From Two to Family Auto Venture to Qigong Group Retreat. The idea of a qigong retreat during this auto venture was not planned for. When Neo Chian and I decided to cover the other 30 days in slightly different ways , because Patrice was unable to make it to the Nusa Tenggara islands , I broach the idea of a qigong retreat to my Botanical garden wednesday class over the phone. Within 2 days, David and Nancy , Gek Hoon and daughter Samantha booked their flight tickets to Surabaya. The 5 days 4 nights retreat was to cover Surabaya, Malang and Probolingo and 2 mountain resorts - Pacet and Mt Bromo.
On mon 30 Nov, the 4 members from Singapore took their 2.5 hours flight to Surabaya, while Michelle, Patrice, Connie and myself took a 5 hour train ride from Solo to link up with them. Preparations for car rentals and accommodations were efficiently coordinated by Connie , Michelle's youngest sister. The link up went off without a hitch and with a budget of 4,500,000 rp each it was enough to have proper accomodation, lavish meals and snacks, jeep rides, horse rides and a little shopping. Exchanged rate provided by Moesa, Connie's relative, was most appreciative at 6850 rp to a S$.
Solo Train Station is small but clean and organised. Our worries of too many luggages to lug along was of no concern. Porters were waiting at the entrances and upon our arrival were ever ready to provide their services at just 20,000rp / porter. The 100,000 rp train ticket was in a air - con coach with comfortable reclining seats . Catering services were on board throughout the 5 hours journey . During stops there were hawkers coming on board the train to sell their goodies, food and drinks.
From Solo to Surabaya ,the train ride made several stops and passing thru Madiun and Jombang , the two intermediate main towns. Throughout the 5 hours ride, my impression of Java was vastly one of envy. Contrary to my original perception because of what I saw in Kalimantan , I saw miles and miles of connective padi chains between one kampong to another. In between , sporadic bananas plantation and vegetable plots can be seen. Kudos to Central Java, I believe they should be more than self supportive where rice is concerned.
On arrival at Surabaya train station and on our way to the airport to receive the Singapore group, we saw this outstanding mosque. For the last 50 days of my auto venture, I actually saw so many beautiful mosques along the way. The designs were unique to each of the provinces and the colors erased my impression that mosques were simply white and beige. I hope to compile all the pictures I have taken at the end of my auto venture and post them for all to view.
PACET - Santa Maria Convent. Located at mid way Mt Permang Gurgan, just off Mojokerto, 2 hours away from Surabaya, this Convent is a retreat center patronised by many. Mt Perman Gurgan 1655m high is easily accessable ,and cool enough to warrant a sweater in the evening. Behind this little mount stands Mountanous ranges that makes travel around it interesting and heart pounding when we drove along the steep winding cliff the following day.
After we link up at Surabaya and had our lunch at Bing Bing 's restaurant at about 4pm, we then proceeded seperately to buy some bread , groceries and exchanged our Singapore dollar at rate of 6,850 rp / S$. With the office crowd finishing their day, the traffic caused a good 2 hour delay . David and Nancy was with me at a roadside shophouse called " Warong " having our dinner while Michelle, Gek Hoon, Connie, Samanta and Patrice were ahead of us. Movement to our retreat center at PACET, a mountainous retreat in Santa Maria Convent. As it was dark, we didn't get to see much except for our rooms and the dining hall.
Patrice doing her cart wheel