Fw: lunch in the crater!

Tue 13 Sep 2011 14:50
It’s really great to have escaped the hassle of Singapore, and we’ve got ourselves organised with a driver for the week – extravagant but it should mean we don’t get too hassled and we don’t miss anything in our limited time here. He’s a tiny chap called Verdy, speaks a bit of English and is very helpful.

Verdy took us to the national park to the north of Bandung today. We had an obligatory tourist stop at an “organic farm” on the way, actually a garden centre with pick your own facilities, and a kew-style greenhouse to die for, built of 6” thick bamboo and polythene, the poshest polytunnel I have ever seen We were expected to buy copious quantities of pick your own cherry tomatoes and aubergines, but without cooking facilities that wasn’t really practical, so we spent the princely sum of £2 on some token tomatoes and snacks.

Passing through a Lembang a bit further on, we watched a circumcision
procession with a real party atmosphere. (see pics on previous blog).
The little lad who was the centre of attention was perched on a pantomime
lion along with his little friends, and all were carried along by young chaps
gavorting to music. We couldn't help wondering how long it would be before
reality dawned on him. There was not a tourist in sight so this was
definitely for real!

Then it was on to Kawah Ratu (“Queen of Craters”) a massive volcanic crater which emits toxic levels of sulphur dioxide, so you can’t go down into it. Instead you walk around the top, fighting off the souvenir sellers, who were very disappointed with us, but everything we buy, we carry. The next bit we had to do with a guide – not Verdy, he waited in the car, but a much fitter looking chap called Daydi, I think. He took us down, down, down, and into another crater. We weren’t sure why we needed a guide as there was a path all the way. It was pretty touristy with people in flip flops, though we were glad of our boots as the ground was really hot around the vents. But if you could ignore the touristyness, it was amazing. We were looking up the sheer sides and walking on ash and tufa, with steam vents and sulfurous pools everywhere. Some of the water pools were warm and you could dabble your feet; people come to smear the sulfurous mud on themselves and get a mud massage. But there was one big vent with bubbling, gushing boiling water, and here we boiled eggs for lunch – as if this place wasnt eggy enough with the sulphur stench.

So this bizarre place was our first taste of Java’s many volcanoes, and tomorrow we are heading via Jogjakarta, towards Bromo volcano in the east,
so I’d better go and read up on that one.