An Experience We Will Never Forget

Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
Trip End Jun 09, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Java,
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 1 20/04/11
We were up early and had our breakfast before checking out and meeting up with our driver at 0815. When we were all loaded onto the bus there were 7 of us in total, a French mother and her daughter, a Taiwanese chap, us and two Dutch guys called Michel and Jesper. The Dutchies were the same ages as us and from Utrecht. The journey was long and exhausting, we stopped for lunch, where Lucy and I stocked up on snacks as we hadn't had the foresight in the morning. We arrived at the little town of Probolinggo at around 1900 where we waited for our tickets to be re issued including our onward travel. The journey up the mountainside in the dark to Yoschi's hostel took another 2 hours! We sat down to eat dinner at 2200, in bed and knocked out by 2300, what an exhausting day!

Day 2 21/04/11
We had to get up at 0330 to get the jeep to the viewing point to watch the sunrise over Bromo. Still bleary eyed we stumbled into the jeep which proceeded to bounce our minibus-bruised bodies up the mountain. We were only halfway up when the driver abruptly stopped and tipped us all out, told it was a short walk from there we stumbled along in the dark, following the dark figures walking along ahead of us. The path twisted and turned up the mountainside for about 20mins before opening onto a small plateau with a small shelter and a view over the entire volcanic caldera behind us. The view knocked the breath out of you if the climb didn't! As the sun rose out of the east the light playing on the few clouds and the rising mist was enchanting, all this with a monstrous cone blasting out a giant column of ash behind. It was one of those moments where you can't help but stop and stare in absolute awe at the majestic beauty of the world we live in. Once the sun had fully risen and started to warm our bodies, wrapped up against the freezing cold light breeze, the moment had passed we made our way back down the mountainside to our waiting jeep. 

 The jeep then took us down into the mist filled caldera and parked up on the ash field. Told to meet him in around 1hr, we followed the foot prints in the ash. It was really bizarre, a completely alien experience, the ground beneath our feet was more comparable to black sand than any ash that I had ever seen. With mists swirling around us and this lunar landscape stretching up to a volcanic ash plume in front of us and a sheer cliff face behind we were often obscured from both by the dense early morning fog. When we finally made it to the base of the volcano it was an exhausting straight scramble 200m up the loose ash cone. Eventually making it to the top we were rewarded by the most blatant display of the raw overwhelming power nature, molten rock exploding upwards into the vast plume of ash. Standing there watching the lava flying into the air below us, we suddenly felt the ground begin to shake as Mount Bromo began to roar so loud as to hurt your eardrums, directly followed by a super dense fresh column of ash sent tearing into the sky above us. Fearing for my life, my instincts told me to run down the mountain side, but realism prevailed, it wasn't going to kill me. Words cannot begin to do justice to the experience of standing on an active volcano, if you get the chance, grab it with both hands and don't let go! 

As we reluctantly descended the volcano and head back to the jeep we struggled to keep our eyes ahead of us, frequently turning to catch another look at the result of incredible seismic forces conglomerating at one point (for you geographers I apologise for any technical inaccuracy).  It was an excited and electric atmosphere in the jeep on the way back to the hostel, each of us blown away (fortunately not in a literal sense) by what we had experienced that morning. After a quick shower and several minutes spent turning ash out of all our pockets we sat down in the glorious sunshine for breakfast.

We all piled back into the minibus and watched the blackened ash covered farmland scenery pass us by on our way back to the little town of Probolinggo. Once there we transferred to another minibus with what seemed like everyone from all the tour companies operating tours to Bromo. It took us until 1730 to get to the ferry crossing to Bali, here we were told we would fist be going to Denpasar then on to Kuta, which we were not particularly happy about as we had been expressly told that we would be unable to get to Kuta, we had to go to Denpasar and we'd already booked a room so we couldn't change our plans. It should have been a 2 hour drive from Gilimanouk (the ferry port) to Denpasar, but after an hour and a half at a toilet stop at a petrol station, the driver told us we still had 2 hours until we got there! Not very happy we asked him to stop for dinner somewhere, everyone seemed keen on McDonald's so Lucy and I had little option but to agree. We were all getting very hungry and tired and started to wonder how long and where this 'very close' McDonald's was. As it turns out it was in Kuta town centre! He took us all the way to bloody Kuta, dropped off half the other passengers before stopping at McDonald's for Lucy, Michel, Jesper and I. Exceptionally tired and slightly less hungry now the driver then took us to our booked hostel in Denpasar (another hour long drive away) before charging us for the service! Unbelievably outraged at the extortionate price he was quoting I started to argue but I had been in the bus all day and really couldn't be bothered to stand my ground. We paid up, and rang the doorbell at Nakula Famillia Inn.     
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