Indonesia: Sunrise over Mt Bromo

A very early morning (03.30) enabled us to reach a good view point to watch the sun rise over the volcanos that form the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Our mini-buses were not up to the task of climbing the steep road let alone cross the Sea of Sand (read ash flats), so we were loaded into short wheel-based 4WD Toyotas with big fat tyres that were only partially inflated.

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Light was just beginning to lighten the horizon as we reached our view point, Mount Penanjakan 2,770 m (9,088 ft).  We had travelled from our hotel in the centre-middle of the photo.

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The sky began to lighten predawn… Mt Bromo was hidden by cloud but the taller stack of cloud in the centre of the photo was actually ash and steam from Mt Bromo.

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The effort required to get up so early was well worth it… it was spectacular watching the sun rise above some clouds out to the East of our vantage point.

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It turned out to be the coldest morning of our whole adventure. A stiff breeze made it even more so, but, at an elevation of 2770m, it should be expected.

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And then the cloud in the valley parted and we could see Mt Bromo.

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Mt Bromo.

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After enjoying that stunning sunrise, we headed part-way down for a quick stop at another view point. Now we could see how far we had climbed up from the valley floor..

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Wonderful scenery… clouds wreath Mt Bromo on the other side of the valley.  The Sea of Sand is the flat grey valley floor between the view point and Mt Bromo.

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Our next stop was at a staging point for the climb to the rim of Mt Bromo’s crater, a 2km walk with a height difference of 133m (436 ft.).

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It was a gentle walk over ash to begin with.

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The incline gradually got steeper.  Our vehicles were parked at the edge of the green area on the far side of the area with trees in the middle distance.

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Finally, we came to a set of steps that would get us up to the rim.

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A continuous roar came from the volcano, getting louder as we neared the rim.

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Looking down into the crater, large clouds of steam were bellowing upwards. Every now and then there would be silence before, suddenly, there was a huge roar as even more steam burst forth. On these occasions, rocks and other debris was hurled into the sky.

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It was indeed fortunate that the wind was blowing away from us or we could have been in some peril. Even though I’ve been on volcano rims before, this was still quite exciting.

Our guide, Tan Tan, had advised us not to climb to the rim, but not because of safety concerns… no.. because he didn’t think we had it in us to get to the top and back to the vehicles in the time available. This wasn’t the first, or the last time, that we managed to achieve a bit more than he gave us credit for.

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It transpired that Mt Bromo had increased its activity somewhat while we were climbing, to the extent that, according to Tan Tan’s wife, it hit the local news.

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Back down on the ash flats, we had that moment I usually dread… the group photo!

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After all that, we were back in Yoschi’s dining room for breakfast by a bit after 08.00! And by then we were rather peckish. After breakfast it was back into our trusty mini-buses for a seventy-five minute drive to Probolinggo.

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We travelled back down the same road we had traversed in the dark the night before.  The scenery was quite spectacular with many different crops being grown on every arable piece of ground.

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The tall narrow trees look that way because the branches are cut, probably for fuel.

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The road twisted around the steep valley sides.

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At Probolinggo, we caught a train to Kalibaru – a three hour journey.  This was the Station Master’s office which contained all the levers that controlled the station yard points.

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Arriving at Kalibaru, it was just a walk around the end of the station platform to find our overnight accommodation, the Margo Utomo Agro Resort. This hotel had two rows of twin bungalows set in very well maintained tropical gardens.

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Heliconia sp.

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Shrub Vinca (Kopsia fruticosa).

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The resort had a massive swimming pool… a lovely place to while away an hour before dinner… and that was worth waiting for, too. It was a mixed plate of Indonesian cuisine;  chicken curry, chicken satay, sautéed vegetables, boiled egg with Balinese sauce, sweet potato chips, steamed rice and beef floss. We had earned that meal.

And we had also earned an early night after a very interesting, but long, day.

More anon

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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Indonesia: Petirtaan Jolotundo Dewasa; East Java

At the conclusion of our tour of the Resort’s extensive gardens, there was time for a quick sortie out into the nearby rice paddies and a walk to a village.

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It was just a 15 minute walk along a very narrow path to get to the village. We needed to tread carefully as the path was along the top of an irrigation ditch.

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Even here, beside the path, there were interesting plants and insects to find.

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Unknown but obviously enjoyed the damp.

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The various paddies contained rice at different stages of growth.  Some had not long been planted, while other paddies were nearly ready for harvest.

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This crop was only days away from harvest…

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…a fact that this hungry locust was more than aware of!

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There were some attractive flowers of Mimosa pudica growing alongside the path.  It is a creeping annual or perennial herb belonging the pea family.  Its common name is Sensitive Plant because when touched or disturbed the finely divided leaves close up by folding together, thereby defending themselves from harm.  They re-open a few minutes later.  The plant is native to South and Central America, but is now a pan-tropical weed.

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The small village was paved and very clean and neat.  The narrow roadways were lined with well looked after gardens.

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A covered verandah sported a couple of tables made out of slabs of tree trunks supported by some old tree roots.  Nothing is wasted here!

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Still unsheathed corn cobs, neatly woven into bunches, hanging up to dry.

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Freshly cut and stacked bamboo, prior to being used for building purposes.

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I guess this house belonged to a fisherman.

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Interesting patterns and colours created by roof tiles…

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…and stacked flat roof tiles…

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…and split bamboo.

