JAVA: Bromo Jeep Club


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April 28th 2012
Published: April 28th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

JAVA: Bromo Jeep Club.

Up at 3.30am...no time for a shower to wake up...into thermals, wet weather gear, head torches, cameras, video, boots...check... meet Fandi our Guide at 4am...jeep ready...time to head off for the photo opportunity we have come so far to see...the Penanjakan Sunrise.

The Dutch saw nothing at sunrise yesterday...clouded in then and raining...will we be lucky today?

To travel anywhere in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park...the home of five volcanoes and the Tengger people...you can walk...which if you are travelling distance is silly...or promote the local Tengger economy...and travel by jeep...known in these parts as...the Bromo Jeep Club.

As we leave Lava View Lodge...along the edge of the Tengger Caldera rim...pitch black...no volcanoes yet visible...immediately join a line of jeeps snaking to higher ground...cover a couple of kms...stop...narrow road crammed with jeeps...we have to walk from here.

Headlamps on...join a trickle of people...heading up to Penanjakan lookout...some walking...some stopping...milling around...looking for friends..."Would you like a horse?"...Tengger growing in number...all with cigarettes in their mouths...each holding a bridle...horses...Asians alighting...all Westerners walking...people everywhere...negotiating the wet roadway...mud in places...me thinking "let us through."

Our headlamps casting round balls of light in front of us...illuminating puddles to avoid...delicate drops of mizzle floating in the wet air...mud...manure...more mud...and flashes of boots...bunny socks...trekking gear...jeans...evening dresses...and the skin of feet...slipping and sliding...in the largest variety of footwear I have ever seen..!

Girls in striped socks...silver high heels...a big guy in thongs...caught in mud...losing his footing...path impeded by others helping him up...many girls in hotel slip-ons...complaining tones...you are having me on...you are climbing a muddy mountain path in those...in the dark...talk about unprepared...don't slip on me...its now steep...winding up...many steps...we passing many...our boots snug and firm.

At the top...a small roofed pavilion...vendors providing coffee & nibbles...and tourists...predominately Asian...cameras on tripods...lining along the edge...jostling for premium view.

There are plenty of positions to take unimpeded pics so we stake our claim...sit on some wet rocks...as others climb further up and around the caldera rim.

The mizzle stops...the air thick and damp...cut by flashes of torchlight...anticipation it is clearing up.

In wet season often the best times are at dawn...usually not then raining...the trick is whether the clouds will lift...to reveal the object of the quest.

So far in Java...we have been lucky...Krakatau, Prambanan, Borobudur, Ceto & Sukuh...come to mind.

And here in Bromo...at Penanjakan...we are again lucky...about as lucky as you can be at this time of year...not as clear as dry season...nor is a volcano erupting...like when wheresjason got his amazing pics in his blog "Breathtaking Bromo"...but our moment is now.

The crater floor becoming clearer by the minute...the first light of dawn...green carpet to the right...cut by a river or stream...the sand sea to the left...volcanoes in front...clouds lifting...Mt Batok & Bromo crater now fully visible...will the clouds lift enough for Mt Semeru behind to show through?

Chatting to a Danish family...their kids...excitement in the air...took each other's camera for photos...took some cracking shots for an English couple...my photos not as good as I'd like...but the memories are still there.

People leaving...Fandi wants us to go...advice from locals that it is as good as we'll get...the morning clearing...sky blue...but that cloud just won't lift off Semeru's rim...me wanting to wait just in case.

The walk down...could see how high we had climbed in the dark...the roadway below like a spotted snake...the spots being masses of jeeps...Tengger with horses everywhere.

In Java I expanded my theory that population density is measured by how easily one can have a toilet stop by the side of a road...without being seen.


In Africa I have tested this...intrigued by how difficult it is...even in remote locales...someone usually sees you and comes to investigate...dark eyes upon you at the critical time.

In Patagonia...no problem...in Asia...a challenge.

In Java I had deemed it "impossible"...every segment of roadway occupied by a dwelling, person or cultivated field...until now..!

I enjoyed that moment...a quiet nook...evidence of previous visits...this time just me.

Further down a toilet...long line waiting...me strolling smugly by.

Into the jeep...down the mountain...past our lodge...then down the crater rim...onto the sand sea...flat and lifeless...a procession of jeeps...then park...all jeeps abreast...like a 100 metre fence...small warungs (eateries)...Tengger with their short agile horses...constantly offerring.

Fandi thinks it would be cool if we rode to the edge of the Bromo crater...but only Asians are taking that on...all Westerners walking...and while it would be cool to ride...it is not far...and expence not of significence...our desire to assist local economy overridden by our desire to trek and climb without assistance.

It's still early morning...warungs serving breakfast...Den & Fandi making a bee-line to Bromo Crater...it had been in eruption less than a year ago...still active but now quiet...me heading at an angle to visit Poten...the Hindu temple at the base of Mt Batok.

It is said during an eruption of Bromo...the whole hinterland was strewn with boulders...but none fell in or within the walls of Poten...accepted as a miracle...increasing its allure.

