Published: January 30th 2008January 28th 2008
We arrived in Surabaya from Kuala Lumpur and made it our immediate plan to get over towards Mount Bromo. This entailed us getting a taxi to the bus terminal which would take us across to Probolinggo, our base for the climb. Touts greeted our arrival, and we were lucky to grab a taxi with a lovely guy who dropped us at the terminal, largely in order to avoid the mobbing we'd receive.
We then sat for a bonecrunching three hours on a rickity bus to Probolinggo and landed directly (probably as a result of direct collusion) and conveniently at the "travel agent" who organised our trip up the mountain and our trip across to Bali. After a good wait and some money grabbing by the agent, we set off for an incredibly long climbh up the mountain by bus. The climb was steep and the smell of sulphur and a cooler chill soon greeted us; a sure sign that were right in the midst of a live volcano.
We landed at the Cafe Lava hotel and had tea (very cheaply) and then made our way to bed in order to get enough sleep, as were to be up at
3.30am to set off for the sunrise. A very cold night followed, and my sleeping bag came very handy with the soft insulation to warm me up.
We set off for the sunrise and the place was very busy with other climbers. We didn't go to Bromo itself, but the viewpoint which looks over the whole caldera so that you can see all three volcanos next to each other. Our jeep climbed some very steep gradients before we arrived at the viewpoint in the darkness. We could see the lightening of the sky from afar, but it took a good hour for the sunrise to cast its light over the three mountains in front of us. Describing this experience is quite hard, as it occurs over a period of time; the sensation increasing steadily. After a very cold period of photograph taking, we descended down the viewpoint to begin the journey into peering into Bromo itself. The beauty of the whole day was to happen next....
As we made our way to Bromo it was very sunny and bright, despite it being 7am in the morning. It was at this point that I first noticed the Tenggeris people;
a semi tribe of people who all worship the God of Bromo, and they offered us offerings to throw into the mountain for good luck. This was the first time in Asia that I met people from an entirely different culture and way of life to me, and it was clearly evident that we were from another planet when Kim (who is very blond, naturally and very fair skinned) was mobbed by the locals who asked her to get in pictures with them. She was something that they were not used to at all, and it felt quite good to be connected to the "celebrity" of the day! They were lovely people and they wanted just a chance to practice their English as well as get in a picture with a pretty young blond woman.....
Our way up to Bromo took us through the Sea of Sands. Mount Bromo sits inside a huge crater alongside through other mountains. Inside this crater is a beautiful landscape that you must cross in order to get to Bromo. I have to say that when I got out of the car into this huge wilderness, I nearly had a tear: it was genuinely
that beautiful a sight. Something that I cannot adequately describe through words. The smell of sulphur was progressing as we made our to the volcano, and a long climb eventually took us to the rim. It was everything I expected. The smoke billows out from a small opening inside the crater, and at the rim it really is quite choking. As I turned round towards the landscape that I had just crossed, the view was absolutely astounding. Something that I was very glad I saw; a once in a lifetime opportunity.
After devouring the sights of Bromo and after more picture-taking/chatting, we set off back for base, back to Probollinggo in order to make our way to Bali on the bus. It was at this point that the beauty of what I had just saw turned completely sour.
The agent promised us that he would get us to Bali for an extra 55,000 rupees each (about a fiver) in seven hours in a private bus that would not stop, and would have air-con. However, we got there and it was the public bus that took twelve hours. Our initial anger was superseded by the stark realisation that we
must not trust what people who have a profit in mind have to tell us. This contrasts with the local Indonesian people, one in particular called Ghamal who spoke impeccable English; a very nice guy who was the nicest chap I think we have came across in our time here.
There are more photos below