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Published: September 2nd 2013
Bright and early in Lampung
Just got off the very, time to find the fishing village
When I first came to Indonesia, I sat and down and decided on my list of must see places. Which in all honesty, was everywhere and everything in Indonesia that I could possibly fit in during my time here. However, it must be said that two places in particular stood out for me as absolute musts. Krakatau and Komodo.
Fortunately, within my first few months of living in this spectacular country, I have managed to see the former. Krakatau is the stuff of legend and nightmare, depending on where in the world you live, or whether or not the Mountain you live at the foot of is smoking or not.
Located in the Sunda strait, this Volcano is the product of the largest known Volcanic eruption. Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was formed in 1927 when it emerged from the caldera left behind after the original Krakatau erupted in 1883 with such force, that it essentially caused it's cone to implode and in the process killing 36,000 people. The resulting bang (revered as the loudest ever explosive bang) was reported to have been heard up to 3,000km away.
With this history, it is little surprise that people are
Old and creaky
Their looks might not install confidence, but the old ladies certainly were sea worthy.
attracted to the infamy, drama and danger which clearly surrounds the Volcano and its surrounding Islands; the remnants of the Volcano in its previous glory.
It was the middle of May 2013 when myself and a group of friends decided to tackle to the journey from Jakarta. Two plans were plotted in an attempt to make the trip, first to go South East to Lebuhan and attempt to make the long, but tested crossing straight to Krakatau. The second, was the less conventional route, but with shorter periods at sea; first to Merak in Western Java, from there a ferry to Lampung, followed by a charted crossing to an Island called Sebesi, before heading on to Krakatau.
I formed the latter plan using a guide from Couch Surfing as well as my own research, though it was longer with more places to stop, it seemed the more likely plan to succeed, as it required the least amount of time in go at sea and so rough weather would less likely cause our plans to fail. So naturally, it was the plan we chose Before we attempted the journey, we were warned that in order to do it and
The beautiful island of Sebesi. I hope I can return there one day.
return, we would need three full days and even then, it would be close. I can happily report, we managed it in less than two.
We set out from Jakarta from the Pluit Interchange on a typical bus going to Merak. It should be warned, that this bus was packed and though, fortunately no one on our trip suffered at their hands; pickpockets are known to prey on them. Once we made Merak, we walked the short distance from the Bus terminal to the Port where a ferry would take us swiftly to Lampung. This ferry trip was very memorable for myself, it was eerily beautiful sat on the top deck as the sun rose in the wake of our boat. It was about three hours before we docked in Lampung, during which we saw some beautiful coastline and treated to a late night lightning display by the thunder gods.
Once in Lampung, we had to charter an Angkot out of the City to a small fishing village where we could rent a boat to take us out to Sebesi. I believe the village was called Rajabasa. The trip through Sumatra was breath taking, the forests amazing and
The child of Krakatau, a tall Gunung Api (Volcano) considering it only rose from it's predecessor's caldera less than one 100 years ago
the heat considerable, it was my first time in Sumatra and I have yet to return, but this trip put it high in my priorities. It was in the fishing village, that we joined a small tour group as unofficial members. We paid a fraction of what they did, in essence, we were only paying for the boat to get us to and from the Islands of Krakatau and Sebesi. I think the workers just saw us as a nice under the table tip.
The trip to Sebesi was beautiful and we stopped off on a small Island just east of Sebuku Island. It was here where one of the more thrilling moments of my trip turned up. Myself and all my friends, bar one, are all exceptionally strong swimmers, during a trip around the Island, we happened upon three Muslim women in full Aqua Hijabs being pulled out to sea by one of the stronger currents while wearing their life jackets. They called out for us to help and we duly responded. We found ourselves to them quick enough, but getting them back to the Island proved to be more difficult, as they refused to be broken up.
The Intrepid explorers arrived
Six left their home, six arrived and six returned. They may have all scattered, but they will always be bonded by an emotional trip to the legendary Mountain of Fire.
The sea was relatively calm, but beneath us we could feel the current pulling us out to sea with serious effort and resolve, we clawed our way slowly and exhaustively back towards the Island. By some miracle, we landed safe and sound back on the Island, but it was a scare and a narrow escape for the women, because we may not have had the strength or energy to have pulled them much further.
Not long after this escape, we set sail for the Island of Sebesi, which would be our home for the night, allowing us to be fresh for our assault on the prize the following morning - Krakatau. Sebesi is an island stuck between the past and present. There are no cars, only boats and motorbikes, though many of the motorbikes are too powerful to be truly used adequately on such a small island with poor infrastructure. There was two main villages and one Primary / Elementary school. Children had to leave the island should they wish (or be able to afford) further education. They rely heavily on farming and can only afford enough petrol for the single generator to have electricity for a few hours a day.
We stopped in a home stay, with a delightful elderly lady, who welcomed us in gracefully to her home. I wondered the island looking for anything interesting, fauna, flora or spectacular views. The island certainly did not disappoint. It is home to an amazing species of Fiddler crab, a species where the male has one claw larger than the other as result of sexual selection. I watched these fascinating little crabs for hours as they performed their ritualistic dance in the hopes of warding off any rival male and possibly securing the possibility of mating with a female during the corresponding stage of her molt cycle.
After almost 40 hours with no sleep, I was seriously looking forward to putting my head down in the hot Island house, but alas, it was not meant to be, as I was barraged by one of the worst sleepers in my life. He got it into his head I was one of those long pillows typically found in Europe and Indonesia that people wrap their legs around. He then proceeded to move through all the stages of the clock on our floor mattress. I decided I wouldn't be sleeping there and attempted to sleep outside on a hard wooden bed. Which naturally didn't work.
In the morning, just before first light. We all convened at the port waiting for our boat to take us out to the treasure that was Krakatau. We waited and looked glumly out to sea as we saw the large swell that was forming under the threatening winds overhead. the journey was in doubt now, but fortunately the tour leader was brave and decided we would attempt the dangerous passing to the Volcanic Island. Everyone was made to sit in the bottom of the ship, because the top was deemed to dangerous in such ferocious weather. Myself and one of my group decided that in the event of a capsize, we would rather be on top of the boat, rather than it and declined the invitation, preferring to hold on for dear life on top of the vessel.
The ride was exhilarating, dangerous and down right amazing. The boat ploughed ahead into the angry seas, occasionally catching a little bit of air as the speed of the boat forced it out the waves it was climbing. We held on to the top for dear life as the boiling sea around us did all could to dislodge us and make us topple into the unforgiving ocean. Fortunately, it didn't succeed and we arrived on the black beach of Krakatau.
We settled on the beach for a moment, while those without the necessary sea legs calmed down and regained their composure. I explored the beach and found more fiddler crabs, blackened as an evolutionary response to the ash blackened sand that they made their home on.
At last the time came, under the rising sun we made for the smoking summit of Krakatau. The journey was relatively short, but exceedingly difficult as we battled jungle to get to its foot. From there, we had walk, crawl and clamber up the treacherous ash and rock ridden slope of the Volcano. It was a hard fought battle, each step you took caused to to slip down at least half. It was a long and exhausting climb, through craters where magma projectiles had been ejected from the cone and landed causing the seen of a bomb ridden battle field. At last though, we made it and we looked around us at the sites of ocean around us and the three islands about us, which marked the original Krakatau. The cone was deadly hot as the magma raged beneath us. Some of the stones about us were still hot, having recently been evicted from the home deep within the Earth's core. I sat and I looked about me, at the scared remnants of of the most cataclysmic eruptions in recorded history and felt a deep sense of satisfaction
The adventure continues.
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