Indonesia, a 3 days trip to Jawa Timur: Bromo

Let me remind you: I was in Indo for almost a year (October 2014 → August 2015). Bali was my HQ, and here is the first part of my trip to Java Timur.

Check out this map, I believe it always help people to better understand a trip: a visual support helps to link words together.

First of all, let me apologize for theuncertainty of that roadmap: no, I can’t clearly remember everything … However, I’m 100% sure of the following milestones: we left Tianyar, my fellow German friend Julian and I, we on-boarded the same ferry between Bali and Java (even if we unintentionally split at some point from Tianyar to the harbor), we’ve both seen Bromo landscapes and we both went down the same crater at Kawah Ijen to witness what I call the “Sulfure quest”.

First step: Tianyar to the Harbor

We left together, we arrived individually, that’s all there is to say. Let’s blame the traffic, or maybe just accept the fact that despite this small hitch, we made it from point A to point B.

Second step: Bali to Java, the ferry

Our ferry was actually smaller than this one: check out the current!

That was not the first ferry we on-boarded onto, and even if the trip was quiet short… it was actually a bit scary! The boats were lurching forward and back, from right to left for 45mn: I believe that it’s due to the heavy current in the Detroit splitting the two islands. And because the current was so strong, the ferry had to “V shape” its trajectory: it simply couldn’t go straight ahead. But still, we made it again yo!

Thirst step: hitting Java’s road to Bromo

Yeah, that was a quiet long road, so as every human we ended up eating, drinking, going to the toilet (you know, that part that is never shown in the movies) and I think we might have spent one night in an hostel, but I can’t remember where at all! 🙏

After a niiice rest and a niiice breakfast (as always in Indonesia), we were looking forward to arriving at our destination. Bromo is obviously in altitude (2329m): following are a few shots taken just before we get there.

The road was always full of surprise, and at every corner we would discover such stunning landscapes
The road becomes a path as you approach the crater
Last benzin stop

By the way, I am pretty sure that we ended up there just after lunch (selective memory you’ll say).

And once you get there, the landscape just blows your mind. Let’s say that you are around a crater, that has got another crater in its center … you know what I mean? It probably has a name in English by the way. Maybe … a tank? Enlighten me, I’m curious to know. Anyway, that tank was really looking like a desert. And it was HUUUUUUGE, like MAAAASIVE!

It looks even bigger when you stand there

The thing is: I never felt as small as on that day. I mean, you can go to the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, or any building in the world and be like “Yo, that’s huge man!” I’ll be like “Yeah, yeah quiet big. Have you heard about Bromo? That’s something else!” Because it really is! You probably have other places of this kind (let me know), but I just had the impression to be in the middle of the last Mad Max movie! You know the one with the pretty insane guitarist playing on this improbable truck!?

And then I was like “ — Hey, you know what brings all the magnificence of that picture? That horse in the middle right of the picture: it looks like a dragon coming from the burning fires of hell ! — Tell me that you’ are kidding me right now, please! — Yeah, obviously mate! — Yo, it definitely comes from these wonderful branches in the forefront! — …”

And I guess that you want to know what this small conglomerate of life is right!? I was pretty excited too!

And then I was like “ — Yo, still the branches in the forefront? — Yeah dude, that’s obvious ! — … like WHAAAAT?!”

After going down, we ended up there where you could find temples, tent shops, and food, and horses, and … and it was looking like a small city. A really small one, built out of nothing in the middle of … nowhere!

Desert city life ahead
The smoke ejected by the volcano brings high contrasts to the landscape

We spent a good part of the day driving in the sand, doubting that we could find anyone to help us in case we had to fill up the gaz tank. BUT THEY ALSO HAD BENZIN DOWN THERE, AMAZING ! (in Indonesia, “benzin” stands for “fuel”*).

The day, step by step

Find the road to access the desert was easy: we followed everyone, and drove down the small trail going to the sand.

Family trip to Bromo

Instead of directly going up to the crater, we decided to enjoy the striking immensity of the place and randomly drove with our 150cc scooters that were definitely not made to drive in the sand. How many times did we got stuck? A dozen times over the day! And we just had so much fun!

German rider on the storm
Little burn of the bled OKLM

The fact is that the immensity of the landscape make you feel so free that you can’t do anything else but enjoy this sudden freedom. Anywhere you look there is no building, no proper city, no proper civilization. There isn’t any formal regulation either, so nobody to piss you off. But still, there is so much life around you that you feel empowered by the whole environment. 🐟

Following are a few pictures of people we met during the day.

Even newborn babies are part of the trip.
Wassup? Classy, as always!
Aloha chiquitos! I never felt as dirty as after that day: we were fully covered with a mix of dust, sand and ashes: even 2 days after I could find dust on some part of my body, and feel it in my lungs.

After almost 4 hours to pretend to be professional riders, we got really tired and decided that it was maybe time to check what was going on up there! 🏍

Most of the people we met were not westerners but Indonesian people visiting their country

But before we had to stop by the desert village: insight of the life down there.

