Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Volcano Gunung Bromo, Indonesia, Friday, 10 June 2011 1:30pm

Perhaps following up that cup of coffee with high tea at my hotel wasn't the best way to prepare for a 1 am departure for a volcano tour. I finally got to sleep at a normal time, which may be a first for this trip, rather than at 6 pm as planned. Luckily, there was tea for sale at the sunrise viewing point and more at breakfast. The best tonic for tea-induced lack of sleep? More tea, of course.

I was a bit skeptical about the sunrise viewing. There were lots of us tourists clustered at a flat area partway up the rim of a giant caldera. It was steep enough (and trafficked enough) that the last part of the walk in was 200 or so stairs. But it definitely delivered on the postcard views. The sun rose over one edge of the caldera, slowly illuminating the far side. In the middle of the caldera there was a volcanic cone, which was dramatically lit in the midst of the mist given off by the nearby steaming crater.

After the sun was up, we descended the stairs and took our land cruiser down into the caldera. This area is called the "sea of sand", but the sand is well packed and damp enough that it is more like soft ground than a dunescape. Blithely passing the sign saying that the minimum safe distance was 2km from the crater, we hiked up the sandy slope to the rim. The last section was pretty hard going because the sand was loose and slid with each step, but after 20 minutes or so, I could look down into the crater.

The bottom was obscured by roiling, sulfurous fog, and there were ominous rumblings. Every few minutes, a new puff of steam would rise up beyond the rim of the crater. The volcano didn't do more than let off steam while I was there, though.

I'm now back at my hotel in Malang, savoring the last wifi I may see for a while. I'm catching a night bus to Bali in a couple hours, and from there I'm flying to Australia, where I'll be renting a camper van. I'm not sure if rest stops in Australia have handy wifi like roadside restaurants in Ukraine do....