Sunday morning we woke up at 3:30 and hopped in an old school Land Cruiser to make our way up the mountain. Before we got in the car, there were again vendors selling their usual wares, but now selling those surgical-like masks that people wear when they're sick or have Bird Flu. All I thought was, "What? Really?" I would later regret my casual walk by the surgical masks en route to the car. Considering we were as far up as one could go without these 4X4's, the drive only took maybe 15 minutes. On the dusty road we passed people on foot and horses bringing people up. Once we arrived as far as we could go, we had to get out and walk the rest of the way. The walk up consisted of a windy, dusty path, full of people and horses carrying those up who couldn't/didn't want to walk. After you got to a certain point, the horses couldn't go any further and there were stairs to climb the rest of the way. It was a brutal climb because everyone and the horses were kicking up so much dust - I finally realized what the masks were for. I later realized that this dust was actually ash from Bromo. I immediately had dust in my nose and my mouth and I could feel it between my toes.
When we finally got to the top, it was maybe 4:00 AM and pitch black, with nothing to see or do but wait. Isti wasn't able to make it up, so I went with some random guy who happened to stop at the same time we stopped and she said she couldn't continue. As usual, big mistake. The only good/use that this guy was was telling me which direction the volcano was, otherwise, I would have been staring at the side of the mountain waiting for some excitement. The bad thing was that he thought I was his best friend and was clinging to me like a fly. At one point, these two women from Korea were trying to take self photos and I offered to take their photo in exchange for them taking mine. As I posed for the photo, this guy jumped into the photo, as you'll see below. I'm too nice and too worried about looking like an obnoxious American to have pushed him off the ledge, though the thought was there. Anyway...as the sun rose, I tried to take some photos of the gorgeous landscape, the mountain side below and some other mountains in the distance. The cool thing though was once the sun rose enough that we could see the volcano and the ash coming out of it, everyone was captivated. Over the next hour or so that I spent on this mountainside watching the volcano, it "erupted" 2 or 3 times, which was pretty cool. Each time the ash cloud formed a new shape before it dissipated. Another volcano, in the distance also emitted a small cloud of ash, as if to try and steal the show from Bromo.
After awhile I started my way down to meet Isti and continue back to the hotel. I was told that the price we paid included a trip to the Sea of Sand, that surrounded the base of the volcano, but that since the volcano was active that we couldn't walk up to the top. Whoa, who said anything about walking to the top? I had no idea that was even an option. The Sea of Sand didn't sound to thrilling, but we went anyway and started walking toward Bromo. Turns out that people were walking up to the lip of the volcano and once the guide and I started walking I was ready to go to the top! In the end, we wound up not walking all the way up and instead turned around to go back to the hotel.
Bromo's jealous cousin emitting his own ash
Third new puff of ashThird new puff of ash
The Sea of Sand - there's a Hindu temple down there at the base between both mountains, but you'll have to click on the photo to see.