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Published: July 19th 2012
Our last night in Malang was rough. The bus to Mount Bromo left at 1:00am so we tried to get to bed at a reasonable hour the night before in order to get a few hours of sleep. However, the gazebo that we adored so much the evening before, suddenly became impossible to sleep in. The trucks and motorcycles zinging past a few floors down seemed to be going right through our bamboo walls and the guest house bar of course had some thirsty patrons hanging around that weren't too concerned with our lack of sleep.
Once we finally got to sleep, it was time to wake up; We started our adventure on about an hour of sleep. The first place we went was of course the viewpoint to see the sunrise. It was packed with people but at least it kept us sort of warm (since it was about 5 degrees outside)
Then the sun started to come up and it was the most beautiful sunrise ever! As soon as the suns rays started to appear, the sky somehow seemed to look like a rainbow. The horizon was red and continued to change to orange,
Mt Bromo, Mt Semeru and the third one that no one talks about
yellow, green, blue and violet into the sky that was nothing but a sliver of moon the moment before. As the sun continued to rise, we were able to see more of the volcanoes that surrounded us. That is when it felt like we were on a completely different planet. We could see the volcano tops but where the ground should have been was all clouds, not fog, but clouds (see photos).
Once the sun had come up we got back in our 4WD vehicle and headed down to the base of Bromo. Holy hotness. When that sun comes up, it gets warm. It is all sand at the bottom of the three volcanoes that are situated in a huge crater actually created by a collapsed larger volcano millions of years ago. Bromo is the main attraction since the crater in the middle is so large. To get to the top there are 250 stairs to climb. This single set of stairs was created by the local tengger people so it is steep and narrow. Our impatience persuaded us to be daring and walk up the steep hillside of Bromo instead of waiting in line for the stairs. We
definitely got to the top faster than the rest of our group.
Bromo is the most revered volcano in all of Indonesia. Throughout the year the local natives will climb right down into the smoking crater to throw sacrifices of food or money or flowers. From atop the volcano we had amazing views of the rest of the national park including the highest volcano in Java, Mt Semeru which was occasionally giving off puffs of smoke.
After we got back to the bottom it was time to head out (we used the stairs on the way down).
Our next destination was Blawan high in the mountains of East Java. The road there was treacherous, skirting steep cliffs and extremely rocky and unstable terrain. Needless to say, it made for some spectacular views. When we got safely to Blawan, we dropped of our bags in our room then headed to the coffee factory for our own personal tour. It was actually pretty cool seeing the machines take the shell off the coffee seeds and having our guide explain the fermenting and drying prcoess. Sidenote: our guide was the cutest. He had only been working for Helios Tours for
about a month so he was still a little shy but extremely knowledgeable when you had a question.
We were completely pooped after that long day so we (Karla, Aline, Tyler, Black our driver and I) all chilled out with a Bintang in the Jacuzzi heated with an actual hot spring water fall before heading to bed. Mount Ijen Rebecca: I want to remember this forever Tyler: We will, maybe we can come back when we're 50
This morning wasn't quite as early, we got to sleep until about 4am before having breakfast and driving to Ijen. We started the 3km trek to the top just as the sun was rising. The first kilometre was easy peasy. The 2nd
kilometre was really difficult with much steeper trails and the final kilometre wasn't too bad at all. The whole way up had amazing views. We were surrounded by a couple of other volcano peaks and a lot of farmland. Again we were somehow above the clouds. Tyler mentioned how the clouds look so much cooler from above than below, and he is SO right!
When we made it to the top, we were
both speechless. Not only was the view away from the volcano breathtaking but inside the volcano itself is something like nothing else in this world. Ijen is home to the largest crater lake in the world, full of topaz blue sulfuric acid steaming away, and a huge bright yellow sulfur deposit with its fumes billowing upwards. Miners work there every day carrying out loads of sulfur up to 100kg from inside the crater all the way down the 3km trail. Definitely some of the toughest (and craziest) guys in the world. It is absolutely the most amazing place on Earth, I think we can agree, that we have ever seen. We decided to walk into the crater as much as we felt comfortable with and it was kind of dangerous, but soooo worth it. When we made it back to the top of the crater again, it was time to head back down to where our vehicle was parked. On the way down we absorbed as much of this breathtaking place as we possibly could, in hopes that one day we might be lucky enough to see it again.
