Lumpur Lapindo

As usual the people who hang around bus stations were more than happy to tell me how to get to where ever I’m heading and todays trip to the mud volcano in Sidoarjo was no exception. I was told which bus to catch, where to get off and then what to catch next. By the time I was into the 2nd leg of this trip, I was feeling quite weary and decided to go straight home instead. Just as we got to the intersection where I would need to get off, the heavens opened up and the rain thundered down very heavily so I made a split decision to stay in the angkot. The other passengers, all women, were concerned for me, but I explained I didn’t want to get wet and I would just see where this trip would take me. About half an hour down the road, I looked out and saw that we had reached Sidoarjo (the town not the outer suburb of Surabaya). I asked my fellow travellers how easy it would be to get to the mud volcano, known more commonly here as Lumpur Lapindo – the Lampindo Mud. They then showed me where to get off, told the driver to stop and then pointed to the angkot I needed, which was parked behind us waiting for passengers. 

As I was the only passenger, the driver offered to take me directly to Lumpur Lapindo for Rp50,000 ($5) and when I didn’t answer immediately (I was texting), he dropped the price to Rp30,000. I explained I was in no hurry as it was still raining, much to his disappointment. Eventually a few more people got on and we headed off. 

It wasn’t long before the angkot reached the fortified banks of lumpur Lapindo, however the driver passed the first 2 sets of stairs up the bank before stopping at the 3rd. I was initially puzzled and had no idea why he passed a few before finally choosing to stop and the only reason I could think was that the first ones had many sightseers yet the third had nobody. Hopefully he was trying to spread the Rupiah around! 

I climbed up the very rickety staircase to the top after paying an entrance fee of Rp20,000   

 and looked out over the mud. It is exactly as I remember it from 2011, yet so much wider.  

 I began to walk along the bank when a man approached me trying to sell videos of the disaster. When I declined, he offered instead to drive me around the mud volcano. He quote me Rp50,000 to go half way around or Rp100,000 to go the entire way around. I pointed out that it is impossible to only go half way round as we’ll need to return somehow! He agreed and before I knew it I’d hired him to take me all around the mud pool. Here are some photos from our drive:

  


   

   

  

  

 There is so much more water around at the moment because it is the wet season. Apparently in the dry season there is an area where the mud is solid and you can walk out on it. Today we just slipped and slided through the mud and just imagined what it would be like. 

The final stretch of road was very challenging. This section of road was made from clay which in the rain had become very clingy and the poor bike’s wheel clogged up to the point it couldn’t turn at all. The driver pushed/pulled his bike for a bit and then eventually stopped to look for a stick to try to remove enough mud to get the wheel rotating once more. We then got going again and kept the wheels moving quickly to stop the build up of clay.  It wasn’t much fun sliding around in the mud!! 

 We were just passing some abandoned houses in the mud when he stopped suddenly and asked me to dismount. He then turned around and drove his bike through a large puddle of water which successfully dislodged the remainder of the mud. 

By the time we reached the road where I was to catch an angkot back to Surabaya, my shoes were an inch higher from the clay and my clothes were filthy. All forgotten instantly though when I stepped into the angkot, sat down and then looked up at the passengers. I was the only female – 14 pairs of male eyes were staring at me! I said to the ‘conductor’ Wow – all boys/males (laki laki) and he reassured me that behind me sitting in the front seat was another cewek (female). 

I told him where I wanted to be dropped off but when I got down off the angkot and looked around, I realised I was totally lost. I flagged a taxi, called Cilla and asked her to tell the driver where to take me! 

I will definitely sleep well tonight! 

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