This is it. The day I was waiting for. The day I could momentarily break free from my routine, my daily hell, without any second thought or what-if. I was rumbling on a website of backpacking community Keliling Nusantara and stumbled on an advertising about open trip to Krakatoa for the weekend. It was another three days to the trip priced 385K IDR and there were not many spot available left. I could feel the blood rushing in my veins as I made contact with the trip organizer, Langlang Bhuwana. My wanderlust steered the wheel. Two more spots were available. I registered myself and my best friend also my travel partner, Irin for the trip. No second thought, no what-if. I never join an open trip before. This would be my first. This would be our first.
June 7th – 9th, 2013
The Dangerous Beauty of Krakatoa
Krakatoa, or Krakatau (Indonesian: Krakatau), is a volcanic island situated in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. The name is also used for the surrounding island group and the volcanoes as a whole. The Krakatoa volcanoes erupted and exploded in 1883, causing massive tsunamis and killing at least 36,417 people, while simultaneously destroying over two-thirds of Krakatoa island. The explosion is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard up to 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from its point of origin. Currently, what had been the northernmost of the three pre-1883 Krakatoa volcanoes, Perboewatan, has re-emerged from the ocean, and is the principal force in the on-going formation of a new island, Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Krakatoa”. (Wikipedia)
Our meeting point is Port Merak which located in Banten, the gateway for two huge islands Sumatera and Java. This is one busy and important port. Irin and I take a two-hours bus ride from Jakarta to Merak. It is almost midnight when we arrive. There, I meet the rest of my travel partners, strangers with whom I should live with for the next forty-eight hours. Six graduates from a notable technology institute in the country who works separately throughout the nation from Karawang to Papua. Two mid-twenty men from Sukabumi who were school buddies that decided to travel together without their wives and kids. Two women who were office partners. Twelve people from the national ministry of finance staff. And our trip organizer, a man who loves life the most and a woman who cannot resist the urge of her spirit to travel. Twenty six travelers are listed.
From Merak we sail the Sunda Strait on Baruna Ferry to Port Bakauheni, South of Lampung. It’s four in the morning. We rent local city public transportation cars as known as ‘angkot’ to take us to Canti Harbor from Bakauheni. The view of the rising sun over green landscape of South Lampung is a worthy over the bumpy two-hours ride to Canti Harbor. From there, we get on to traditional boat that was rented for the whole trip to take us everywhere. It’s another two-hours boat ride to our first island destination, Sebesi. We reach it safe and sound at 9 in the morning. Lacked of sleep but overfilled with the enthusiasm that the next thirty hours will be amazing.
Sebesi is the only inhabited island in the islands of Krakatoa. Electricity available from 6 pm to midnight. Those who travel to Sebesi stay in the homes of the civilian. Twenty six travelers divided into two homes. The home I will be staying for belongs to the man whose boat we rented for the whole trip. The mistress had turned the modest house into a comfy place for travelers to spend the night. She managed to put out six mattresses in her living room and a pillow for each of us. The nice lady welcomes us with her handmade fried tempeh, banana and sweetened tea. She loves to have people coming to her house. It was an honor for her to provide comfort and homey place for those who travel to her island. A sincere modesty of a native. One lovely lady.
After lunch, off we go on our itinerary, snorkeling and islands hopping. Our first destination, Sebuku Island. The substrate on the northern side of the island consists of fossilized coral, mud and sand, while on the eastern side of the island the substrate consists of mud, sand, gravel, and both live and fossilized coral. The outside is fringed by a reef. There is not much to see in the underwater of Sebuku. Grainy sand and parts of destroyed coral reefs all over the shallow beach. Our next destination is Geligi Island. There are jellyfishes around our snorkeling spot, therefore we spend only about 15 minutes there and move on to next on our list, Umang-Umang Island. This uninhabited island captured my heart right away. Two-minutes walking from where our boat was anchored, lies there, a soft white sandy beach with beautiful rocks along side. Truly, an alluring view. I enjoy my quiet time in that hidden beach. Sun bathing and chilling out. Oh I wish I could do this everyday. This amazingly pretty hidden beach of Umang-Umang would be one my favorite secret getaway place. I promised myself that I will be here again. And again.
Nearly sunset, we continue our trip to deeper water near Sebesi Island. We were supposed to enjoy the sunset from the deck of our boat. But a flock of clouds stood between us and the sun over the horizon, nonetheless the changing colors of crimson in the sky is still breathtaking.
The rest of night is full with laughter and fun. They served us dinner a la local at a large open veranda on the beach with it traditional setting. Fresh seafood barbeque. It’s sour and spicy taste made it uniquely delicious. After dinner, some other travelers light up the fireworks. Seeing such pretty colors color up the black sky is a perfect way to call it a night.
