We arrive in Bromo
Wed 21 Sep 2011 11:47
7:52.8 S 112:54.1 E
Tosari, Bromo West Java
Thursday 15th September 2011
After another early start we arrived in Tosari in time for lunch (4 on sketch map)
Tosari is a village in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, which was unforgettable for 2 reasons – the scenery, and the misunderstandings!
The national park really wowed us, I hope the photos convey how amazing the sights were. Gunung Tengger is an enormous, extinct, flat bottomed crater from which 3 younger volcanoes have sprung up. When you stand on the rim of Tengger crater, you look down a towering cliff onto a completely flat sea of black volcanic sand that looks as though it has dry rivers running across it. Gunung Bromo is one of the 3 volcanoes that have arisen inside Tengger, and it sits there puffing away its clouds of sulphury steam, like smoke signals. Gunung Bromo has great religious significance for the Hindu Tengger people, and a Hindu temple stands at the foot of Bromo. The whole landscape is surreal and incredibly beautiful, especially at sunrise and sunset.
It was Verdi’s job to negotiate a walking guide for us, and he came up with a chap called Parman. The idea (our idea) was that we should do a hike and end up seeing the sunset over Bromo. So we got to the rim of Tengger at about 2pm, Parman showed us a good spot to look down into the crater, and disappeared into a teashop. We wandered about for a bit, then went and found him and Verdy drinking tea, and said “shall we go for a walk now?” They looked completely shocked and were obviously settled in for the afternoon, expecting us to hang around for 3 hours waiting for the sun to set. After some complex discussion, Parman was persuaded to rouse himself and take us for a walk, we had no idea where. He set off at breakneck pace, clearly wanting nothing to do with us, and we trotted after him. It was, apparently, to be a 3 hour walk and Verdy was told where to meet us with the car. All this we guessed, because Verdy speaks only a little English, and Parman zilch.
In spite of everything, it was a great walk! No conversation or information of course, but by this stage we considered ourselves lucky to be walking at all. We went round the rim of Tengger, then down onto the crater floor across the sand, looking up at Bromo. The sunset happened on cue at 5pm and was fantastic. What happens after sunset is, of course, it gets dark, and there was no sign of this walk ending. On we trekked across the moonscape of the crater, past Tengger boys with their horses for hire, past the Hindu temple and on to the opposite wall of the crater. By this time it was pitch dark. Nobody had a torch and we had eaten all our peanuts and drunk all our water. Parman had got a little bit more communicative by now. I think he had worked out that we were not going to faint away with the effort so that he could say I told you so, and maybe we achieved a little bit of cred. So he dutifully got out his mobile phone to light the climb back up, which was a switchback road full of big potholes. He actually did slow down a bit, because it was really steep and he was puffing as much as we were.
We tried to phone Verdy to tell him we would be late but none of our phones had reception. Parman was clearly frustrated with Verdy who, we gathered, should have been half way down the road to meet us, but no sign of him. So we stumbled on to the top in the black night with the fading light of a mobile phone, and the final appearance of a tea shop after 4 and a half hours really was a sight for sore eyes. By now it was cold and Verdy wasn’t there. We had lots of tea a sort of pain chocolat thing, met some stick thin Indonesian cycling boys, and listened to Parman uttering expletives about Verdy (we think). Finally a shivering Verdy appeared wrapped in a red blanket on the back of a motorbike. Parman shouted at him. Apparently Verdy had been back to the losmen to look for us and was in a big panic. We never discovered why there was such confusion but Verdy seemed to be taking all the flack. Maybe we’ll find out what it was all about tomorrow. It was a fantastic walk though!