I must say I kind of miss my time living in the shadow of an active volcano. As a half-remedy, yesterday I jumped on a cheap-as-chips AirAsia flight from Singapore to Yogyakarta in Central Java, Indonesia, to explore the volcanic belt around Borobudur temple. Woke up this morning with the call to prayer echoing across the plain and snapped a couple of pics, below. Bit of a moody sunrise, but an impressive view nonetheless.
Merapi, which erupted savagely in 2010 causing 350,000 evacuations and 350 deaths, means “Mountain of Fire” in Javanese. It’s the same translation as Mount Etna’s Arabic name (Jebel Utlamat) – and, for that matter, the same translation as the Icelandic volcano Eldfell. I guess there are probably loads of “Mountains of Fire” dotted all around the world. It’s a fairly sensible name to give to a volcano.
Today I ventured up the slopes of Merapi, but only so far as the observation platform at Ketep Pass. The mountain was shrouded in cloud which meant the only thing for it was to brave the 30-minute audiovisual presentation about the 2010 eruption, shown in the “Volcano Theatre” (another inventive name). It was better than the 1997 film Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche, but jeez, not by much.
More about lava – and Java! – later.