Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our wake up call was at 3:30, and we got in our jeep (old Land Cruiser) around 3:50. Apparently we should have gotten up even earlier - seemingly half of East Java was going up to the viewpoint. It took awhile to get through town, with jeeps and people and motorbikes everywhere. After getting through the town, we had to descend onto the caldera floor and drive for a bit. Then we went up the rim on the north side (Mt Pananjakan), heading up to a little over 8000 feet.

Getting near the top, there were more motorbikes and more jeeps - more than could possibly fit in the town where the hotel is. We had to park a good distance from the top and walk. This walk would have been difficult enough in the dark and the altitude and the cold without motorbikes constantly whizzing by on both sides. Justin had the monopod and held it out a couple inches to the side just so anything brushing against us would hit that first.

At the top, there were already hundreds of people. We tried to find an unimpeded view, but it was difficult, so the next best was to find a spot behind some short ladies. Crystal went down a level, which was less crowded, and she angled her way to the front. Up a level, some boys wedged themselves in front of Justin, then stood up on the railing right in front of them. They did make room to the left and the right, however, so when they stepped down for a second (bad idea on their part), Justin stepped up where they vacated. They tried to get back up, but no dice - better luck next time. If they fly to the US to watch sunrise there, Justin will let them walk in front of him.

The view was spectacular, and Mt Semeru decided to puff right as the sun was coming up. As the sun came up, more and more of the mountains lit up, giving very interesting color contrasts between the dark shades and the light greens and browns. After the sun was fully up, many of the people left - we're not sure why - but we then moved around to different vantage points. We then headed down and went to the base of Mount Bromo, the active volcano.

We parked next to 250 other jeeps, then took horses (ponies, really) up most of the way, then walked the last 250 steps. The steps up took forever, not because of us, but because of the several hundred people who tried to climb a freaking volcano with flip flops on. Even Justin knew to wear shoes (for once). At the top, we could see down into the boiling puddle of something in Mount Bromo - it was green and smelled a bit like eggs. We stayed up there for a bit, then headed down.

Justin walked back, as the horse he came in on kept trying to throw him and he didn't want to tempt fate a second time. Back at the car, it wasn't long to get back to the hotel. By the time we got to our room, it was still only 9am. We got breakfast, which was very good, especially since we missed dinner the night before (and Justin basically hadn't eaten in two days). Unfortunately, he had some orange juice that wasn't orange juice - it was a Tang-like liquid that was made with water, which would unfortunately ruin his next day.

Back at the room we got cleaned up (being free of dust was nice), packed, and then headed out at 10:30. The drive back was nearly the same as the day before, but with far less traffic. Apparently trucks aren't allowed on the roads on Sundays, and many factories are closed anyway. We got back to Surabaya around 1, then went past the City Mosque. According to Ignatius, the city built the mosque, but has not built houses of worship for the other official religions (i.e. no Buddhist temples, Catholic churches, etc.) - it merely gives permits for those. We got lunch at a place right near the airport, and it was also very good.

At the airport, we said our goodbyes, then checked in and went to the waiting area for Denpasar, Bali. A couple days doing nothing in Bali was the deal that Crystal struck with Justin for staying the previous 7 nights at 6 different places all over Java. For the first time in awhile, we had literally zero plans for where we were going, not even a basic city tour or a specific restaurant we wanted to eat at. We landed just as the sun was setting in Bali, and we had lost an hour on the flight because of a time zone change. At the airport, it looked like there was quite a bit of construction going on.

We grabbed our bags and met our guide Alit. The roads were much better than on Java, and by the time Alit was done giving us a little spiel on Bali and its history, we were at the hotel (Laguna Nusa Dua). We had been upgraded again, and realized our room was actually two rooms put together. Crystal gave Justin a look that almost said "maybe i ought to encourage you to go on more business trips." We went down to the bar on the beach - it was right on the beach - and had a couple cocktails. The tide was way out - over 100 feet. It was quite windy, but it was nice after not having much of a breeze on much of Java. The singer was singing 80s pop tunes, and while she was a better singer than us, she seemed a little off on her tunes. We got to bed a little after 11, and since we'd woken up at 3:30 in the morning, it'd been a long, interesting, day.