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Published: August 31st 2010
Before the eruption
Yours truly on Mount Sinabung. 6 hours later people were evacuated from the area and 48 hours later it erupted for the first time in 400 years.
This actually should have been a very short update with an emphasis on photos, but let's get the "drama" out of the way first.
On Friday 27th Eric and I went to climb the Sinabung volcano some 27 km. from Beristagi south of Medan. It was a great but for me somewhat distressing climb since it became painfully obvious that I am no longer the fastest one on any mountain. I realized along the way that a very substantial part of my enjoyment from climbing mountains in the past has come from being faster that everybody else. On that glorious morning in 1996 when I was the first of several hundred climbers on the peak of Gran Paradiso I won some weird competition taking place inside my head. When I have run past particularly Spanish climbers with all their fantastic equipment going down various Italian peaks I have silently detested their physical ineptitude. Well, the joke is on me now. The worst part may actually have been Eric trying to build up my spirit when I have in fact realized that I am not 25 anymore.
Anyway, while we were at the top of Sinabung one
Another detail from Sinabung. The yellow sulphur vent on the left must have been about five meters in diameter.
of the guides apparently called a geological institute to tell them that the two crater lakes on the peak were dry. We have since learned that that is a bad sign. We and the other two tourists on the peak that day were not told anything though, so we went merrily around on the top and crater and Eric even ventured down to the empty crater.
We descended and went back to Berastagi and after some well-deserved beers we went out to get something to eat. When we left the restaurant there were people everywhere. Back at the hotel we were told about our guide's phone call and that locals had seen animals flee the jungle and panic had ensued. Everyone was evacuated to Berastagi and nearby Kabanjahe. We kind of laughed about it. We had just been up there and it seemed quiet enough.
Well, today (29th) it actually erupted. According to url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinabung]Wikipedia it is only a minor eruption but the first one in 400 years. One person died while fleeing his home and hopefully it will not get any worse than that. It is however crazy to think that the serene place we visited only two
So this is a Batak style Village on Samosir in Lake Toba. I hit the brakes so hard that Eric almost bumped into me, but this was perfect. We pretty much figured out that the fancy roofs can keep out rain from the upper floors and they are trylu spectacular as well.
days ago has turned into a fiery hell. Bad influence I guess 😊
But last time I posted we were still at Lake Toba. Eric and I had a great ride around the Island but the road on the south coast of Samosir was terrible and I have a nasty but not seriouos wound on my right arm as another reminder to take it easy on roads like that.
Three days ago it was however time to leave Samosir and Lake Toba and head back to Berastagi and due to the weather it was less impressive than the way down there. We did however see that waterfall this time but we also had to seek cover from a couple of thunderstorms.
Berastagi is a relatively quiet town set between a number of volcanoes. Well, it would be if it weren't for "crazy Singapore Lady". The school next to our hotel had been infected by a "volunteer teacher" from Singapore and she had quickly transformed the morning assembly into a nightmare for the entire neighborhood. 7.15 every morning but Sunday they started with horrible guitar songs and following "preaching" at a ridiculous sound level. I used my Iphone
"Crazy Singapore Lady"
This fitting name was the one our guesthouse landlady used :)
to measure an average of 85 db and peaks over 100 at our room which basically sounds like a loud orchestra at the end of our beds. The songs were followed by her comically inept preachings and obvious lack of even basic theological knowledge translated from English by an overly enthusiastic student. The hotel landlady, who is herself a christian but "not that kind of christian" is an extremely quiet and level-minded lady but she actually made submachinegun strafing motions when she talked about the "crazy Singapore Lady".
Singapore is a Christian hot-spot at the moment. Joseph Prince is the superstar there and he preaches an overall peaceful and sympathetic version of christianity.
That is however exactly what annoys me about "crazy Singapore Lady". The school she has gone to was a regular school, in other words for both children of Christian and muslim parents. But ever since she has made her neighborhood-shattering morning assemblies all of the kids of muslim parents have been excluded from the morning assembly. On this part of Sumatra there seems to be a certain level of understanding and acceptance between the two religions so the last thing that is needed is a
From Pulau Weh. This was from my first "motorcycle" trip in Indonesia and the beauty of the place ensured me that everyone of the big decisions that I have made lately were good ones.
housewife from a neighboring country that create a "them and us" divide that may not have existed before. As our hotel landlady said: "I hope she goes home soon and finds happiness there".
It did however become impossible to stop laughing at the entire thing when they woke us up with the song that I captured in the attached video. He is apparently singing: "And now I know. He touched me and made me a whore (sic!). Hallelujah". I know that sex tourism is a big problem in this part of the world but that is surely not something you want to entertain kids with on a Saturday morning 😊 Simon, the Australian guy next door was quick enough to pick it up and sing along in the shower 😊
Eric and I flew to KL and I had booked a nice hotel room. He did however abandon me this morning to go to see his Ex in Vietnam. That entire trip has been taking up a lot of our time lately but I sure hope that visa and ticket problems worked out as we have hoped and that they have a great time on Phu Quoc. Not
Sunday at Gapang Beach, Pulau Weh. On Sundays people from Sabang fled to the beaches and since this was the last Sunday before Ramadan they came in throngs. There is a sense of serenity and absurdity to this one.
to worry. I met up with Pascal that I met on Pulau Weh for lunch and we had a great day. Pascal is leaving KL tomorrow after having worked here for three years for HP and I have tried to pump him for all of his insight in Malaysian history and politics. Apart from that we have had a hell of a lot of beers and drinks and some fantastic food (best sushi I have ever had) and the fact that he wanted to be my free guide and driver around the city on his last day in the country has been a real privilege. But, the photos. As promised in the last post I have found some of the photos that I actually really like but that are not really fit in a blog. They are here because I like them. They have already been posted on facebook.
Update: It took a bit longer than normal to upload the photos so the text is a couple of days old when this is published. Sinabung continued to erupt on Monday but there is nothing new today.
All the best
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