“Whoa, black sand! How can these plants possibly thrive in such ground?”
Was my first impression when I made my first step on Anak Krakatau Island (anak means child in Bahasa Indonesia) Beautiful black sand, known as Iron Sand, notably the base material for cements and toner – rich in minerals, lies throughout the island. Tress and bushes initially covered path towards the volcanic crater. Anak Krakatau were fully visible only 10 minutes after I walk through the sandy tracks, and all I can think of throughout that moment is “I have never seen so many trees grow in a sand”
My amazement continues as I climb up the hill, hot sandy feet accompanied by the sun that feels as if its only a few meters away, burning like human Sate (skewers) in a grill! I climbed and climbed accompanied by my friends and the Park Ranger as we continuously talk about this island and matters, due to my never-ending curiosity.
As I turned my back, I realized that I have climbed up quite high, scary yes, but my fear of heights was distracted by the 360-degree gorgeous views of the surrounding islands and blue waters. There’s one island on my right and another one on my back; I keep telling my self don’t look down, don’t look down. At this point I stopped and had my “spiritual” moment with Mother Nature. What a beautiful God’s creation. Inhale.. exhale.. embrace… J
The two islands I saw are actually partials of the original Krakatau. Historically, Krakatau was then an inhibited volcanic island that explodes in 1883 killing more than 36,000 people. The explosion was so massive it is considered as the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, reaches 4,800 km (3,000 miles) away and created 15 meters (120 foot) tsunamis. The massive explosion destroyed the northern 2/3 of the island. But, the cool part is, as “mother” Krakatau blew it self-apart, Anak Krakatau emerges from the waters forming a new island and continue to live with the other two small islands (Sertung and Panjang).
I find this quite appealing, a touchy human-like story of a Mother whom sacrifices her self for the sake of her baby’s birth and yes Anak Krakatau does grow! Initially emerge 9 m in 1927, it has been expanding to more than 300 m throughout present day. I wonder how big it would be 7 generations after us?
300 m seems quite a quick climb. I finally reached the outer hills of the crater and saw ashes coming out, and yes again my amazement continues as I discover that the mountain actually spit volcanic rocks! I have never seen such occurrences ever. The Park Ranger said it looks pretty at night because we can actually see the lava colors. Near the crater as I look to my right, to my left, front and back, what is there to complain about? It’s so beautiful even though it smells like Sulphur. Picture perfect moment and did another exhaling and smiled, the long journey is all worth the energy.
So how did I get down? Sand boarding dong! Hehe, how I wish that was what really happened, it will definitely help me recover from my ongoing sadness of missing my favorite sport, Snowboarding. Unfortunately, we had to race our self down not because we were competitive but because the sand was so hot and it’s getting in our sandals as we hop-slide. The whole leg is covered with grey ash; indeed it was a pretty sight for legs aficionados. I should’ve taken some sands home – maybe it’s a good body scrub. No? Guessing it would beat spending pricy Volcanic Lulur Spa treatment, I was thinking the Iron Sands is better because it’s for free, more or less a good bargain. Hehe..
Talk about good bargain, the whole traveling to Krakatau from Jakarta cost me about Rp 300,000 (USD 25) all in for transports, foods, accommodation, etc. Oh, I had to borrow someone else’s’ when I first snorkeled in Ujung Kulon and I realized it wasn’t a very hygienic idea so I bought a new snorkeling equipment for Rp 500,000 (USD 40), heck I thought of it as an investment. Makes me wonder why isn’t there any Indonesian brand for Snorkling equipments though? Archipelagic Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands with 3:1 sea: land ratio consisting rich biotic habitat. There are so many places to discover and big potentials for eco tourism. Imagine the opportunities.
As my mind prolongs its entrepreneurship wonder, I realized that the locals have yet to fully utilized opportunities on Krakatau souvenirs. I am pretty sure with the amount of travelers going to Krakatau, they won’t mind buying knick-knacks to retain their memory and buy gifts for the loved ones. I did though bought yummy chocolate banana chips (Lampung’s specialty) and of course Lampung coffee J but that wasn’t so much of a specialty from Krakatau and it was available at Bakauheni Port in South Sumatra.
I asked the local Sebesi Island and Canting Port residents, how come they don’t sell souvenirs; and they told me that they don’t know how to. They want to do so but they need assistance and guidance to start the business. I just wish I have the capacity to help them at this point of my life because I am sure this would be good opportunity for the locals to economically empower themselves, especially through Koperasi (Cooperative) system. What that can do to improve welfare, education, healthcare and infrastructure quality in the island. Yes, amongst others, Banana is one of the promising commodities in that area, but how far and how fast could it actually make the moolah? Perhaps there’s also possible opportunities for handicrafts and organic coloring from the bananas and beans they grow, I’ll definitely invest if I can *Intermezzo
All in all, what I love about traveling is because of the people I meet, places I get to discover, unfamiliar stories, beautiful natures, complexities of our backyard and of course the local delicacies, whatever that is. Having conversations with fisherman, Park Rangers, warung (food stall) lady, toilet attendees, the boat hustler guy, Angkot driver, bus driver and other unique local inhabitants, are the most rewarding and priceless experience there is to traveling.
So if anyone is seeking for an adventure crossing through the Sunda straight with fisherman boats;
- climb up the sandy Krakatau and watch exploding rocks with ashes;
- snorkeling just 5 cm above the corals and got scratchy legs because the waters was ‘sharp’;
- swimming through the strong currents and keep bumping our self to the corals;
- jumped off the boat and scream the stresses out;
- sitting in a crowded bus for hours;
- ate Nasi Padang on the sidewalk of the port;
- slept on the ferry boat;
- cruise around Sebesi Island with a motorcycle and observe the living condition of the locals;
- explore beautiful hidden places;
- furthermore cramped up at the home stay which by the way has no electricity and water during the day just to save energy (they use generators);
- indulge in freshly picked coconuts, oh so yummy fried shrimps and Bakwan;
- peacefully read book by the beach, under a shady tree looking at calm sea waters;
- converse with friends talking about anything that crosses the mind, accompanied with herds of goats and dogs;
- bonfire at night, overlooking beautiful full moon reflecting on the sea;
- greeted by breathtaking sunrise and sunsets;
- got pooped by Cicak (lizard) while eating Indomie (it was not so pleasant but it was something new);
- sipping hot tea in a chilly night;
- got super duper tanned sitting on top of the boat enjoying the view, pretending I was a sailorman;
- talk to strangers and make new friends;
- ride a boat in bizarre weather (I felt like we were going to sink) forcing to sleep and forget but then woke up overlooking an exploding volcano?
Then this is a journey I would recommend.
The extensive roads (or shall I say water) may be tiring, but what’s more important is the priceless experiences throughout. Especially the newly formed friendship, born through meeting new people with various backgrounds and characters.
And guess what? Anak Krakatau explodes 30 minutes after our departure… into Warning 3 status. *phew.. thank Goodness we‘ve sailed away
To recap our journey, we had to travel extensive hours in 2N3D starting from Jakarta (bus) > Merak Port, Banten (ferry) > Bakauheni Port, South Sumatra (angkot) > Canting Port, South Sumatra (fisherman boat) > Sebuku Island à Sebesi Island à Umang – Umang Island > Sebesi Island à Krakatau Island (booyah!) and went home through similar routes.
Discovering different sides of life even more, and this is exactly why I love backpacking. The spiritual journey throughout, trying to understand what is out there, over here to the grassroots. It’s time to continue my urge exploring the motherland and wonder what’s next?
Photo credits thanks to: Yunia Anggi and Schinta Suciawati
Much Love from Indonesia & Salam Odyssey