East Java: Bromo Caldera
The highlight of this Indonesia volcano tour, Mount Bromo. It was far exceeding my expectation of a touristic Indonesia.
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".
From the sunrise, the mountains went through interesting transition of colours. The below pictures show that at different time, the mountain changed magically too.
The three of us did not forget to take a picture as well:
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.
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.
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.
For the last few steps towards the crater, we would have to climb up the stairs... and when the wind blew...
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.
There were even 2 silhouettes at the opposite of the caldera. I wondered how the two adventurer got to the other side?
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.