Mount Bromo

Trip Start Mar 22, 2013
Trip End Apr 02, 2013

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Where I stayed
Java Banana

Flag of Indonesia  , East Java,
Friday, March 29, 2013

Saturday, March 30th:

The 3 am wake up call wasn't quite as bad as it sounds, since we managed to go to sleep at 9 pm. When we get outside, we see to our great surprise, that the entire town is awake and incredibly busy at 3 am. Henry is already waiting for us and we get into a small Jeep. There are hundreds and hundreds of these Jeeps together with probably a thousand little motor bikes and scooters driving up through the small town. The first hour or so, we hardly move at all. It is complete and utter traffic chaos here. Everyone honks and tries to squeeze into impossibly tight spaces, which makes the entire gridlock even worse. It is hard to imagine how we would ever get through this, but somehow we manage to eventually get to the gate of the park, where everyone has to buy a ticket (which seems to be one of the reasons for the traffic chaos further down).

After that, traffic runs a little smother. We drive across the Sea of Sand. It is still completely dark, so we don't see Mt Bromo, which is apparently right next to us. The road up to Mt Penanjakan is paved again. After another couple of kilometers, we have to stop, since there are cars parked left and right of the street, and no one can get through any further. We park as well, and start walking up the road along with a few other thousand people, and lots of motor bikes offering us a ride up. This is one of the reason you have to get up this early. The later you get up, the further down you park, and the longer you hike up. Our guide Henry tells us to go as fast as we can otherwise we might miss the sunrise, which is at 5:20. The walk only takes about 20 min, and we get there at least 30 min before sunrise.

Seeing the sunrise over Mt Bromo clearly is not going to be the quiet zen like experience we had imagined. There are literally thousands of people cramped on every last ledge on the terrace and along the hill side up here. It's a three day weekend in Indonesia as well, so there are a lot of local people in addition to the tourists here. Henry finds us a place underneath the main viewing terrace on a little path above a big drop off. So we hope there aren't more people squeezing in here and pushing us off. But it's all very cheerful and everyone is very polite and friendly, and no one pushes or shoves.

The changing colors of the sky in front of us are beautiful as it starts to get lighter very slowly, but we only realize after about half an hour or so, that Henry has put us in a position, where we see the sunrise but not Mt Bromo. Apparently, seeing the sunrise here is a big deal for Indonesians, so he had assumed that the sunrise is the most important reason why we are here. So we had to walk around the terrace, to see the actual reason we are here, the view of Mt Bromo, Mt Batok And Mt Semeru. It was already light by the time we saw them,

But this is one of the most amazing views I have ever seen. It is an unreal landscape, no plants, just ash, sand and these three enormous vulcanoes. Mt Bromo, which is just a huge crater and the much higher Mt Semeru (3676m) in the distance are both active and smoking, whereas the almost perfect cone of Mt Batuk in the foreground is dormant. We spend quite a lot of time up here taking pictures. We are very lucky about the weather, as the people who came up here the day before saw nothing but fog.

After about an hour or so we start to make our way down again from Mt Penanjakan, which is quite slow going as well, as the whole traffic is now moving downhill at the same time and every car parked on the road now has to do a u-turn on the very narrow road. We drive back down to the Sea of Sand (which is really more ash than sand) and park together with all the other Jeeps right in front of Mt Bromo. We walk up towards the crater wall together with several hundred other people. There are also horses available for people who don't want to walk. They have built stairs on the steepest last 100 meters or so up the crater, but since we don't have a lot of time and the crowds on the stairs seem to be moving very slowly, we decide to keep climbing next to the staircase. On top of the crater wall another amazing sight greets us. The huge crater has a deep hole at the bottom with lots of smoke belching out. We spend a bit of time sitting on the crater wall enjoying the view before we walk back down to the cars.

The traffic on the way back is just as crazy and chaotic again as now the streets are blocked by lots of cars and buses parked on the side. We finally make it back to the hotel by 9 am, just enough time for a quick breakfast and shower before we get back in our car for the 3 to 4 hour drive to Surabaya. The drive is a bit scary as our driver now goes very fast and uses every opportunity to overtake other cars left or right. About 2 hours into it we suddenly hear a strange rattling sound from the back of the car. Our driver stops at a service station and discovers a blown rear tire. He manages to replace it pretty quickly though, and we are back on a our way after about 20 min (going just as fast as before).

They drop us off at the Surabaya train station for our 3 pm train to Yogyakarta, which takes 4 hours 45 min. The train ride is very nice (we are in Executive Class) and fairly uneventful. There are people selling interesting food at every station we stop, which we decide to try a couple of times, rather than the Nasi Goreng, which the train staff seems to offer us about every 20 min. The train arrives in Yogyakarta 30 min late, and it is raining pretty heavily here. We get a taxi to the very nice Phoenix Hotel.
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