I wanted to climb Mount Merapi with my friends, but the area was closed due to an accident at the crater. Lava Tour was the closest to exploring Merapi, the active volcano in Jogjakarta.
The group was greeted by cute “Moo”ing sounds from cows in the area. I was surprised to see that there were actual cows, the black-and-white ones, in Jogjakarta.
Before the tour started, we were briefed in a hut by the ranger and were told about the eruption tragedies in the region. The eruptions happened in 2006 and, the latest and the most publicised one, in 2010. It was the locals who have the initiatives to organise the tour around the region. The local government has no part in it. The villages were destroyed during the eruption together with their farms and livestock. With the evacuation zone imposed, villagers are not allowed to go back to their homes. But it seems like the government failed to accommodate their needs away from their lands. So, many people go back to their farms. Lava tour is one of the ways for the locals to make a living.
With the jeeps and rangers ready, we were ready to explore the valleys of Merapi.
The first stop was to check out the remains of the destroyed homes. One of the house owner set up his house as a museum to show what was left of his belongings after the eruption. He put up the sign at the front yard, “Rumahku” or “My home”. It was heart breaking to see his house like that. I felt bad for being excited to be on the tour, to have, what I called as, adventure. I admit that riding the topless jeep was very exciting, but to see what these people went through, it was no place for excitement. But the rangers, also the locals whose houses were destroyed, were glad to take us around the area. They have been working hard to earn a living by doing all these tours around their destroyed village.
He put up some interesting objects on display in the house. I saw a Holy Quran that, believe it or not, was not completely burnt while every other things were. I saw drinking glasses that were melted. Yeah, they were melted. The heat didn’t break the glasses (in which case, a moderate heat), it melted them. There was also a clock which shows the exact time it stopped working.
Then we continued the journey…
We were brought to an old bunker that didn’t serve its purpose. It’s outer case is made of metal and people died in it because of the heat. The lava from the eruption in 2010 got into the bunker and was hardened inside. They cleared out the hardened lava near the walls of the bunker which left a giant hard rock in the middle of it. There were two toilets (no longer functional) in the bunker too.
At the top of the bunker was full view of Merapi, but it was covered by the clouds the entire time we were there. On the bright side, it wasn’t hot at all. So, walking around to take pictures was very enjoyable.
From bunker, we were brought to an unnecessary tourist attraction: a rock that resembles Ultraman. Or Ironman. They called it Alien Rock. Oh well, our driver asked if we want to alight and take picture with it. We all said no.
The next destination was to see the water spring. The jeep went into rivers and splashed water everywhere. I thought I would be covered by the windscreen. It turned out that the jeeps had holes underneath, so my shoes got wet. That was worse.
Overall, at the end of the trip, I wasn’t sure how to express my feelings. I was saddened about what happened to the locals, but at the same time, was impressed by the beauty of nature! The ride on the Jeep also made the tour thrilling. It was a good experience.