December 15th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Ngadisari village

Despite our travel fatigue, we did not sleep well.  The bed, not designed for 6 ft Europeans, was too short; despite the fact a mosquito coil had been burning all night, we had been badly bitten; + Sonny insisted on waking us at a ridiculously early hour, 4.30 or so, I think.  This last was carrying things a bit too far, but it did at least enable us to make an early start, which, after taking a photo of the family, we did.  We walked to the bemo station, + after a good deal of discussion, found that all the drivers going to Ngadisari, the village below Mt Bromo, wanted Rp750.  We Europeans seem to want it both ways, I think.  We complain about having to haggle all the time because it’s such a hassle, but we don’t like it when there’s a fixed price either.  Eventually tho’ we agreed to pay, tho’ there was some delay before we left – the inevitable wait for sufficient passengers, we were on our way before too long.

A fast 2 hour ride up to Ngadisari, + we were on our own.  We were amazed to see sacks + sacks of potatoes there, + for a while we thought we might be able to cook up some sort of stew, but they had none other of the vital ingredients, so that idea had to be abandoned.  The potatoes too were not really for domestic consumption, we decided – even with the things growing all around them, + all rice having to be shipped up the mountain from the paddy-fields down on the plains, rice was the order of the day.

We signed in the official visitors’ book, paid our Rp100 entrance, + set off up the hill to stay at the village just below the crater.  I don’t know what I had expected, but I was surprised nonetheless.  I suppose I had imagined a dirt track winding up to the mountain, but the road was cobbled, something I hadn’t seen before in Indonesia, + the houses along it neat, well-painted, + apparently prosperous.  In fact, the place looked like nothing so much as Clovelly.  Except for the mountains all around, of course. + the gardens perched precariously on the sides.  But tho’ the road was severely steep, + had us both dripping sweat in no time with the effort, it wasn’t as long a walk as we had anticipated, + we arrived in the village almost without realising it.  I slumped down + looked after the bags, while Val checked the accommodation in the area.  We soon decided tho’ to stay at the place in front of which I was plonked.  The rooms were tiny, but it was cheap, while the hotel in the place was dingy + relatively expensive.  We soon discovered that our losmen had the additional benefit of offering good food.  2 of the other guests in the place ordered a nasi goreng, + when I’d seen it, I did the same.  It was excellent.

Afterwards, Val + I went for a walk.  The view  from the rim of the outer crater, just 200 metres further up the road, was very impressive – a vast barren wasteland, ringed by mountains, with 2 cones jutting up in the middle, one a steep but near-perfect ridged cone, the other Bromo, broken off, + belching smoke + steam.  We decided to descend to the floor of the main crater, + then walk around to the side of Bromo.  There was a village round there, but that was 10 kms away, + we reckoned a 20 km round trip to be too much for an afternoon’s stroll, so we aimed to go for a while, + then retrace our steps.  The trip up the interior volcano we decided to leave for sunrise tomorrow.  It was a pleasant walk, + a slightly eerie atmosphere.  At the point where we decided to stop we sat down + chatted, as we haven’t for a very long time, mostly about Launceston, + the time when I’d first known Val.  After which we returned.

The rest of the afternoon we relaxed + chatted.  A group of 4 Frenchmen called in at the losman to eat, + as their English was pretty poor, I interpreted for them, + then chatted.  I enjoyed the exercise, in fact.  Also, they were very friendly.  If I am prejudiced against any race in general, it is the French, whom I generally find arrogant + aloof, but this lot were very amiable.  It’s nice to have one’s preconceptions upset in such a pleasant way.  We ate as soon as it was dark, + went to bed soon after, ready for an early start.

A pleasant enough day, despite it starting quite so early, and ending with us in a pleasant place, having been well fed. Clovelly is a small town in Devon, renowned for its narrow but steep cobbled road.

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