Where I was when I wrote this: Still on this bumpy nauseous ride from Probolingo to Yogyakarta but finally caught up to my blog entries.
Really only 10 days? Feels like I’ve been here longer I swear!
It’s super hot and sticky right now and the transportation is a mess out here but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Mount Bromo Sunrise
I’ll start off with our very early start to the day. By 3AM we were up and because one of the guys yesterday said it’d be around 5-8 degrees C up at the top we loaded up on the layers. On the top I had a sleeveless shirt + dry-fit shirt + zip up fleece + Nike running jacket. Down below I was wearing two socks and my shorts + long khakis.
At 4PM one of these old school Toyota Jeeps picked us up. It is pitch black at this point and the jeep takes us higher and higher up on some mountain before he tells us to get off and climb another 800M to the top (Qian if you’re reading this you are a trooper for doing the climb all on your own). There are guys with donkeys here asking if we want a ride up but we refuse. I’m glad I have my two headlamps at this point for Chantelle and I because a lot of others were walking in the dark on the uneven pathway. After about 15 minutes of climbing up the pathway and eventually stairs we made it to the top fully panting and sweaty. Thank goodness for layers because I had to strip down a few just to make it to the top.
I was one of two dudes with tripods and in total there were only about 15 max at this viewing point which just goes to tell you how low-season it is. By 5AM there was a glimpse of light peeking through the horizon and by 5:30 it was getting to the point where it wasn’t dark all around anymore but the sun itself hadn’t risen yet. The funny thing is we were all looking for the sunrise and facing east that at the same time Chantelle and I had no idea what Mount Bromo looked like or what to look for. So for the longest time we were facing east and I was doing my usual HDR shooting but without much luck because there was so much fog that would come and go to obscure the sunrise behind.
It really wasn’t until around 5:45AM when I turned to my right and saw something that looked like a mini mountain. Sun had finally creeped up behind the mountain ridge and was able to shine down on the real Mount Bromo crater and surrounding mountains. Feeling foolish I moved my tripod over to face the south side and started snapping away. Still the fog/clouds were a problem and it was hard to get any real clear shots of the mountains. On top of that I hadn’t realized that my filter was fogging up too so a few times I had to wipe it down with my lens pen.
By 6AM things were looking a lot better and the colors were really showing on one of the mountains and you could see the smoke coming from Mount Bromo. The crappy thing was that our jeep driver told us to be back down by 6 so I tried to snap whatever last minute shots I could get and then started heading down.
It was probably the weather but I have to say the sunrise was a bit of a disappointment. You wait to watch the entire sunrise but it really isn’t until the sun is fully out when you can actually make out the details of Mount Bromo.
Climbing Up To The Caldera
Okay so I thought our tour was over but was I glad it wasn’t because the jeep then took us down to the caldera floor and on the sand dune that surrounded the mountain. He dropped us off in the middle somewhere and instructed us to walk towards Mount Bromo and climb the stairs up and to be back by 9AM.
I won’t say much here but the landscape here was absolutely gorgeous. The sun wasn’t at its harshest so this made for great photos.
Donkey rides galore here for 20,000 IDR which really wasn’t a bad deal but we decided to hike it up. The cimbing of the stairs was a bit treacherous because there were lots of old people on it from the tour groups and sand had filled a lot of the steps so it wasn’t exactly too safe.
At the top vertigo hit me HARD like it’s never hit me. You’re literally up at the ridge of this mountain/crater/active volcano where you can literally fall into the crater on one side or fall down the crater to the ground on the other and only about 1 meter to 2 meters across to maneuver across if at all. It was quite the struggle to move around up there and take the shots I wanted to. On top of that my camera was set up to be used for the tripod so I didn’t even have my strap on which made things extra nerve-racking. With my vertigo I’ve faced it before and I’m usually able to pull through if I try not to think about it but this time it was hard to ignore because of the height the ridge was to the floor/volcano hole and the fact that there weren’t any guard rails on either side. I get scared when I start thinking about all the worst case scenarios about falling down.
Despite this the views from here were simply spectacular. One one hand you can look down into the eye of the volcano and see/smell the sulphur billowing upwards and at the lip the yellow/green sulphur build up. On the other side you get this sweeping view of the stairs that took us up Mount Bromo the lone temple on the caldera floor, the sand dune, the wall of the caldera and surrounding mountains. Stunning!
After being dropped back off at our hostel we packed back up and had a quick breakfast (stashing a few extra pieces of bread for the road). This is when the frustrations with transportation started. In Cemoro Lewang we waited a long time for the other passengers to finish their own breakfast and check-out since they were in another hostel. Oh and guess what we had to change bus/driver once here as well. Change #1. We get down to Probolingo and go on this ATM adventure for this one couple who needed to be dropped off there to catch another bus to Denpasar. In Probolingo we are told to get out and after waiting about 20 minutes we switch to another bus/driver. Change #2. There’s only the 4 of us at this point but we drive around town killing more time to pick up a few random locals and this other Irish backpacker to make it a full van of 11. Then driving only about an hour out of Probolingo we stop to refuel and then we’re told that our bus is broken. We get out and sit around the gas station for 30 minutes. Finally another bus/driver comes to pick us up and we’re on the road again. Change #3.
By midnight we finally reach the town where the Borobodur is and where our hotel is for the night, the Manohara. I chose this hotel because this would allow us to see Borobudur bright and early in the morning for sunrise before the rest of the tourists are allowed to go in. The reason why we can do this is because the Manohara is on the Borobodur grounds so they offer a special package. With the heat the way it is out there it makes sense to see the temples early morning so that we can spend the rest of the afternoon lounging around somewhere cool.
- If you’re travelling in Southeast Asia it obviously doesn’t make sense to travel with anything winter-ey. It is however probably smart to pack a light jacket and fleece in situations like a Mount Bromo where you can easily layer up to make yourself 5 degrees C ready.
- Chantelle was saying how versatile a buff is and thanks to Jia I have to agree. Guys it’s not just a Survivor gimmick but really useful. I always have it on me whether it’s around my wrist, arm, head, neck. In the heat it’s good to wipe sweat off and in any cold environment it provides you an extra layer wherever you need it. Good buy!
- Mount Bromo is a must-do for sure. Kind of a pain in the ass to get there but it’s worth the one day to check out.
- Manohara hotel for the Borobodur sunrise. Check it out.
- Jeep pick up at 4AM
- Mt. Bromo Sunrise
- Climb up to Mt. Bromo
- Breakfast and check-out
- Very long bus ride to Yogyakarta (perfect time to finish blog posts)
- Check into the Manohara at midnight (yikes)
Head To The Next Day
To read about the next day, head over to Day 11 – Borobudur – To Sunrise or Not to Sunrise.