INDONESIA – VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS

Beijing, 23 February 2014

Our trip to Indonesia to celebrate my wife’s birthday started with a bang – literally. Two days before we were leaving, Mt. Kelud erupted

Mount Kelud eruption-1

Mount Kelud eruption-2

covering a good portion of Central Java with a fine layer of ash.

ash covering village

My wife and I were stunned. This was where we were meant to be going! Our plan was to visit the Buddhist temple Borobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage site
borobudur temple
and other old temples dotting the landscape north of Yogyakarta. From the moment we heard about the eruption to the minute our flight took off from Beijing for Jakarta, we anxiously scanned the net for the latest news. Our immediate concern was the onward flight to Yogyakarta. We read that the airport there, along with two other airports in the region, had been closed because of the ash-fall.
yogyakarta airport-1
But surely, we said to each other, the airport will be open by the time we arrive in Jakarta. Surely it will.

It was not. In fact, ground staff at Jakarta told us that it would be a couple of days before they could clear the ash enough for it to reopen. The only way to get to Yogyakarta was by rail (7 hours) or by road (15 hours). We were marooned …

Luckily, though, one of the ground staff mentioned that Semarang’s airport had been re-opened. It had also suffered from ash-fall, but they had managed to clean it up quite quickly. We had only the haziest notion of where Semarang was but if the ground staff thought it was a good alternative that was good enough for us. We got the ticket changed to a flight to Semarang which left very early the next morning. Since the thought of spending the night at Jakarta airport didn’t appeal, we also put ourselves down on the waiting list for a flight leaving that evening for Semarang. We were warned that there was very, very little chance, but in the end we got on the flight and there were still free seats behind us. The local guide who was meant to pick us up at Yogyakarta recommended a hotel in Semarang, and we agreed with him that he would come to get us there the next day.

So, by the afternoon, but 24 hours late, we were sitting on the terrace of our hotel, on chairs and at a table which had been vigorously scrubbed to get rid of the insidious volcanic ash, sipping a ginger-lemon grass welcoming drink, and looking over at Borobodur temple faintly picked out on the horizon, framed by trees whose leaves were all still thickly covered in ash.
Borobodur from hotel terrace-1
The hazards of travel … although this is the first time for us that a volcano has got in the way.

Surely Yogyakarta airport will be open again by the time we leave. Surely it will.

-oOo-

PS: It was. I am posting this from the comfort of my dining room table in Beijing, where we got in this morning.

___________________

Mount Kelud eruption-1: http://en.es-static.us/upl/2014/02/volcano-Kelud-Indonesia-2-13-2014-Asthadi-Setyawan-1.jpg [in http://earthsky.org/earth/kelud-volcano-in-indonesia-is-erupting-thousands-evacuating%5D
Mount Kelud eruption-2: http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article9128319.ece/ALTERNATES/w620/MountKelud.jpg [in http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/mount-kelud-eruption-why-is-indonesia-the-hottest-spot-on-the-ring-of-fire-9128148.html%5D
Ash covering village: http://cdn.rt.com/files/news/22/6a/20/00/vulkano.si.jpg [in http://rt.com/news/kelud-volcano-erupts-indonesia-962/%5D
Yogyakarta airport: http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2014/02/14/20185022_h27297760-d0ed011f5a27f5721c964017a41959be91678c94-s6-c30.jpg [in http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/276836240/massive-volcanic-eruption-in-indonesia-blankets-region-in-ash%5D
Borobudur temple: http://townsofusa.com/travels/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/borobudur-0222.jpg [in http://townsofusa.com/travels/2013/07/borobudur-temple-in-indonesia/%5D
Borobudur temple from the hotel terrace: our picture

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Abellio

I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. http://ipaintingsforsale.com/UploadPic/Gustav Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg

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