The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

Mount Merapi Just After The Earthquake

Yogyakarta Train Station 9:30 A.M.

Passenger Wait At The Train Station

SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2006. YOGYAKARTA AND JAKARTA, JAVA, INDONESIA. This morning, I was rudely awaken by the violent shaking of my bed and entire room at the losmen (guesthouse) where I was staying in Yogyakarta. At about 6 a.m., a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck south of Yogya. The temblor lasted about 15 seconds. As I was still groggy and a bit shocked, there wasn't enough time to do anything other than lay in bed and hope that the building did not collapse on me. Fortunately, it did not. Being a resident of California, USA, where earthquakes are a frequent occurrence, it was definitely a very strong quake, certainly the biggest quake I have ever experienced and thankfully lived through. After the 15 seconds of shaking stopped, I put on some clothes and went outside like everyone else in Yogya. From my third floor room, I could see Mount Merapi, although hazy, more active than usual. Mount Merapi makes up part of the Pacific "Ring-of-Fire", an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean. It's too early to tell whether the earthquake was related to the recent increase in volanic activity at Mount Merapi.

Other than the electricity going out, there was no visible damage to my losmen. Outside on the streets, Yogya residents gathered and huddled together, many listening to their radios for news. There were false rumors about an imminent tsunami causing panic along the southern Java coast. Indonesia's Aceh province in northern Sumatra was devastated by the Asian tsunami of December 2004, killing over 129,000 people. I walked around the area surrounding my losmen, but did not see any major damage except for some cracks in buildings and fallen roof tiles. Moreover, there were no visible fires or audible sirens, as usually occurs when there is destruction after a major earthquake.

This morning I was scheduled to depart by train to Jakarta at 9:30 a.m. Although a half hour late, the train did indeed depart. It arrived in Jakarta at 8:00 p.m. this evening. Upon getting on the Internet here in Jakarta, I learned about the extensive damage and that, so far, at least 2,900 people perished in the quake and thousands of others were injured.


The death toll will likely get a lot higher. My condolences to the family and friends of the victims in this tragedy. I hope and wish for a speedy recovery to the survivors of this disaster. This was definitely a travel experience that I will not soon forget.

Tomorrow I will have a full day to explore Jakarta, and on Monday I return to Bangkok. Once I get back to Bangkok, I will post photos from Sulawesi and Java, including Yogya and Mount Merapi.

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