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Krakatoa – West of Sumatra

June 20, 2012

Happy June/Almost July!

I spent this last weekend visiting the remnants of the famous Krakatoa volcano. I planned the whole thing as a weekend trip and boy was it a lot of travel. During the whole trip I traveled on planes, trains, automobiles, and a boat. In the end though, it was definitely worth it.

When we first arrived at the islands known as Krakatoa, we stopped to do some snorkeling. It was fun to get out of the boat and cool off. We snorkeled along the coast of the islands making up the caldera of Krakatoa. There are schools of fish you can swim through and a wide variety of plant life only a few meters below the water’s surface.  As I swam out a bit further though I came to a pretty steep drop off. As in all of a sudden there was a cliff and I couldn’t see the bottom. I decided not to venture any further from there. I think that’s where the kraken lives. At least that’s what the guide told me.

When Krakatoa erupted it destroyed a lot of the landscape and islands in the vicinity. Funny how huge volcanos have a tendency to do that. In 1930 a new island at the center of the eruption rose to the surface. This is known as Anak Krakatau and is the tourist hotspot and current active volcano. Naturally we camped out on it.

When we first arrived on shore there were a few other boats but they had stayed the night before and soon departed. In other words, we had the whole volcano to ourselves. By this time it was mid-afternoon, hot outside, and I had gotten about 4 hours of sleep so nap time. They have wooden structures set about 2 feet off the ground for people to eat, sleep, and sit on without getting covered in dirt and bugs. I was laying on one of these when I started hearing rustling in the jungle behind me. I looked to see what it was and couldn’t see anything. After I decided it probably wasn’t a velociraptor I sat there motionless to wait for it to come out. Slowly a giant four foot long Monitor Lizard came out.

Now I know what you’re thinking and no, we did not BBQ it for dinner. The Indonesian government frowns upon poaching lizards and then, well poaching the lizards.

Later in the day when the sun wasn’t directly overhead we started hiking up a hill on the volcano. They won’t let you hike on the volcano itself because it’s:

A: Incredibly Steep

B: Very Steep

C: Smells like sulfur and nobody wants to hike on sulfur


The hill was next to the volcano and between our campsite and the volcano. This hill was also made of black sand which meant you would sink backwards with each step making it much harder to go uphill. Eventually we stopped and got a great view of the islands.

One of the very nice things about camping is the stars. When you’re away from the cities you can actually see stars as there is no light to interfere with your view. I spent a portion of the night walking up and down the beach just looking at the stars and hoping I wasn’t going to step on anything painful. It’s always nice to get out of the city just to be reminded that there actually are stars and other things out there. It’s sort of weird at first because the stars on this side of the world are different than those in Northern California. But that’ll happen just being in different parts of the world.

In the morning we packed up and began the trip back (with another short stop for snorkeling).

I really enjoyed the trip and learned a lot like these Fun Facts

  1. Krakatoa was actually three volcanos
  2. The current volcano didn’t exist before but was formed in the caldera after the eruption
  3. AirAsia won’t let you change flights within 48 hours of departure time (meaning you can’t catch and earlier flight if you arrive at the airport early)
  4. The Jakarta airport is not a fun place to wait 7 hours for your flight to return home (and it was delayed an hour)
  5. There is no bar in the Jakarta airport (this may have greatly impacted the fun fact #4 above)

I’ve also put together a website chronicling all of my travel emails. If you’re ever interested in finding an old email or maybe more details on something or just want to go “look what my crazy friend/former coworker/family member” then here is the link.

Hope you are all doing well,



Quotes from this edition:


From NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me

PETER SAGAL: But first, great news: according to a new study, listeners to NPR News are better informed than people who get their news anywhere else. This is true. They asked everyone a series of questions about things, and NPR listeners got more of the questions right than say cable TV news watchers. Of course, the questions were a little slanted.

CARL KASELL: To the best of your knowledge, which wine pairs best with a Prius?


An expat here talking about the older Proton cars: Those look like they are held together with duct tape and hope.


And a Simpsons scene



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