Indonesia – Just Visit!

By Amy Chavez

For The Bali Times

The Indonesian government has plans to make 2008 Visit Indonesia Year. But the launch seems to be, well, delayed, if not entirely cancelled.

And at this point, it’s really too late to suggest people should be visiting Indonesia in 2008, as most people will have already made their travel plans. But I have an idea. Forget the slogan Visit Indonesia 2008. Let’s change it to “Indonesia – Just Visit!” It’s more of a spur to action – mildly threatening.

After all, Nike never had to explain “Just Do It” and Nancy Reagan never had to explain “Just Say No.” So Indonesians, just feel confident that you can just tell people to “Just Visit.” The rest is for people to discover, on their own.

And now is a good time for Indonesia to get in on the most explosive travel industry yet — volcanoes.

With all the volcanoes in the news, they ought to be using this publicity to their advantage. Indonesia has 37 percent of all the volcanoes in the world! In addition, there are 57 active volcanoes, most of which have erupted at least once in the last century. How cool is that?!

There is truly a volcano for everyone in Indonesia. Just visit to find out. And volcano tourism would open a new market of people to draw to Indonesia. Not just divers, surfers and beachgoers anymore but also volcanists, pyromaniacs and millions of high school boys hoping to be present when the volcano blows. We could have “Journey to the Center of the Earth” tours and sell black concert t-shirts with the locations of volcanoes on the back.

Here are just some of Indonesia’s exciting volcanoes:

Anak Krakatau – Child of Krakatau

This is the most famous Indonesian volcano, located in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. The parent, Krakatau, is just a remnant of what it was before the birth of its child in 1883. The birth spewed lava, stones and mud, scientifically referred to as “erupted products” and spurred a tsunami that killed 24,000 people. That’s one hell of a birth.

Why the name is “Child of Krakatau,” I’m not sure. It should be the more sinister Son of Krakatau, as this volcano is a serial killer. I rather like this idea of birth as an explosion, however. Lava, lights, fireworks: It’s a boy!

The Son of Krakatau gives off gentle eruptions every seven to eight years. This is enough to keep the fissures glowing and lava flowing, with red-hot flares jumping 700 meters into the sky. This is a great volcano for pyromaniacs.

Mt. Merapi

Mt. Merapi, which like many Indonesians uses only one name,

lies north of Yogyakarta and is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes. This volcano is good for those seeking beauty treatments because when the volcano does blow, it’s guaranteed to spew enough pumice for everyone to take home a giant one for their bathroom: A full-body pumice stone.

While you are at Mt. Merapi, you might want to make some offerings. Indonesians are known to throw jewelry, rice and, um, live animals into craters to appease the volcanoes. Might make for an ugly eruption though. “Hey, is that Rover?”

“I don’t know; he’s so black and charred. Wait, I recognize that scowl on his face…”

Mt. Kelut

This volcano southwest of Surabaya has recently awakened and is threatening to erupt. It last erupted in 1990, killing over 30 people, and before that in 1919, killing over 5,000. But no worries. The secret to keeping the volcano from erupting, say the locals, is to stay quiet, and not turn on any lights in their houses. What the mountain would have against electricity, I’m not sure, but this method does seem to be working. And they’re saving a hell of a lot on electricity bills.

One local prepares coffee and a pack of cigarettes to take to the mountain once a week for the spiritual guardian of Mt. Kelut. Now you know why volcanoes are always smoking.

The guardian tells this messenger what is on its mind as far as eruptions go. Yet another person says it will not erupt until a large number of violent deaths occur, as a prerequisite. All I can say is, and I say this in a tiny whisper, “Just placate the beast!”

This is a good volcano for high school boys to visit, since they like to tempt fate.

If Mt. Kelut does erupt, however, I see a new market for exports of geothermal pizza ovens.


If it’s Christian volcanoes you like, then head to Flores. Like many volcanoes in Java that don’t get as much publicity, Mt. Kelimutu is quiet and safe, with no plans to erupt anytime soon. Described as a “passively degassing stratovolcano,” the exotic lakes make this volcano especially popular among tourists. The mixture of minerals and oxygen in the lakes produces three distinct colors among the three lakes. One of the lakes is called the lake of “young men and maidens,” but probably anyone can visit it.

For those of you who would like to visit the volcanoes in Indonesia but are just too scared to get that close, there is a way to see them without ever having to touch Indonesian soil. View them from an airplane.

Whatever you do, Just Visit!

Filed under: Travel & Culture

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