Looking back at our journey to Mt. Bromo, I realize now that there were so many times things could have gone deadly wrong. For starters, the fact that it was only Greg and me in a “van” traveling through God knows where with a guy we had never met should have been a red flag. He also ran a number of odd errands on our journey, like dropping off some random metal to some people on the side of the road in the dark. And, the seats were barely attached to the vehicle making it a very bumpy ride. That was just the beginning, too. It wasn’t until we had 3 van changes with 3 different guys between the hours of midnight and 2am that I felt like things were completely surreal. Then, we started up the mountain. It felt like the driver was racing an invisible car around the tightest curves. As we continued to climb higher, I knew that the chances of rolling off the sides were great because there was nothing there to stop anything from falling.
Oddly (luckily!) enough, nothing happened and we arrived to the top at about 3:30am. Then we were on our own. It was pitch black, but Greg, being a genius, packed our head lamps. At first, we didn’t know where to start. I had expected to see a large group of people there so when we got out of the van, and saw we were totally alone, it was weird. I had done some research and knew that we needed to pass through a sand desert, called Laotian Pasir, in order to get to the volcano. It seemed the only way to get to the Laotian Pasir was to descend a steep hill and then cross somewhere to the desert.
Once down the hill, Greg and I cut through trees and found ourselves completely surrounded by sand. It was an eerie feeling to be standing, just the two of us, in a completely dark sand desert. We didn’t quite know in which direction to start walking. We started to see a few Jeeps drive one way and decided to start walking after them. Then, there was a guy on a horse. I had read about guides on horseback but up until then, we hadn’t seen anyone but the Jeeps. He wanted us to pay him to lead us to the volcano but we didn’t have enough Rupiah and told him we weren’t interested. He must have been concerned though, because he didn’t let us out of his sight and kept directing us towards the right path.
After about 45 minutes we came to some extremely steep, stone steps that were black and yellow. There was litter and other evidence to suggest that people camp out near the base of the steps but since it was still early we were alone. The horse guide, after making sure we survived, left us to find people he could actually get money from.
We started the steep climb up Bromo. It felt like it took a lifetime to reach the top. Once to the top, we realized that there was a very large but unreliable barrier alongside the opening of the volcano. The stone “fence” didn’t go the entire circumference of the volcano, either. The volcano smelled and it was dizzying at first. Bromo is an active volcano the area smells of intense sulfur. It hurt my eyes and throat at first. Anyway, we were the only people there for awhile. Soon before sunrise we met a German girl and a few other guys who stupidly decided to walk past the barrier to climb up higher along Bromo’s crater. One fall would result in tumbling down into the volcano. No BS! The German girl was smart and stuck around with us.
I believe that the sunrise at Bromo is worth it, but we never got to see it. The sun came up and dark rain clouds blocked out the sunrise. There was a minute of blue skies but it didn’t last long. Greg got a few great pictures in before the rain started. We had coats but no umbrella which resulted in us being completely drenched. The German girl decided to walk back with us to the little town. It was nice to meet another person on our travels and after we finally got our guide to wake up, Greg and I were on our way to Bali.