Published: February 17th 2007February 17th 2007
On the edge of the world
Me standing at the crater rim
We see the day and the night coming and passing by, the change of seasons, flowers blooming and fading, snow falling and melting, the sun, the clouds, the rain, the storm, the thunder... coming and going... and all that reminds us that this blue-green planet we are dwelling on is in a constant change.
In some parts of this world, you have the chance to see volcanoes. Volcanoes have something magical and seducing, they are beautiful and scary, they can be peaceful now and a few moments later destructive. They show that this earth of ours is actually alive and kicking, and constantly changing not just on the surface but deep inside as well.
Volcanoes do all kinds of interesting things, they sleep, grow, grudge and explode. While you're reading this, somewhere a volcano is pouring lava into the ocean, building new land on the surface or somewhere else underwater volcanoes are changing the bottom of the sea constantly, deep down in the depths of the oceans... so even though we might don't see or feel it, the planet underneath our feet is always in motion...
Indonesia has the largest number of active volcanoes in the world and
sitting on the edge of the world
is part of the so called "Ring of Fire", an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Especially Java is a hub of seismic activity in Indonesia's deadly earthquake and volcano zone.
So being in Indonesia I couldn't miss the chance of climbing a volcano and to stand at its crater rim glancing down into his mouth, looking straight into the Eye of the Tiger... - Mount Bromo Volcano -
Kumiko and I left Bali by nightbus and crossed from Bali Island to Java Island by ferry and somehow Java felt a way different to Bali. Maybe because Java is much more Indonesian than mystical Bali with a world of its own will ever be.
It took us about 10hours to Probolinggo the town closest to the Tengger Caldera Plateau with Mount Bromo the most famous volcano on Java. The bus dropped us off at 4:30AM, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We thought that the bus would get us directly to the Tengger Caldera Plateau, but we had to find out that it was still 25km and a 2hours drive away. Kumiko was not happy about that, and I had to
Crater Rim Panorma
admit that I probably made a mistake as I thought that Probolinggo is right at the Tengger Caldera and didn't make sure that the bus would take us there. Anyways, a kind of grumpily we walked through the night and ended up hiring a bemo (minibus, 9USD) to take us the whole way to the mountain village Cemoro Lawang at the rim of the Tengger Caldera!
We actually planned to watch the sunrise, as the volcano is noted for its impressive sunrises, and majestic views across the valley and to Semeru volcano in the south, which looks like a moon landscape. Most visitors wake up at 3:00AM in the morning and take jeeps to a viewpoint to see the sun’s first golden rays rise up over spectacular craters casting their shadow over a desolate "Sea of Sand".
But we were too late, the sun was already rising while we were still on our way up tp Cemoro Lawang. As we finally arrived there, the sunrise had passed and our mood hit rock bottom. We took our backbacks and walked uphill towards the edge of the rim to a hostel, it was cold but when we got to the
The Eye of the Tiger
Looking tight into the smoking volcano crater
rim we had a first glimpse on Mount Bromo and the valley... so for a moment the 10hours busride and the missed sunrise were forgotten, as the view was simply stunning!
Everyone comes to Mount Bromo for the rare opportunity to see an active volcano, it's the only active crater in a caldera which contains seven eruptive centres. Mount Bromo may not actually be erupting but it smokes menacingly.
Therefore, Mount Bromo also Gunung Bromo, located in the Tengger Caldera, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in East Java. It is part of the Tengger massif, and even though at 2329 meters it is not the highest peak of the massif, it is the most well known. The reason why Mount Bromo has become popular for tourists is because of its easy accessibility. Another unique feature about Mount Bromo is that it is "a volcano inside a volcano". The base of the mountain actually rises from an old volcanic crater of the bigger Mount Tengger.
According to a local folk tale, at the end of the 15th century princess Roro Anteng from the Majapahit Empire started a separate principality together with her husband Joko Seger.
Bromo Tengger Semeru
They named it Tengger by the last syllables of their names. The principality did prosper, but the ruling couple failed to conceive children. In their despair they climbed Mount Bromo to pray to the gods, who granted them help, but requested the last child to be sacrificed to the gods. They had 24 children, and when the 25th and last child Kesuma was born Roro Anteng refused to do the sacrifice as promised. The gods then threatened with fire and brimstone, until she finally did the sacrifice. After the child was thrown into the crater, the voice of the child ordered the local people to perform an annual ceremony on the volcano, which is not held today anymore.
As we missed the sunrise, we decided to walk the whole way to Mount Bromo right away and descended from the Caldera rim into the valley and crossed the so called "Sea of Sand" then through the lava ripples to the base of the staircase that takes you to the crater’s edge! One can actually hire a jeep or a horse that will take you through the "Sea of Sand" right to the staircase but we didn't need that kind of
Mt. Bromo welcomes us
As we got closer to the edge of the crater we were greeted by Mount Bromo, smoking peacefully away, and whose entire top has blown off several years ago. After an 1.5hrs walk we were finally facing the steep 150-case stairs and went up to the crater's edge. On the 150th case, we were able to have an eagle-eye view of what was below us. Which was a magnificent view!
A deep vale of black granite is left inside the crater. A sulphurous smoke eructs from the small opening of the volcano, which rises 133 meter above the ground and is almost 700m wide. The smell of sulfur from the depths of its mouth when we finally reached the rim of the crater made me a bit dizzy. But the panorama view was impressive and I was overwhelmed by the scene of knowing that the earth was alive right under my feet.
The wind and the sulfuric fumes irritated my eyes, but I had already forgotten my tiredness and were enjoying having conquered the Volcano. We saw some locals on their knees praying to the volcano god and some others threw flowers into the crater so
with its almost perfect cone
that the gods may grant them a wish. The flowerseller asked us to do the same as well, but we kindly rejected.
After a while, sitting on the crater's rim and smoking some cigarettes, glacing around and enjoying the view, we very pleased and started to descend and made our way back, while I was thinking to myself... what for a beautiful and fascinating blue-green planet we are living on. To be continued… next: Indonesia - The misty Sunrise of Borobudur...
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