Monday, 1 November 2010

Java: Mt Bromo

Saturday 30 October: A long day travelling - executive-class sleeper (eight hours) to Surabaya for breakfast, business-class train (two hours) to Probolinggo, small yellow minibus to the bus station for lunch, and (after a three-hour wait) large minibus uphill (two hours) to Cemoro Lawang village on the lip of a one-million year old super-volcano caldera, Tengger crater. At six-miles in diameter it's huge, with three volcanoes at it's centre, but everything is invisible through a curtain of cloud and rain. Local tourists buy hats, scarves and gloves which they will only wear once, on top of their tee-shirts (it's not all that cold). For me bedtime is at 8:00pm, beneath a snug woolly blanket.
Sunday 31: Rising early, by 3:30am I'm hiking up to the summit of Mt Renanjaken
(9,088ft, twice the height of Ben Nevis) poking-up high on the outer crater rim. It's a difficult slippery, wet and muddy ascent through the damp and misty moonlit-darkness, but I'm hoping for clear dawn views across the caldera over the billowing Mt Bromo to a distant Mt Semaru (12,060ft), Java's highest peak.
Dawn breaks quickly over the eastern skies but the clouds remain. Teasingly slowly Mt Bromo's streaming cone emerges above the blanket of cloud, barely visible through the wafting sulphurous haze. Disappointingly, this is as good as it gets, but the trek down, off the mountain, to Cemoro Lawang past a patchwork of potato, onion and cabbage plots - this makes the effort worthwhile. The fragrant, but highly-toxic, ochre-yellow pendulum blossoms of the aptly named Angel's Trumpet
Brugmansia are a fantastic sight in the early morning light.
After breakfast, I cross the caldera's gritty black floor and, with hordes of locals (it's Sunday), climb to the rim of Mt Bromo's crater to take a peek inside. Puffing and growling as it goes, the roaring vent spews gaseous smoke upwards in an ever-changing bulbous cloud.

An oil painting in the visitor centre shows the scene on a clear day.
Photos of Cemoro Lawang and Mt Bromo.
It starts raining again - time to leave. Minibus back downhill to Probolinggo, local bus eastbound to Bondowoso.

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