Wednesday, October 10, 2012

East Java: Bromo Caldera

From the Bromo Viewpoint

The highlight of this Indonesia volcano tour, Mount Bromo. It was far exceeding my expectation of a touristic Indonesia.

Igniting

Mount Bromo, is still an active volcano. It had a recent major eruption in early 2011 and the ashes that it spitted out put the villages next to the volcano in miserable dust. Ventured to an active volcano so close was a first in my life. Perhaps I was still not aware of the danger of an active volcano yet.

From the Bromo view point between 5am and 6am, when the light transitioned slowly and all the spectrums of rainbow were splashed on the mountain skylines, I could hear other tourists making remarks such as "this is the best ever sunrise that I have seen... so beautiful".

In scenes like this, sometimes panorama mode is able to capture some of the essence of what we saw with our bare eyes. I believe that no photographs can re-imagine the beauty that was best behold by our very own eyes, but at least a panorama like this can give some "wows".

Panorama

Sunrise Panorama

From the sunrise, the mountains went through interesting transition of colours. The below pictures show that at different time, the mountain changed magically too.

Bromo Sunrise

Bromo in daylight spectrum

The three of us did not forget to take a picture as well:

Group pic

As the clock hits 6am, we had to rush to the caldera of Bromo! Seriously, we were going to the mouth of an active volcano and look into the crater that could possibly explode and spit out fire!! We went down to the shrine area, about 1km from the caldera and our horses were already there waiting.

Jeeps and Horse

I think it was easier for inexperience tourists like us to ride on ponies, hence most of the horses there were ponies, the one Swen rode was only 4 months old! Over there at the Sea of Sands, we could see the horse guides roamed around as if we were at Mongolian grasslands.

galloping in the sand

horse guide

visitors and the ponies

all the ponies

For the unadventurous ones, we actually saved ourselves from having to tread across the thick sea of sands. The walk should be quite tough for those without good stamina as walking on these textures drain your strength quickly. Imagine running on a sandy beach where the sand is smooth.

sea of sand

the iconic view

For the last few steps towards the crater, we would have to climb up the stairs... and when the wind blew...

sandstorm

The sand storm was that bad... For a few minutes we couldn't move but faced away from the wind. Still, even with the face mask, we couldn't escape having sands that went into the mouth. In the aftermath, it was as if we just rolled on a sandy beach.

On the top, along the mouth of the crater, there was not much safety protection that prevents you from slipping and falling into the abyss. We heard a loud bang, which resembled the fire cracker sound during Chinese New Year and realised it came from the crater. Bubbles could be seen inside the milky blue crater and smoke could be seen too. However, looking around, there were still so many people that were not alarmed. I guess it must be very normal for such explosion to happen now and then.

along the caldera

There were even 2 silhouettes at the opposite of the caldera. I wondered how the two adventurer got to the other side?

in the distant there were 2 silhouettes

We made the descent and back to the hotel to clean up all the ashes before we looked at the view of Bromo one last time and left. All these happened within the timespan of 4.30am to 10am. Short, but full of surprises.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

East Java: Bromo Sunset, Night, and Sunrise

Mount Bromo in morning sun

After Kawah Ijen, we were headed to Mount Bromo, and another painfully long car ride... From Ijen to Bromo, it is another close-to-five hours journey.

Bajo's driving skill was, impressive... The way uphill was so narrow, and many bends and curves, yet he was able to speed so fast and overtake slower vehicles like it was the most natural thing to do. He even showed off a bit of the "drift" at one of the bend! Scary but exciting. Thanks to him, we were able to see Bromo in the dusk light.

The mountains, were shrouded in veils weaved by the evening sun rays.

Bromo View

We were so glad that our hotel is Cemara Indah, which probably offered the best view of Bromo. Bring a coffee or tea out from the restaurant, sit at the table and enjoy the view of Bromo right there. Even after the sunset, it was still a very good spot to sit on, and then look towards the sky.

The sky was clear, and full of stars which were previously not observed under a light-polluted city. For someone who grew up in a populated city, it was like one of the wonders of the world that is always there but hidden from the city folks.

Bromo Nightsky

the Milky Way

I wish I knew how to take in the full view of the Milky way. However, I did not even have a tripod, and the night sky were shot handheld at ISO1600, 25 seconds exposure and aperture of f/3.5... Slight shake can still be noticed in the picture.

As for the night, we tried the warm and spicy Bakso sold by vendors riding around in their motorcycle. Best in such temperature! The spiciness warmed our belly and body.

We then go to sleep earlier to wake up at 3.30am, for Mount Bromo's beautiful sunrise. By jeep we went to the viewpoint, another bumpy hilly sandy ride. We went through the sea of sands in dark, our jeep driver drove like he was racing with other jeep drivers. We were clad in the down jacket rented from the hotel, and many more layers beneath to resist the morning coldness which was about 2 degree Celcius?

Finally, we arrived at the peak. The view at the peak facing the sun, and facing the Bromo volcanoes, are totally rewarding. All the visitors there were staring into the direction of the Sun, in unison.

Infinite Dawn

Burst of Spectrum

Human Activity

The Yolk

The crowds there, were equally amazing... I didn't know Mount Bromo is already so commercialised. This volcano is still relatively an unknown among my friends.

As the Sun came up slowly, the surrounding lit up to reveal the morning mists around the mountains. The view towards the sea of clouds with silhouettes of mountain was, exactly as depicted in the Chinese water painting.

Floating in Heaven

The majestic view of Mount Bromo had everyone awe-struck. Especially in such beautiful light.