Why is there no one here?

Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
Trip End Apr 16, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Friday, November 26, 2010

Once again it has been a little while since the last blog..... oh well.... what can we say? Not much we know.

So where were we? Ah yes, Mulu. So having decided that we have seen enough jungle for time being, we headed back to the airport to catch the first of our 3 separate flights that were required to get us from the Jungle and onto the next destination: Indonesia and more specifically Jakarta. We had not heard great things about Jakarta and were running out of time before our next fixed date of our flight to Perth from Bali. So we were just staying one very short night and then heading out on the train the next day. Our choice of hostels, however, proved to be a mistake as on the train the next morning several large welts that were recognised from experience as bed bug bites emerged on Gordon's back and arms. Ah, yet again, the glamours of travel.

We arrived in our next destination Yogyakarta a little itchy and were quite confused that the tourist areas of town were completely devoid of people as we had heard that it was quite a tourist destination. Then we saw some people sweeping ash out of the streets and dredging the river for ash. Apparently the town had only just opened up again after a bout of eruption by the nearby Merapi volcano; lucky timing! This also meant that the nearby temples were closed as they were still covered in ash which gave us the perfect excuse not to see them and to sit by the hotel pool for a day instead.

Having ditched the temples our next plan was to book a tour we had heard about that would take us across Java via the two other volcanoes, Bromo and Ijen and drop us at the boat to Bali. As we were walking through town looking for a travel agency though we caught sight of the front of the local paper which was completely taken up with a picture of Bromo volcano spewing copious amounts of black ash into the sky! Indonesia must be the most disaster prone place in the world........ floods, earthquakes, tidal  waves, volcanoes... they have it all, and all the time. You feel really safe there.

Not put off by this we continues on around the rather empty tourist agencies trying to find some way of getting across Java that didn’t involve 48 hours on a 3rd class train but they all seemed to find our request quite strange: "No but the volcano is erupting", “Yes we know, that’s the point: we want to see it”. Finally, we found someone willing to take us and went off on a 72 hour minibus-athon with 4 french guys taking in half the rather large & crowded island of Java (there are 125 million people on it and it’s not much bigger than England) and, of course, the 2 volcanoes.

We arrived at Bromo in the dark having spent most of the day driving through pouring rain and were therefore not that hopeful of good weather went we clawed ourselves out of bed into the still-dark morning at 4am to go up to the viewpoint.   However, as we walked up the hill a massive tall plume of smoke became visible gushing furiously out of the crater... and soon it became apparent that we had lucked out with a sunny morning. The views of the volcano were incredible and the fact that we actually got to watch it erupting more than made up for the fact that we couldn’t get that close; we spent literally hours there staring vacantly. Finally, it was time to head off and continue our journey to the even more remote Ijen volcano.

The itinerary for the day was to, once again, get out of bed at silly o’clock (tough life this we know), drive to the base of the volcano and then walk up the volcano. This time the walk was to the crater itself through the jungle and accompanied by several dozen men carrying empty baskets up the mountain where they would go down into the crater into the sulphur mines and do the return trip with their baskets full of massive, heavy, bright yellow blocks of sulphur; that would not be a fun life.

Unfortunately, we did not luck out with the weather twice as the summit was mostly shrowded in cloud compounded by the smoke and steam coming out of the crater. Still, it was fun to walk right up and into the crater (ignoring the sign- forbidden? Says who? They don’t mean us) and then around the edge of it, staring down towards the bright blue crater lake whenever the clouds cleared for a minute or two.

Then it was back into the minibus that felt a bit like a 2nd home for a bone-crunching several hour journey down a steep and bumpy track towards the coast and the boat for Bali.
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