Mt Bromo, June 2006, Days 3-5 – Atop Mt Bromo

Mt Bromo is a sight to behold.

As you stand on the lip of the crater and gaze out at the vast, almost lunar-like landscape, you cannot help but wonder at the beauty that is so harsh and yet so inspiring at the same time.

The top of the mountain is actually a crater — 15km across at its widest! Look closely at the picture above and you’ll see a puff of white smoke — that’s the living, breathing volcano.

Indonesia is a land of many live volcanoes dotted across the archipelago. And most of the people who live in the shadow of these hot spots live dangerously. But it’s not by choice. What spews out of these living volcanoes will just as easily wipe out entire villages as it does sustain their life-giving plots of greens with ease. A curse and a blessing.

The village at the top of Bromo is called Cemoro Lawang and the guest-house that I stayed in is located right on the lip of the crater. If you look closely, you will see the road that lead down to the crater.

Early morning over Bromo. The air is cool, crisp and clean

And the sky, amazingly blue.

This is the only volcano here that's safe for visitors

To go right up to the mouth of the volcano, I exchanged pedal power for horse power. One doesn’t need to go far to find one. One or two of these horses with their owners would always be hanging around the guesthouses. Show the slightest interest and they’ll stick to you like a leech. There was one such young man who hounded me. The modus operandi is deadly simple — stick to the tourist and bug the hell out of them.

In the end, I went with a guy who wasn’t as insistent. That’s him below. With a face like that, I didn’t have the heart to bargain him down either as vociferously as I normally would.

At the foot of the volcano; you can choose to walk up, or ride the horse all the way to the stairs. I rode.

At the foot of the volcano; you can choose to walk up, or ride the horse all the way to the stairs. I rode.

Sulphur stinks. If you get a whiff of it square in your face, you’ll feel as if you’re being suffocated.
Not nice at all. Check out the video below and you’ll see what I mean.

Cycling inside the crater is like cycling on a sandy beach. You can’t go very fast, and you have to air down your tyres — way down. Even so, I was struggling. Some sections of the crater are like quicksand; they just suck you in and won’t let go. I found that sticking to a well-worn track where the Toyota BJ40s rule with their massive desert tyres was the only way I could pedal about.

Every tourist to Bromo gets about by 2 ways — a horse or a 4-wheel drive. The 4-wheel drives here are mostly the legendary Toyota BJ40s; some were 30-40 yrs old but still as reliable as ever. They’re the original Land Cruisers that was born during the Korean War in the 50’s.