I’ve been meaning to write this post for several weeks, but haven’t been able to for a number of reasons. Besides being busy, the biggest hindrance was the fact that I took 400 photos in a 2-day weekend that needed to be sorted through. As a result of my indiscretion with the camera, this might be my longest post ever.
We had planned, for quite some time, to visit Anak Krakatau by boat with the intention of hiking it, and doing some snorkeling in the area. For a bit of history, Krakatau is a volcano that erupted in 1883 in a spectacular way. The volcano blew several kilometers of itself into dust that blacked out the sun for days and changed weather patterns in Europe for several years, caused a giant tsunami that wiped out 30,000 people and travelled to the other side of the world, and made a bang that was heard thousands of kilometers away. It’s worth checking out the Wikipedia article.
Anak Krakatau literally means ‘child of Krakatau’ and is the name for the volcano that has been growing at a rate of 20 feet per year since it first popped its head above the ocean surface in 1927.
A few weeks before our trip, Anak Krakatau started venting.
By the time we were scheduled to visit, the government had imposed a 10 km radius restricted zone around the volcano. The front page of the Jakarta Post had this on the cover the day of our departure.
In response, our captain and guide came up with a plan to take us snorkeling elsewhere.
While we all agreed that this was the wise thing to do, we weren’t satisfied. After some negotiation, we managed to convince the captain to take us to the edge of the 10km radius — just for a look.
The view, even from that distance, was spectacular. Giant mushroom clouds were clearly visible in the overcast distance.
After a thorough search with binoculars for Navy patrols, we crept closer. Slowly, the outline of Anak Krakatau became clearer on the horizon. We were approaching from the opposite side from where the eruption was occurring, but were still able to see huge rocks being thrown into the air amidst the clouds of dust. At one point, we passed under the plume and were coated with a nice light gray layer of dust.
All the while, our dinner was cooking on the barbeque. Who knew that it was possible to roast a leg of lamb on a barbeque in four foot seas. The cook succeeded magnificently at his task. I had forgotten how great of a job they do with the food.
We anchored out of sight of the volcano for the night and took a zodiac out to see what it looked like in the dark. We couldn’t get a decent photo while bobbing around in the waves, but all agreed that it was worth getting up before sunrise to take the ship around and see it in the dark.
After a stormy night during which we were blown off our anchor and slightly stuck in the sand, we woke up at 4:30 for a much caffeinated sunrise spectacle.
I’ve realized that my generation overuses the word awesome, for that’s truly the only way to describe what we saw. Without a shortage of dramatic flair, Krakatau was spewing flames in front of us.
By the time the sun was up, we were hungry and the bright coloured flames were once again hidden by daylight. While finishing breakfast a couple of journalists who were camped out behind our boat for sunrise asked to board our boat. This cover of the Jakarta Post is the result.
The Reuters photographer’s shot below became a Time Magazine photo of the week. That’s our boat, the Cecelia Ann with us sitting on deck watching the sunrise spectacle.
Here’s the photo that I think really should have made the front page.
The water was very warm, and tasted very acidic. If sulfur really has rejuvenating properties, I should be about 17 years old right now.
Well, if swimming 2 kilometers away wasn’t good enough for us, we decided to get up close and personal by sailing right up to Anak Krakatau. Here’s the new crater that has developed on the side of the volcano.
It’s weekends like this that make me remember why why I signed up for this transient life, and why I love Indonesia. This might be the highlight trip of my posting here.