Bukit King Kong sunrise observation deck 5.05am
The observation deck by the cliff was not crowded. We were greeted with the petty trader’s table-full display of colorful instant hot drink packets and snack packages of various brands at the opening of the square concrete deck as if guarding it. A few local looking young men were standing near the makeshift stall, not quite sure who they were. There were 10 to 15 people on the deck, a few camera-mounted tripods were all ready pointing to where I assumed where the sun will make her appearance, northeast to the deck.
The platform was big enough to offer a good spot for us despite space taken by the early bird shutterbugs. It was quite dark at the deck. The crescent moon that was perfectly visible seemed to be smiling contentedly despite being less successful in lighting up the morning sky, as her full self would be able to. Looking outward in the crescent moonlight from the deck makes you feel like you were floating. Looking downward I saw a glowing caterpillar moving in the dark, the 4WD convoy was on the move for the sunrise. The stars were not generously sprinkled but with the clear sky and dry weather unlike the day before as we were told, a bit of a discount with the twinkles seemed more than reasonable. The occasional gentle cold wind blowing in the dark seemed equipped with night vision feature as it found its ways to seep into all the tiny openings of our scarves, jackets and jeans with ease, I got gloves in my knapsack, was glad I did not underestimate the temperature up there. Gloves on, skullcap adjusted to properly cover my ears, time for some hot drinks.
Hot drinks seemed to taste much better in the cold, sipping my hot mocha I watched what was visible of Bromo, yes, Bromo, not Mt. Bromo any longer, we became friends at that point. The introduction was yet to be completed but it won’t be long till sunrise then. Most faces on the deck were slightly more visible with the light from their mobiles, most of them were looking at their phones, me included. As I sipped the bottom of my mocha that was no longer hot as I wished it to be, I saw more light. It was slowly turning brighter and then, north to the deck I saw it for the very first time in better light, the peak of Bromo. It appeared humbly majestic among the clouds that seemed to be guarding it with love and care, united in serenading the peaceful sound of solitude. The clouds reminded me of my favorite storyteller, she described them as giant cotton candy, this one looked flattened and pierced in the middle by the peak of Bromo that was puffing more candy into the sky in super slow motion from afar. The fume from the live crater of Bromo looked thicker and whiter – sulfur laced cotton candy, I saw it for the first time with my naked eyes. There was not much cotton candy in the sky that morning, only a little, way up above the crater, little as if they understood that there was no point in competing with the guardian clouds of Bromo, as if they surrendered but yet won.
More and more people arrived at the deck. More and more light appeared. Sunrise was near. Way above the horizon the crescent moon was still clearly visible as if waiting for the sun to arrive. And then she said, “Let’s listen to Bromo (the song by Bonita and the Hus Band)”. My favorite storyteller brought along her splitter for us to listen with our earphones. There we were, waiting for the sunrise to arrive, the sky started to turn to my favorite tone of blue, the kind of tone that can only be found on the palette of the morning sky moments before the sun says hello. The crescent moon looked on patiently as the horizon turned reddish and yellowish coloring the arrival of day with yet another unique hue across the horizon and just as if the horizon was warm enough for it to arrive, she made her grand entrance, silently as usual. As the sky turned brighter we saw Bromo in different lights and shades repeatedly as if seeing it for the first time over and over again, all this as we listen to Bonita’s Bromo, over and over again.
Bromo or Rinjani? “Rinjani”, answered my favorite storyteller.
But there we were, catching both the sunrise and the crescent moon simultaneously together with music in our ears as beautiful as the weather – aligned perfectly with the Universe in the presence of one great witness – Bromo of East Java.
Sometimes the question is more important than the answer.
As daylight took over completely, it felt as if my existence in the now has been re-set, I felt refreshed inside out. I was contented to celebrate my spirit of wanderlust by embracing solo travel but having an awesome companion for this adventure is simply amazing. Moments ago I witnessed her smiles in countless shades of sunrise sunlight, I may have been busy capturing moments on the camera but those captured in my mind are super precious. I love the unspoken moments that we shared bonded by the crescent moon, sunrise and a live volcano. I think the best kind of connection is the unspoken ones and I shared this connection like never before here in the presence of a volcano named after a god.
Bromo is nothing like the Everest or Kilimanjaro, not that I’ve been to both but the moments captured here made me feel like I was on top of the world. I like how her eyes smiled when she smiled, I like how the curve of her lips said so much by not saying a thing. I like the way she knew that I knew that she was happy being with me as I was happy being with her. Truthfully, at first I was hesitant to put much of this emotion here, holding back afraid of showing too much but then I remembered, she said “You need to be who you are when you write”, otherwise, “The reader would feel something is missing”. I have to agree with her, these are my moments, what is a nomadic hunter of moments if one deprived oneself of the sweetness of sharing them. We celebrate the adventures of life when we travel, when the cosmic forces decided to present you a companion for it, you embrace it. There is nothing like having a storyteller travel companion that carries the nomadic spirit of Chatwin who keeps on surprising me by telling me new things that I don’t know about myself.
