1. Woke up 6 am and it was already bright in Surabaya. Decided to take a stroll along the streets near Hotel Mercure. It was a Sunday morning but at 6.30 am the streets were already busy. People were out strolling and jogging. There were many cyclists on the road, exercising. A big group in brown T-shirts on bicycles passed me, clearly on an organised event.
2. Music was blasting away when I returned to Mercure. By 7.30, the female instructor in camouflage uniform began her aerobic session with about 10 ladies following her. Cars were forbidden entry to the road but cyclists ride through the space in between. Was told that Hotel Mercure organised this aerobic session every Sunday at 7 am.
3. Blogged to about 10.30 am and with Yeow Pheng we left Hotel Mercure for Mt Bromo. It was a fast highway out of Surabaya, traveling Eastwards on the North coast of Java. With GPS set for the Cemoro Indah, we turned right at Tongas for the 28 km up the mountain to the hotel. Yeow Pheng drove. It was raining, visibility was not good and the few pictures taken were good. But, we could see that it was beautiful terrain. Hill slopes were densely cultivated, mostly paddy in tiered steps along the slopes. Occasional houses and mosques lined the road up and, from time to time, passing through villages with their colourful buildings.
4. Our hotel, which was pre-booked by Yeow Pheng, was located Cemoro Lawang, at the edge of the crater looking into the Sand Sea and Mt Bromo. It was probably the closest one could stay near the volcanoes. We booked into a bigger room for 400 000 rps. We confirmed booking for the jeep the next day to watch sunrise as well as renting the jackets as it would be cold. Yeow Pheng was there a couple of months back and he knew it. As we arrived at the hotel at 4 pm, we were immediately captivated by the spectacular view of Mt Bromo. We were told sunrise would even be better.
5. Mt Bromo sits inside the massive Tenggar caldera (diameter about 10 km) and surrounded by the Sand Sea of fine black volcanic sand. It is easily recognized as the entire top has been blown off and the crater inside constantly belches white sulphurous smoke.
6. Took a stroll in the evening before dinner around the farmlands nearby. Current crop, it seemed, was onions as we could see them everywhere. We met this 2 kids in their bicycle. They were cheeky, like kids elsewhere.
7. It was simple fried rice for dinner at the hotel restaurant and went to bed at about 8 pm. We were expecting a wake up call at 3.15 for departure at 4 am in a jeep up Mt Penanjakan (2270m) to see sunrise. Beds were too soft and we did not have a good sleep and was up at 3 am. After a bun each, which we brought along from Surabaya, and kitted ourselves with gloves, jacket, a few layers of clothes, we were set to go.
8. It was about 20 km in pitch darkness to Mt Penanjakan look out point; first down to the Sand Sea, traveling across it and up the steep slope of Mt Penanjakan. From where we disembarked the jeep, it was a 200m walk up a gentle slope lined by shops to the look out point. It was not peak season, but it was a good crowd. Was told that there were 30-40 jeeps that day. On a peak day, there could be as much as 80-100 jeeps. Each jeep, like the short Land Cruiser that we traveled in could carry 4-5 passengers. There must be 100-150 people at the look out point with their cameras, all ready to take pictures.
9. First sign of the sun was about shortly before 5 am. Here you see Yeow Pheng and I at the look out point with Mt Bromo "fuming" in the background. In front of Mt Bromo ( 2329 m) was Mt Batok (2440 m), with its characteristic lined slope and a flat top. Beyond them, in the distance, was the highest mountain the area, Mt Semeru at 3676 m. This the angle for a signature shot of the volcanoes. The sun rises to the left. Here is a video taken at the scene.
10. By 5.15 am, it was all over and people started to disperse down the slope, some into the shops for a cup of coffee or tea. We found our jeep and as part of the tour proceeded down the slope to the Sand Sea and towards Mt Bromo. We had booked 2 horses to bring us mid-point up to Mt Bromo and then climb 250 steps to the top to see the active crater of Mt Bromo. Rested twice up the exhausting 250 steps before I got to the top of Mt Bromo.
11. Back in the hotel, we had breakfast with these German friends, who like us, were hotel guests. They too were mesmerised by the sunrise at Mt Bromo. They were Mr and Mrs Joamar Reisen, Wolfgang Rindchey and Dela Dressler and we exchanged contacts.
12. After checking out, we were off to Bali, taking the North coastal route to Banyuwangi where we could catch a ferry to Bali.