Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Recycled Paper Handicrafts in Yogyakarta

For many people old papers and magazines have little value - indeed, are nothing but garbage. But as one small Yogyakarta-based enterprise is showing, waste paper can be turned into a variety of environmentally friendly, artistic, functional handicrafts such as baskets, coasters, tissue boxes, photo frames and mirror frames.

The handicrafts are colorful and distinctive, especially as the recycled paper originally had writing printed on it. To make them more attractive, green leaves, from a plant called daun kupu-kupu (Bauhinia tomentosa) and the mahoni (Swietenia macrophylla) tree, are glued on the outside.

The crafts are made by hand . And they certainly have no problems sourcing materials, because everyday Yogyakarta produces dozens or even hundreds of tons of used papers and magazines. Price start from Rp 1,000 (less than 10 US cents) for a coaster. Candleholders and tissue boxes cost between Rp 20,000 and Rp 40,000 each, while the baskets carry a price tag of between Rp 15,000 and Rp 150,000.

The designs of their handicrafts are updated from time to time to meet the market demand. To survive the global crisis, they are exploring new ideas while maintaining its environmentally friendly principles and focusing on the use of waste.Among their new products are curtains made from palm leaves. They also receive orders to make souvenirs for wedding parties and other special occasions.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Borobudur Temple Golden Tales of the Buddhas

Who does not know Borobudur?
The glorious ninth-century Buddhist stupa of Borobudur –
a gigantic central stupa rests on a massive lotus-shaped base half a meter thick, making this the largest Buddhist stupa in the world stands in the midst of the lush Kedu plain of Central Java in Indonesia, where it is visited annually by over a million people. Borobudur contains more than a thousand exquisitely carved relief panel exceeding along its many terraces for a total distance of more than a kilometer. There are arranged so as to take the visitors on spiritual journey to enlightenment, an one ascends the monument past scenes depicting the world of desire, the life story of Buddha, and the heroic deeds of other enlightened beings – finally arriving at the great circular terrace at the top of the structure that symbolize the formless world of pure knowledge and perfection

It contains of a series of concentric terrace of decreasing size that rise like steps to a central peak. It has no roof, no vault, no chamber; its masonry was laid without mortar. This basic simplicity of form is counterbalanced by extraordinary rich and complex decoration. Borobudur houses a staggering 2,672 relief panels, covering a total area of about 1900 square meter, with another 600 square meters of decorative carving surroundings, as well as 504 Buddha statues.

Borobudur was built by King Samaratungga, one of the kings of Old Mataram Kingdom, the descendant of Sailendra dynasty. Based on Kayumwungan inscription, an Indonesian named Hudaya Kandahjaya revealed that Borobudur was a place for praying that was completed to be built on 26 May 824, almost one hundred years from the time the construction was begun. The name of Borobudur, as some people say, means a mountain having terraces (budhara), while other says that Borobudur means monastery on the high place.

Borobudur is constructed as a ten-terraces building. The height before being renovated was 42 meters and 34.5 meters after the renovation because the lowest level was used as supporting base. The first six terraces are in square form, two upper terraces are in circular form, and on top of them is the terrace where Buddha statue is located facing westward. Each terrace symbolizes the stage of human life. In line with of Buddha Mahayana, anyone who intends to reach the level of Buddha's must go through each of those life stages.

The base of Borobudur, called Kamadhatu, symbolizes human being that are still bound by lust. The upper four stories are called Rupadhatu symbolizing human beings that have set themselves free from lust but are still bound to appearance and shape. On this terrace, Buddha effigies are placed in open space; while the other upper three terraces where Buddha effigies are confined in domes with wholes are called Arupadhatu, symbolizing human beings that have been free from lust, appearance and shape. The top part that is called Arupa symbolizes nirvana, where Buddha is residing.

Each terrace has beautiful relief panels showing how skillful the sculptors were. In order to understand the sequence of the stories on the relief panels, you have to walk clockwise from the entrance of the temple. The relief panels tell the legendary story of Ramayana. Besides, there are relief panels describing the condition of the society by that time; for example, relief of farmers' activity reflecting the advance of agriculture system and relief of sailing boat representing the advance of navigation in Bergotta (Semarang).

All relief panels in Borobudur temple reflect Buddha's teachings. For the reason, this temple functions as educating medium for those who want to learn Buddhism.I suggests that you walk through each narrow passage in Borobudur in order for you to know the philosophy of Buddhism. Atisha, a Buddhist from India in the tenth century once visited this temple that was built 3 centuries before Angkor Wat in Cambodia and 4 centuries before the Grand Cathedrals in Europe.

Borobudur is a place of pilgrimage for those of the Buddhist faith. Its passages were designed for monks to circumambulate the edifice in silent prayer. Along the lower square terraces, they would be flanked by carvings such as the biography of the Lord Buddha, from his descent from heaven until his enlightenment, which is depicted on the main wall of the first gallery.

