03.01.2012 - 03.08.2012 30 °C
I must save the best for last. So before jumping into Mt. Bromo I'm going to quickly recap my first week in Indonesia.
Within 48 hours of arriving in Jakarta I had lost my camera. Evidently I’m problematic when it comes to dealing with all electronic goods. Once again, I have no one else to blame but myself, I was using it to take map images of my next destination and left it sitting on the internet cafe computer. I didn’t even realize that it was missing until the next morning when I was aboard the 7:00am train. FML.
Jakarta was immense! I’m accustomed to SE Asian standards of not having sidewalks, but this city was truly off-putting for pedestrians. I was actually shooed off the pavement at one point along an empty street and asked to walk on the grass instead. The officer in uniform didn’t speak English and the entire scenario was carried out in mime. I think I may have been “too close” to some sort of government compound. So I didn’t get to see too much and I was anxious to leave because my hostel owner was overly affectionate with me. He asked how I slept and I mentioned something along the lines of neck pains and he initiated to rub my legs and back... uhm, there was no barrier in translation as I had pointed to my neck. Time to pack up & move on.
The train ride to Yogyarkata could be described as entertaining. Once aboard there was not a moment of silence.
- A blind man walked through the aisle shaking a tin cup for donations.
- A legless man crawled through sweeping the floor and asked for donations
- A man selling water, shouting “Agua, y, Agua” passed by 4 times
- A man selling tea, passed by twice, another selling “kopi” (coffee) passed 3 times
- A man squirted an aerosol can of scented spray at each seat and another man followed closely behind asked for donations
- A little boy dropped off a note & an envelope and walked back to collect the items in the hopes that he’d find money in the envelope
- A man selling watches, magic squares, scissors and razor blades would put a random item either in your lap or on the tray table and collect either the goods or money in exchange on his return
- A train attendant offering pillows at a cost
I looked at the time, it’s been 20 minutes to my 8 hour ride. I've also scored myself the aisle seat. At every stop, multiple vendors would hop on, and previous vendors would hop off. Repeat as necessary.
Yogyakarta or Jogya as they called it, was a cute city. Horse buggies and bicycle rickshaws along ornate streets. I finally got around to purchasing a replacement camera.
One of the confusing things about Indonesia was how the street names were signed. It shows you the street you’re traveling into, rather than running parallel to the street itself. Even more confusing was the fact that this wasn’t abided by 100% of the time, especially when it came to smaller streets.
I did an excursion out to the Borobudur Temple which left at 5am to catch the sunrise. Along the way while driving in the dark we passed by a bustling morning market, set up between the hours of 4-6am catering to those who had a long day’s work ahead.
They asked us to all wear sarongs while on the compound.
The misty morning sun was already creeping up over the jungle terrain.
Mount Merapi was a dominating backdrop, an active volcano which last erupted in October of 2010 killing hundreds.
This was about 20km away from the volcano, and our driver told us there used to be a town and a bridge here. The rebuilding efforts were still taking place from the devastation.
The temple comprised of 9 levels each with multiple stupas. This is at the very top.
These are overviews of the temple:
Don’t you love it when people ignore instructions? Dalang Duduk – yeah it’s a foreign language, I get it.
Pictograms can sometimes be the most confusing things ever, like washing instructions have always been tough for me to decipher.
However, I overheard these tourists speaking to their daughter on the phone. They were from Britain and there’s just no excusing them.
This stupa was under restoration so the buddha was visible. A buddha was hidden under every perforated stupa. That was one of the moves the local vendors always made, "I sell very good and authentic. Look! [unveiling and lifting of the stupa] Buddha inside." My mind strays to the Russian Doll vendors and their selling technique.
The surrounding walls, the reliefs were ornate themselves depicting different tales.
But what captured my attention the most was the lush surroundings. This is my view with the Buddha.
The ever present man made steel forest.
On the drive back I noticed a sign outside a hospital. Caste system is prevalent everywhere, but VVIP?
