Today I got up to see Kawah Putih, a volcanic crater filled with water and sulphur. The crater is located about fifty kilometers south of Bandung and I had received directions on how to get there from the hostel staff the night before. So I set out, first to grab an Angkot (this is what they call minivans that have had their factory seats gutted and replaced with benches and are used all over Indonesia as mini-buses with cheap fares) to take me to the Leuwi Panjang bus terminal on the south side of town. I jumped in a green Angkot as I was directed, but he stopped at a nearby bus terminal and directed me to take another. Eventually I found a red Angkot to take me to the bus terminal (the fare was 3,000 Rupiah or $0.25 USD). At the bus terminal I eventually found the minivan that would take me to Ciwedey – the town near Kawah Putih. I ended up waiting for the next minivan to get a better seat, and once that van was crammed full of bodies (seventeen humans), we set out for the ninety minute drive to Ciwedey. It was certainly uncomfortable and the traffic in Bandung was horrendous, so it took quite some time just to get out of the city. Eventually we made it Ciwedey, a town near the mountains and that had many terraced farms growing rice, onions, cabbage, etc. Once at the bus station, I paid the fare (10,000 Rupiah or $0.85 USD). From the bus station, I hopped on another Angkot – yellow this time – and once it was full of passengers (eighteen bodies this time with the last guy hanging out the door!) we drove on up to Kawah Putih. On our way up, we passed many strawberry plantations which had the strawberry plants potted in large nylon sacks; they all appeared to be like that, row after row of sacks with a strawberry plant in each.
By the time we reached the entrance to Kawah Puthi, the van had all but cleared out. I got out, paid my fare (10,000 Rupiah again) and walked up to the park entrance. At the entrance I was told that due to small numbers of visitors, I would be better off taking a motorbike up to the crater than waiting on the minivan transportation they have at the park to fill up with the required twelve passengers. So I paid the entrance fee (40,000 Rupiah or $3.40 USD) and then rode on the bitch seat as the driver took us up to the crater. It didn’t make me feel any safer seeing the driver wearing a helmet when all I had was my thick luscious hair to protect my skullcap. Finally, we reached the crater; the motorbike driver told me he would wait there for me as I walked to the crater and looked around. After walking about a hundred meters, I came face to face with Kawah Putih. There was a strong sulphur smell in the air and the sand and rocks nearest the crater’s lake were colored a greenish yellow. The lake itself was a very light blue color and all the trees nearest the waters had long since died. On the other side of the lake I could see the steam vents of the volcano and further away from the barren, dead trees, the volcano was covered in a thick, green jungle with many ferns and trees. I walked around the crater, trying to take as many photos as I could; I walked over to the left shore of the lake before moving on to the right and then I walked out on to a small peninsula which had remnants of some stone structures (possibly used to pool the water for baths before the sulfur levels became intolerable?). It wasn’t long before the sulfur in the air started to get to me, so I quickly finished walking around before heading back to the motorbike with my driver. We then descended the crater, heading back down to the park entrance. Along the way he stopped to point out a monkey in the trees, but he disappeared out of the canopy by the time I pulled my camera out. We then reached the entrance and I paid him 50,000 Rupiah for his services (or $4.24 USD).
I then waited for another yellow Angkot to pass by which I then took back to Ciwedey. I paid 10,000 Rupiah again and then found the minivan back to Bandung. We ended up waiting about an hour before the minivan back to Bandung filled up with enough passengers (seventeen) to satisfy the driver. This time on the drive back, the exhaust fumes were noticeably nauseating and I’m sure my brain is permanently scarred from the experience. When we reached Bandung, the traffic was so atrocious, we were moving at a snail’s pace; I could’ve walked faster if only I could squeeze through all the passengers that were crammed inside. Eventually after two hours, we reached the Leuwi Panjang bus terminal. I exited the van, paid the driver 10,000 Rupiah, and then decided to walk back to the hostel to exercise my legs and get blood flowing through them properly again. All in all, to see the crater, I spent 133,000 Rupiah or $11.29 USD, and it took me about seven and a half hours; it is debatable whether or not it was worth the time, but I was glad to get out of the city and see the natural Indonesian environment; besides the drive in the country, though brief, was enjoyable and being able to experience Indonesian public transportation was worthwhile even though I have no interest in repeating that particular experience.
I walked back to the Hyper Market area where the hostel is situated and I decided to eat at the same cowboy restaurant as I did the night prior. This time I had a Guinness, fish and chips, and a burger patty covered in sauce and seated atop a mound of rice – added bonus: the burger was filled with pesto and onions inside making it truly delicious. After that meal, I went back to the hostel to rest.