Woke at 3:30 am. It was freezing. I felt excited. Nossi too. I was regretting having eaten the garlic meats, as I had forgotten my toothbrush. I reeked, and was thankful that Nossi and I had a arranged a private tour so that nobody else would have to put up with our breath. We got into the jeep and set off in the darkness up to the top of a mountain from which we waited until sunrise. It was busy, and an excited buzz hung in the air. Sunrise came, lovely pinks, reds and yellows. Beautiful. Slowly, Gunung Bromo and her amazing landscape was unveiled. Never have I seen such an amazing natural sight. In the foreground was Bromo, looking like no other volcano on earth. It, and the landscape surrounding it, belonged to a film set off Star Wars. The landscape looked like a cross between what one might find on the moon, and deserts in Afghanistan. I half expected to see the ‘sand people’ off Star Wars taking potshots at me from the camouflage of the desert. So Bromo, creased in browns and greens, penetrated the foreground. Even more impressive, however, was Mt Semeru in the background, towering above anything else in the vicinity, and belching out plumes of billowing hot clouds, as though it were about to erupt. Incredible scenes.
After taking a thousand photos, Nossi and I grabbed a Pop Mie and and coffee, then go back into jeep to be taken down to the foot of Bromo, across the lava plain. Like a scene from Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdrome, jeeps hurtled across the desert floor, bouncing past horses racing towards Bromo’s bottom. Nossi and I grabbed a horse each, and set off up the steep slope. We got up to the crater, and threw some flora into the smoking sulphurous pit. The sulphur was choking me. From here, the views were similarly breath-taking. We rode back down, and got back to the hotel in time for a 9am breakfast! What a start to the day.
We now had to get back to Surabaya, so we took the jeep to the bus station and jumped on the bus. Luckily, there was no macet (traffic jam) on the way back to Surabaya. In Surabaya, we had almost a whole day to kill, so after the bus stopped we decided to go to the mall. Getting out of the bus station wasn’t easy. Touts hassled us with promises of ‘meter taxi’. One man looked trustworthy, so I followed him. He walked far. The sun was blazing down. He led us to a car park, full of taxis. To my dismay, he led us to the shoddiest looking taxi I’ve ever seen. No fan inside, no drivers ID. The speedo didn’t work. The windows didn’t shut. Within a minute of getting in, I knew I’d made a mistake. The driver had clearly rigged his meter. Every 3 seconds, the meter jumped up in price. That’s 9 seconds earlier than in other taxis. We were on busy roads, and it was impossible to stop. Eventually, Nossi saw a quieter stretch, and we ordered him to pull over. After he received a verbal shredding in bahasa from Nossi, the taxi pulled away, and we hailed down the air-conditioned comfort of a blue-bird taxi.
We arrived at the mall. A huge place. Guess there’s not a lot to do in Surabaya other than come here. We went to the cinema. Ate KFC. Avoided crowds due to our garlic heavy breath and unbrushed teeth. Spent a lot of money. We were glad to fly back to Jakarta that evening. I took with me the photographs and memories of a sensational day. I was glad of my toothbrush that evening.