I especially like this picture
Horse-riding is quiet common: you may find some people ready to lend you their horse in exchange of some Indonesian Rupiah 🎠
Welcoming people, smiling kids, anytime, anywhere
And some people just come to ride all day in the desert

According to the previous picture, you might think that you’ll be surrounded by people, but most of them don’t go that far around the crater.

So, you climb up the stairs, and you end up somewhere here:

You come from the right, and straight left is the crater. See these people on the left side with the blue plastic tarpaulins? They stand there all day with their nets and try to catch the money tourist throw inside the crater to bring good fortune into their life. I mean, if these people fall, they die …

We decided to get away from the crowd and walk a bit further to get a different point of view.

Some people just go ALL around, but the walk was actually very long, and the night was catching up with us.

I love that one

The following picture shows the closest I’ve been to the crater. There was no way I could stand where this guy is. I felt that the probability of a landslide just had suddenly increased by 75%! 😅

Check out where the tarpaulins are, where that guy stands and where I sit
Placid as fuck!
Mastering serenity …
And sometimes picking up some vegetables coming out of … I don’t know where

Last pictures before going down and get ready for the night: because yeah, we found the idea to sleep in the desert around a bone fire was excellent / “Oh, really?”

And the fact that it was a full moon night was a really nice coincidence.

The rabbit & the moon

You can see a rabbit on the moon. My friend Joel from Singapor told be a legend he had been told when he was a kid, and I just love it! Here is the legend, in his own words:

“ Long ago there used to have 10 suns. The suns were scorching hot and were giving the people on earth a really tough time. One day a well known Archer with the name of Hou Yi came along and shot down 9 of the suns, bringing comfort to the people on earth. As a reward for doing so he was given an Elixir of Immorality to continue to protect everyone on earth. However as time went by he grew more and arrogant for shooting down the 9 suns. His wife Chang’er saw his change and thought that if he continued down this path and were to take the elixir of immorality it would lead to many bad things. So she decided to take the elixir for herself. When Hou Yi found out he was furious and wanted to kill his wife. He immediately took his bow out and went to hunt for her. Due to her elixir of immorality, sensing the danger she was in, the elixir triggered and began to send Chang’er floating up into the sky. The magical protection helped evaded all of Hou Yi’s arrows and eventually she floated higher and higher to the moon. Legend has it that upon reaching the moon she transformed into a rabbit which watches over the earth and that is why sometimes when you stare into the moon at night you might see a shape of a rabbit on the moon”

Isn’t it beautiful?

But as I told you, we had plans for the night! While going down, we noticed that faces had been carved on the solidifies sand: no importance at all for the rest of the night, but it was impressive.

Faces carved in a solidified mixture of ashes, sand and … other geologic components :)

It was starting to be really dark, and we still had to find some wood for the night, while the temperature was going down. But we thought everything would perfectly be alright: WRONG! It took us approximately 30mns to find enough wood to have fire for 45mns. Because NO, you don’t find wood easily in the desert. We tried to go up the trail and find some branches in the bushes: FAIL. We went up the border of the tank (you know, that “tank”)! Nothing either.

So, yeah, we found some wood, but definitely not enough for the whole night:

What a camp!

At the beginning, the fire was quiet warm and big enough to warm our bodies. We even brought 2 Bintang (Indonesian beer) to pre-drink (YOUHOU)!But soon enough, we had to get closer and closer to the fire that was getting smaller and smaller; until we didn’t have any wood left!!! 👍 👍 👍

And the more the time was passing by, the more we understood why coats, gloves and tents were being sold just before going down. Yup, we started to get really cold. But we thought we could still make it … Let’s say … NO ! Without joking, I tell you that we could have died there if we had tried to stay longer. And I never felt as cold as when we tried to sleep.

I started shaking from time to time: with a single paréo to cover my body, I had no way to get warmer. But I was like “Come on, try to stay calm, focus on your body and you’ll get warm!” .. That didn’t work at all, and I kept entering into that freezing phase where I could not control my heart beat anymore.

Until the moment we both admitted that we couldn’t stay there one more minute. As fast as possible we packed everything we had (let’s say not much). But I had to get a memory of that epic fail. I think that this last picture perfectly reflects the state we were in. A state of nothingness, despair and nothingness again.

I call this one “Nothingness and despair, unconsciousness and beauty” 😉

Hehe! We didn’t know if we would have enough benzin to go up and find a warm room at 11h30 in the evening either. But fortunately, we did!

First, we had to get warm: a hot chocolate in a local warung (restaurant/bar) and we immediately felt better. Then, we found a room, which ended up being a mission. But one more time we got lucky!

And that’s the end of the first day! 🌌

Damn it: I was scared to die falling in the crater and burn in horrible pain, but we almost died freezing in that tank! Hehe!

You may think that it was sometimes hard, and sometimes it was: but I don’t regret any moment we experienced on that day. Any moment was a real pleasure, and so was freezing cold trying to sleep down there! ❤️ 💛 💙 💜

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the little stories: I’ll come up with more in the next article about Kawah Ijen!

Keep it up !

🌏Peace, Tristan 🌕

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