Indonesia – the country with the greatest number and density of active volcanoes.
In 2011 me and a friend traveled to Indonesia for the first time. When you love volcanoes, you just have to visit this country with over 147 active volcanoes. We did so. Travel around and climb some of the most impressive ones on Java. It all started in Jakarta of course, well not really. We fly to Yogya straight away.
Yogyakarta, large city in the center of Java. A nice place to start. Busy, but not too busy and good food! Oh ja, I love Indonesian food and what a place to start eating. Garlic cashew nuts, sateh, you name it. We even wandered for hours to find a specially recommended restaurant nobody knew. I have no idea how it was called anymore, but the food was great! Yogya is starting point for excursions to Unesco World Heritage Site Borobudur. A famous buddhistic temple compound dating back to the 8th and 9th century. I had seen many pictures, but nothing could prepare me for the real thing. What an amazing building, so beautiful, so big and so many Buddhas. 72 In total, each in its own stupa. How did they build this so many hundreds years ago? Next stop Prambanan. Again a very large tempel compound, with 240 temples, this time dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Again very impressive with beautiful reliefs carved in the stone walls.
We travel in luxury this time, we have our own driver called Janto. Nice guy, speaking some Dutch and taking us to the local food shops. No massive tourist traps, just having some food in the small stalls, sitting on the floor, eating with the hands. And most of all, meeting lovely people. He also takes us to Chandi Sukuh, a Javanese-Hindu tempel with a very distinctive theme, sexual education. Hope this is not a hint…
The next day we hike through the countryside close to Solo, to the Jumog waterfall. It is warm and humid, but the surroundings are overwhelming. We pass some villages (selamat pagi), see padis, have some food and need to escape from the macaque monkeys. They try to steal food and valuables. Luckily we survive and proceed East, in the direction of Malang. We pass many, many vehicles. Some are nice, some weird, we even spot motorbikes with 4 people on them and vans with extremely strange loads. Everything is used until and beyond the limits it is supposed to be used for. Amazing. In Malang we stay in a very sweet hostal in the ‘tempo doeloe’ style (time of the past). Lovely people, lovely place in a lovely town with lovely food. But most of all, gateway to a volcanic interesting area… Bromo!
Still very active, a big eruption happened in January 2011 which was only 9 months sgo. This area is heaven for volcano lovers! We arrive in the afternoon and decide to hike down into the ‘Tenger Sea of Sand’, an extinct crater in which mount Bromo has emerged. We are picked up by some biker boys, who race us to the crater. We hike up and have the volcano to ourselves. It is simply magnificent. A smoking crater, with three more coneshaped volcanoes surrounding us. Impressive and etched in our memory forever due to the silence and the beautiful pink/purple/orange/red sunset we witness that evening. The next morning we rise early for the almost as beautiful sunrise, which was a bit crowdy though. We hike up again and still like it, but it cannot suroass the evening before.
We proceed East, passing Papuma beach for a lovely, very non-touristic lunch. A few metres away a large monitor lizard is eating the remains of our fish. Destination is Kawa Ijen volcano, another highlight on this trip, positive and negative. Positive, because it is a very, very nice volcano complex. We hike up, have a great view on the crater with its bluish lake, and go down in the crater to have a look at the sulfur mining activities. It is sad to see all these poor people carrying about 80kgs of sulfur blocks out of the crater. They do this up to twice a day while inhaling the toxic fumes. They usually do not live longer than about 40 years. All for our western cosmetic industry. Knowing this, they are surprisingly friendly. Challenging us to carry their loads and in the end saving us from being sulfurized. Just when the wind changed, a large sulfur cloud is covering us. Luckily these guys help us escape. We leave the crater in a hurry and decide to enjoy lunch on the rim, just enjoying the view.
We keep on going East and take the ferry to Bali. We immediately arrive in another world. Java is mainly islamic and Bali Hindu. We see all kinds of small and big temple complexes, with the colourful flower offers and people in yellow and white clothing. This is where our drivers leaves us. It is up to me to drive us around from here. I learned from the best, so we manage to always get where we want to go, albeit once or twice with a detour ;-). We visit the Pura Besakih temple complex, pass many, many rice paddies and sleep in a room with a view… on the Batur volcano. How beautiful is that!
We end our Bali tour at Sanur beach, the quiet beach ‘opposite’ of the famous Kuta beach and visit Ulu Watu, the temple with the monkeys. We fly back to Jakarta, for one last day of culture. A nice stroll around the former Dutch East Indies trading quarter, once called ‘Batavia’, and a visit to the Wayang museum finishes my first fabulous trip to Indonesia…
Terima kasih dan sampai waktu berikutnya.