With Mt Agung in Bali erupting last week, friends were concerned about our trip to Mt Bromo, despite their vast distance. True, they share the same ring of fire belt and one eruption could trigger the other, like a contagious sneeze, but that made it all the more exciting for me.
We left the planning all to our travel agent in Indonesia, to arrange our itinerary and hotels, and I didn’t even bother to read the itinerary, which served me right. When our jeep picked us up at 12.30am to drive us to King Kong Hill, the viewing point to watch the sunrise over Mt Bromo, we were underdressed.
The drive took about one and a half hour. Our guide, Yogi, had wanted ample time for my photographer hubby to take photos of the milky way. Unfortunately, the recent super moon is still superly bright, and the sky was also overcast. So there was few stars.
We decided to go up to an open-air makeshift stall for hot drinks. Despite a cardigan over a tee-shirt and a light down windbreaker, I was shivering. The stall owner lighted up two small charcoal burners after we ordered cup noodles from her.
It wasn’t warm enough for me though. As time passed, more stalls started operating. Soon, a man was collecting fees for toilet (Rp 4000) which I had used for free.
We made our way to the viewing point a 10-minute walk away and parked ourselves there by renting plastic chairs for Rp10000 each. More stalls started operating at 3am as the crowds descended and swarmed around us. My sons and I were freezing and we decided to purchase scarves, gloves and beanies for Rp20000 (S$2) each, even if we own a few at home already. That’s our payback for not reading the itinerary and getting prepared.
It was a long and cold night for me up there at King Kong Hill as more crowds jostled and shoved me on my plastic chair to get the best view of what we all thought would be the most spectacular sunrise. The moonlight had cast a silvery glow on the silhouettes of mountain peaks and raised our anticipation.
The tinge of orange at 4.30am created a mini commotion as cameras clicked and flash burst every few minutes. I remained on my plastic chair with a front row view and once in a while turned back to stare fiercely at whoever was pushing me. Don’t ever mess with a woman who hasn’t slept the whole night.
The colours in the sky changed from dusky blue to tangerine to finally daylight. In front, Mt Bromo is smoking, its height disappointingly shorter than the rest of its taller, triangular shaped, and more majestic looking cousins.
Next, the jeep drove us to a desert area, which I was told used to be a crater. From there, we continued to where we could climb up to Mt Bromo’s crater. The approx 0.8km walk on the soft sand is not long but if you prefer, you could also ride a horse for Rp200k. After which, you’d still need to climb the 200-odd steps up to the crater. But for me, the climb was worth the workout, for being so close to a live volcano is exciting. To think Mt Bromo just erupted merely two years ago.
Despite the thick cloud emissions, there’s no smell. The area around the crater is narrow and I have a fear that some people might accidentally be pushed off either side. Was that why the army has stationed at emergency tent with an ambulance on standby? The locals, who are Hindus, offers flowers and livestock to appease the volcano by throwing them into the crater. I decided I don’t want to be a sacrificial lamb and made my descence as more crowds arrived.
As if in unison, we all decided to ride a horse down. I needed to use the toilet and the horse is quicker than my own speed (Rp50000 S$5). My husband remarked that it’s cheaper than Uber for which he was unanimously disproved.
The surrounding areas consist of dessert and a grassland. We drove past a pasture of swaying hare’s tail grass in bloom, a perfect place for photos.
At 9.30am, hungry and sleep-deprived, we were driven back to our homestay for breakfast and checkout, onwards to our next destination.