I moved on to the town of Cemoro Lawang to visit Mount Bromo. Most Indonesians when asked to make a choice between Bromo & Bali choose the former. Happily, I don't have to choose and will be seeing both. The other travelers that I bused in with were only staying 1 night whereas I was staying 2 nights to really venture around on my own terms. We arrived at 9pm and immediately turned into bed as the wake up call was for 3:15am. The guest house staff knocked on every room to ensure that the 4am jeep departure was not delayed. I balked at the idea of being chauffeured by the jeeps that had strict time lines:
4:30am arrival to View Point
6am departure for Mt. Bromo
8am departure back to guest house.
The trek was less than 10km but without the aid of transport I needed to wake up even earlier so that I could also see the sunrise.
My first mistake was not having a proper flashlight. I still haven't upgraded my small red LED light. There was no moon light to guide me, and I have very defined memories of the varying textures and sensations from my footing: sand, pavement, mud, puddles, grass.
I actually covered a decent distance until I stopped dead in my tracks from the growl and loud barks of a territorial dog. Every attempt to continue forward generated even more aggressive outbursts. I didn't move for 20 minutes, paralyzed and full of regret on why I didn't get my rabies vaccination?! Finally a van pulled up, it was the driver who dropped us off the previous night, he recognized me in the dark and knew of my independent plans of trekking solo and offered to picked me up. Perhaps he more than "recognized" me, he was rather "fond" of me as you can tell from this picture.
I allowed him to drive me 2km closer to my destination before continuing on solo. I started to get light from the breaking dawn and heard sounds far above me and knew I was somewhat close to the View Point. A local man approached me with his horse and asked if I wanted to ride up to the view point for a small price. I thanked him but shook my head. He extended both his arms and approached me, to which I extended my hand thinking he wanted to shake hands. But ended up in a wrestling match because he started planting kisses on my neck and face. WTF?! How do I get myself into these situations? With my remaining 8 lives, I walked away unscathed where as the small framed, heavily moustached local man received a hard hit to his neck (my aim wasn't so great). Every local man with a horse from this point forth was cautiously avoided. This one spent some time grooming his horse.
Aside from my rough start, everything about the trek was beautiful and surreal. I stood still, and gazed at the changing colours. The mountain chains peeped through the clouds.
The lush and carefully groomed crop patches. I have never seen so many gradients of green. Mother Nature is truly the finest artist.
Then I came upon the reason why I dragged myself out of bed after only a few hours of sleep. It didn't seem possible. It was other worldly. I felt my breath being taken from me as my body stopped its billions of functions to solely focus on the view before me.
Mount Batok is in the foreground, covered in lush deep green. Mount Semeru is the dominating in the background, puffing out consistent streams of smoke clouds every 20 minutes.
.... And this is Mt. Bromo. It blew its own top off because that's how bad-ass it is.
I lingered until 10am barely able to tear myself away (keep in mind that I started my trek at 3am... it's been a full day) and started my decent towards Mt. Bromo itself. The sharply defined edge of the crater, where the 2 opposite landscapes meet at the 500m drop off.
Things I noticed now in broad daylight: Housing perched in the mountain sides.
Many people working the fields.
A modest home.
Rolling clouds & mists.
I creeped up one of the more luxury homes because of these hilarious tiles caught my eyes.
Nothing says welcome like kitties! (I seriously mean that. Zero sarcasm)
A closer look at the trail I was about to take.
Down in the crater.
The bizarre colours, growths & patches surrounding Mr. Bromo.
At the top of the stairs.
The view into Mt. Bromo's massive spout. Still gurgling and boiling.
It was very, very windy at the top. Most of us stayed near the staircase as here was the widest point on the rim with a small fencing to hold on to.
The rest of the path along the rim was perhaps a meter wide, with the constant strong wind, the sheer drop into the bubbling sulphur I just couldn't gather the guts or find enough strength in my legs to complete the hour long circular trek. Unlike this man, Alexandre from Russia who wanted to a mini practice building up for his Mt. Everest in a few months time. Even looking at the photo makes me knees go weak. Did I mention it was very windy AND narrow? A local man selling flowers at the rim told me that he walked the rim once, and once was plenty enough.
This just means that I'll have to return in the future to finalize my trek, do I have any volunteers to join me?!