few noteworthy active volcanos on the island of Java. Flights were cheap ($40) so we thought it may be a good way to see another island and get some easy hiking in. They all start at 1–3am in the morning to watch the sun rise.

We flew to Surabaya where our driver Budi picked us up with some local snacks and we drove 4 hours to our first destination — Mount Bromo.

As we drove up the mountain to our hotel, the clouds were thick and low making it impossible to see any incoming traffic on the tiny road as we drove through the villages. We went to sleep at 7pm to be up at 3am to start our ascent to King Kong Mountain, from where we would watch the sun rise on Mount Bromo, hoping that the clouds would pass so we could get a good view of the active volcano.

Mount Bromo (Also seen in Departures!)

The site was beautiful and the ride down from the villages in the clouds was stunning — farmers growing all sorts of vegetables and fruits in the cooler climates and living at over 2,000 meters of altitude.

But the next day, rather… night was one I don’t think I will ever forget. We had the chance to climb the active volcano called Mount Ijen.

This place became famous in the last 10–15 years due to a few documentaries that came out about it — one being BBC’s Human Planet.

What makes Mount Ijen so unique is that it is a sulphur mine and local miners climb into the mouth of the volcano to mine sulphur in unbelievable conditions ie: clouds of toxic gas, heat vents & blue flames warming to more than 600 degrees, beside the world’s most acidic lake with a pH of 0.5, and all without no safety equipment.

Me with the gas mask and miner pulling out sulphur

Sulphur is used in a ton of things, ranging from make up, shampoo, conditioner, matches and even sugar. These miners risk and cut years of their lives off every day they go to work. Once they have successfully mined some sulphur, they will put it into baskets and carry 75–150kg on their back all the way up the mountain and down to the local buyer who pays them less than 20 cents a kg for their effort.

We woke up at 1am in the morning and drove two hours to the gate opening. Our driver played Céline Dion’s greatest hits the whole way through. We hiked to the top and arrived around 4:00am which allowed us to see the volcano spit blue flames through the heat vents and behind the constant flow of toxic gas clouds [Note: you can only see the blue flames at night because the colour pigment fades when the sun comes outs].

We sat there with our gas masks (it smelled terrible!) and watched the men work mining the sulphur and weaving their way in between the blue flames. Our guide who took us to the top actually used to be a miner himself but because of the new interest from tourism, he was able to quit mining and make money bringing tourists up and down the volcano (and probably preserving years of his life!).

I don’t think I will ever forget this hike, or the trip driving through each village and area to get to our hiking destinations.

We got back to our driver around 6:30am and drove back to coast where we took a boat back to Bali to do some final diving and try to find Manta Rays before our flight on Wednesday.

So three long stories short… we loved Indonesia and will definitely be back to explore more. ❤

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫



Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour

Hi! 🙋 I'm a tall, homeschooled, well traveled, terrible speller, who loves ice cream, building things and can be hilarious at times 👉 www.maeghansmulders.com