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The ImogenW Travel Show Continued


Close to Jakarta

Nothing to do .

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So welcome, ladies and gents, to the latest installment in my Indonesian adventures: How to sit on a wet beach for two days doing f*** all. The beach in question is called Carita (pronounced Charita), a weekend getaway location for moderately well off Jakarta-ites and about the best Java has to offer by way of coastline. There are some things the Javanese do very well indeed: temples, dancing, puppet shows and rioting being among them, but they aren't very good at beaches, and this really is no exception. Maybe if you'd never been to a tropical beach before you'd be impressed, but I doubt it.

There is one thing I should confess here: I'm not a great fan of beach holidays. Seasides are pretty and all, and I love hiking along seashores, but nothing bores me more than the idea of lying motionless in the sun for hours on end and calling it a holiday. And let's face it, there's really not much you can do on a beach apart from that, swim a bit, maybe surf if you're so inclined and all other things that involve actually going in the water - which I don't do as, like all other girls with long hair, you wind up with a salty tangly mess on your head and it's just not worth it. Admittedly, I make an exception for snorkelling or diving, but there's not much to see here in the way of coral or fish which is another drawback.

And I have to admit, Cerita did not do much to change my mind. It's about three hours out of Jakarta by bus, and there are plenty of tours if you don't feel up to braving the local bus system (entirely understandable).Basically, it's a big sandy bay, nicely decorated with palm trees and waves just big enough to make it fun for small kids to splash around, tho I don't think your average surfer would be very impressed. The hotels thereabouts - and virtually every building along the whole bay is either a hotel or a holiday home centre - are cheap, but not very good value. I was shown one place that was supposed to be top class - they took me to a room where the bed wasn't made and then to a swimming pool so murky you couldn't see the bottom - and tried to tell me it was only like that cos of the powder they put in to clean it. I was not impressed. The food is quite good, but I've had better, and cheaper, seafood elsewhere in Indonesia. There's a very nice public pool, open air and overlooking the beach - it costs 10,00 RP (about 70p) to use, which keeps the idiots out.

But aside from swimming in the pool, walking along the beach and eating mediocre seafood, there's really not a lot else to do. Everything shuts down by about 9pm, so your evenings will be spent curled up with a halfway decent book (you'll have to bring your own as there aren't any shops here) or watching crap Indonesia telly, assuming you can afford a hotel room that has a satellite dish.

So, you may well ask, what on earth was I doing there? Well, Carita does have one spectacular trump card: it's the jumping off point for tours to visit the legendary volcano of Krakatoa, which is in the straits between west Java and Sumatra. When this volcano, which had previously been thought dormant, errupted in 1883 it produced the biggest explosion ever recorded. The ensuing bang was heard as far away as Sri Lanka, the resulting tidal wave was about 40 metres high, swamped most of Western Java and was powerful enough to dump large war boats halfway up mountains. About 35,000 people died, and the dust thrown into the atmosphere was still circulating the globe causing spectacular sunsets two years later.

Krakatoa's efforts were so powerful they completely blew up the island the volcano had been situated on, leaving just a few peaks above sea level. Shortly after the explosion, however, a new volcano emerged from the sea and was dubbed anak krakatoa, or child of krakatoa. It is this you can go to see. Boat trips go from Carita, take a day and cost around 1 million rupiah per trip (around £60) which you can divinde between as many people as you can find to go with you. There are plenty of traveller's tales to whet your appetite: ranging from mini-erruptions that can be viewed from the boat, boulders flying through the air, water around the island being heated to up to 60 degrees farenheit, all exciting stuff and if you have a thing about volcanoes like I do, it's a not exactly a hard sell.

Or at least you can do all this if the weather permits. This is where I went wrong. I sat in Carita for two days waiting for it to stop raining so we could head out. It didn't. So I've temporarily given up and have headed back to Jakarta to cheer myself up with some decent food and lick my wounds in peace. I'll probably try again next week, and will update as and when I get there. Fingers crossed, everyone...

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Comments about this review »

Okocha 19.03.2001 18:18

You commented on my marathon piece (sorry, don't know how to reply directly to that comment). I've reached my sponsorship target and wouldn't feel right about asking people i don't know - Thanks anyway though. I'm relatively new to Ciao - My last 6 articles have got very helpful ratings (much improved) but don't get many reads. How do manage to get many opinions with over 50 reads?!

wiggglypufff 19.03.2001 05:13

Ooops, must be the time of morning. I meant must be a great experience (all the travel). Shame the rain spoiled it for you.

wiggglypufff 19.03.2001 05:06

Excellent review, sounds like a great place. Thanks :)

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