My First Volcano: Tangkuban Perahu

Our second day in Bandung was an escape of the bustling streets and crowded markets.  We journeyed by taxi about 30 kilometers north confronting the enormous volcanic mountain that looms over the city.  The volcano’s name, Tangkuban Perahu, means upturned boat and from a distance it does resemble this. Our car slowly climbed up the mountain side wrapping around the twisting forest roads. Suddenly the sides of the streets opened to a rocky landscape and the sun was gleaming again overhead.  We had reach the mouth of the largest crater Kawah Ratu, meaning Queen’s crater. It last erupted in 1969, but has since then only had a few incidents of releasing poisonous gases into the the air causing evacuations of the immediate surroundings and the park’s temporary closure. Our driver parked the car in a lot that lined the crater’s edge and as we stepped out the smell of sulfur immediately filled our noses.  We walked along lines and lines of souvenir and gorengan (fried snack) stands.  For some reason, plastic animal masks with fake itchy fur were a popular souvenir, which I never saw again at any sites across Java or Bali. We walked a short trail along the krater’s edge stopping often to peer into its opening.  The cloudy gray and white mass in the krater was a scalding liquid, but it appeared like a concrete floor that one could walk across.  We bought some gorengan (tofu and sweet potato sorts) and started on a trail leading down to the Domas crater.  Guide books warn one about sketchy souvenir stands and the guide’s ‘friends’, but we seemed to miss a lot of this visiting on a week day.  At the beginning of the trail there was one craftsman carving little glasses and bowls from a local tree that naturally has beautiful high contrast repeated patterns in the wood. We watched him make them and all three of us bargained to take one of these beautiful handcrafts home. We continued on the path and came across a florescent orange mushroom growing on a tree trunk.  Our guide told us that simply touching this one was poisonous and eating it would kill a person.  He then found a root with a long thick stem supporting one large leaf and told us that on the other hand this specimen was edible and especially good for tea. We tucked it into our bag with the carved wooden glasses to take home.  We continued down the incline stopping at a lookout over the geysers of Domas crater. When we reach the bottom, the vendors were offering us eggs to buy, because one could boil them in either the steam (taking 15-20 minutes) or directly in the boiling geyser water (5-7 minutes). I already had three eggs for breakfast so opted to just soak my feet in the sulfur springs. We sat in one of the pools on the rock edges.  The pool was about 20 centimeters deep and the surrounding rocks had yellow and green sulfur crystal formations. 

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view into Tangkuban Perahu’s Queen Crater
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animal masks are a thing here
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looking down into the Queen Crater
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stands for snack
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mineral and herbal souvenirs
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delicious gorengan snacks
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carving wooded vessels
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the beautiful wood glasses carved from a local tree species
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the root that one could make tea from
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hiking down to Domas Crater
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the very poisonous mushroom
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looking down onto Domas Crater
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Domas Crater
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the geyser spring that could boil eggs in 5-7 minutes
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