Busy, exhausting days and poor access to WIFI have meant a couple of days missed from the blog. Wednesday we spent much of the day at the Centre for International Forestry Research - an international research base for scientists from around the world investigating the impact of forestry practices, climate change and impacts on the sustainability of our world. It was wonderful to be out of the pollution haze of Jakarta. Jakarta is such a huge sprawling city full of the usual Asian contradicitions; poverty of the most extreme kind butted up against the trappings of huge wealth. After the research centre it was a five hour bus trip to Bandu a beautiful city in the highlands of Java - the local Javanese use this as a weekend retreat. Despite this, it is another teeming throng of people, traffic like you would never believe (we sat at a red light for half an hour!). Classic challenges met us when we checked in to our hotel; the power wouldn't work and after an hour of at least ten people trying to get it going it worked, but that meant that we couldn't turn the lights off, well, at least when we turned the switch off, some of them went off and when we turned the switch on, some others went off and new ones came on!
Yesterday was another huge day of travelling around the local area, known as the ring of fire, due to the large number of (active) volcanoes in the area. Two of Indonesia's foremost geologists and volcanologists joined us, along with Professor Colin Brown from Griffith Uni in Brisband who lectures six months of the year at Bandung University. We travelled to a national park where we explored a cave used by the Dutch as an ammunition store during the War and then also used by the Japanese. From there we travelled to an active volcano Kawah Putih. We had to trek through a dense tropical jungle and down into the volcano crater. The smell of sulphur was overwhelming as we climbed down the side of the mountain. What met us was incredible. A crater smoking hot steam from the earth below, and pools of water, so hot, we were able to boil eggs in it! From there we travelled to view the tracking centre which monitors volcanic activity in the area.
This morning we head to the university where we will work with Professor Colin and his students studying International Relations for the day. This evening we catch the train to Jogjakarta - a long trip across mountainous terrain that will take about seven hours.
My colleagues from other parts of Australia are a wonderful team and already we have become firm friends. There are young educators, some in their early 20's and then others across the full age spectrum. We continue to comment on how privileged we are to be part of this experience.
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