Th country with a population of 255,000,000 and over 13,000 islands, things can get as crowded or as peaceful as you want here. Jakarta, a capital swarming with 33,000,000 people alone. It's a place where several tectonic plates meet. The landscape is spoilt for volcanoes. Some have the scars that would have once upon a time been an eruption and caused a devastating but prolific and fertile land. Fast forward to present day and we are cruising (well squashed) on the back of a motorbike driving through the middle of one. It began in Yogyakarta where we had spend 3 days prior we decided to head east and visit mount Bromo. We headed to Malang by nightbus (or death bus, as it is affectionately known as by Charlotte and myself). From there, after hours of undecided plans, we got on the back of a moped and drove to Ngadas. We were greeted there by a Muslim family and spent the night in their home, eating some of the best food we've had so far, a quick flick through the family album and that was bed time for us.
We woke to see the sunrise that came up over Semeru, a bigger volcano than the one we were attempting the next day. Our hike begins and no sooner than that thought declaration we get asked if we want a lift. A classic Charlotte and Becky hike/ hitchhike combo meant we were in the tiny town of Lawang in about 3 hours, a journey that would have taken 10 by foot. As we suss out the town we soon become just another shadow meandering the streets aimlessly as the clouds flow onto the streets and fill them with fog. The next morning, keen to use the Kathmandu torch we set off early, about 3, so we can catch the sunrise over King Kong hill. 2 hours later with a few less layers on and cup of coffee in hand, we watch as the ebony sky transforms into oranges, purples and reds around us. As the black fades we can see both volcanoes, Bromo and Semeru, one spluttering out a vicious cloud of sulphur.
And the rest of village starts to wake up.
It was pitch black when we dragged ourselves out of bed. Time to put the Kathmandu head torch into action, god we're getting old. After a long hike up in the dark to King Kong hill we stand back and take it the view. As the sky fills with purples, oranges and reds we look at the 2 volcanoes Semeru and Bromo. The sulphur clouds flooding the sky as they transgress through the clouds.
We start our decent through the rich, fertile vegetable patches (mostly smelly cabbage) and made our way to Bromo. On the flat plaines leading to Bromo to our right there was a savannah, the village of lawang to our left and a vast open volcanic desert ahead of us. The occasional horse galloped part us, commandeered by the unconventional Indonesia cowboys that took those who needed it to climb the base of the volcano, for a small fee of course. The hike was short lived, steep and would have felt a little prehistoric -if it wasn't for the hoards of tourists-. A few snaps of the crater balanced on the precarious edge that runs around it, then we rode back to the town of Tumpang on the back of a motorbike with 2 bandit bikers. As hellish as the journey was on these banged up bikes we weren't too scared to notice the family of gibbons swinging from the trees around us.