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Bright yellow cosmos with their heads pointed to the sun.

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Bi-coloured balsam… very attractive.

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A couple of the younger members of the village were obviously interested us.

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…and so was an older lady.

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The whole area was rather wet as can be seen by the plant growth and water damage to the wall of this house.

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Moss and ferns, another indicator of moist conditions.

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Speckled flowers of the Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia wulfenii).

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A busy wasp looking for moist mud to build its nest.

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These lovely orange speckled flowers seemed to be common in the gardens we saw.

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Another plant I don’t know… also enjoying the moist conditions.

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The petals of this waterlily are still expanding after opening for the first time.

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On our walk back to the resort for lunch, four of us decided there was time to continue on to a nearby Temple, Petirtaan Jolotundo Dewasa.It lies on the slopes of the 1653m Mount Penanggungan, a perfect cone that stands sentinel between the coastal plains and the volcanic hinterland.

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 Along the way, we passed this abandoned shelter… the plants beginning to take over.

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Jolotundo Temple is a centuries old Hindu shrine. It was built in 997AD for Udayara, a Balinese King, when he married a Javanese princess.

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Nearby was a mosque.

Over many centuries and under successive dynasties, Jolotundo Temple has been a sacred place. Its still a place of spiritual power even today, long after Hindu-Buddhist Java gave way to Islam. The idea of bathing at this special bathing temple still brings pilgrims.

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The temple precinct contains a series of stone pools filled with ‘holy’ water. These are filled with spring water which constantly runs and so replenishes any lost water. Many devotees travel quite some distance to bathe in the two separate pools, one for the ladies and the other for men. The spring water is supposed to possess ‘healing’ and ‘cleansing’ powers, so, after bathing, many pilgrims take containers of water away for later use.

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A little boy and his dad at the men’s pool.

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In the daytime these pools can appear to be a perfect family picnic spot. But, we were told, as darkness falls and the noise of the crickets rises, pilgrims arrive to burn incense, toss flower petals into the waters and bathe in prayer for healing, energy and good life. They come from many faiths… Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and those who still have ties to ancestor-worship and animism. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t stay until night fell… we still had many miles to cover on this day.

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By the time we made it back to the resort, we were really ready for lunch… delicious.

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 Before we left the resort we watched a demonstration on how to make red ginger tea. After that, we left the resort at 15.00 for the next part of our journey, a nearly four drive to Yoschi’s Hotel near Mt Bromo.

The last part of that drive was in the pitch dark as we climbed up a very, very twisty road to our hotel. It was probably just as well that we couldn’t see much of the scenery that we were driving through… very steep sides to a very narrow road!  But we made it safely, had dinner and fell into bed… we had a wake-up call booked 03.00. The mini bus would leave at 03.30 for us to be in time to watch the sunrise over Mt Bromo… and we certainly didn’t want to miss that! More anon.

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.dymusings.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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Indonesia: to Yogyakarta

We had a lazy start to the day as we didn’t have to be in the lobby all packed and ready to go until 10.00. So, after breakfast, I wandered by the pool and in the garden.

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The pool was beautifully warm, no heating needed in this environment.

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The gardens surrounding the resort were very well maintained.

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Water lettuce (an environmental of many tropical waterways around the world) and an unknown yellow flowered water plant.

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unknown.

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Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminiodes) was enjoying the humid weather.

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Closely related to Iris, this Yellow Walking Iris is called Neomarica longifloia.

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Rickshaw wallas waiting for a passenger or two.

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At the appointed hour, our mini buses arrived to take us on a one and a half hour transfer to the rail head. There, we would join our train for the 4 hour journey to Yogyakarta.

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My train ticket.

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The platform was deserted when we arrived.

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Lush, tropical growth lined the tracks.

Watching the world go by as we rolled along the tracks, we saw snippets of life in this part of the world.  It was interesting to note that the school uniforms in the area are usually made from traditional batik patterned materials. Very colourful, and so much better than the plain old uniforms we tend to see at home.

It was a fairly long and tedious journey, but we finally arrived. Dinner was partaken and then yours truly headed back to the hotel at around 21.30.  Most of the others have gone on to some venue or other…. but as there was to be a 05.00 departure for Borobudur in the morning, this old fox decided an early night was in order… a good idea.

All members of the group were indeed in the foyer and ready to go at 05.00. The early start was so that we could get to the Borobudur Buddhist complex before the hoards of tourists … and before the day warmed up. Mind you, it was still around the mid 20’s at that early hour of the day, and still dark. We drove through the somewhat, but not completely deserted streets, for the hour’s drive to the Temple.

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The sky slowly got lighter. Mt. Merapi, an active volcano, was quietly blowing smoke and steam into the sky as we drove past.

DSC04140.JPGAs the moment for sunrise drew closer, our buses pulled to the side of the road in the middle of a paddy field area. There, we all got out and waited for the sun to rise above the horizon. Some pretty pictures were taken.

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An already harvested, but regrowing rice crop, formed an interesting foreground.

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Soon, the sun was blasting its heat into the atmosphere.

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Coconut palms growing on a paddy bund.

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A rough shelter in the middle of a rice paddy.

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Dew drops on young rice plants.

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Rice plant reflections.

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A delightful start to the day, but it was soon time to move on to visit the ancient, 9th Century, Buddhist complex of Borobudur.

More of that anon

David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

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more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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More of our travel photos are on

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