We were well settled into the not so splendid, Hotel Splendid which Lisa absolutlely loved. I think for its fading grandeur, a little like the city Malang itself. This lovely colonial outpost with its leafy boulevards and large student population was a lovely antidote to Surabaya with its choking traffic. In its heyday it was a busy hub of the Dutch coffee growing industry set up in Java in the late 18th century. It is a 2 ½ hour drive to the legendary Mount Bromo from Malang and instead of booking our transport through a local travel agent who was looking for 1,200,000.00 INR for the drive only we went to the Malang tourist office and got a great rate of 500,000.00 INR . The jeep that everyone has to take up the side of the crater is 300,000 for the 30 min journey and the optional ponies are another 75,000.00 each , add that to the entrance fee of 20,000 per person and it works out about €100.00 for the trip for the four of us .
We had to see at least one volcanoe while we were in Java, seeing as how our travel plans had been disrupted by two others, we wanted to see what it was all about. A day trip to Mount Bromo was organised. It was an early start for us and as you already know us Ring’s don’t do early starts on a whim. So we were picked up at 8am and headed off for the day. We drove for about two hours up into the mountains and were basically in cloud. We thought we were going to be unlucky enough not to see anything after our efforts to get there, however as we ascended further we drove above the cloud cover into beautiful sunshine. We got to the scruffy little town that acts as the starting point for all outings to the volcanoes. From here we transferred to a 4 wheel drive jeep to get us down into the massive ancient Tengger caldera which stretches 10 miles across within which are three volcanic cones, one of which is the steaming sulphurous Mount Bromo.
Our jeep brought us down the the zig zag path down into the monstrous crater and we drove across the Sea of Sand to the base of Bromo. From here we had to negociate with the guides a price for their services the services of their horses to get us to the steps that lead up to the cone. Axel was delighted to be in the saddle, Elka less so. She wouldn’t get on the horse with me so instead of two horses doing the job we had to get three. It wouldn’t have been fair to have me and Axel on the poor animal, so the boy got his own ride and the two blondes shared one. We were told it was two kilometres by the head guide. We headed off at a leasurely pace, Lisa’s feet nearly touching the ground on either side of her little mount, Axel yeehaaaing for the life of him and me trying unconvincingly to look like I was enjoying the experience.
After about a kilometre we reached the steps. A country mile in Java is obviously shorter as opposed to longer ones we have at home. The view from here was astonishing, the massive walls of the crater in the distance over the sea of sand, the frozen lava flows coming down from the cone and up ahead the steam and sulphur belching out of the top of Bromo, against a bright blue sky. We started the climb. It was hot and heavy going, the locals might have been wearing jackets and hats but the Irish were overdressed in t-shirts and shorts. Carrying Elka definitely didn’t help matters. We made it to the top with one short rest in the middle. We were out of breath and breathless at the sight we saw over the edge of the volcano. It is not that often you get this close to mother nature and standing there we were as close as you want to get. Looking down into the crater at the open yellowed vent belching out its toxic sulphourous poisons, barely able to breath when the wind blew it your way. Fending off the machine gun questions from Axel, about the graffitti at the bottom of the crater close to the vent. Did the people who climbed in and wrote it die, how would they have died, were they cooked, yes to everything while I took in the awsome power of what it was I was looking at.
Mount Bromo blew its top as recently as 2008 and it was still smouldering on this day, we were happy that we got to see one this close up .