Rising from bed prior to dawn is something I do sparingly. I prefer to leave that for others who relish the early morning light and seem to thrive on the knowledge that they are awake and about before most everyone else. For me, being up and about at the same time most everyone else is up and about is good enough. The reasons I may entertain the idea of an early morning awakening and the inevitable stumble into a wall had better not only be incredibly good but should also be classified in the “if you don’t see it now you may never see it” category of life experiences.
Unfortunately for me, the wee hours, early morning, dawn, rise and shine (oy!) all happen during the time I am normally sleeping and quite possible dreaming of things later that day. Also, unfortunately for me, this is the time in which the golden glow of sunrise appears over the horizon of the night sky; that pitch black seam turning brighter and bluer with the passage of time.
Many years ago I heard of a full proof body alarm system. It has always worked for me so I continue to use it. If you want to wake at 3am you bang your head on the pillow 3 times; 2am, 2 times etc. This morning though I had to wake at 1:30am and seeing that a half bang was not in my body alarm clock arsenal I decided to back it up with the alarm on my cell phone plus a wake-up call from the hotels front desk; all timed to go off within a couple of minutes of each other. Incredibly the body alarm system failed (note, has to be full hour increments), and the cell phone failed (note, setting it to pm will not have the desired result) Success was had by the hotel wake-up call and within minutes I was ready to face the day.
Only one member of the group was willing to make the departure deadline so he (Geoff) and I set out. A vision of spectacular beauty awaited us at the end of our 3 hour journey.
Mt Bromo is located in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and is one of the most picturesque spots in Eastern Java. The peaks of these mountains jut out of a moon-like landscape however it is Mt Semeru that holds command over the other two mountains. Mt Batok in the forefront is the perfect depiction of a volcano in shape yet it is Mt Bromo that demands the attention of onlookers.
The top of Mt Bromo was blown off many years ago and now all that is left is the crater…a very active reminder of possibilities and constantly belching up steam and sulphurous white smoke. All three of these mountains sit inside the massive Tengger caldera. The ridge of which illustrates the incredible size (10 km in diameter) of the mountain that once stood there.
Currently Mt Bromo is blowing larger and more frequent bursts so the best vantage point, rather than risking the effects of close range sulphur intake, is atop Mt Penanjakan. The photos you see here were all taken from this viewpoint.
Even though you’re in the tropics and dealing with the heat becomes routine you will be in for quite a surprise if you think that the view of this great mountain vista comes without cost to comfort. It’s cold up there and like all things unexpected the cold has created a small cottage industry of sherling coat rentals. For a small negotiable fee you can wrap yourself up in the wool and hide of a sheep and again feel warm. A t-shirt and thin cotton pants – even with the best of walking shoes – just isnt going to cut it. You will not enjoy the experience as you shiver and look desperately for warmth where there isnt any.
The sun rises slowly and the sky blends from black to a deep dark navy blue to a brilliant early morning cloudless blue. All the while casting new and more creative shadows on the ridges of the mountains. Every 20 minutes or so Mt Bromo will announce itself with a loud gurgling rumble. Then a puff of white dust gets cast high into the air refracting the morning rays and creating another more interesting photo opportunity than the one previous. This exchange of light, sound, smoke, and amazement continues all morning until the sun is sufficiently high that increased clarity of photo opportunites seems unlikely. It is then that people begin to disperse and return to the 4 wheel drive jeeps that got to this vantage point.
Once down the hazardous part of the journey you return your rented coat and are enticed into the many coffee warungs to retain your warmth before once again boarding your minivan for the trip back to Malang. You will be sitting by the pool contemplating the morning and relaxing next to the pool by 10am.
© Written and photographed by Tim O’Callaghan, Indo Discovery Travel
If you would like to receive these reports direct to your inbox please sign-up at www.indodiscovery.com/blog/