Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gunung Merapi meletup

Some of you may have heard or read that one of the most active volcanos in Indonesia erupted. Gunung Merapi aka the Mountain of Fire erupted multiple times since 25th of October. Villagers from the foot of the mountains were evacuated and all but that did not prevent the ashes from being blown to the near by city of Yogyakarta. Watch Indonesian news on Gunung Merapi eruption here

When I heard about the news, I was interested to know more about the eruption because I have been to Yogyakarta twice, and have hiked up Gunung Merapi's peak exactly one year before the eruption.

I still remembered that we met up in front of a famous rice shop in Yogyakarta then packing 7 of us excluding the driver in a mini van. Under normal circumstances we all would have sat nicely for the two and a half hour drive to New Selo but we were all hiking and camping...our packs and sacks took up the whole trunk and the back seat leaving us all sardines at the front. When we reached New Selo, we had to get out of the mini van and push it up the slope because the van did not have enough power to drive all of us and the gears up. That was quite funny.

New Selo was already at 1678 metres above sea level...but I am not sure if New Selo is now Burnt Selo. Maybe the lava went the other side of the mountain?

It was lunch time by the time we reach New Selo. We ordered rice from the only stall open there. It was the best Indonesian kerabu rice I have ever taste in my life.

The other meals on the mountain weren't that bad either. We made fried tempeh (fermented beans) and also have "imported" chicken rendang (dry curry). It was frozen and brought over by our Malaysian guide using dry ice.

This little fellow came looking for food before dinner...but we manage to catch it and have it for dinner. This musang tasted delicious!

I was just joking hehe. The furry animal came scrambling for food but all we had to be stolen in the tent was uncooked rice. Later at night there were a couple of them who came for visits. Me and a hiking buddy was sharing a cave to sleep in ...I was quite sure they came in looking for food and not shelter.

We continued the hike the next day slightly before dawn. Saw only few interesting insects and plants. I think all of these including the caves would have been consumed by lava.

Before the start of the “real” climb to the peak, there are memorial stones set up to remember a few folks who have passed away while getting to the top. I guess this will be eaten by the lava too.

Getting up to the peak of Gunung Merapi was actually not that difficult. It was a lot like getting on to Bukit Tabur in Taman Melawati except the scramble is about 5 times longer. Like of my keluar pintu (outdoor) buddies would say “Minimum effort, maximum pleasure”. Merapi was that. Easy climb, excellent view.

Getting down was a different story. Loose rocks and dried lava makes it all too dangerous. I remember I sucked at coming down…my first volcano decent makes it even scarier. I slid down the scree and was having a hard time gaining control. Later in another volcano climb I learn the trick. The easiest and fastest day down is to dig your heel in deep and ski down with your foot. Scary thoughts turned in to fun.

Only thing we had to watch out for was for the hot sulfur gas sipping through the dried volcano rocks. If you place your hands at the wrong places it will get burnt. The smell of the gas did not gag me though. The strong winds bring the gas away too quickly.

Victory drink! ...when we all made it to the peak.

The drink had to be halal so coke will have to do. One can actually bring wine up without carrying the glass bottle (The difficult part is to carry the heavy glass bottle down!) using a plastic wine carrier. I almost wanted to invest in a Platypus Platy Preserve wine carrier. It’s inexpensive and I can use it for non hiking events too.

(In case you are wondering, Coke and Platypus are not paying me for advertisement :p)

The highest point of Gunung Merapi is at Garuda peak. Garuda is actually a type of bird and the sharp pointed rock you see on the left represents it. The rock used to have "wings" but the not so recent earth quake broke it wings according to the local guide.

The guide's altimeter watch shows 2784 meters above sea level but Wikipedia stated that it's 200 meters higher. Hmmmmm... volcanoes shrinks when it's cool and rises when it's ready to blow but a 200 meters difference is odd.

Snacks are esentials in any hike. These are not good example though. All junk hehe. Its a smarter choise to go with carbs and sweets...but watermelon is a good idea too HAHA. (We had the watermelon near the camp/cave site, but wouldn't it be bizzar if we really did bring one up to enjoy at the peak?!)

I miss Gunung Merapi and the team I climbed it with.

Maybe I am lucky that Merapi is angry now. In a couple of years Merapi will hopefully be calm. I might or might not be fit enough to climb it then, but I will definitely look forward seeing the changes to the Mountain of Fire.

Will Gunung Merapi erupt again? The future is memang uncertain.

Email me at eatfirstthinklater[at]gmail[dot]com or Drop me a message here =)

7 pieces of worms:


Thank God that it didn't erupted when you were there. You had the greatest of opportunity to witness first hand its splendid beauty.

And chin up yea, look forward to future visits there. =) And I wanna tag along that time.


C'mon kiddo. Keep your head up. Me, you, merapi...kambing soon ;)


Happy holidays to all your blog readers!


Wow! you are so adventurous! I wonder if I can just climb Bukit Kiara. hahaha


Audery: May you can try out Bkt Kiara first :) ....if you start at TTDI and walk all the way in, you can actually exit at Hartamas and have breakfast.


Taste coke after made it to the peak was good idea...
Nice one...



waw.. very interesting
nice story..

  © Template by Emporium Digital 2008