Wednesday, October 26, 2011

INDO DIARIES 2010 - Wednesday 21st July - MOUNT BROMO

 We got  back to the hotel around 1pm and went out just to fill up on our favourite noodles down the road and get some provisions for the mountain trek. Then we made a concerted effort to sleep so we could at least have a couple of hours of sleep done before the late night adventure.

We set off from the hotel at 1am with Jum, our driver, once again. We hit the dark road and drove through some rather lively streets with night markets. Like many big roads around the world, there were trucks and lorries transporting all the products from the eastern Javan plantations to the towns and airports of Malang and Surabaya.

For a good three hours, we continued driving, watching the shadows of the trees and the mountains around us. The journey home was bound to be magical for sure.

We climbed up and up through dark, shady roads, too tired to comprehend twhat was ahead of us. When we reached Comero Lewang, the top of the mountain, we parked in a bustling area. Many people had collected either sellers, or hikers, it was hard to tell; it was 3.30 am.

We paid 50 000IDR for the entrance fee and the rest was up to us. We decided to walk to Bromo as it was only half an hour apparently. The Jeep was an extortionate 350 000IDR per person for an air polluting experience and it didn't even appear to drop you by the steps that you needed to climb.

No, we opted for the more mellow vibe, plus we wanted whatever scenery we could find under the moonlight. Jum told us to wait with the men with the horses. We didn't need to take one, he said, but we should follow someone walking.

It was 4am and we stood and waited. I was shivering. We had already been hounded by a few people; one, Gutak, had given us his 'card'. His name was scrawled on the back of a business card sized piece of ripped off packaging - recycling at its best! We kept it and waited more.

A quick toilet trip proved a unique one too. The sign pointed to a small building that seemed to house rooms with a bed in each. there was a family of three; we were directed downstairs.. It was worse than a disused warehouse; we were really unsure what to make of the underground room we had found. Miraculously, there was a pink door and a blue door separating the men's and women's toilets, but each was the same in side - big tubs of water, a bucket and an Indonesian style toilet.

It was all so eerie and the cubicles so tiny and the walls so small. we had to get out and fast!

Back upstairs, more tourists were emerging. The cold hadn't subsided and the idea of the jeep suddenly seemed so comforting. Then we figured we would brave it alone; we could follow some other tourists. They had been asking us for directions. We tried to strike up a conversation with them, but they went off their own way. Charming.

Ah, what the heck, Gutak had emerged, so we figured that we would be better off with a guide than without.

It was a different path on foot, so we set off quickly. The English couple were walking ahead of us, but it wasn't until we took a short cut that we felt a sense of satisfaction to have lost them.

We walked through the rocky, sandy plains. Gutak stopped to answer his phone at one point. That was a little disconcerting given where we were. Then, there were lots of random flashing lights ahead, which I saw as suspicious rather than of necessity. The lights behind us were 'following' us, it seemed. I AM such a silly!

at the top of the stairs (sleepy)
Lead by the most amazing sky full of so many stars, including a shooting start (!), we made it to the bottom of the steps. There were more than 250 steps to climb. It wasn't an easy climb at all, but I did feel satisfied at the top and witnessing the orange and blue hue of the sky was lovely. However, in the dark, I still felt insecure knowing that either side of the small path was a huge tumble, either into the volcano or down the mountain. I kept myself busy with my camera and didn't move from my spot.

The sunrise did indeed divert my attention. Slowly the colours crept out of the sky; the bright orange led by a cute blue and pink, which must have been the cloud, slowly rose up higher.

There were so many tourists up there; a lot of jeeps had sped past us earlier. Most of the people were peaceful enough, though there were a few dialects standing out more than others...

Despite the annoying chitter chatter, the sky lit up and magically revealed the crater. Turns out it wasn't so deep, just a few metres, but with the smoke coming out, you would not want to fall down into it!

Apparently, there were still ceremonies held where chickens (maybe alive?) were thrown in as offerings, but, for today, people were throwing in dried flowers. There were, quite remarkably sellers up at the crater flogging very unattractive dried flowers to silly tourists wanting to share the tradition.
As we made our way down, I realised how steep the steps really were. I had 'The Fear' and clung so tight to the railings. We got to the bottom eventually. Going up the stairs were even more sellers, armed with water and soft drinks for the day time climbers. We walked back enjoying the sunshine, taking many pictures.

Jum was waiting for us to take us back through the plantations and the mountain towns. The greenery was so beautiful, what I witnessed, anyway. My eyes were heavy and I slept most of the way back to Enny's.
the mountain opposite (mount semeru?)

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