Our next nights accommodations were in Kalibaru was at some
swanky, rolly suitcase place that wanted to charge about $8.50 for a dinner. Pfft being backpackers we opted to eat at a local warung in town. The room was great and the property was beautiful. It was established back in the '40's with a 'back to the village' vibe. The grounds are basically a huge botanical garden with a bunch of cottages, along with a dairy farm and a plantation. We were very glad to be able to sleep in until 7am before heading to our next national park. Sukamade
Where to start?
On the way into the park, we stopped at a Coffee/Rubber/Cacao plantation and factory. The way they do everything seems kind of outdated, but it ends up being more organic and cost efficient so they stick to it. Some of the machines in the factory were made in 1924; since it still works why change anything?
This quickly turned into the bumpiest drive on our trip so far. For about an hour and a half we were bumping along through the middle of the jungle. Sometimes on the edge of a cliff, other times we actually drove right through rivers. It
These guys complete the 3km walk into the crater 2 times every day. It's difficult getting to the top once! Then they carry up to 100kg of sulfur back down and do it all over again. Amazing!
was crazy but again, so worth it! When we got to the small guesthouse near the ranger village, all the rooms were full. The employees of the national park/nature reserve were able to find a couple of mattresses and put them in a room for Karla and Aline but Tyler and I got to sleep in a tent! As soon as we heard there might not be enough beds, we told our driver that it would be no problem at all if we ended up sleeping outside. Jorno our driver made us “VIP room”! The box on top of our Jeep opened into a tent and he built a fire right beside. It was great!
Once we all knew where we were sleeping, we went down to the beach with a bucket of baby sea turtles and released them into the Indian Ocean. Turtles come to this beach almost every night of the year to lay eggs (90% of the time). There are different types (the endangered Green Sea Turtle and the highly endangered Leatherback Turtle), but for some reason they always come back to Sukamade beach specifically. When the turtle comes up on the beach at night, the
ranger will collect the eggs and then take them back to their nursery to allow the eggs to safely hatch before sending them off on their journey. This gives the little guys a better chance at survival since a lot of the eggs get eaten by wild pigs or lizards before they even get to hatch in the wild.
The baby turtles are of course the cutest things ever. We put them in the sand a few metres away from the waves and their instincts just tell them where to go. Picture a tiny sea turtle flapping his legs as hard as he can to get into the water. Then when he finally gets to a wave, the darn thing pushes him back a few feet just to make it more difficult. They are tough little creatures though and they all got in the water. In the wild, only about 1 in 1000 sea turtles will grow to be full size. With this help from the rangers they have a much better chance at survival.
That night we all went down to the beach at around 8pm. It was pitch black and we couldn't use flashlights so we
wouldn't disturb the turtles coming ashore. While we sat on our mat, the ranger was going up and down the beach to see if there were any turtles coming up to lay their eggs. There was! A green sea turtle (we named Gertrude) was making her way up the beach and making a nest. She was huge! About 3 feet long and two feet wide, with some very powerful flippers. We sat for about 45 minutes while the turtle built her nest before we were allowed to get close enough to take pictures. She digs a hole with her front flippers that is about as wide and long as she is and about 18 inches deep. Then inside of that she digs another hole with her rear flippers that is about a foot in diameter and 2 feet deep where she will lay her eggs. The ranger called us over just as she was starting to lay the eggs. I was a little disgusted with all of these people crowding around Gertrude snapping their pictures trying to pose with her and touch her. I really just wanted to leave her alone and let her do her business. She was so
beautiful. After most people got their pictures, it started to rain so the majority of the group left and I was more comfortable with the respectful people that stayed to watch her fill her nest in with sand and work her way back down the beach.
That night Gertrude laid 138 eggs. The most out of any other turtle in the last two months! Tyler and I were the very last people on the beach with her. We really wanted to see her get back into the water. The poor thing was just so exhausted that she was taking a long time so we had to get back to our VIP tent for some rest. On the way back with the ranger we found a couple of spiny puffer fish on the beach. The next morning was rainy again, but we wanted to release more baby turtles. Jorno got everything ready and off we went.
What a spectacular thing to be a part of. I hope all of our turtles survive, but unfortunately the odds are not good.
Now we are on Bali, staying in a little cottage type room with an ocean view in Lovina (10
bucks a night!). Our plan – and I have to really start using this term loosley – is to stay here for a few nights then head to Ubud for a few nights. We will then go on to Kuta and Nusa Lembongan (which is a little island off the coast of Bali) before heading over to Lombok. We will either be in Kuta or Nusa Lembongan for Tyler's birthday. It's only a week away!
Sorry for babbling so much in this blog, the whole thing was simply unbelievable. I hope you liked reading along 😊
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