Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hunting Sunrise at Galunggung

Last weekend I joined a MeetUp group and visited Galunggung volcano near Tasikmalaya, a couple of campungs and a Hindu Temple. We were supposed to leave Jakarta at nine o'clock on Friday evening, drive for 6 hours and be at the volcano before sunrise, so we could sprint up the 641 steps to watch the sun rise from behind the beautiful Javanese landscape. I enjoyed the trip a lot, but we never caught up with that sunrise.
We left Jakarta with almost an hour delay, and then it took us much longer to get to the mountain than was anticipated. As in most countries around the world, schools have a mid-year break here, which started that night. It seemed that half of Jakarta was trying to get out of town that Friday and we were in a traffic jam that never seemed to end. Then the driver got lost a few times (nothing too major) and we stopped to ask for directions. This made up for getting lost; imagine a man asking for directions. He was immediately redeemed in my eyes. We finally made it to the mountain around six am.
Even though we were late, it was still a majestic sight. The sun had been up for about an hour and the mist hanging over the land and creeping around the hills was beautiful to see. You could see for miles.

We hiked up the 614 steps and the view at the top was also stunning. It took my breath away. The mountain is really a volcano which erupted last in 1982. Oregon State has a very nice page about that event here. There is a lake at the bottom of the crater with a few shelters where you can spend the night.
There are also waterfalls, which you can't really see in the pictures, but you can when you're there. The place is set up for tourists, and you can get refreshments at the top when you're spent from running up the mountain. You can buy food and souvenirs at the bottom of the mountain. There is also a traditional (yes, one of those squatting thingies) toilet at the parking lot. It was maintained and clean when I was there. If you are in West Java, this is a trip worth taking.

After we were done oohing and aaahing, we continued our trip with a visit to Kampung Naga. This is a kampung where the people who live there made a choice to have electricity go to but not into the village. They all looked happy, healthy, and thriving without computers. I can't imaging living without it, but I'll have to say that even the goats enjoyed being petted (they were not tied down), and the chickens weren't afraid of people either. The kids in the village weren't shy either. Here is a picture of the two 'buleh' visitors with the girls, who had just come home from school. they though it was tremendously funny when I asked for a picture of them after they made about 100 of me.... :-)

 The village also choose to not have running water. This is a picture of their toilet. There are less than 200 people living in this Kampong. The runoff gets filtered through several ponds, most of which contain fish, after which it is used to fertilize the rice paddies. I bought a kilo of the stuff. I'll let you know what happens when I eat it. I've seen plans for gray water systems, but never saw one implemented. The tree hugger in me was rejoicing to see a practical implementation of a 'leave no trail' life style. 

Our final stop was at a Hindu Temple, Cangkuang Temple. It's on an island and you can only get there by boat. It was finished in 1996 (I think) and it's beautifully covered with moss. They have public prayers, and welcome visitors. Like most Indonesian cultural sites, it's underfunded and crowded, but still beautiful. They keep their equipment in working order by improvising. Like in this picture, where they re-use a laundry soap bucket. Nifty, no? 
I challenged myself by buying deep-fried goodness from a street vendor. He took one look at me and prepared me a fresh batch of the dough sticks. I thought that was sweet. The treat was sweet and tasty. 

We returned to Jakarta around 9PM on Saturday. We decided that taking a taxi, which would have taken close to an hour because of the traffic, was for sissies and so we took the bus. Which took nearly an hour.... Laugh at me and go figure. 

Here is a link to the whole slide show with all of my pictures from the trip. Have fun watching.