Bandung & Tangkuban Parahu Volcano - Day 185-186

Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Citra Hotel

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Monday, August 25, 2008


Day 185 - 24/08/08

A 9 hour train journey today to Bandung from Yogyakarta. Bandung is surrounded on three sides by beautiful volcanic peaks and is a little off beaten track for most travellers, it should be an interesting place to visit, especially the surrounding areas. I booked an executive class seat expecting the train to be as comfortable as my last journey between Surabaya and Yogyakarta, but I was very wrong. For some reason this train doesn't have A/C, and the seats are horribly uncomfortable. Hence why there's a guy walking up and down the train renting cushions to the passengers for 3000 rupieh.

The train was really slow too, stopping at many rural stations. For the last 3 hours of the the journey the train climbed to 900 metres above sea level. The train slowed down to a walking pace to climb the steep slopes, the scenery was beautiful as we climbed. I hung out of the train door smoking and taking some pictures enjoying the views when I noticed some rail workers were on the track making repairs. As the train passed they were gesturing for me to give them some cigarettes, so I throw out cigs to around half a dozen of the guys, they replied "Thanks Mr!".

In many ways I enjoyed this journey more than my luxurious one from Surabaya. OK, it wasn't as comfortable but the train had a real buzz, with people laughing and joking, I could smoke in-between the carriages, the doors were open so I could hang out to get some fresh air and enjoy the views. This all helped to pass the time.

Staying at the Citra hotel tonight which is only a 10 minute walk from the station. After checking in, I went out for a walk and had a bite to eat at the local food market. Had some tasty Chinese noodles, veg, and some sort of meat, not sure what type of meat but it was good.
Day 186 - 25/08/08

Another interesting day in the life of the "Mountain Nomad"! The early morning was uneventful, bought a train ticket to Jakarta for tomorrow. Walked around downtown Bandung for an hour or so. Not a lot to see in this dirty and heavily polluted city but I didn't come to see Bandung town, I came to visit the Tangkuban Parahu volcano 30km outside the city.

Jumped on a minibus which I was hoping would take me close to the Volcano. The locals looked bemused to the fact that a strange westerner was on their bus to a non describe town in central Java. Sat on the tiny back seat sandwiched between two old timers. I asked the driver to drop me off at the road which leads up to the Volcanic rim, which he thankfully did.

It's 6km from where the bus dropped me off to the main Volcanic crater at 1830 metres. Some guys offered to take me to the top for a small fee. So I jumped in their van and they drove me to the rim.

The crater was a barren moon-like landscape. A massive hole in the ground venting sulphurous gases from the centre which I could here fizzing and hissing from my position. Like Merapi I could see the yellow sulphur deposits on the rocks which had build over the years from the venting gases being pushed up from beneath the earth.

Then I walked down a forest trail for a couple of kilometres to another active crater called Kawah Domas. This crater you can actually walk into.

Bubbling pools of water and the ubiquitous smell of rotten eggs from the venting sulphur, it was like I just accidentally stumbled into the bowels of hell. An amazing landscape which compares to nothing I've experienced before, the rocks underfoot where warm and some were red hot. I really had to be careful where I walked, didn't want to fall into to a boiling hot cauldron of water. Left the crater and carried on walking through the thick forest down one of the flanks of the volcano until I reached the tarmac road.

As I was walking down the road to catch the bus back to Bandung on the main highway, a passing Bemo stopped. A nice well to do Indonesian family asked if I wanted a ride. Ended up spending the rest of the day with them, they bought me dinner, I went shopping with them, played around with their little kid. It was like I'd been adopted and was a new member of the family. They didn't speak a word of English but we got by with hand gestures and smiles. They then dropped me off at my hotel in Bandung. I offered to give them some cash but they wouldn't take anything from me. It's really nice when you meet generous and genuine people in Asia, most of the time people befriend you to get something out of you. You have to be careful normally, but I knew from the start that these were decent people. A welcome change to the norm!
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Comments

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