It’s not that we are running away from this volcano. We have had air tickets booked for the past six months to return to Australia next week. This possibility is looking less and less likely as the airport has been closed for the past three days.
Unlike the many evacuees (and numbers are growing) we have shelter, water, electricity and food. We are inconvenienced, that is all. But there are things to be done in Australia – medical, family and friends – and it would be really nice to be able to return for these and to celebrate Christmas.
Looking into the options is not heartening. All are a gamble. We could spend time and money travelling to another airport only to find the ash has caused closures there. Lombok is option one. The airport there has reopened and getting there involves a ferry ride across the strait a two-hour drive to the international airport (which no longer has flights to Australia), a flight to Jakarta, then find one to Perth.
The option most people are taking is to travel to the international airport at Surabaya. The government has put on a 40-seater shuttle bus that departs each afternoon for the 12-hour+ journey for around $30 which seems more than reasonable. Two hours to a ferry from Gilimanuk (across currently stormy waters) then a road trip along the Java coast. It would be quite an adventure through country we have not yet seen, but we hear that there are floods along this Javanese coastline and a cyclone warning has also been issued. Many private drivers are also offering the trip, more expensive of course, and if they have already done this a number of times, will they be too tired to drive safely. There is certainly money to be made as the drivers are just as likely to pick up a fare back to Bali. Surabaya also does not link directly to Australia so another flight to Jakarta is involved, assuming that the airport remains open.
It doesn’t seem worth all the risks and expense. We will wait it out.
The drama of this volcano has created many photo opportunities. This image was taken by Baru Redana from Taro, about 10km to the north of where we live. Reproduced with permission.