Island of Java - Mt Bromo PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Monday, 20 April 2009 19:52
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Day 69: Thursday 29th November - Mt Bromo

I first woke up about 4.20am but managed to dose until 7.00am when my attention was drawn to the scene outside through a thin strip of window not covered by the curtain. The lodge house sat on a flat area overlooking a large crater and rising above everything in the distance were two volcanoes, one cone-like and extinct and the other, to its left, was irregular in shape and sending large clouds of white smoke into the atmosphere. Just before breakfast I walked out to the edge of the flat area and gazed in awe at the full scene. It took me straight back to Ecuador in 1993 and the large extinct volcano that we all so innocently set off down for a little stroll only to return five or six hours later distressed and shattered. This crater was not of the same dimensions but housed the two volcanoes described earlier and also a large modern looking temple. What did make this basin different to the one in South America is its' depth. This was a couple of hundred feet below my point looking out and not a couple of thousand.

After an excellent breakfast of two fried eggs, toast, a very tasty fried rice and as much mango, melon, pineapple and bananas we set out to walk to the smoking Mt Bromo. The journey started very well with a very refreshing breeze accompanying us on the descent to the basin floor. Once down things got a little harder, the man made path quickly changed into a black sandy lava floor stretching for as far as the eye could see. The wind had dropped which was bad because the heat factor quickly rose but a blessing because the sandy black dust was not been blown about. This however, quickly changed when we were joined by two or three men leading ponies which could be hired for 50,000 rm. The ponies were kept just in front of us and kicked up enough dust to make walking uncomfortable. It was impossible to get in front of them and if we fell back they waited thinking we were about to give in and pay for a ride. Much worse than the ponies were the motorbike riding tea shirt sellers who would speed past to the front of the stretched out group kicking up more dust than the African Core in WW2 and then making their way back down the line waiving their products and saying 'quality, After about 45 minutes we reached the base of Mt Bromo and were confronted by a very steep incline of steps leading to the summit and more tea shirt sellers and also men waiving dried flowers. One quietly, in wellingtons, waiving his wares in our faces, slowly stayed two steps in front of Anne and myself all the way up to the top.

Once at the top the scene was breathtaking, we were now standing over 7000 ft with views back and beyond our lodge to the mountains behind. In front of us was a perfect cone tapering to the smoking core about a 1000 ft below. As the smoke rose into the clear blue sky the wind swirled it round the cone like a vortex and we'd be engulfed in a thick choking sulphurous fog. The crater took over an hour to circumnavigate and was as far as I'm concerned very dangerous. At one point the path along the top was no more than a foot wide with a drop of a thousand feet into the smoking cone and a three or four hundred foot drop on the other. Which ever way you looked at it, it was death on either side. I gave it a miss and just stood looking at the belching smoke and the stunning views all round. About seven set off round and as they approached from the other side I had to look away in fear for them. For Leighton, as always, it turned into a competition and Zoe seemed intent on giving him a good run for his money but as she came striding towards the very dangerous bit she stumbled for second but managed to keep her foothold. I have to say I did not witness this but was told by the others after their gasps of horror. But as always she passed it off with a beaming smile.

During our stay we got talking to Leslie a thin, red bearded, pony tailed, sarong wearing, bare footed Belgium who informed us that he had seen photos taken by some backpackers of Krakatoa erupting last week just over a hundred and thirty years since it provided the modern world with its largest explosion. If we'd stayed in
Jakarta as we were supposed to do we would have also seen it. Something else they have robbed us of thanks to their incompetence.

As we set off back to the lodge Leighton and Zoe began climbing the extinct cone which looked higher - but not according to the map - followed by Ted, Caroline and Mas. After making the ascent the two then reclimbed Mt Bromo but abandoned their second circumnavigation because the weather changed for the worse. When they arrived back at the lodge all were black faced and tired but ecstatic at their achievement.

Anne on the other hand decided to risk hiring a pony back and thoroughly enjoyed her first riding experience. As she slowly rode into the distance leaving me behind to carry the rucksack, water, camera etc it remind me of the time in
Annecy when she sailed away led by Philipe. However, on a more positive note she now has no excuse for not going pony trekking back in England. I walked it back at a slow pace with John who was finding it hard to breath with his chest infection. Just before the final and all knackering climb back out of the basin I spent a pleasant couple of minutes resting and talking to a young couple from Warwick who just arrived in Java from South America. What a coincidence.

The round trip took us about 4 hours and left us with a dilemma: what to do with the rest of the afternoon. Needless to say it was spent drinking ice-cold beer, reliving our triumph and wallowing in the atmosphere of an absolutely maginificent place. There is something special about places that exist only at the behest of mother nature. This magnificent place and its beautiful smiling people could be wiped out at any moment. But it seems the risk they live with everyday makes them happier and more content than us in our sanotised protective environments.

After a rest to recoupe from the beer and I suppose the walk we had dinner early. I had a chicken, noodle soup which was delicious, Anne went European with spag bol and John had is usual Nasi Gorem. The evening was spent drinking more beer and listening to a lad providing live music. Once again we were entertained by a talented young man who played guitar and electric piano and sang an eclectic mix of rock, blues and folk. I'm really sad that we're leaving tomorrow morning for
Bali. This is one place I'd recommend to anyone and I have to say I'm very grateful to the two in London for putting it on the itinerary. If you get the chance to come and see Mt Bromo take it. The sceneray and the people make this is a 5 star destination.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2009 17:20