Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Road to Bromo, part 1

April 12, 2008, 5:30AM, sunrise overlooking Bromo

There I was, squinting through the fog swirling everywhere around where I stand in Mount Penanjakan, some 2,770 meters above sea level. Slowly, the sea of white started to dissipate to reveal a caldera as wide as 16 kilometers from end to end. The caldera, a product of a massive and violent eruption about a hundred fifty thousand years ago, lies flat below, strangely not looking anywhere as high as the 2,000 meters elevation it really is. As the white blanket of cold fog – or are they clouds? – sank deeper, a family of not one, not two, but probably around five peaks are revealed, all stately, reaching anywhere between 2,400 to 3,700 m. No, these are no ordinary mountains. They are volcanoes, mostly active and rambunctious. The most famous of them, easily recognizable by its seemingly endless spew of dense sulfurous white smoke is Bromo. My pictures, inasmuch as I tried, cannot do justice to the experience.

the Tengger Caldera featuring the volcanoes of Bromo, Semeru and Batok in Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia
phototip: There is a short time around sunrise when the colors are still soft. This was taken 30 minutes after daybreak, when the fog lifted.

the mountain range at Malang bordering the Tengger caldera of East Java, Indonesia
phototip: The horizontality of layered mountain ranges can sometimes be served by panoramic crops.


April 9, 2008, Bali

So it came that after 15 years of visiting Indonesia, after always scurrying between the two cities of Bali and Surabaya in East Java, I came to decide that I would try a road trip. The journey appears simple. It is a popular trans-island 10-12 hour trip. The nearest point is between Gilimanuk in Negara, West Bali and Banyuwangi, East Java and a 24 hour ferry system services the short 20 minute crossing, at 15 to 60 minute intervals, depending on the time of day or night. With a map, I studied the numbers. From Denpasar, Bali to Bayuwangi, the nearest point in East Java, the distance is 145km. Some 285km more is Surabaya. Not bad. What really caught my interest, was that somewhere in between, in the city of Probolinggo is East Java’s premier attraction, Mount Bromo.

April 9, 2008, Bali

I checked out of my hotel in Nusa Dua at 5AM. We took it easy. I wanted to take in the sights. I particularly asked that we stopped at one of the countless ricefields peppering the regency of Tabanan. Not surprisingly, there seems to be always a temple nearby.

Pura Desa Lan Puseh
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 20s, f/16, 18mm, ISO 100
Pura Desa Lan Puseh, Desa Pakraman Berembeng, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Consider simple lines and forms when doing landscapes.

Desa Pakraman Berembeng
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/6.3, 55mm, ISO 100
ricefields in Desa Pakraman Berembeng, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia

to be continued next week in The Road to Bromo, part 2

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