Trip Start Apr 01, 2010
Trip End Aug 08, 2010

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Java,
Saturday, June 19, 2010


After visiting Prambanen we allowed ourselves a relaxed day, not paying for anything we managed to afford some good food (my first steak of the trip), a trip to the donut and coffee shop and even a few beers in the evening. A good day but we felt we'd been in one place long enough and it was time to move on.

The next day we set out at 8.30 for the Volcano Bromo. By minibus standards the bus was quite comfortable and we had 3 seat between 2 of us. It took us 10 hours to reach the change point and from there we changed into a smaller minibus, we got about a hundred metres before the driver realised the lights weren't working. After 3 different people all doing exactly the same with the lights the solution was to put some card behind the lever to keep the lights on. With this high tech solution in place we then headed up the moutain, me and Jo had pulled the short straw and were sat in the front seat, the least comfortable and worse of all you could see the driving more clearly, after 10 minutes the airconditioning started leaking on our feet as well. The lights did well, only going out on one hairbend corner. We eventually reached the hotel at about 9pm. It was nice to be back up in the cold and our room was good, except for a few slugs in the bathroom and a big spider in the bed. There was a thick blanket which was nice to sleep under for a change. After sorting our stuff and eating we crashed out about 11pm.

3.25am my alarm goes off. 5 minutes later theres a wake up knock on the door and we crawl out of bed, a quick shower and we head off towards the volcano about 4. We follow the road down for a short while and then it opens onto the sandy planes. We can just make out several peaks in front of us, the massive walls of the crator that surround the whole area and above us the clearest stars I've ever seen in my life. We walked across the plains for about 30 minutes before reaching the stairs leading up to the crator rim. The stairs were sheer but short, as we reached the top the stars had disappeared and the sky had started to glow blue. Smoke bellowed from the crator, when the wind changed we were covered with Sulpharous smoke. It was a clear morning but with a couple of clouds obscuring the sun so it didn't rise for us until about 6.

When the sun did arrive the view was incredible. Bromo stood in the centre of what appeared to be a vast ancient volcano, a high rim extended around us in a several mile radius. Our hotel was perched on top of one section of the rim. Inside the rim was the sand plain, almost completely flat, in places made up of black or golden sand, some areas were covered in grass, seas of mist rolled across it and a few small low clouds sat below us. Another mountain sat in the plains, unlike the rocky volcanic surface of Bromo this one was covered in greenery, clearly an extinct volcano from the lava ridges that ran down the sides there was no sign of activity. Bromo itself was relatively short with a huge crator with a thin rim about a metre wide in most places. When we walked round it we saw that where one of the edges running down the the plains was shallower a forest had grown up. Inside the crator there were jagged black cracks and a single hole that the smoke was coming from.

After about an hour and a half we walked back. We passed several hundred jeeps parked in the crator and many hundreds of people walking past us, mostly westerners which seemed odd as there had been very few up at the top mostly Indonesians. The reason was the package sold to travelers in a jeep ride up to a view point where you can see Bromo and a further volcano which is still erupting every 20 minutes, something I would have loved to see. The people we spoke to who went there though said it was rushed and crowded, you couldn't see anything for the crowds of people and by the time they reached Bromo it too was packed and there wasn't much time to explore. For us there had been a few people there but short walk around the ridge and you could easily find solitude. You can walk around the entire rim but we only made it about a quater of the way.

This was a great experience but we were pretty exhausted when we arrived back at the hotel, we had some toast and got back on a minibus just before 9.30. We then travelled to the ferry to Bali, arriving about 5pm. The route was the typical psychotic minibus driving we've come to expect, one food stop (that made me very angry - 22,000 for boiled unflavoured rice, one fried egg and a piece of chicken no one in their right mind would touch, after a few mouthfulls I left it, it still makes me angry) and a short breakdown because the driver refused to slowdown on a new layed road and one of the many large pieces of rock thrown up jammed in the engine, of course once fixed he set off at the same speed.

The real pain came after the short ferry ride. We were taking a different route from the majority of people who were heading to Bali's capital Denpasar, so we would be taking local transport which was supposed to arrive in Lovina around 7pm. We were dumped by a clapped out minibus at 6pm with 60,000 for the fare, it wasn't until we got on the bus that the driver told us they had to fill the bus before they would leave, they had had one family there (which counted as 2 people) since 4pm, with us they had 4 by their counting (although there were 3 kids as well) and they wanted to wait until 15 people turned up. As usual in Indonesia this information was fed to us slowly. I think they were waiting for us to offer them a deal so when we settled down to sleep in the bus at around 7.30 they came over to start trying to make a deal. A long story short we ended up paying 300,000 to get the bus (which didn't have a door, working windows and the doors were designed for Indonesians so even Jo couldn't sit normally) When you consider that it cost us 300,000 each for 2 days travel and accommodation on comparatively luxury buses you can see why I was annoyed. I was all for sleeping on the bus just to be petty but Jo convinced me to pay which I'm sure was the right decision in the end. Just another person I would love to join me in my imaginery boxing ring.

We did make it in the end though around 9.30. A relief after by my count more than 25 hours of traveling in 2 days.    
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