Bromo Mounted

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August 19th 2010
Published: August 25th 2010
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Driving through Java, it's infinite population becomes increasingly noticeable once you realize that there is not an inch of the island left undeveloped. Whether it's the suburbs from the first large city bleeding into those from the second, or the terraced rice fields decorated with it's cone-hat farmers, the island makes me long for the wild, unrestrained jungle terrain of Sumatra.

The lengthy journey from Jogja to Bromo was actually less painful than predicted and I think having a seat to myself had something to do with it. These days, it's only tourists who make the trek to the volcano, and so it was only us tourists in the minibus, wincing every time the driver swerved and skirted his way through oncoming traffic. The roads here have lines on them, but apparently they're just for decoration. And yet, I keep arriving alive to each new destination. There must be method to this heart-stopping, white-knuckled, sweat-drenched madness.

Arriving late to our hotel, there was time enough for dinner and a insightful chat over Bintangs with a young Dutch woman named Marjan who had spent the last two and a half years working for an international development agency in Papau New Guinea. After having had enough Nasi Goreng (fried rice) to fill a rice field of my own, it was time to explore new territory and I discovered a lovely version of sweet-and-sour chicken (though it too, came with rice).

Full and satisfied, we headed off to bed only to be woken four short hours later at the unnatural hour of 3:30am. And up the mountain we went, inhaling exhaust fumes from the minibus in front of us truck-loading another pack of eager tourists. Mount Bromo, like the temples, is the other pit-stop included in many an itinerary of Java so the numbers were no surprise. What was pleasing, was when 80% of the tourists decided to ascend another mountain in 4x4s that had "better" views. As you can see from the pictures, you'll get no vista complaints out of this blogger.

The climb itself wasn't actually a climb so much as a staircase, but it was challenging finding our way down into the plateau in pitch-darkness and milky mist, thick as cream. Thankfully a few of us had flashlights, and with a little effort, were able to find the entrance to the volcano. There above the valley, I watched as the sun rose on Bromo, and with only a handful of other visitors. It was a gorgeous view and a rejuvenating experience, especially after coming from the hustle and bustle of the big city. On the way down I hiked with an Englishman Dave, though we got a little lost trying to find the right path up the sloping hill to our ride back to the hotel. We overshot it a bit and probably added a good half hour to the hike, but we got to watch local villagers descend onto the plateau, carrying woven baskets on their heads, soon to be filled with wildflowers.

Back at the hotel, I showered, had breakfast and readied myself for another journey to the large and polluted Surabaya where I was to catch my next flight. A short trip in fact, and a stay at a hotel near the airport (with aircon, hot water and tv, oh my!) meant the whole ordeal was quite pain-free. And it wasn't long before the propellers started turning, and I was floating high above Java en route to the vast and untamed island of Flores.

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