Sightseeing in a surgical mask

Trip Start Sep 10, 2010
Trip End Feb 19, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta,
Friday, October 29, 2010

For years we have all experienced natural disasters as TV footage when sitting in our lounge and perhaps thinking “there but for the grace of god go I.“ In the last week there has been a terrible Tsunami on the island next to where we are now and they are now reporting 1,000+ dead or missing, and just 20km away the volcano (Gunung Merapi) is doing its best to interrupt and in some cases destroy the lives of the people living nearby. We had never really met Indonesian people prior to this trip, and we are so pleased to have encountered such helpful, smiling, strong and truly delightful people. It’s very sad to see such people suffering so much. By that, I don’t of course mean that people who are less delightful, such as the Belgians, ought to be wiped out by a Tsunami, that would be rather unfair and would require a longer discussion than is possible in a travel blog before arranging for the disaster to strike - we’d need to think more deeply before obliterating Belgium I think.

Anyway, the Tsunami and Volcano seem very real to us today and it is quite incredible how resilient the locals are - they are getting on with life and its as if nothing odd is happening, even though we are all walking around in surgical masks, covered head to toe in volcanic ash and with people dashing around the streets splashing water everywhere to keep the dust levels down.

Due to the level of ash, up to 2 meters high in some places, many of the tourists sights are closed and we are not allowed to visit Borobudur which is the main reason for us visiting the region. Its possible to get within a few kilometres and perhaps we could see it from a distance, but the road would take us through an area controlled by the army these days and we are told it’s unlikely they will let us pass through. The temple is the largest monument in the southern hemisphere; it’s a set of multi layered Buddhist stupas that lie at the end of a 4km stretch of temples. If the volcano calms we may be allowed close in the coming days, but so far today there have already been several violent eruptions sending clouds of ash over and down on the city - we can see the clouds approaching from our balcony - so its pretty unlikely we will get there.

We will instead go to a Hindu temple complex (Prambanan) tomorrow which remains open for the time being, and many books say this rivals Borobudur, so we are not too disappointed - it’s not like we can do much about an exploding Volcano.

Tonight we are off to see the Ramayana Ballet - we thought it was just round the corner but according to the travel book its 20km away and we were meant to buy tickets in advance - hey ho, that’s what we get for not reading the books before arriving. Anyway, we don’t care, we will get a taxi there and try to get in to see the show. We have no idea what the ballet is about, though we suspect it is not traditional ballet and more some form of Indonesian dance, but we will tell you more tomorrow, if we get in and the Volcano doesn’t cover us completely in dust.

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Nancy on

Been happy to see your posts and you well being. Stay safe and keep the posts coming highly entertaining and living through your stories!!! N

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