Expedition to a Volcano

“…Isn’t like that?” my colleague asked me.
“Uh! Umm, I think so”, I replied, even though I had no clue about what he was talking.
He understood it. “Hey man, you are not listening, where are you, actually?” were his next words.
He was right, I was not there. Even though its almost a week since my last trip, I was finding it difficult to get back to the ‘real world’.
It all started when we (me and my better half) figured out that our ‘party stocks’ are nearing its completion. In order to stock up in ‘large volumes’, we needed access to the duty free shops in the airport. That’s when our friends Jaiwin & Aneesh told us about a trip, some of their friends were planning. “A weekend in a ‘not-so-heard-about’ place in Indonesia with a bunch of ‘not-much-known-before’ people” – that pretty much summarizes our impression about the trip. ‘Never-say-no-to-travel’ being our motto, we immediately signed up for it. It turned out to be one of the most memorable trips in our lives, both because of the place we visited and the new ‘company’ we discovered.
As the trip dates neared, I wanted to get some information about the previously unheard location - Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia. Wikitravel writes, “If a landscape was ever needed to demonstrate the meaning of the phrase desolate beauty, then this is surely it. Rugged, barren volcanic peaks, gravel plains and that sea of sand, truly unworldly” and it’s true to every single word. The main attraction is to watch the sunrise from Mount Pananjakan with the active volcanoes Mount Bromo & Mount Semeru and the Mount Batok in the back drop.
We started from Singapore around 8pm on a Friday and reached Surabaya airport around 11pm local time. Special thanks to our trip organizer - Balaji - and the location specialist – Ajay – for arranging everything. We started our journey to Mount Pananjakan right away as we wanted to be there for the sunrise. We had to change to 4x4 jeeps in between, which took us to the view point just in time for the sunrise. Even though a small crowd was already there, we managed to find a good spot at the tip of the view point.

Both the pre-dawn sky and the sunrise were breathtaking experiences

That’s us, with the mighty volcanoes in the backdrop

After the sunrise, we began our journey towards Mt. Bromo

We traveled through the Sea of Sand (literally)…

…towards the Poten Hindu temple which is the gateway towards Mt Bromo’s crater

From there, we climbed for around an hour towards the Bromo crater. This is not a place for anyone who has problems with dust. As the atmospheric temperature rises, heavy sandy winds mixed with volcanic ash makes you somehow want to get out of there.

But the raw beauty of nature makes you want to stay even more. If you are lucky enough, you can witness the mountain puffing out volcanic smoke from it’s under belly.

By the time we reached back the bottom and back to the ‘base camp’, we were extremely tired and hungry from to the lack of sleep and the trek/travel. After some ‘light refreshments’ from a nearby shop – after which, the shop was closed for the day - we started our journey back to Surabaya where our stay was arranged.
After checking in and some initial rest, we all got together at the infamous ‘room 231’ where later we all took the ‘oath of secrecy’ that whatever happened there, will be buried with us in our graves.
The next day we explored Surabaya town. We visited the Semporna museum where the major focus is given to the influence of tobacco in Indonesian culture.

We also visited an old church (I am not very sure of its significance)

After that, we pretty much walked around the town on our own, taking photos and enjoying the company of the locals. We headed back to our rooms before very late as we had an early morning flight to catch the next day. (What happened to all of us that last night also comes under our ‘oath of secrecy’ and is still a ‘highly controversial’ topic)
Next day, we boarded our flight back to Singapore, with our newly made friends, the still fresh smell of the volcanic ash and with the satisfaction of having known one of the most polite people in the whole world. No wonder, even after one week, I am unable to find my ‘balance’ with the so called ‘real world’ life!

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