Volcanos in Dieng to Beaches in Pangandaran, Our Final Stops in Indonesia
Finishing up our food bender in Yogyakarta, we took an 7 hour public bus adventure with 2 different transfers to the Dieng Plateau. This plateau is one giant caldera, a large plot of land that sinks when a magma chamber, inside the earth, is emptied. It is a highly volcanic region with many small volcanic craters, releasing sulfur gas and steam into the air. The temperature here was much cooler and proved to be a nice break from the sun and humidity. Due to the fact that it was the rainy season here, the clouds appeared around 10 or 11 am. They were accompanied with heavy rain, thunder, and lightning for the rest of the day. To take advantage of any sunlight, we woke up at 3:30 AM to watch the sunrise over Mount Sundora, an active stratovolcano in this region. It was constantly releasing steam and gas during our 2 night stay in Dieng. The sunrise was pretty unreal, and I was able to capture a time-lapse of the clouds moving in over the valley. Our time of exploration here was cut short due to the rain, but in the morning we were able to take in the terraced hills, farms, volcanoes, and creepy costumed individuals.
After 2 nights and one full day in Dieng, we continued our adventure west to Pangandaran, a beach town in south western half of Java. The color of the beaches here was very similar to those on the Oregon Coast. The main town of Pangandaran was pretty empty. Most of the shops were boarded up and there were unfinished hotels everywhere. We assumed the boarding up of the shops and restaurants were because it is low season. We were told tourism here doesn’t increase until the summer months. This still didn’t explain the quantities of unfinished hotels. It still remains a point of confusion to us. Has tourism died down here? Have these hotels ran out of money? Or have they just been put on hold during the rainy season? Despite the abandonment, we were able to find a cool beach bar that wasn’t too expensive. We relaxed here, played pool, and watched the waves crash on the beach.
During our only full day here Alex and I rented scooters and drove them 11 miles northwest to the Citumang River. Taylor decided not to join us, as a day relaxing on the beach was too attractive for him to turn down. We arrived at Citumang to see hoards of Indonesian tourists (over one hundred), fully clothed, with life jackets, floating down the river. These tourists were all in groups that were comprised of 30-40 people with 2 tour guides. A bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people in the river we ventured through the jungle, wandering around various trails to see where they lead to. After losing what seemed like gallons of sweat, we braved the tourists and went for a swim in the river. The river was no longer than 15 feet across and there was a small 20 foot cliff jump there as well. The cliff jump was located at the mouth of a cave. It was only accessed by scrambling up a system of roots coming out of the canyon’s wall. We were lucky to be in between tour group during our swim in the river, so it really didn’t seem as overcrowded as it was when we arrived. Further down the river there was a 7 foot waterfall to jump off of as well as a rope swing. The most entertaining part of the whole adventure was the method the tour guides used to guide the 30 plus tourists down the river. They would have each person floating on their backs, linking their legs through the arms of the person in from of them. This created a huge floating chain of people that the tour guides would drag down the river. This sight alone made Alex and I grateful for that fact that we didn’t book a tour and ventured though the river alone.
Our last day in Pangandaran was spent hanging out on the beach waiting for our night bus to Jakarta. We caught the bus at 7:00 PM and arrived in Jakarta at 3:00 AM for our flight, at 10:00 AM on March 10th, to Ho Chi Minh City. Here we will scouting motorcycles to take us through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. This is assuming the random website, where we got our approval for a visa on arrival, works out. We’ve heard Wifi in Vietnam is pretty bad and the government censors and blocks some websites. Hopefully we can find a VPN to get around that and a SIM card to help us stay connected. Oh, and currently its 91 degrees there with 50% humidity, it’s going to be a fun sweaty ride!