Tangkuban Perahu , Java

The story continues from Day 7 : Back to Bandung

An overdose of “Bandung-esque” shopping, or rather a lack of it, prompted us to get out of Bandung and into the cool highlands towards Tangkuban Perahu . We hopped on a tiny, terror Angkot van from town. It was a nice ride from the warm humidity to cool humidity as we sped up  the ascending windy roads passing by mansions, hotels, farmlands, little villages and small huts. Having our own car or a motorbike would have allowed us to stop at leisure.


Shriveled chicken – in Indonesia, we constantly see free range / village chickens for sale. Not much meat but tasty.  Malaysian’s are so spoilt sometimes. Even our village chickens are so much larger than these.


A scene inspired by ‘Predators’ (the movie). Not sure why this was hung outside roasted chicken stalls.


School girl – Kawaii desho? Our van makes numerous stops along the way allowing us a glimpse and a brief chat with the locals. School kids and mothers made up the majority.


The Angkot stopped at its last stop but we negotiated for them to take us up to Tangkuban Perahu. Our friendly driver and ticket conductor tried to pass us off as local Jakarta tourists but park rangers were too smart for them so we had to pay the tourist rates.

This gorgeous place with super cool weather is located in the Lembang area, approximately 30 minutes from Bandung, at 2084 meters above sea level. Apart from the enjoyable cool weather, there are also a myriad number of hot springs around the mountain areas. Of all these craters, the most famous one  is actually the ‘overturned boat’ shaped volcano. Hence the name, Tangkuban Perahu (boat=perahu).

Of all these craters, the most famous one  is actually the ‘overturned boat’ shaped volcano

Like so many of Java’s unusual geographical features, there is an interesting legend behind this fascinating mountain as expressed in the local legend of Sangkuriang. Sangkuriang was a strong young man, who had been separated from his mother, Dayang Sumbi since childhood. Yet, through a twist of fate, he came to meet her again. One day, on the way home, he stopped by a small village where he met and fell in love with a beautiful girl, without realizing that the girl he loved was in fact his own mother, Dayang Sumbi, who had remained youthful through the years. When Dayang Sumbi discovered the terrible truth of her lover’s real identity, she was horrified and knew that she could never marry her own son. She, therefore, challenged him to build a dam and a huge boat during one single night before she would agree to marry him. Seeing that her son was about to complete this impossible wish, she called on God to bring up the sun early. With a wave of her magic shawl, Dayang Sumbi lit up the eastern horizon with flashes of light. Deceived by what looked like dawn, the cocks crowed and farmers rose for a new day.

When Sangkuriang realized that his endeavor was lost, in his rage he kicked the boat that he had built, turning it upside down, which was transformed into Mount Tangkuban Perahu, the name that in the local Sundanese language translates roughly to “overturned boat”. Sad, but what a story.. and everyone knows that I am a sucker for love stories of unrequited love etc etc..  (The guide weaved a fantastic tale.. I was riveted. Cumi kept rolling his eyes!)


Pony rides, trinklets, toys & hand crafted souvenirs as with all other tourist traps


Bottled up super fine grained volcanic mud for a fraction of the branded mud packs


One of the craters. Cumi wished he could go down the restricted area (Kawah Ratu)

Geologically, Mt. Tangkuban Perahu has played a significant role in the development of the Parahyangan highlands. Eruptions have contributed immensely to the hills north of Bandung through lava flowing into the valleys and hardening into rock, thus forming big cliffs over which waterfalls leap. Likewise, mud flows have formed a semi-circular cone of gentle gradient (what geologists call “a fan”), which is now a mass that blocked the valley of the ancient Citarum River near present day in Padalarang (some 18 km west of Bandung), this caused a lake to form covering the whole Bandung plain.

On the mountain’s northern flank is an area called Death Valley, so named for its frequent accumulation of poisonous gases

Though the mountain appears peaceful, mild eruptions occurred in 1969, when Kawah Ratu spewed ash and barrages 500 m high. As recently as September 1992 it was closed to the public for a few days because unusually high seismic activity lead volcanologists to fear a new eruption. On the mountain’s northern flank is an area called Death Valley, so named for its frequent accumulation of poisonous gases. On a reasonably clear day, from Kawah Ratu, the main crater, you can see not only the mountain range to the east, with Mt. Bukit tunggul as its highest peak (2,209 m), but also two other in a northeasterly direction.

Kawah Ratu, which means “Queen’s Crater”, is today just a big gray hole which sometimes has a pool of water at its center. Poisonous gases accumulate in Kawah Ratu, thus making it somewhat of a risk to descend to the crater floor. Beyond the saddled shaped depression on the far side of Kawah Ratu is the still active Kawah Upas, the oldest crater on the mountain. On the very far western cliff you see a spot where all vegetation has been destroyed by constantly rising sulphurous vapors. On the crater walls, we noticed the various layers of material consisting of rock, sand, and pebbles. Overtime, new craters have formed again and again in a rather consistent shift from west to east. The most well known of these is the Domas crater, but there are also other smaller ones in the  jungle on the mountain’s northeastern flank.


Oh no, Alice! which path would you take? One leads to the evil lair and the other, a hidden paradise.

Cumi took both.


