Monday, June 18, 2012

The mosquitoes during the night had made sleeping difficult. We were hopeful that wasn't a portent of things to come. At least it wasn't raining, although there more of the same humid, smoky weather. Because of this, we had no view of Krakatau. We met Agus and Sjarif and took a short drive to Carita (pronounced Charita), where we met Ramon again. There we went to the local seismologist headquarters. It was interesting to see a lot of the historical data there, all the equipment, old photos, and so on.

From there, we took another short drive to Carita harbor, where we met up with Epoy (sp?), and we still had Sjarif and Ramon with us as well. So at this point we had 3 guides and a driver, all for just the two of us. Sjarif and Epoy came with us on the boat trip. The water was amazingly still and calm, and the weather was very nice on the moving boat - it created wind where previously there was none. Sjarif and Epoy pointed out a bunch of floating fish traps made out of bamboo - they are used to catch these tiny salty fish that are very popular throughout Java.

We knew it was a good distance out to Krakatoa, but it still seemed like it took a long time to get there. We were out to sea quite a bit - Java disappeared from behind us well before we saw anything in front of us. First we saw Rakata (far left in photo) , which looks like an imposing volcano in its own right. Then we saw Anak Krakatau along with Panjang and Sertung, which are smaller remnants from the Krakatoa explosion. Anak Krakatau was conspicuous because of its smoky top plus white spots all over its side - fumaroles.

Seeing all these is person gave newfound awe to things we'd read before in books. First, it was incredible to know the islands used to be connected - there was a ton of water in between them. Also it was unbelievable that pyroclastic flows had gone across all that open ocean and tore people Carita and Anyer to bits. We'd been out to sea close to 90 minutes, moving at about 20 knots. Scientists estimate that the pyroclastic flows were able to travel that far because the extreme heat of the flows vaporized the top level of the ocean surface, providing a layer of steam for the pyroclastic flows to float across before reaching the shore.

Today, the conditions were much more serene. The beach at Anak Krakatau was nice, and the lower hillside had Causarina trees and several other trees and shrubs, plus lots of birds. Walking through this area, you had no idea you were on an active volcano, as the top was not visible. But after walking uphill for a bit, all the foliage disappeared, and we were staring up at the volcano. There was steam/gas coming out the top, but no rumbling of any sorts. We walked up to a ridge, about 500 feet in elevation. From there, could see lots of fumaroles, and the walking looked neither safe nor fun. We met a couple Aussies on the ridge and chatted with them while staring at the mountain. Again, it was unfathomable how something so big could have blown itself to bits. Then again, perhaps that's why the blast was heard 3000 miles away.

We came back down, then went snorkeling on the northern side of the island. The fish were nice, but most of the coral seemed bleached out. It was tough to tell if we were getting any photos, but when we got back on, we realized that the battery on the underwater camera was out and we hadn't actually captured anything. We traveled around the rest of Anak Krakatau, went past Rakata, and started heading south towards Java's southwest tip. It was very calm for awhile, then as we approached land it got very choppy for 10-15 minutes. But just before getting to our destination (Peucang island), it calmed down.

At Peucang, we arrived to a gorgeous beach, with white sand and blue water. The sky was now blue as well - as we were well away from civilization and within one of Java's few nature reserves. At the camp area, there were lots of deer eating grass out front, and monkeys walking around as well. Justin saw a monitor lizard also. After putting our stuff down, we went on a nature walk across the island. Along the way we saw more deer (including a large male), plus a huge banyan tree, and lots of birds, who were heard but not seen. We ended up at the northwest edge of island, took a 10 minute break, then headed back. At the camp, there were still deer, plus some wild boar.

Crystal crashed when we got back to the room, but she got up for dinner. We chatted a bit with Sjarif, then crashed for good.