Land of Volcanoes
My friend Phil is to blame. One day he showed me the most wonderful view of the sun rising over a wild barren plain with low set volcanoes steaming in the distance. This was Bromo, he said. I just had to go and see it for myself.
So one day I jumped aboard a bus in Surabaya, the capital of Jawa Timur (East Java) and then another in Probolinggo to take me to the village of Cemara Lawang. This village sits on the crest of what was once the caldera of a gigantic, ancient supervolcano, now known as the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru complex. Here i spent the night, with many other tourists come to see the sights.
To see today’s volcanoes at sunrise, means getting up well before dawn. A jeep takes you to a vantage point high up on a ridge, so that the rising sun aligns with a couple of the volcanoes. The view is breathtaking, not least because a thin veil of fog lies in the plain below, masking Bromo itself, so all is mist and magic.
The fast-rising, all-powerful sun quickly burns the mist away, to reveal the most wondrous sight – three volcanoes lying close together, two like smashed sand castles almost falling onto each other, the third standing clear and clean like a freshly turned jelly mold. A fourth volcano, high and proud, stands in the distance. That is Semeru, of which many legends have been written. A fifth volcano slumps a bit further away, and the sixth, mercifully long dead, is the great supervolcano whose caldera we had just crossed by jeep and were to cross again to see Bromo up close.
Bromo is the stumpiest of the three volcanoes that are piled together in the plain. It was once the tallest, but repeated eruptions have completely blown its top away, leaving a ripple edged, quiveringly shallow caldera of its own. From time to time Bromo is known to belch sulfurous clouds and throw up ash. When it behaves, tourists can clamber to the top and peer into the crater below. The trail along its rim is narrow, so be careful!
Except for a peek into the Hindu temple at its foot (ancient but oft rebuilt after rocky bombardments), the visit to Bromo is soon over. Its unwise to stay longer, as the heat rises to intolerable levels.
In a few short hours you are taken into another world at the beginning of time, how the world once looked eons ago. Its absolutely amazing and totally unforgettable.
First published Sept 26 2012 on Reveal Indonesia Facebook Page