Monday, 8 July 2013

A 4hr hike around Tengger Semeru National Park (Mt. Bromo)

So we awoke begrudgingly at 3.34am, after a miserable 3hrs sleep. It was soooo cold that it took me and Robbie a long time to work up the courage to leave our beds. Once ready (I layered myself in a vest top, tshirt, cardigan, another tshirt, 2 scarves, jeans and 2 pairs of socks), we headed outside where we were supposed to be getting a lift from the tour company to the bottom of Mount Bromo, however, after waiting 10mins our lift never arrived, so we asked the local villagers how long it would take to walk there. They pointed up the road to what looked like a huge mountain in the distance, and what we assumed was Mt Bromo, because you know, that's what we wanted to climb, and they told us an hour walk. So we thought, meh, what the hell lets just walk it. Bear in mind, it's pitch black, the roads are pot-holed to hell, and all we had was a torch on a phone...

Brooke and Robbie ended up walking ahead as they had long legs and were super fit, I took up the rear, and not long into the trek up this mountain (we assumed volcano), I ended up losing them in the dark as they were so far ahead. Me panting, trying desperately to catch up just did not work, so I let them go ahead. About 45mins into the hike, I was praying a motorcycle taxi would come past so it could take me to what I assumed was the base of the volcano, as we would still have had an hour hike up the volcano after this walk. Instead, no motorcycle came by, but a man with a horse did, and he offered for 40,000 rupiah, to take me up the last 20mins, which had become a very steep incline. So I took up this offer, hoping it would catch me up with Brooke and Robbie too. It was quite uncomfortable, but the man and his horse, with me on back, literally bombed it up this hill, reaching the 'base' after about 10mins. It was quite something. However, upon reaching said 'base' it had begun to get light out and I realised this was not the was the viewpoint! O.M.G.

What's worse I still had another hike up some steps to the best viewpoint area. FML. So up I trekked and halfway, I heard Brooke shout from above 'You're almost there! Oh and this is the viewpoint btw, NOT the volcano.' No shitting me!

Once up the top however, it was totally worth the hike and was STUNNING! The view was like nothing you could ever compare or describe anywhere else on earth, it looked like I'd woken up on Mars or something. Ahead of us was the Sea of Sand, and then 3 huge peaks of the 3 volcanoes, rising up out of the darkness, gently illuminated by the rising sun, which created an eery pinkish-red glow over it. Literally, Mars-on-Earth. To our right was the mountainous range, and on our left was the rising sun over the village of Cemoro Lawang, with another volcano peak in the distance, and literally this village is a stones throw away from an active volcano!! All around us on the hills were sheer sides, covered with farms, crops etc, how they farm on these I have no idea!

After taking some pictures and watching the sunrise, around 5.45am we decided to walk to Mt Bromo, down the mountain we'd just come, down to the sand-sea and across the sand sea, then an hours hike up Mt Bromo! This was going to be long. We picked out our route and then made our way down, I slipped and fell, causing a sprained foot, which was just what I needed, but got up and carried on. Robbie went on ahead to inspect the field we'd picked out as our route down to the sand sea, and score, there was a 'pathway' of mud down! So we made our way down, slipping every now and then, and then walked across the sand-sea which was hard A. because it was sand and B. because it was practically an hour alone to Mt Bromo from here! It was absolutely stunning though, and while everyone was seeing the same, but limited views from their jeeps, we were out walking in it! By now the sun had come up quite a bit so it was getting warmer, so layers of clothing could gradually come off. Robbie and Brooke powered ahead, so much so that I ended up losing them by the time I had reached the base of Mt Bromo. Mainly because I was walking slowly to enjoy the surroundings. Haha, yea.

Once reaching Mt Bromo, I had a very quick rest before attempting the steep hrs climb still ahead of me, before I would reach the crater. So off I set on this sandy volcano. The first half was walking the sand, which at a steep incline, was very hard. Then at the halfway point, there were 250-odd stairs to climb to get to the crater. Luckily it's one-way and pretty much single file, so it was stop-start the whole way which enabled you to take a rest every few steps.

And then...I'D MADE IT! I ended up seeing most of our group from the minibus at the top, and we all took photos for each other at the crater and of the surrounding scenery. The French family couldn't believe we'd walked the entire way, but yes, we had and it was pretty god-damn awesome! I attempted to walk the crater, but only half of it had barriers and the rest was just a sheer drop down into the Caldera, so I got scared and turned back, content to just sit on the side and admire the views. On the way back down, I obviously had to get a signature jump photo on an active you do!

The way back down was much easier, but very dusty from all the sand being kicked up. Once down I was knackered, so I proceeded to try and hitch a ride back into town in a jeep, as I did not fancy climbing that hill again, however they wouldn't agree on a decent price. Instead I agreed to a motorcycle taxi, which almost fell over on the ride over the sand-sea but I managed to get back to the hotel alive. Once back I waited for Brooke and Robbie to return, as Robbie had the key to our room and then it was a quick shower, pack and a pickup back to the tourist office, where everyone else was headed to Bali. We got a silly little breakfast too of a boiled egg, 2 slices of bread and some jam.

Once back at the tourist office, I tried to book transport to the next volcano I'd heard about - Mt Ijen - however it would have ended up costing me almost £80 to get there, do it, and get transport to Bali, plus they had no transport until tomorrow. So I decided to ditch that plan, and instead just head straight to Bali on the next bus that afternoon. Which worked out well as Devyn and Chandler were arriving tomorrow too so we'd all be in Bali together, and it would give me some down-time on the beach for my birthday. So I went ahead and booked the local 'exclusive' bus for 180,000 rupiah and then waited for it to arrive, saying goodbye to Brooke and Robbie when their bus came. It was 2hrs late, as usual, but once it did arrive, I was happy with it - instead of the crappy tourist mini-buses the others had got on, I had a reclining chair and footrest, blanket, pillow, air-con, toilet on board AND it included a buffet meal at a service station before the ferry to Bali! I was the only foreigner on the bus, so obviously this caused many photos, stares, conversations etc. The journey took around 12hrs, including an hour on a ferry, listening to Indonesian Karaoke at 10.30pm, and I arrived in Denpasar at around 2am.

Luckily the guy who worked on the bus had a friend who could take me and 3 other people from the bus, down to Seminyak, where I'd booked a hostel, so instead of having to pay loads in a taxi, I only paid 50,000 for a comfortable, easy ride from Denpasar. Once at the hostel, I managed to set off the alarm at 4am in our dorm room but turning the door button instead of pressing it, so woke everyone up. And then I was very very happy, for a comfy bed! After a 4hr hike, 3hrs sleep and two very long journey's, it was time for some rest.

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