It was almost 12 at night when we decided to go trekking on Pulau Sempu. I didn’t know if this was going to be a good idea, but after staying up all the night before to watch the sunrise over Bromo I was too exhausted to think much about it. All I knew was that if it rained the next morning our trip was going to be a disaster. I drifted off to sleep, thankful that I had at least planned how to get to Pulau Sempu.
Despite the fact that we had to get up early, the day started off pretty well and by 8:30 we were on the road. Getting to Pulau Sempu, was going to be no easy task though; from Malang, where we stayed the night, it would still be a two hour drive to the beach, a fifteen minute boat ride to the island and if we were really lucky a 45-minute walk to the beautiful lagoon overlooking the Indian Ocean. We set off in high spirits with the sun on our backs. Following some beautiful small roads that twisted and turned up and down the tree covered countryside we arrived at the port.
It was at this point things started to go wrong; I just didn’t know it yet. Cocooned in my ignorance I happily went to the small restaurant and ordered fresh BBQ fish for two people to take away. My stomach rumbling and my mouth salivating I wandered off to take some photos of the port. By the time I came back 20 minutes later the food was still no way near arriving and I learnt that it had rained heavily that morning and the paths on Pulau Sempu would be a muddy mess. What’s more instead of food for two the cook had decided I had actually wanted fish for five. We were short of time and I was low on patience. When my guide offered me trainers for the walk, my stubbornness got the better of me and I refused.
After a long wait the food arrived and we practically ran to the boat to Pulau Sempu. When we got there I realised how much of an idiot I’d been to refuse the shoes. The path was seriously muddy (imagine a wet festival and you get an idea of how much mud we’re talking about). Within 20 seconds of getting off the boat I realised walking with my sandals was not an option. The only thing I could do was walk barefoot. I spent the next hour and a half slipping, sliding and cutting my feet up along the muddy paths of Pulau Sempu. By the time I arrived at the lagoon I was covered in mud and completely exhausted, but it had all been worth it. The view of the lagoon was simply amazing.
We stayed just long enough to explore the lagoon, have a swim, do some snorkeling (nowhere near as good as diving in Raja Ampat) and eat some food before we had to turn around and walk all the way back. By the time I had finished I was an injured mess and my legs were sore, but I was happy. What’s more we later learnt that due to volcanic activity, Ijen craters had been closed. Going to Pulau Sempu turned out to be the right decision after all!