As we walked away for the observation deck of Bukit King Kong I remembered that I had forgotten to see the face of the King Kong stone that gave the hill its name, I smiled and said to myself, missed items during travel is the Universe’s way of saying that you will return, just as how I missed my boat to Mykonos from Santorini last September. I’ll meet King Kong next time, as I will set foot on the sands of Mykonos.
Ride down and travelling through the sea of sands 7.30am
The Ojek ride down to Bukit Cinta was even more fun, less cars and bigger smile all the way. We hopped onto our 4WD with lesser rush and joined the train of 4WDs rolling downhill with anticipation. The road was bumpy as we reached the beginning of the sea of sand and the ground was not flat as what I saw in the pictures. The terrains were water corroded, the drain shaped ground channels water when it rained. The sight of the sea of sand was amazing, the sea was greyish brown flanked by hills and mountains all around. The air was misty with a mix of flying dusts from the exodus of 4WDs running towards the live crater of Bromo. From afar we saw a patch of parked 4WDs ahead, I presumed that was where we were heading.
The driver stopped at the main body of the congregation of the 4WDs. The sight of the incoming 4WDs was like a scene from a movie I can’t recall. Apparently there were thousands of them on that day I was told. We walked the sands slowly as if absorbing the experience slowly so that nothing was missed and almost immediately we saw that magical arch of a pale rainbow, no strands of colors, just smoky white. I had never seen anything like it. It was amazing. Many pictures taken as expected, IG worthy pictures, this was how my IG caption looked like for the post:
Have you aver witnessed a pale rainbow? This one is from the volcanic ash (and mist). Pale as if the eruption killed the colors and what is left is a pale arch that refuses to give up on celebrating life.
The pony ride to the crater 8.05am
The decision to take the pony ride was made even before we arrived. Riding through the sea of sands to the foot of the crater hill looks cool in pictures I saw before the trip. The caretaker asked her to take the dirty-white pony but as if she knew what I wanted, she asked me to take it instead. The pony was beautiful. He had patches of light brown on his body, the turquoise saddle pad created a beautiful contrast. She got on her black pony with a little help and off we rode slowly towards the crater. I like how she wore my blue paisley designed bandana with brown edges around her neck. All seemed perfect, the day, down to the color scheme and all. We rode on without much conversation, just beams of smiles, too many to recall but never too overwhelming to capture in my mind.
The crater foothill 8.48am
We arrived at the foothill after about 40 minutes later. There were many makeshift stalls selling drinks and snacks all around, we took a short break before starting our climb up the steps, more than 200 of them. The cement stairs looked solid. It was designed to have two separate lanes, the one going up on your left hand side and the one on the right to go opposite. The climb was slow because of the crowd but not that tiring. She looked a bit worn out but did not complain. Upon reaching the top before seeing the bottom of the crater we heard the growl of the crater as if mumbling to itself endlessly, as we stepped closer to the safety railing we saw the bottom from where the thick white cotton candy comes out from. She was extra quiet siting by the railing, she looked a bit tired and occupied in her mind. She said she was okay and I let her have her space. More unspoken moments, just the mumbling sounds of the crater to fill the audio space, unusual but not scary…
We reached the 4WD at around 10.00am. So many moments captured since rushing to catch our ride about 8 hours ago. Everybody felt hungry, time to leave, time for breakfast.
The breakfast at Café Lava, around 11.o0am
The drive downhill was quick, as always it always felt faster coming back. Café Lava was nice. We helped ourselves with the buffet. I can’t remember when it started exactly but the conversation with Dian was really something. We spoke about energy, spiritualism and healing as if we were high on something. My storyteller was unusually quite, listening with fascination as Dian and me indulged in our discussion and sharing of experiences. She was intensely focused but I was sure, not judging. She knew that I could talk about the Universe for hours on.
As decided, we head to Madakaripura waterfalls, a story I will share some other day.
Back in Surabaya 11.00pm
The journey back gave some quiet moments in our minds. Twelve hours and we captured countless awesome moments together. The twelve-hour adventure saw us riding on a car, 4WD, motorcycle, pony and climbing up the stairs. The twelve-hour adventure saw us riding on the emotions and moments like never before.
Two nomadic souls, one sweet short god-name mountain adventure and a faceless angel called Sophie.