Usually, there’s nothing much to say about a yearly trip with co-workers, as games, door prizes and selfie matter more than the place of interest itself. Until the trip we had some weeks ago to “Kawah Putih”, or White Crater situated in Ciwidey, south Bandung, West Java.
“Kawah Putih”, that has been officially opened for public since 1987, didn’t gain much popularity until the recent trend of pre-wedding photography in Indonesia, especially the best pictures will be displayed at the couple’s venue. Shooting location is undoubtedly one of the important elements to achieve fantastic results. I admit, it makes me curious how the site looks like in my naked eyes.
Nonetheless, looking back to the past, the area around Mt. Patuha surrounding the White Crater, was a taboo place to visit because the locals believed that it was where the kingdom of demons resided. Dr. Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn, a German – Dutch botanist, didn’t buy the story that much. Therefore in 1837, he went inside the forest of Mt. Patuha to find the truth behind the myth and unexpectedly discovered a stunning view of turquoise water, with hints of white, before him. He also later found out that no animals wanted to pass by or fly in the sky above the lake because of the pungent smell of sulfur, that has nothing to do with mystery and death.
After the bus arrived at the parking lot, we took a 20-minute-ride with “ontang-anting” to reach “Kawah Putih”. “Ontang-anting” is a minibus lookalike that accommodates about 12 people, whose windows and rear doors are replaced by hand rests on both sides of the seats as partitions to protect passengers from falling sideways. The open air concept of the traditional vehicle permitted us to feel the mountain breeze along the way from top to toe freely.
It was the best option to go up to the peak as it only costs Rp.15.000 ($1) per person round trip, apart from the Rp.18.000 ($1.5) entrance fee, while foreigners Rp.50.000 ($4). Moreover, bringing your own car is much more expensive, as it takes another Rp.150.000 ($10), while bus another Rp.500.000 ($45), to sustain the local inhabitant earnings. Just remind the driver for not speeding since it passes a narrow, sharp bends and the back seats don’t have seat belts.
The sulfur smell and the masker vendor greeted us as we got off from “ontang-anting”. Bear in mind that it is not allowed to bring food and drinks on site and no food stalls so-called “warung” around the area, except in the parking lot below. Anyways, the scent of “rotten egg” may ruin your appetite.
Descending to the main attraction, the overall landscape looked like a beach without palm trees at a glance. The distance between the crater lake and the land was just a stone’s throw, where both lied on the same eye level. Unlike other crater lakes, we could easily walk the letter “U” sandy limestone path to be in the middle of the sulfur containing lake water. That’s where visitors were heading to for selfie and group pictures. Make sure you don’t touch or even swim on it for your own safety.
The whitish-bluish-greenish lake water was the most eye-catching view of “Kawah Putih”, where the sulfur concentration, weather and temperature define its tone. The combination of limestone sand, greenish sulfur sand, lake water and blue sky created contrasts within the blue-green group of colour, delivering natural beauty in its own way. It’s no surprise that you may overlook Mt. Patuha circling the crater lake.
Unfortunately, my time management was quite bad as I concentrated too much in certain spots for pictures. I failed to be in the middle of the lake and missed an ongoing pre-wedding photo shoot. What a fool could I be!
Despite that, I succeeded capturing the other side of the lake with bald twigs and nearly dead trees. Their presence totally changed my impression from soothing and peaceful to mysterious and eerie, that reminds me of a horror movie scene. When I changed the film simulation in my camera to sepia and black and white, the overall landscape was instantly more creepy than ever.
Though vandalism was really against the house rules, the huge rock demonstrated otherwise. Visitors marked their presence by writing their names on it with a marker, a pen or a sharp object. So there you go, you’re on rock of fame!
I believe pictures from the camera are the most important travel souvenirs. Nonetheless, perhaps sulfur powder and rock are something you can take home. Sulfur is believed to eliminate blemishes, heals itches, wounds and other skin problems. I haven’t tried yet, though. Gemstones are available as well, suppose you want to add more jewelry collections or to re-polish and resell them.
We were glad to come on a weekday. No jostling each other for the sake of selfie and photography aficionados. But perhaps, peace and silence at the crater lake didn’t signify a traditional lute, or “kecapi” player’s fortune. He dived his notes himself all alone under the shade facing the parking lot. Since all visitors on that day took “ontang-anting” to go up, nobody parked their own car there. Automatically, nobody noticed his presence and he didn’t get much tips.
To be honest, nothing romantic about this place and it doesn’t remind me of wedding related stuffs. But yes, it’s indeed a fantastic location for a photo shoot no matter what the occasion is. I’m glad I finally witnessed its enigmatic beauty myself and its cleanliness was well-maintained regardless popularity and crowds.