After our ‘near success’ sunset at Ratu Boko, we were on the road once again. We were heading back to the city of Yogyakarta. Nope, we are not heading home as yet, one more day to go and yes, one day warrants a full blog entry. I’m always amazed at how little sleep we need on trips like this.
We circled around town looking for a place to stay for the night. It was strange driving in city lights and the idea of being back to civilisation seems to irritate me. I wanted to brush it off as just closing in on our return date and that would mark the end of our holidays but I knew a part of me was just not ready to face the concrete world, back in Singapore or simply just in Yogyakarta. We finally settled for POP! hotel. Bright cheery colours, it was any backpacker’s dream hotel.
That night we had pasta and ice cream for dinner after which we took a walk around the city. The city was bustling and it was crowded everywhere. At the central square area, there seems to be some sort of carnival going on. They had these brightly decorated electric cars and the music was blasting away. Dani was excited to go on the ride and we all went along. There was a fixed route to take and with the number of cars, we were hardly moving but we did manage to finish one round.
We did not stay out too late as we had another early morning the next day. I would say another highlight of the trip. Not a summit climb but we were going on the lava tour around the base of Gunung Merapi. I was definitely look forward to that.
A few hours of sleep and we were up and about again. We drove a distance to meet up with the jeep driver as we would need a 4-wheels drive to get around Merapi area. It was still dark when we arrived and we walked across the now desolate grounds to find a spot to catch sunrise.
We were lucky it was not crowded and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves other than a small group of tourist and a pretty interesting couple. We found a little shelter where we waited patiently for that beautiful sunrise. I walked along the deep ravines and Daniel warned me not to go too close as the soils and rocks could be loose. The last eruption in 2010 had been the most devastating and there had been several more eruptions following that with the last one recorded in 2014. The surrounding villages had all been cleared with the frequent eruptions. The ravines were created by the hot flowing lava as they flowed down the mountain. It was hard to imagine how that must have destroyed anything in its way.
As I strolled along, deep in my own thoughts, the sky lit up slowly, radiating that familiar yellow and pink. I had thought I would be capturing sunrise against the mountain but she was just not in the right direction. But it as a beautiful morning with a golden sunrise. For once, it didn’t bring a smile to my face. This place radiated sadness and death. It was a solemn moment.
In daylight now, I could see the entire lava trail. It must have been immense heat to burn through all this soil and rocks. I could see where it flowed down from at the sides of the mountain. Just the sight of this sent chills down my spine.
It had been a cloudy morning and according to our guide, this was very common. Very occasionally, the clouds dispersed a little and we got a glimpse of the majestic Merapi in the background.
We stayed on a little and lingered around. There were some fresh rockfalls and Daniel pointed out to me that was what he had been warning me about. One wrong step and I could end up at the bottom of the ravine.
As we made our way to get on our tour along the trail, the skies cleared up once more and I managed to get another shot of the mountain against a bright blue sky. As we made our way down, we went into the bunker that was built as a hideout in case of an eruption. Unfortunately, even with the double doors, it wasn’t a safe enough spot against the fiery of the volcano. In 2006, 2 men were found dead in the bunker when they tried to seek shelter within.
We had coffee and some tidbits at the little stall at the car park before setting off once again.
The jeep tour brought us right down into the lava trail and we drove through rivers. I had to keep my camera away for fear of drowning it.
We also stopped by a small museum that was set up in the house of one of the surviving family. Museum Sisa Hartaku which meant the remaining treasure museum. They showcased the daily items like water mugs, flask, pails, engine parts that were deformed and found after the eruption. There were also old coins and fabric fragments. Again, a sight that would only bring back terrible memories for anyone who had gone through the ordeals. I refused to take any photos. It was really depressing just looking at the items.
We had thought that would be the end of our tour but our guide decided to bring us to another spot where they alien rock was found. It was probably thrown out from the volcano during the eruption. I would attribute this more to a vivid imagination. 🙂
After our lava tour, we headed back to our hotel for breakfast. We were pretty late but there was still food and I was happy to eat whatever that was available. Both Dani and Daniel were returning back to Malang and Jember respectively later in the day. They had to check out of their rooms so they were leaving their bags in our room. Sara and I had a super early morning flight the next day so we had one more night in the hotel.
Daniel had gotten some locusts from the night before and it was time to taste them. Strangely, Dani was the one who was all reluctant to try it. I enjoy deep-fried insects so I had no problem eating this. We had a good laugh about it. It was still early and we decided to go visit Candi Prambanan, another national heritage site.
It was crowded and there were quite a number of tourists. We took our time walking through the complex. Again extensive restoration works had been ongoing for years here but there were still much to be done before a full restoration is possible. There were still many unmarked parts lying around.
We entered a few of the temples and Sara was trying to explain to me who the statues were. I wasn’t too sure and after a while, the names just blurred into one.
Similar to Borobudur, the details were intricate and I really wondered how this could be achieved that many years ago when only very primitive tools were available.
While the boys were getting bored, Sara and I continued walking into the different temples.
I knew this was a Hindu temple so I couldn’t help feeling puzzled why there seem to be parts of the complex which resembled a buddhist temple. And on the very grounds here, there were other smaller temple grounds and we took a walk to Candi lumbung which was a buddhist temple. I wasn’t really sure how all this worked out during those times but I guessed it would mean reading up pretty extensively to get this part of history right.
We had to make a move as Dani needed to return the car to his friend and set off for his train. Daniel was taking a bus in the evening so we could probably still do dinner together.
Returning to the hotel, we all fell asleep in our room. Rest time. Dani left earlier while the 3 of us continued lazing around till about dinner time. Sara and I decided to eat by the street and it was interesting as we literally sat on a mat and ate along a covered walkway. Daniel was shocked at the amount of food we picked but we did finish everything. It was one of the best meals I had on this trip.
Photo credit goes to Sara. It was definitely a rare moment that we have a photo of ourselves in a city environment with no mountains, no lakes or waterfalls.
Sara and I had a little sleep before we woke up at 4am in the morning to catch a taxi to the airport for our early morning flight by to Singapore. Again, a very memorable trip. Thank you guys and gal. 🙂