Exactly 3.30 am in the morning, we depart from Sebesi, head to our main destination, Child of Krakatoa (Anak Krakatau). Cold wind blows all the way along the two-hours boat ride to the volcanic island. I manag to lay down myself on the deck of the boat under the black starry sky with Irin, and five other travelers. It’s super windy. But we insist on staying there because we don’t want to miss it when the the sun rises. At early dawn, the flock of clouds in the sky dissuades the colors of rising sun on the horizon as if a grand majestic artwork being embroidered by the gray clusters here and everywhere. My goodness. None of us say anything. None. I believe in each of our hearts we spell the salutation to God up there and gratitude for the chance of a lifetime to witness one of His Majestic Work of Art.
We arrive at Child of Krakatoa (Anak Krakatau) island at almost 6 am. We wait for some time for my fellow travelers to fulfill their dawn prayer ritual ‘salaah’ as we prepare ourselves to trek the hill of the volcanic mountain. I could never find exact words to describe the beauty of Krakatoa. Nothing compares to it. The clear water beach with soft and hot black sand. The wind carries the fog far away from Krakatoa crater where the hot volcanic sand and smoke steam come out, the SO2 begins to react with oxygen and moisture in the air to form additional sulfuric acid aerosol. As I said nothing compares to it. We climb up to the first elevation of Krakatoa at 180 meters above sea level. It is also possible to climb up to the second level or highest elevation at about 300 meters above sea level with authority permit as requirement. Even though we missed the sunrise, but the magnificent scenery of Krakatoa is a treasure to each of us.
After an hour enjoying the sun from Krakatoa, we carry on as planned, to the last snorkeling spot, that if I may address would be the best snorkeling spot I had been so far, Legon Cabe, located around Rakata Island (Mother of Krakatau). It is a chili-like-shaped bay. The word Legon and Cabe are both Javanese. Legon means curve and Cabe itself means chili. Enriched with coral reefs at the most diverse and beautiful of all marine habitats, Legon Cabe becomes one of must-see underwater paradise in Indonesia.
Sunday had just reach its mid day. After two hours of snorkeling at Legon Cabe we head back to Sebesi. It’s time to put the epilogue in our trip, heading back to where we came from, home. We take the same route as we came here, from Sebesi Island, we take the boat ride to Canti Harbor and another two-hours road trip to Port Bakauheni. We have to be there before noon so we could get decent ferry boat to sail the Sunda Strait back to Java Island for six-hours. By the time we reach Port Merak, it’s exactly at midnight.
I got to see astonishing underwater life, the beauty of a dangerous volcanic crater, island hopping, sunset over the sea, and sunrise on 180 meters high above sea level. I have the best trip organizer ever. Mr. Hendra Setiawan and Ms.Sherly Fen of Langlang Bhuwana did their best for us. The homes are wonderful, the schedule is amazing and the documentation of us, the travelers, both underwater and above while we were busy absorbing the scenery into our memory, is worthy. Bravo. Two days trip to Krakatoa. Two great days. I do not think it was enough. I do not think forever will be enough to explore the beauty of Krakatoa.
Enlighten My Heart
It took a while for me to put the right phrase for the title of this part of my travel journal. But it is true. My trip to Krakatoa is not only about vacation or escape. It is about an enlightening journey for me, for my heart. The moment I decided to join this open trip I was having doubts. I was thinking what would it be like to travel and spend forty-eight hours straight with strangers? I never done this before. I never thought traveling with strangers would give me such warm and soothing feeling. I had been to many places with my friends, with my families with my colleagues. But none of those trips made me feel this way. Though we spent nearly twelve hours on not-so-comfortable vehicles for transportation, slept on thin mattresses on cold ground, not-so-delicious survival food and even though our body were very tired, none of us complained. I hear no single dissatisfaction comment, no whine and no regret. And this is it. This is the gift I gave to my self, the art of not complaining. As I sit and observe these travelers along the trip, people that committed to travel to please themselves, putting aside their stressful lives, came with an open heart and an insight of whatever comes of this journey would not displease them. These strangers live to travel. And I am in the right time being among the right people. Being among these strangers, these fellow travelers, these new friends that I find dear to my heart. Forty-eight hours was all I need for a new enlightened heart. At this time, midnight, on Port Merak, we smile to each other the moment we about to take separate ways. A contended smile and “see you soon” hand waves to one another. I thank every one of them for the art they showed me. For the lesson I learned on our way to witness the beauty of Krakatoa.
See you soon, some place else.
– i –
All the pictures uploaded into the post belong to Langlang Bhuwana and Sherly Fen. If however you wish to use the picture, let us know, so then we could spread the word. The complete documentation of the trip is available here and here. 🙂