Java:: Batu in the hills

Java, East Java, Batu. (Bjorn Grotting)

Java, East Java, Batu. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The small town of Batu is located about 15 km northeast of Malang, and is a popular place for vacation and recreation among the local population on East Java, at least those who can afford such a luxury. The climate up here can be very pleasant. There may not be so much to do in Batu itself, but the surrounding landscape is beautiful.

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Java:: Tea and volcanoes north of Bandung

Indonesia, Java, Cisarua. Tea are grown in high altitudes, like here in the hills above Bandung. Tea has been part of the way of life in Indonesia for more than 200 years. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Java, Cisarua. Tea are grown in high altitudes, like here in the hills above Bandung. Tea has been part of the way of life in Indonesia for more than 200 years. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The entire area around Bandung can offer a beautiful countryside with high mountains, hot springs and large tee plantations. The most easily accessible area is north of the city, with maybe the largest attraction; the Tangkuban Prahu volcano. Also south of the city you can find volcanoes to climb or tea plantations to admire, but this area is less developed for visitors and not as easily accessible.

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From Iceland to the Moon

Iceland. The area close to Askja was used during training for the Apollo program. The main objective in Askja was to study geology. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Iceland. The area close to Askja was used during training for the Apollo program. The main objective in Askja was to study geology. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The phrase “The area was used during training for the Apollo program to prepare astronauts for the lunar missions” is commonly used when trying to attract tourists to the Askja area on Iceland and similar desolated locations. You can see it all flashing before your eyes; heroic astronauts jumping around in bulky space suits, trying not to fall over in the moonlike landscape.

Well, it is a common misconception that the Apollo astronauts traveled to wastelands on earth to get used to the bleak hell of the barren moon. As someone said: “for that they could have stayed in Houston”. I’ve never been to Houston, so I cannot say…

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Mars on Earth

Iceland. Viti explosion crater on the north east shore of Oskjuvatn, Askja. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Iceland. Viti explosion crater on the north east shore of Oskjuvatn, Askja. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The Mars rovers has found compelling evidence of a warmer and wetter time on Mars billions of years ago. The above image may illustrate how it may have looked like at some moment in the past, with small scattered lakes and ice. But hey, this cant be on Mars you say? We can clearly see two human figures on the crater edge, and we certainly have not landed on Mars yet?

You are right, this crater is firmly placed on mother earth, more precisely at Askja on Iceland. But you have to admit it looks somewhat alien. When I took another look it clearly reminded me of an image I had seen a while ago from Mars, and a quick search came up with this photo from the amazing Mars Express orbiter:
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A barren landscape

Iceland. Landscape in the Askja volcano. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Iceland. Landscape in the Askja volcano. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Regarding the latest volcanic eruption on Iceland; here are some of the many photos i took during a visit to Askja on Iceland a few years ago. Please visit my Iceland Photo-gallery to see more! One of the excursions went to Askja, a barren landscape just north of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. A really amazing place, just like visiting another world.

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Java:: Bromo-Tengger National Park

Java, East Java, Mount Bromo. Bromo is a smoking cone inside the huge, older crater Tengger. Gunung Batok to the right of Bromo. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Java, East Java, Mount Bromo. Bromo is a smoking cone inside the huge, older crater Tengger. Gunung Batok to the right of Bromo. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bromo-Tengger national park is located on East Java, about three hours by car from Surabaya. Tengger is a huge, old caldera with the Bromo volcano inside. The smoking cone of Bromo raises from the plain of this 10 km wide caldera, but is not the highest mountain inside. Side by side with Bromo are also other mountains like Gunung Batok (2.440m) and Gunung Kursi (2.581m). Bromo (2.392m) and the nearby Semeru volcano, the highest mountain on Java (3.676m).

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Bali:: Gunung Agung

Bali, Karangasem, Gunung Agung. The summit of Gunung Agung covered by clouds (from airplane). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Karangasem, Gunung Agung. The summit of Gunung Agung covered by clouds (from airplane). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Gunung Agung is Bali’s highest and most sacred mountain. It is 3.142 meter high and can be seen from almost everywhere on Bali and from the neighboring islands, but most of the time it is covered by clouds. The best time of year to see the mountain is August to September and of course early in the morning.

The height is disputed because of the last eruption 17th of March 1963, which by some is believed to have blown off the highest top. Gunung Agung is now said to be 3.014 meters, and the top is today a 500 meter wide crater.

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Bali:: Gunung Batukau

Bali, Tabanan, Kerambitan. Gunung Batukau seen from Kerambitan. Usually the mountain is covered by clouds. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Tabanan, Kerambitan. Gunung Batukau seen from Kerambitan. Usually the mountain is covered by clouds. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Gunung Batukau is the second largest mountain on Bali (2.275 m), and only Gunung Agung is of higher religious importance. The slopes are covered with rainforest, apart from West Bali National park this is the only wilderness region of any significance left on the island. The mountain is located in the Tabanan district, and is an extinct volcano. On the southern slopes of the volcano, at 1.300 meters and surrounded by forest, sits the Pura Luhur Batukau temple.

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Java:: Banyuwangi and the eastern tip of Java

Java, Banyuwangi. Looking south towards Ketapang and Banyuwangi. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Java, Banyuwangi. Looking south towards Ketapang and Banyuwangi. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

On the easternmost part of Java there are three volcanoes that all are nature reserves; Bromo-Tengger, the Yang plateau and the Ijen plateau with Gunung Raung to the extreme east. There are also three additional reserves in this area, all located by the coast; Baluran animal reserve at the north east part, the most easily accessible, the Alas Purwo reserve on the south east part and the Meru Betiri reserve at the south coast.

In Meru Betiri it is said there are still a few remaining Javanese tigers lurking in the forest, but the species were last seen in the Ujung Kulon national park in 1950 and is unfortunately most likely extinct today.

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