We had to climb 245 steps to access the rim of Bromo Crater...LHS for Up...RHS for Down...reasonably strenuous...to join a crowd at the top...the rim only about a metre wide in places...signs of what were once footings for a guard-rail...but no railing now present...the only protection being one's sense of balance.

I sat on the rim...looking into the inverted cone of loose grey sand...to the greeny brown crater pool...feeling decidedly edgy...no room for mistakes or foolishness up here.

It reminded me of that insect that builds cones of fine sand near ant nests...awaiting an ant to walk in... the more it struggles to climb out, the further it slips down...then pounced upon and eaten.

A Javan youth had recently sufferred such a fate...went into the cone...down the cone about 20 metres...declaring to all that he was "King of Mt Bromo"...problem was he couldn't get out...his friends couldn't help...when exhausted...slid to the bottom...eaten by the volcano god.

Stopped in at a Javan festival at Poten...then back at the jeep at 9 am...5 hours of adventure this morning...would have preferred an eruption...but well worth it nonetheless...looking forward to breakfast.

After a heavy night drinking water from the volcano with the Tengger...see my blog "Blue Grass in Bromo"...we engaged the Bromo Jeep Club to take us to see Mt Semeru...Java's tallest volcano...subject to the weather...as it's raining.

Markuat our driver today...down into the Tengger caldera...across the sand sea...Mt Batok & Bromo Crater to our right...a steaming fissure in the rim wall to our left...the occasional tuft of grass...past Mt Batok & grey dunes...to a vivid green oasis...of small rolling hills known as the "Teletubbies"...yes...after the kid's TV show...and stop.

Extraordinary...flat sand sea on one side of the volcano...vivid green rolling hills on the other...and we stop next to the only other jeep within coo-ee.

Go for a wander...a Tengger family cutting long grass...packing into large rolls...will be taken into Bromo for horse feed...another two jeeps stop next to us...the quiet ambience of lushness...broken by the sounds of a small giggling group...heading towards me.

Back into the jeep...keep going...up to the base of the rim...long grass giving way to low scrub & trees...onto a narrow track of concrete slabs...probably necessary to negotiate the slope...which if muddy would be impossible...after all this is a main road..!

The occasional moped scraping past...the odd jeep passing with difficulty.

Reach the top of the rim and drive along it...tarred tarmac...precipitous slopes on either side...cultivated of course.

The mist was hanging in places...obscuring the slopes & narrowness of the road...making me somewhat apprehensive...hoping an oncoming vehicle is not coming...holding my breath.

Down through tropical forests...past the National Park gate...up & down mountain road...heaps of landslides...Tengger responsible for maintenance.

We stopped to trek down to Cuban Pelangi Waterfall...not now raining...me deriding myself for wearing leather slip ons...and not my boots...blaming the Arak...these are my good shoes...hoping they will not end up muddy...I want to wear them tonight.

Walking like a ballerina...please don't rain...past happy buskers...prayer stations with soundtracks of running water...youths posing on wet boulders in rushing streams...bamboo...slippery path...mud in places...stepping carefully...how could I have forgotten my boots?

The waterfall was a powerful spout...the splash at the bottom...a magnificent rainbow...when the sun is out...c'est la vie...not today...still enjoyed by youth...any excuse to cop a soaking.

And on the way up...near the top..."David...David"...is someone calling me?

Aaah...the bush telegraph of the Tengger...our exploits of the previous night...

"Hi there...will we see you tonight?"

Relax & Enjoy,

Dancing Dave


Additional photos below
Photos: 74, Displayed: 28


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FIRST LIGHTFIRST LIGHT
FIRST LIGHT

Lucky it's stopped raining
SLEEPING BEAUTYSLEEPING BEAUTY
SLEEPING BEAUTY

Local name for the volcano behind us
POTENPOTEN
POTEN

We'll visit it later
TENGGER CALDERATENGGER CALDERA
TENGGER CALDERA

The clouds will not lift off Semeru...it's wet season


28th April 2012

beatyful view
it beutiful i love it
28th April 2012

Nice story and photos Dave
It brings back memories for me from last year. I guess I was very lucky with the conditions I had. It is amazing to see Batok green, it was just grey when I was there and the steps up to Bromo were all covered in ash. I did miss out on the teletubbies and waterfall though..
28th April 2012

HI JASON
Good to hear from you. Bromo was a blast even if it was not shooting from the volcanoes. The massive number of active volcanoes in Java meant volcanic activity was usually somewhere on the island...like all travelling you take what comes and make the most of it. I can only dream of your good fortune to be at Bromo erupting when you were there. Even Semeru was unusually quiet...but tranquil Ijen...not when we were there!
30th April 2012

Silver high heels, private personal toilet, Teletubby hills --> sometimes it's the small details that make an adventure unexpectedly entertaining. Thanks for sharing the spectacular views, too. :)
30th April 2012

THANKS MICHELLE
Appreciate your comments...great memories...not bad for wet season.
16th April 2013
2011 ERUPTION 4

Wow
What a totally amazing photo ! !
16th April 2013
2011 ERUPTION 4

HI KATH
So if you get to the land of the Tengger...only way to travel...Bromo Jeep Club!

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