One path took him to a little hideout dug by the Japanese army. Not as cramped at Cu-chi tunnels but still damp and musky.


Taking the other path at the fork revealed a hidden paradise/lake/crater that’s been visited by many budding landscape artists

You could easily spend 2-3 hours here soaking up the atmosphere and chatting with the guides and locals. Another activity you could partake in is to attempt the numerous trails if you have the time. However, daylight is a necessity and as with any unknown territory, you’d need to engage a guide.

Needing more exercise and Cumi not wanting to pay the ridiculous taxi prices, we walked down the mountain road. It was a lovely stroll down the windy road as we chatted about the trip while admiring the rain-forest around us. Taxis descending continued to chase us for business. Somehow they just wouldn’t budge from their exorbitant prices.


We stopped midway at a ticket counter for a trail to the Domas Crater, located about a kilometer down the northeastern slope.  A wide, well marked stairway leads down from the car park at Kawah Ratu. A bit of a tourist trap but we ventured in anyway. We had 2 guides; an official one and another ‘guide’ which eventually turned out to be a tout trying to sell us trinkets. The trails were well worned but you could still get lost since there were several trails crossing each other along the way. The official guide explained even locals get lost and there are still wild animals in the forest here. The walk takes about thirty minutes.

We hear the bubbling mud, boiling hot water, and hissing sulphur vapor..

The light forest mist begins to give way to vapors from the crater. The growing smell of sulphur is evidence of this. We are nearing the active crater! We descended down a timber and stone stairs, a shed selling snacks, drinks and bottled mud greets us then percolating vapors of the Domas Crater envelopes us.  We hear the bubbling mud, boiling hot water, and hissing sulphur vapor.
Ciki particularly loved the “spa” treatment, where for no charge at all, you get the rich volcanic clay rubbed onto your arms and legs. The sulphur is therapeutic and medicinal. You leave with super smooth skin!


rub a dub dub.. ciki in a tub!


Cumi explored further and went deeper into the jowls of the crater. Plumes of sulphuric smoke wafted in the air. There were mud pools of varying temperature and crevices in the ground spewed boiling mud. Yellow stains on the limestone and granite were sulphur crystals. Brown stain obviously with some iron deposits.


More mud “spa”.  Did you notice ciki had even nicer legs after Java?

The tout who followed us then started his sales pitch and persistently tried to sell us trinkets. We didn’t need any so we suggested giving him a tip for his time and guiding service but he respectfully declined stating that he is not allowed to take any tip or money without exchange of goods. This was confirmed by the official guide so Ciki decided to buy his souvenirs instead. The tout disappeared soon after Ciki’s purchase.

By the time we got back to the starting point, the weather had began its ritual drizzle  and we continued on foot towards the gates but 10 minutes later, the same nature guide and his colleagues came whizzing down the road. They had punched out and insisted on giving us a free ride down to the gates on their scooters. On the main road, we met another park guide who assisted us in catching the right taxi van to the nearby town. On the van, we chatted, and he told us about his family and kids who were living faraway. Its the same story about the difficult struggles living in Indonesia and how wages were low. We wanted to stop for some grub at the town and ask for suggestions from him. He got off the van with us and pointed us to a restaurant. Thinking that he was changing buses or going to have his dinner, we didn’t put too much thought into it until we were about to get into the restaurant, he hinted about his difficult life again so we gave him a tip for.. well.. showing us the restaurant?


We had, what else, but nasi padang! Wasn’t the best but it served its purpose.

Returning to Bandung, Ciki exhausted from the long trip, retired to her princess’s abode while cumi crepted out into the dark wet concrete Serengeti to hunt for more food. It wasn’t easy as he searched far and wide for game.


After an hour of search, he discovered an oasis where predators and prey met. A street filled with variety of  food and a throng of ravenous souls! Where is this you might ask?


Large bananas, mystery meat, mystery parts, noodles, rice, pancakes.. all can be had on this street for only a pinch to the pocket.


Fresh cow’s milk with ginger, traditional aphrodisiac root and eggs (duck or chicken) – a real man’s drink!


More FOOD! More Snacks! MORE MORE MORE..


Enough of food, here’s  some graffiti for dessert!


The next day, we woke up early to do some climbing! Well, not actually. Cumi dropped by the Indonesian outdoor gear store, Eiger, to look for some equipment. Outside the store, there was tall wall face. He was eager to try it but we had to buy bus tickets to Jakarta.


Why not some rice dishes for lunch and some dutch cakes for dessert?

We hopped on the luxury Xtrans van transfer , headed toward the smoggy, dark, dense melting pot of Jakarta


Jakarta is so large and congested. It isn’t a pretty place unless you have a friend to show you around. Unlike KL where you won’t really get very lost, places like Jakarta and Bangkok are a maze of confusion. Who is that hottie in the center? Find out soon in our next and final post!

After this .. the city life, Jakarta!

The Posts Thus Far – The Java Series..

Day 1: what you need to know to survive the manic roads system in Java!

Day 2: Magic Java come to take you away.. getting to know Bandung

Day 3: Beach Bums on Pangandaran beach

Day 4: Jogging around Jogjakarta

Day 5: Borobudur & the 3 levels on Enlightenment 

Day 6: Faces of Yogyakarta

Day 7: Back to Bandung


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