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When Krakatoa erupted in 1883

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Old 26-09-2017, 10:39 AM   #1
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When Krakatoa erupted in 1883

When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, artillery-like sounds were heard in Mauritius, almost 5,000km away. Because of fine particles hitting the upper atmosphere and scattering sunlight, sky hues changed as far away as Europe, with blood-red skies reflected in the paintings of that time.

No, Agung is no Krakatoa—not even close—but over the past ten days of being in Bali, I have grown quite excited about the prospect of being near an eruption. A friend of mine whose kampung is in Singaraja, in the northwest and about as far as one can get from Agung (east), says the older folk recount stories from 1963, the last time it erupted, of the skies being blackened for days.

Agung literally means majestic or supreme (I think). The Balinese regard the mountain as their Mount Meru, along some central cosmological axis between the worlds.

Coincidentally, my travels have taken me to different viewpoints around Agung. The sunset photo is from the west coast of Gili Trawangan; Prem Anand and I were hoping for an eruption without an accompanying tsunami (the three Gilis are almost completely flat). The padi field view is from Ubud, where I am now, and where yesterday I felt a solid tremor, something that reminded me of college in Berkeley, which also sits almost directly on a fault.

Several Singaporean friends have messaged me over the past week, all desperate for on-the-ground intel, bundles of nerves over work and leave schedules. Most Balinese, by contrast, seem somewhat unbothered. “She has been keeping it in for a long time,” some have told me.

Of course, even as I pine for some lava-light spectacle over the week I have left, we hope and pray that all animals, people and spirits will be kept safe. At many junctions there are donation points set up, like in the last photo, for the people of Karangasem, the district in which Agung sits. Yet there is a carnival atmosphere to it all. In the ten minutes we were stuck at that junction, the band played Rude (Marry her anyway) and No Woman, No Cry, passersby singing along.

I wonder if they were thinking of Agung.

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