December 16th 1983

posted in: The way back | 1

Chris on the crater rim

The Yellow Guide, + the reports of other travellers, suggest the thing to do at Bromo is to make sure one is on top of the inner volcano to watch the sunrise over the outer one, so, I order to be absolutely certain, we were up at 3 am, + on the trail shortly after.  One slight hiccup when we discovered we’d left the camera behind, but fortunately we hadn’t got too far before the discovery was made.  It was a pleasant + peaceful walk from then on, once we’d passed the couple of guys offering horse rides.  It was very dark, of course, but our night vision was sufficient to guide us along the trail, + once we were down in the crater itself, there was a line of yellow-painted stones to guide one.  It was when the stones finished, + we actually began to ascend to the inner crater that I thought we would have difficulties, but by instinct or fortune, we managed to stick to the… not straight + narrow exactly, more winding + narrow.  We did so well in fact that we dragged along another early-riser.  As we were walking along, Val spotted a dark, thin object, had said, “Look.  It’s a pole!”  She was wrong, it was a Swede, but maybe it’s not so very far off.

We finally arrived at the concrete steps leading up to the dome, 246 in all, but just a matter of plodding, + there we were.  We weren’t the first there, + many more came in the next hour or so, but I was glad we had made the effort.  The crater itself was very spectacular, a steep drop down to the multi-coloured rocks on the bottom, + steam pouring up out of 2 big holes.  The sunrise itself was not so dramatic, just a gradual lightening of the sky in one quarter, going thro’ various colour changes, when I had envisaged something much more spacey, a golden orb rising up out of darkness.  But it was still worth it, because the whole atmosphere in the place was so good.  There were a few clowns, of course, but people spread out around the crater’s edge, so that one was able to find one’s own bit of space.  It was bloody cold tho’, so we were pleased to have dressed up warm, pleased too to have brought along Steve Stove to cook some porridge – that went down very well.

Looking down into the abyss

When it was light enough, I went for a walk all the way round the crater’s edge – Val had some stomach pains, so only came a little way.  I enjoyed it tho’ – from the far side of the crater, which was much higher, I could see another much larger volcano quite a way off.  I also discovered that there was another crater adjoining Bromo, higher up, + apparently extinct.  One guy there was foolhardy enough actually to climb down into Bromo, but he looked both exhausted by the climb shaken by the experience when he returned, so I didn’t envy him.

Returned to the losmen at about 7, tho’ it felt like midday, + then, after a cup of tea, walked back down the hill to Ngadiseri.  It was only when we were down there that we saw a map of the area, + this seemed to suggest that it would be possible to walk across the crater to the other village, and then another village beyond that, where it looked likely one would be able to catch a bemo down direct to Malang, rather than return to Probolinggo, + then catch a bus all the way around the Bromo area.  However, since we were now down in Ngadisari, + since we were also in dire need of changing some money, we decided to carry on as before.

Bemoed to Probolinggo, tho’  we had great difficulty convincing the driver that on no account could we allow our small pack, containing Walkman, camera, etc, to travel separately from us, either in the boot or strapped on top.  When we arrived in Probolinggo, we had to decide whether to return, as we had said we would, to Sonny’s.  After much vacillating, we ultimately decided no.  It was inconvenient, but even more than that was basically the notion that we really didn’t want to go.  We have tried pleasing others in the past, without conspicuous success.  In Indonesia, especially since having my glasses stolen, our attitude has hardened into an “us first” philosophy.

The bus to Malang was very crowded, but luckily we were able to find a seat.  The only  notable thing about the journey was that we went past one bus which had totally wiped out.  This had obviously happened a few hours before, since there were lots of police about, + the bus had been cleared of casualties, blood etc, but it made one realise these drivers were not divine.

On arrival in Malang, we went thro’ our usual procedure, of first finding a café, + then one person going out to look for accommodation while the other minds the bags.  This is usually decided according to who feels fittest – one or other of us is often under the weather – or by whim.  Val went off this time, + an inordinately long time she was too, eventually returning on the back of a motorbike.  She’s been a long way, she said, + without success.  The hotels were either grotty, expensive, full, or too far away.  So I gave it a whirl, fixing my attention on one place in particular, a sort of hostel attached to an English language school.  This turned out to be just the job – clean + very cheap.  There was must one dormitory, with a dozen beds or so, + we just about got the last 2.  I walked back for Val, but we returned again in a becak – her usual crowd of admirers, accumulated in my absence, made sure we paid the right price.

In the evening we put our films in to be developed,+ then wandered down to the night market.  This was small but lively, with many warungs to choose from.   Val had goat satays, while I had nasi goring, for which I’ve developed quite a taste, + then doughnuts for dessert.  Our photos were rather a mixed bunch, some very good, but some disappointing, especially those taken at the festival at Mas.  But I suppose one can’t win them all.

  1. Pamela Blair

    Very interesting! It must have been quite exciting. Reminded me of my view from the rim of Kilimanjaro, although I was so fagged when I arrived that I just sat, while my climbing companion continued on up to the highest point. There was no going down into the crater, however–it was filled with snow in December, 1973, although I’m thinking it’s probably melted by now. Hemingway will have to rename his book, there being no more snow on Kilimanjaro.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.