(Friday Reflection) : Ring of Fire

ImageIndonesia and its volcanoes
Foto source : here

Malang, East Java, Indonesia 1994
When I went to school by bicycle at around 6.00 a.m, I saw the sky was cloudy but it’s dry season and no rainy signs. I had already worn my jacket and biked to school, however, there was rain hard. Not water, but ashes. I had to pass the ash rain while riding my bicycle. The ash rain was getting worse, until I had to close my eyes many times as it could hurt mine. The ash was everywhere, covered trees, roofs until streets. It looked like snowy day but not cold and even dusty. It was the hardest time I experienced, as when I reached school, I had to wash my hair for eliminating ash’s effects because it’s said that volcano ash was not good for your hair. But I had already washed my hair before and alas! That’s not uncommon if there sometimes the ash falls down because my hometown is surrounded by some volcanoes.

Muntilan, Central Java, (still) Indonesia 2010
After Merapi eruption, I decided to visit my friend in Yogyakarta. I took a bus from Semarang to Yogya, but only economic class which dared to pass Magelang. Magelang is one of the nearest point to Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia, and Muntilan, a small city nearby was the most affected by the eruption. If I’m not mistaken, my bus passed there at 8.00 p.m and Muntilan was like the ghost city. Only a few lights were seen and everything dark. Muddy road as the mixture effect between volcano ash and rain made it worse. Most of Muntilan citizens had gone to refugees camps or unaffected areas. But, Alhamdulillah, I could reach Yogyakarta safely and still heard Merapi’s eruption sound from afar.

ImageThe Erupting Semeru, around 70 km from my home

Central Java and East Java, Indonesia 2014
Besides Sinabung in North Sumatera, Kelud also erupted in February 2014. Its exploding rumble could be heard until Yogyakarta and my dad said he saw its fire at 10.00 p.m and the sky looked little bit reddish like sunrise. Now, Slamet mountain in Central Java (between Pemalang, Banyumas, Brebes, Tegal and Purbalingga) had erupted. At almost the same time, Merapi wakes up again, and …..once more, Bromo also shows its resurrection till people are not allowed to get closer 1 km from the location.

Those stories were only some of my experiences related to volcano. Indonesia, my country, belongs ring of fire, from Pacific and also Mediterranean which finally meet in Banda islands (Maluku, The Moluccas). Ring of fire, makes Indonesia- in this case Indonesia- becomes a fertile country, but at the same time also devastates by its power. Much alike Ganges-Jamuna-Brahmaputra rivers in India and Bangladesh which can be friend at one time and becomes the worst enemy at another time. Java Island itself is one of the ‘hottest’ island in the world. Why? many volcanoes can be found from west to east. From Sumatera, until The Moluccas, you can find volcanoes, even some of them are the most dangerous or famous of its devastating effect like Krakatoa (1883) and Tambora (1815) as well as Toba super volcano which formed into Toba Lake nowadays.

Sometimes I imagine, what if all volcanoes erupted at the same time? It will be scary and I don’t know where I must run away. Hehehehe..As you know, there are 127 active volcanoes scattered in all parts of Indonesia and just imagine by yourself then.

ImageSindoro mountain, Dieng Plateau, Central Java, Indonesia

As I ever read in various history books, volcano can destroy and devastate its surroundings until a civilization can be lost. Tambora had buried three kingdoms in 1815 and its affect could be felt globally where there was no summer during a year (1815-1816), harvest failure and famine everywhere which forced Irish to immigrate to America and Napoleon’s lost in Waterloo battle. Year without summer had devastated and it was effect of Tambora’s eruption. Krakatoa also did the same thing, with around 40 metres tsunami, its rumble could be heard for more than 4000 miles. Besides of its devastating effects, volcanoes give life for people in its surroundings, beautiful sceneries, its hot springs, fertile soil, natural gas and so many things can be explored. This is why I am proud of my own country because of all its contradictions.

My hometown Malang is surrounded by several of them : Kelud, Kawi (still sleeping well), Bromo and Semeru (the highest mountain in Java Island).

Volcano has got two faces, much alike us. They just do their duties, as God commands them since their were firstly created.


Tangerang, 2 May 2014


Bambang Priantono



2 Comments Add yours

  1. There are about 3,000 volcanoes in the world (at any one time 20 are erupting). Out of those, about 100 are in Indonesia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s