30 September 2014

The sands of Gunung Merapi

Riverbed below Merapi
Gunung Merapi and his neighbor, Gunung Merbabu, tower mightily above the plains around Solo and Yogyakarta. But as they're often covered in clouds, you could almost forget their massive presence with an elevation of just slightly less than 3'000 meters. As Central Java is quite densely populated, the lower, very fertile slopes of the mountain are inhabited by thousands of people. On most days, Merapi is quiet, only a little white smoke is rising from its peak. But every couple of years, last in 2006 and 2010, eruptions occur and the pyroclastic flows they cause usually kill some of the less cautious farmers who refuse evacuation.

23 September 2014

Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park

View on the harbor of Labuan Bajo
Reunited after some time apart, we headed for another divers paradise, where we finally both could enjoy an awesome day of diving. Labuan Bajo, the port on the very western tip of Flores consists pretty much of one street, where one can find dive shops, tour operators, hotels, international restaurants and whatever else a traveler might need. Compared to most other destinations in Indonesia – except Bali and the Gili Islands - is Labuan Bajo very western. The atmosphere is quite cosmopolitan and European, Australian and American travelers clearly dominate the main street and night life in town. Most of the locals can speak English, European bread, muesli, pizza, pasta, cocktails and many other European things are easily available and the town is growing extremely fast.

3 September 2014

Derawan and the Sangalaki archipelago

On the more quiet side of Derawan
Derawan itself is a beautiful tropical island. But as it's quite easily accessible from the mainland (East Kalimantan) and one of the few islands in the archipelago with a freshwater source, it's also rather densely populated. There is quite some tourism infrastructure and as in similar parts of Indonesia, every second house doubles as homestay or guesthouse. On the downside, the many speedboats and overfishing damage the local reef and leave it severely degraded. Though it is still possible to see corals and turtles when snorkeling.