Batu paragliding: My life as a Darmasiswa scholar in Malang, Indonesia

September, 2014. The bottomless pit of heartbreak and the high, limitless skies. Dizzying jet lag and altitude change. Intense pain and adrenaline. A Batu paragliding day trip is definitely not what my ailing body and mind were expecting.

paragliding in Batu, Malang, Indonesia

flying over Batu, Malang, Indonesia

My long-time boyfriend had broken up with me and told me to never speak to him again 2 days earlier. I was still jetlagged from flying all the way from Tampa, Florida to Malang, Indonesia that same week. Back-to-back fibromyalgia flareups were drilling me with unrelenting chronic pain. Going up the mountain on the rickety van further intensified the lightheadedness and nausea I was experiencing from both the altitude swings and the dramatic 12-hour time zone change.

“Batu Paragliding: one of the best things to do in Malang! Want to do it?!”


We Darmasiswa scholars were told one of our first local East Java day trips was going to be a relaxing getaway to the rural Kota Batu. This mountainside resort in the Malang regency is a popular destination for agri-tourism and promised to be a refreshing break from the scalding hot Malang City center, where our study abroad university was located.

Mountainside villages! Lots of greenery! Fresh air! It’s going to be great!

The rickety van, outfitted with ill-padded benches (instead of seats) and sans-safety belts, should have been the first sign.

I’m tiny, okay?! I have always been under 120 pounds. 5’4″ at most. Throw me into a tiny bench, no seatbelt, up winding roads with no barricades is nerve-racking on a good day. Let alone while trying to get over a heartbreak, jet lag, fibromyalgia chronic pain, altitude sickness, motion illness, and now culture shock…

I kept banging my head against the roof and being thrown from side to side to the amusement of my classmates. They created a human shield for me and everything (at least they had a heart).

Then you tell me you want to take me paragliding in Batu?

I thought we were going to have a picnic on top of the roof of a villager’s house while looking at the stunning rolling hills, rice paddies, and fog. We did that under the stars in an oasis in the middle of the desert when I was studying abroad in Egypt and that’s cool. What’s totally not cool is all the aforementioned circumstances, including the scary little van, with the fog, mixed with extreme sports now.

Let’s do it. Let’s f***ing go Batu paragliding, biatches.

Think of the van as a torturing machine that slowly broke me down until I had no choice but to succumb to my death. “This is a pretty badass way to go,” I rationed. “Jumping off a mountain as if I were an X-gamer somewhere exotic and gorgeous.”

Morale of my day paragliding in Batu:

it isn’t about the fall, but whether you get UP

That Batu paragliding day trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I’m so happy I just got tired of having such a tough first week in Indonesia that I simply went for it. I finally made the decision to stop beating myself up for everything that had gone wrong lately. In the process, I learned that fear and adrenaline are what we need sometimes to move forward.

We can be pretty damn dramatic after we just had our heart broken. And after an episode of fibromyalgia. And after jet lag. And motion sickness. And and and. We always seem to come up with excuses: some more valid than others. Regardless, instead of focusing so much on the fall, we should look up instead of down. Scheming getting up instead of pitying being down.

The fall is all about how you get up. Learn from your mistake, but don’t beat yourself up so much for it. Don’t waste time crying over spilled milk.Focus your attention on how to move forward.

PS. People have asked me what paragliding feels like…

Feels like a pretty damn good punch in the stomach at first. But afterwards? It’s like you died and came back to life. A huge pump of fresh air pushed into your lungs. Like CPR for your mind, for your heart. Just what I needed to start my year studying in Indonesia with the right mindset.

One more tip: you can also go zip lining down  “flying fox” for about US $2.00!

zip lining and paragliding in Batu

Batu paragliding details:

Cost: 300,000 Indonesian rupiah as of 2015

Transportation: either private taxi or hire a van and divide the cost between a couple of students.

Darmasiswa students note: ask your program contact whether this Malang day trip is included as one of your activities from UMM or other colleges from Kota Malang!

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Paragliding in Malang, Indonesia

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About Maria Alexandra

Maria Laborde, aka latinAbroad, is an open-minded, highly-energetic woman with the spirit of a child. A world citizen, Puerto Rican at heart, carrier of an American passport. A passionate translator and writer, sprinkling Latin spice around the world!

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