Sunday, November 07, 2010

RING OF FIRE

I was around twelve years old when I realised how insanely close the country I live in, Malaysia, has managed to escape the violence displayed by the Pacific Ring of Fire that plagues a few of our neighbouring countries in a lesson known as Alam & Manusia (Nature and (hu)Man, if you will). The picture here includes Malaysia in the ring for some strange reason - but that is not the case... there are no volcanoes to speak of and earthquakes are mostly aftershocks from the nearby earthquakes.

Merapi in July
Volcanoes have always fascinated me despite their destructive nature and the depressing stories of people having to be evacuated, and so on.. A few years ago, I saw the my very first volcano *up close in the island of Bali. And then in July this year, I saw another two volcanoes in the island of Java, Merapi and Merbabu, and also a documentary of an erupting Merapi in all it's volcanic fury. Merbabu on the other hand is a dormant volcano. Merapi, at that point was standing there, quietly amongst the clouds without any indication whatsoever about the activities that was silently (at that time, probably) going on in it's magma chambers. 

Three months later, Merapi erupts. And I was in Indonesia at that time (albeit in a different island), and while watching the news, I could not help be in awe over the local people's matter of fact way of handling the issue. I suppose they're just very used to things like these, but still... and yet, I could not help but be saddened by the fact that the volcano had indeed erupted, disrupting the lives of the people, who will most probably have to rebuild everything from scratch, and that only three months before, I had stood there at the bservation area facing the volcano, listening about the eruption just four years ago.

It does make me wonder if you do leave a bit of yourself in the places you've visited before, thus leaving an intangible and incomprehensible relationship with the place....

* from a safe distance from neighbouring mountains/hills ;)

10 comments:

  1. It always amazes me that people live and build homes in intrinsically hazardous places (near volcanoes, on clifftops, on flood plains). I guess they just find the place so beautiful they're prepared to take the risk of their home being destroyed.

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  2. The one thing Malaysia does have that I've noticed is terribly hot and wet weather. All. The. Time! I can never look at your weather on my dial and not see wet and hot. It would kill me. Absoultely kill me.

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  3. nick: Maybe they do not have a choice...

    Orhan: Yes it is, I guess... you'll et used to it after awhile, I guess :p

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  4. we had to practice earthquake training twice a year at school when I was growing up in New Zealand

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  5. I spent a summer in Hawaii and one of the most interesting things we did was hike across a crater with steam seeping from the cracks. Such barely-constrained destructive power!

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  6. I found a map that shows how Malaysia fits within the "ring of fire".

    http://explorations.ucsd.edu/Voyager/Web_Features/2007/Apr/Tsunami/images/RingOfFire3.jpg

    I guess it's because of the way the Indo-Australian plate interacts with the Pacific plate. It might also have something to do with the Java Trench.

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  7. nursemyra: I think that's very good training. In fact, seeing how people seem to travel a lot these days, briefing on things to do during an earthquake should be given to everyone...

    SAW: Oh, awesome... I'd love to do that someday.

    Travis: Your map looks way better than the one I found... thanks.

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  8. It's unbelievable that these people can nonchalantly take it all in their stride, I don't think I would be so calm. Very informative post.

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  9. I did ask my sister's maid if she's from the area of Mount Merapi and she exclaimed ' oh tidok - duduk jauh-o dari sana ' - in a typical indonesian slang.....

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  10. Ryan: Yes, it's very admirable... I can't imagine building my life from scratch every single time it happens.

    Unicorn Girl: I just imagined that scene...

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