a kiss of life and death
INDONESIA | Wednesday, 24 September 2008 | Views 
circa. Sept 21 2008
mount bromo was the first place i visited in indonesia. i saw it in websites but i didnt expect much but what i saw never left my internal memory. its an amazing place. no wonder national geographic featured it some years ago.
we left around 1 am, from Malang, in time for sun rise. i joined a group, which is cheaper and sensible (only 250,000 rupiahs about 21 USD). its four hours of ride, half of which is on smooth amiable roads and the other on a rugged and punishing one. fortunately, i was asleep the whole time.
we arrived at mt. penanjakan for sunrise viewing. the look out point is packed with tourists and large cameras. pity small me. the temperature is around 6 degrees celcius. my hands are almost numb but you can not miss the view of a lifetime.
its a perfect day there were no clouds between us and the three mighty volcanoes. three because right in front of us is not only bromo. at the the background is the majestic mt. semeru the tallest mountain in java. and beside bromo is mt. batok. which is recognizable by the almost-perfect trenches running from its mouth down. and of course sandwiched in between them is bromo.
this mountain became famous when a few years back it blew its entire top giving everybody a sneak peak of a volcanos' heart. now the blown away part crated a large crater- trudging the mouth and back (which in fact you can) will take you 45 minutes according to my guide.
bromo is just one of the peaks inside a massive caldera that was formed thousands of years ago, called the tengger caldera. (caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption). inside the caldera are remains volcanic ashes dubbed as pasir laut (sea of sand).
i was squeezing myself between large westerners in order to take a good shot of the caldera. it is an amazing sight. it seemed eerily out of this world. unearthly. like a scene from the moon. no kidding, it momentarily took my breath and memory away. i forgot that i was freezing and that i have to push the button of my camera.
after the sun fully rose the weather went a little friendlier. we had breakfast of eggs and toasts and headed down to the sea of sand where we would begin the hike to the crater. i opted to ride a horse, as the tenggerese wont to do. the local people (tenggerese) are well known horse riders. my ride was named pelan (which ironically means slow) a mighty and strong (the mightiest and strongest looking amongst all) stallion. my guide dropped me off at the foot of bromo. its not a real hike because stairs with 140+ flights were built leading to the crater.
youll know when you are near the brim, the strong pungent smell of sulfur will shall permeate your nostrils.
after ten minutes of punishing assault (140+ flight of stairs is no joke, id rather be trekking on soil). the view loomed before me. i was on top of it all literally. i never saw an inside of a volcano nevertheless be on an active one. well, i swam at pinatubo's crater but its a lake now, 2.5 km caldera of water. but right there smack in front of my face is a fuming smoke of sulfur. looking keenly, you'll see the crevices where these fumes come from. whatever's beyond i don't want to know at that time its too freaky. i trudges along the brim just a few feet away from where i began. its exhilarating but the soil that i am trudging on is treacherous and could prove lethal. its a two-feet wide crumbling soil. you gotta be extra cautious or you've got two fates- left or right. left is roll down the volcanos' slope and right is the way straight to its flaming heart.
grazing the lips of a volcano. a strange warm sensation overcame me, don't blame the sulfur, this always happen when i experience such sights. maybe its a sense of awareness. a great sense and appreciation of life and the living. whatever it is, its what keeps me going. what makes me want to endanger myself and explore. i know ill be back here.
Tags: bromo, caldera, indonesia, mt. batok, mt. bromo, semeru, tengger caldera
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