Natural disasters have always brought certain astonishment – a terrifying wonder, if you’d like – of the raw, ancient power, over us.
When Mount Agung erupted just a few months ago, for instance, it seemed like we lost our ability to keep our heads clear. Admittedly, it was a pretty chaotic experience for everyone in the island.
Despite the official Mt. Agung’s exclusion zone of approximately 8 to 10 kilometers from the crater, even locals and tourists residing in Kuta and Seminyak were forcefully exposed to the sheer tension that was hung mid-air.
Along with the closure of Bali’s one and only I Gusti Ngurah Rai International airport, thousands were stranded in the island with minimum options of getting alternative transport to their next destination.
Besides a ferry crossing to our neighbouring island Lombok to get a flight to other main Indonesian international hubs like Jakarta and Surabaya, the other option was to travel by bus to Surabaya in East Java to then take an international flight home.
Needless to say, people were upset having to make hours-long additional trips before they can reach their destinations.
However, what was it really like from the eyes of a traveller, a foreigner, a tourist being stranded in an island with a threat of an eruption?
So many discussions on the subject can be found if you would just spend some time scouring the internet.
Big travel forums provide adequate information from and to foreigners wanting to and having just spent a holiday in the island.
Popular questions range from is it safe to go to Bali, is it necessary to cancel the holiday, and whether airlines will provide full refund over flight cancellations.
As a country with the most volcanoes, the US, Russia and Japan might have made a certain protocol regarding volcano eruptions; thus providing calmer travellers in the island.
They seemed to be making the most of the long-awaited holiday, not giving up to the travel warnings many nations have issued concerning flights to Bali. Just a quick visit to the national volcano watch organization’s website and they were all set to go about their day.
People from European countries, however, tended to be a bit more, though understandably, out of their character, and for once showed signs of distress on their faces.
One of our friend who has been staying in Bali for over two years was having his family visiting him from Sri Lanka; his mother along with his uncle and aunt.
They were just spending a week out of their original 2 weeks plan on the island when Mt. Agung started spewing rocks and ashes out of its mouth. The media coverage must have made it sound much worse than it really was because foreign embassies issued emergency alert in a blink of an eye, despite their not being here in the island to see the condition for themselves.
It must have been a terrifying experience for (especially) older travellers at the time, hearing official notice from their country’s embassy, telling them to get out of the island as soon as they can. In panic, our friend’s mother pleaded him to go back with her to Sri Lanka; which was stubbornly denied due to the fact that he has a job here, and not there.
A bargain between the two – along with some added pleas from both the uncle and the aunt – had our friend go with them by bus to Surabaya and stayed there for a couple of days, just to take a flight back to Bali right after the family flew back home. He strongly cursed the media for blowing things up when there wasn’t really anything to be alarmed of.
Well, you know what they say, “better be safe than sorry.”
After all, no one can really make a precise prediction when it comes to natural disasters. Know the country you’re coming to, pay attention to official government statements, find out the evacuation plan anywhere you’re staying at, and you should be good to go.
Now that Mt. Agung had calmly returned to a safe state, there’s nothing to stop you from going here and have that holiday you deserve.
Have a great one!