The first two times I travelled outside of the United States were trips to Indonesia. I would stay with a beloved friend who was living and working there for a year, in a suburb an hour away from Jakarta. For a month, I received an inside glimpse into the lovely town and nearby regions. I fell in love with the country, and it sparked my interest in travelling as much as I can. Seven years after that initial trip, I finally returned to Indonesia, as shown in these photos.

During this third trip, I visited Lombok and the nearby Gili Islands — where I spent New Years Eve. Months prior, fellow backpackers had recommended hiking Mt. Rinjani, a volcano which resides in Lombok. I wasn’t planning on hiking it, so I hadn’t researched the details. However, during my last few nights in Lombok, my plans changed, so I decided last-minute to start the hike the following morning. It would end up being one of the most rewarding and exciting hikes I’ve ever done, in part because I had no clue what to expect: from the 2-day duration, the weather, the difficulty, or the necessary waking up at 1:30am in order to reach summit by sunrise.

The volcano had erupted just 3 days prior to the hike, and a few years later, in 2018, Lombok was sadly affected by devastating earthquakes. My heart goes out to this region and everyone who lives there.