Sunday, August 24, 2014

Awesome Krakatoa

One of my long time dreams has been to visit Anak Krakatau, the child of Krakatoa, that first emerged from the sea in 1927 (the year my parents were born) after the original Krakatoa exploded into oblivion in 1883. It is not an easy or cheap place to visit. Last Thursday after finishing my academic conference in Bandung, I rode a bus six hours followed by a 90 minute ride in small public transportation van full of school girls and others to Java's west coast. I then arranged for an excursion the next morning.

We departed at 7:30 passing nighttime fishing platforms along the way.

I have my Southeast Asia geography class read Simon Winchester's excellent and interesting book: Krakatoa, The Day the World Exploded, so I know the story. Maman my guide had some background information, including this map, which refreshed my memory. The original island of Krakatoa followed the dotted line and included three volcanic craters. The island of Rakata is all that remains. The islands of Sertung and Panjang are from a more ancient volcano. Our hike went from the beach on East Foreland up to the summit of the outer crater. We snorkeled near Owl Bay.

First view of Rakata and Panjang with Krakatau between them.

Krakatoa in the center. Rakata left, Panjang right.

Panjang Island

By this point I am starting to get a little nervous because I know that deep below us the Indo-Australian plate is subducting under the Eurasian plate causing massive pressure that builds up and every so often gives/explodes/buckles resulting in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and their subsequent tsunamis. I also know that we are traveling atop a very active volcanic zone.

We first circled Krakatoa from the east side going clock wise.

The red lava flow is from a 2007 eruption. We hiked up  to the ridge just above the tops of the trees. From there we could look down on the new lava flow.

Hiked up to the ridge in the center right. Hiking up any higher was not safe if the was an eruption and it would be a challenge on the loose lava on a steep slope. In 1976 when I hiked active volcano Bromo in East Java, a local man offered to take us on a tour down into the steaming crater. I turned it down thinking that my mother's prayer for the safety of her missionary son were only good for protection as long as I did my part. I had similar thoughts on Krakatoa. I also had thoughts from the ridge top of how fast I could barrel down the mountain to our boat if things did start to happen.

Vegetation already starting to grow.

Flotsam like this has washed in animals and some plants that have slowly repopulated and re-vegetated the island.

Steam from the crater.

Sertung Island

Local fisherman from Southern Sumatra--Lampung.

Cemara (pine) tree.

Fig tree sapling growing. Figs came to the island via bat scat (I love that I get to write that two word combination).

The vegetated east side of the island.

Nighttime camp of the fisherman on Krakatoa. Brave men.

National Park patrol boat

We put ashore here.

My boat. One guide, one captain, one mate. 

Lots of ants on the island and a big ant hole.

Climbing (naik) a mountain (puncak gunung) with pine tress (pohon cemara) on my left (kiri) and right (kanan) --just like is sung in the Indonesian kids song: naik, niak ke puncak gunung--and which I just had to sing. listen here:

Amazing to see vegetation moving up the mountain.

Large crater of cracked remains of a large volcanic rock expelled from the crater during an eruption. In the early 1990s a tourist woman died when a similar rock landed on her in a surprise eruption.

As high as we were allowed to hike.

I came dressed to hike and snorkel.

These two very light, yellow lava rocks were made up of what looked like solidified yellow bath bubbles/foam.

Looking across to Rakata gives a good idea of how large the original Kraktoa was.

Seismic monitor.

Fig leaves

Seeds (pine and fig) like this were eaten on Java or Sumatra and then later dropped on the emergent anak krakatao.


National Park Sign

Several other tourist (including a German couple and an Indonesian family) boats.

The crew and our fried rice lunch. Maman my guide (center) was great.

Leaving Krakatoa-- I was lucky for an early morning arrival before the haze came in.

Coast of Rakata

Coral reef snorkeling site. I love tropical fish. Their colors, color combinations and shapes are evidence that the Creator was very creative.

Leaving Rakata.

90 minute ride back to Java. This coast was decimated by the tsunami that resulted when the island collapsed into the sea. 

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