10 December 2011

Gay Mad Max [Berastagi, Indonesia]

There is only one reason to visit the town of Berastagi in Northern Indonesia; the proximity of Mount Sibiyak; a pretty sizable volcano. There are actually two volcanoes in the area, but Sibayak is the closest and easiest to climb. That is not to say it is easy, many people have lost their lives on Sibayak. In fact there is a big list of all the people that have died in the information center, the idea is to encourage you to hire a guide. But guides are expensive, and we are highly experienced mountaineers. OK, that last bit was a lie, but we'll be fine!

The evening we arrived into Berastagi was one of the worst storms I have experienced. It was bucketing down, there were claps of thunder coming from every direction, and lightning was lighting up the sky. This concerned me for two reasons; our guest house leaked like a sieve, and that it would be too wet to go hiking the following day.

We woke to an overcast day which kept threatening to rain but never followed through. We walked about 30 minutes to the entrance gate, paid our $0.20 each to get in, then started climbing. Except we were still on a sealed road... and 30 minutes later we started going down. Turns out we hadn't even reached the base of the mountain yet. But walking through the jungle was quite nice, and we saw a big group of wild monkeys swinging through the trees. Unfortunately as soon as they saw us they took off, and I was too slow to get out my camera.

The sealed road continued on even after we did find the mountain, and continued on to within a kilometer of the summit. That is not to say it wasn't hard; that road was freakin' steep! And there was a massive landslide that came over the road to navigate. At the end of the road a small path lead up to the crater. As soon as we left the road the surroundings changed from lush, green forest to white, volcanic rock.

The closer we got to the crater the more the landscape looked like the surface of the moon; a completely barren, rocky surface with steam rising from the ground. There were a couple of huge vents where steam was rushing out, as we got close the sound was overwhelming.


The crater itself also looked like something from a far off planet; with steam and clouds swirling around the steep rocky walls, and the light green water that had collected in the basin.

We had a small picnic on one edge of the crater, then decided to make our way down. We opted for a small trail that lead down to some hot-springs rather than the main sealed road. We didn't realise quite how difficult it would be. The trail was very steep, with loose rocks and huge cliff faces. With the previous nights rain everything was extremely slippery. I started to understand how people might loose their lives up here.

But we made it down unscathed. As we got down from the open rock faces and into the jungle we started to hear the monkeys. Quiet at first, then slowly picking up with more and more monkeys joining in. It sounded as though they were coming right for us, but sadly I never saw any of them.

At the bottom of the trail was a steam plant. We approached from the back where there was a massive building that was half melted. Something pretty serious had happened there. I wanted to take a closer look, but when I leaned through the fence there was a guard standing right there. We made our way around to the front and as we were walking away a big rock came flying and landed just in-front of Julia. WTF? Had we seen something we shouldn't have?

We made it to the hot pools without being stoned to death. They were exactly what we needed to relax our aching muscles.

That night we walked just out of the town to a small hill to watch the sun set over one of the volcano's. It was pretty spectacular.

Next we are making our way to Bukit Lawang, a small village famous for its orangutan population. They actually have a rehabilitation center there where you can see the rangers feeding the monkeys. We opted for public transport because we are not really in a rush, and it is CHEAP. The comfort level is pretty low, but we can handle it.

One random observation - the public transport that runs around town are all vans. But they all have big wings on the back and massive body kits. It is kind of like a back-yard Fast and the Furious, or a gay Mad Max.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...