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Tuesday 14 May 2013
Bromo, Indonesia

It's not a problem You're the problem!

Our hotel in Bromo was a slightly kooky affair.  All the rooms were decorated differently and laid out in different shapes.  We had two double beds in ours, one in the corner and the other built into a nook in the wall so it was blocked in on three sides.  We had dinner together in the main restaurant after our journey over from Selioliman.  

Sukio had warned us that the food was a bit strange here, but it wasn't until the food reached the table that we saw what he meant.  I ordered Rosti, which would normally be hot fried cakes of grated potato, but in this case it was a bowl of lukewarm grated potato with a fried egg on top.  A lot of food in Indonesia is served lukewarm or cold, so this wasn't too unusual (although the dish would have been a lot nicer hot).  Ailsa's soup was made of tomato, onion, potato, chilli and banana - odd, but not the strangest thing, and she quite enjoyed it.  The best dish award went to Lynda's choice of chicken, garlic and onions, which arrived as a bowl of creamed potato with a few pieces of chicken and onions mixed in.  After trying to eat some and then just picking out the chicken, the bowl was passed along the table in case anyone else wanted mashed potato.  Aimee tried it and decided it wasn't potato, but none of us could decide what it actually was.  Sukio read the Indonesian translation on the menu but it still only said chicken, garlic and onion.  By this stage we were so perplexed by the concoction that we asked the waiter why potato wasn't listed as the main ingredient of the dish.  I'd already joked that it looked like wallpaper paste, so when he then said it was 'paste' not potato, Ailsa and I got the giggles.  I'm sure he thought we were all bonkers because we still couldn't understand it.  We finally worked out it was some form of flour paste and decided perhaps it should have been a white sauce, only with 10 times more flour than it should have had.  Lynda asked why this wasn't on the menu in the description of the dish and the waiter, clearly bemused by the lot of us said 'it's' not a problem, you're the problem!'  At that, Ailsa and I collapsed in hysterics, crying with laughter and the poor chap finally gave up and walked off in disgust.  It took us several more moments before we could breathe enough to tell the others what he'd said, and that set us all off again.  I think they were probably glad to see the back of us and it became one of our catchphrases for the trip. in.  After trying to eat some and then just picking out the chicken, the bowl was passed along the table in case anyone else wanted mashed potato.  Aimee tried it and decided it wasn't potato, but none of us could decide what it actually was.  Sukio read the Indonesian translation on the menu but it still only said chicken, garlic and onion.  By this stage we were so perplexed by the concoction that we asked the waiter why potato wasn't listed as the main ingredient of the dish.  I'd already joked that it looked like wallpaper paste, so when he then said it was 'paste' not potato, Ailsa and I got the giggles.  I'm sure he thought we were all bonkers because we still couldn't understand it.  We finally worked out it was some form of flour paste and decided perhaps it should have been a white sauce, only with 10 times more flour than it should have had.  Lynda asked why this wasn't on the menu in the description of the dish and the waiter, clearly bemused by the lot of us said 'it's' not a problem, you're the problem!'  At that, Ailsa and I collapsed in hysterics, crying with laughter and the poor chap finally gave up and walked off in disgust.  It took us several more moments before we could breathe enough to tell the others what he'd said, and that set us all off again.  I think they were probably glad to see the back of us and it became one of our catchphrases of our trip.

The next morning we had a 3am wake-up call, which is nobody's idea of fun.  After coffee and Red Bull, we climbed into three jeeps which took us 15 minutes drive up a very bumpy track in the Bromo Sengerra National Park.  There were several guys with horses trying to sell us a ride up the track but we all chose to walk the rest of the way up.  It was still dark so we climbed by torchlight, continuing on up a set of steps built into the hillside.  At the top of these switchbacks we reached a level area with al wall on two sides which served as a sunrise viewing platform.  Enterprising locals were already there selling tea and coffee.  We found a space, set up our cameras and waited for the sun.

The first rays of light came over a valley far in front of us, slowly changing the sky to deep blue, then pink, orange and yellow behind the silhouette of a distant volcano and we could see rows of clouds sitting in the valley in front of this peak.  Nearer to us, clouds were rolling over the top of the hill to our left and spilling down into our valley before melting away.  As more light reached us, we were able to pick out the shapes of a cluster of cinder cones to our right.  We were actually perched up on the rim of the enormous Tenggera caldera left by an ancient erruption.  The cinder cones we could see were Mount Bromo, Mount Sengerra and Mount Batok.  The sun finally hit these volcanoes directly and lit them up beautifully.  

We stayed up there until the sun had risen over the horizon, then made our way back down and the jeeps drove us across the caldera basin to the Poten Hindu temple at the foot of Mount Bromo itself.  The horsemen here were out in force, charging for a trip through the volcanic ash dunes.  Aimee and I chose to walk, while Jim and Ailsa set off on horses like a mildly terrified Lawrence of Arabia!  Even those on the horses still have to climb the last bit on foot. A flight of 240 steps built into the side of the volcano leads the sleep-deprived and exhausted climbers up to the rim to see the bubbling, steaming acid lake in the bottom.  It was about 8.30am by the time we reached the rim and the sun was already burning brightly.  I could feel the heat already coming off the black sand as we walked.  

The views were spectacular.  The washed-out grey tones of the volcanic sand made it feel like a lunar landscape.  Mount Bromo sent up regular clouds of steam and when these cleared we could see the blue-green lake lapping against the grey-black of the crater.  Contrasting  sharply around the rim of the crater was the scattered detritus of dried flowers, small bamboo trays and grains of rice thrown in as offerings to the spirits.

We were ravenous by the time we returned to the hotel for breakfast at 9am.  A final pack up and we were on the road again for another 7 hour minibus ride to Kalibaru, our final stop on the way to Bali.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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