Monday, May 12, 2008

Java Jive '08 Part 5: Crater Lake

Early the next morning, we hired a taxi to take us to the nearby town of Ciwidey to visit the crater lake of Kawah Putih (White Crater). Along the way, we were treated to excellent vistas of padi fields and volcanoes.

As we ascended up the hill, the vista got even more impressive, as padi fields gave way to rice terraces and strawberry farms.

The morning mist gave the place an added sense of serenity and isolation. I could live here forever. Then again, maybe not. ;)

The taxi driver was kind enough to stop along the way to give us some time to stretch our legs and also to take some pictures of the strawberry farms. As it wasn't the season, we could not do the usual ritual of picking our own strawberries. Oh well, there's always Cameron.

After about two hours of numbing our butts, we finally arrived at the park. It looked deserted...

Welcome to Ciwidey's Kawah Putih National Park!

As we got out of the car, the guide instructed us to hike up a footpath through the woods. Hmmm..... good thing I brought my hiking shoes.

It struck me as rather odd to see a lot of the tree trunks and branches here to be almost black and charred, and yet there were flowering shoots coming out of them.

As we descended the steps towards the crater, the 'rotten egg' smell became noticeable, as would be expected in seismically active areas.

The footpath then gave way to gravel and small rocks and the going got tougher by the minute. The fog too was setting in.... Hmm... This is starting to look a bit too much like the recent Stephen King movie, The Mist!

I looked around and all I saw were charred tree branches and dark grey earth. It didn't help that Nan kept whistling the Twilight Zone theme song.

The fog got really, really thick and the stink was almost overpowering...... It got so bad we had to call out each other's names to 'see' where they were.

And then, just as suddenly as it appeared, the fog lifted.... and we saw this - dead branches sticking out of milky green water.

I didn't realise that I had wandered onto a narrow sand bank that jutted right out into the lake. One wrong step and I would have drowned in the lake! Ok, that was a wee bit overdramatic. ;)

It was indeed a very strangely beautiful place and once our noses got used to the stench, we got out our cameras and started snapping away like hungry crocodiles in a fish farm!

We spent almost an hour in this otherworldly place, taking tons of pictures as the fog came in and went, revealing more details of the background and then drawing back the curtains as if playing peekaboo with us.

There was a mine shaft where sulfur was being extracted and we were warned not to stand at the mouth of the cave for too long. I wondered why until I actually stood there and got dizzy from the blast of sulfurous wind coming out. The cave farted in my face!

I thought my mind was still playing tricks on me because of the mild sulfurous intoxication when I noticed a wedding photography session in the distance.... till the very 'fierce' bride looked my way and stared right back at me! I so pity the groom.... ;)


M@x said...

Nice Pics....Will be my turn to Bandung this weekend! :)

Amazonman said...

thanks. Hope u have a great time there. Bring an extra bag for all ur shopping!