As they ascended to the higher circular terraces, they would be surrounded by unembellished stone walls, representing Buddhism’s Sphere of Formlessness. Above them, the main stupa – which is empty, signifying Nirvana – would soar into the sky.

Thanks to visiting Borobudur and having supply of Buddha teaching script from Serlingpa (King of Sriwijaya), Atisha was able to improve Buddha's teachings after his return to India and he built a religion institution, Vikramasila Buddhism. Later he became the leader of Vikramasila monastery and taught Tibetans of practicing Dharma. Six scripts from Serlingpa were then summarized as the core of the teaching called "The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment" or well known as Bodhipathapradipa.

Ancient Javanese came to Borobudur as pilgrim – to climb this holy man-made mountain and attain spiritual merit. Borobudur provides a place where Buddhists could physically and spiritually pass through the ten stages of development that would transform them into enlightened bodhisattvas. This transformation was the monument’s main purpose, and both the overall design as well as the stories portrayed on Borobudur’s relief is all connected with this theme.

Pilgrim standing before the monument for the first time would undoubtedly have felt awed and somewhat daunted by its looming mass, just as we do today. Borobudur has a purposeful air, as though it is prepared to do something to us should we venture into its maze of stair way, galleries, terraces, and sculptures. Nothing in our past experiences prepare us for what it to come when se tour the monument and surrender to its power.

On top of this, Borobudur lies amid great natural beauty. As I stood atop the candi’s highest tier, I was almost eye to eye with Mount Merapi, the still-active volcano that soars 2,911 meters in the northeast. It was wrapped in fluffy clouds, while on the ground, green rice paddies stretched for miles. On the western and southern edges, the Menoreh hills rose and fell. This is the geographical center of Java. Called the Kedu Plain, it is also known as the Garden of Java as it has been made unusually fertile and lush by volcanic earth and the intersection of two rivers, the Progo and the Elo.

Once a year during the full moon in May, the Buddhists hold the Waicak ceremony commemorating the birth of Buddha, the delivery of his first sermon and his death. The ceremony is held at the Candi Mendut and is attended by thousands of Buddhists coming from all over Indonesia.The following morning the Buddhists walk in a procession from Candi Mendut passing the small Candi Pawon and finally to Candi Borobudur where another ceremony is staged. This sequence, Mendut - Pawon - Borobudur symbolizes the stages of becoming a true Buddhist. To gain a deeper understanding of the history of Buddhism, visitors are advised to follow the above sequence when visiting the temples.

A question about Borobudur that is still unanswered by far is how the condition around the temple was at the beginning of its foundation and why at the time of it's finding the temple was buried. Some hypotheses claim that Borobudur in its initial foundation was surrounded by swamps and it was buried because of Merapi explosion. It was based on Kalkutta inscription with the writing 'Amawa' that means sea of milk. The Sanskrit word was used to describe the occurrence of disaster. The sea of milk was then translated into Merapi lava. Some others say that Borobudur was buried by cold lava of Merapi Mountain.

Borobudur at the crossroads

According to the authorities, Borobudur gets about 2.5 million visitors a year, the bulk of whom are Indonesians. When I went, schools were on their year-end break so a high proportion of the visitors that day were large groups of excited students on school outings. The rest were mostly families from neighboring provinces who had come on holiday, and a handful of foreign tourists accompanied by their guides (or guidebooks).

On a Sunday, the entrance at the foot of the monument was already buzzing with people eager to set foot on the monument and across the length of Borobudur Park, I could see a never-ending stream of people making their way toward the entrance. On the top, several visitors, mostly teenagers or children, were seated on top of the stupas, despite signs forbidding visitors to do so. Strewn across the floors of Borobudur’s many terraces was litter – cigarette butts, empty bottles of mineral water, plastic bags. The few dustbins that were available were already full to the brim. It was not a pretty sight.

It is comforting to know that so many people make the effort to visit Borobudur. After all, the monument is a present-day window to Indonesia’s glorious past. It is also an enduring memento of the advanced level of craftsmanship that prevailed in Java at a time when Western Europe was struggling through its Dark Ages.

Little wonder, then, that so many are drawn to Borobudur, which is already under threat, even without the crowds. According to the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Institute, acid rain has damaged some of the carvings, while global warming could cause more fissures and cracks in the monument’s stones.

The growing number of tourists to Borobudur, which is managed by PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko, add further strain. Litter is not just unsightly; the remnants of cigarettes or sugary drinks could damage the porous surfaces of the monument’s stones. Overcrowding along the steep stairs holds the risk of accidents, should a child or elderly person slip and fall.

Poorly supervised youngsters mean unnecessary touching of carvings, or worse, climbing onto statues and stupas, contributing to erosion of its more fragile surfaces. Painstakingly restored in the ‘70s and ‘80s with help from UNESCO, the Borobudur temple is a grand inheritance that every Indonesian should be proud of, regardless of religion. It would be a shame to let it succumb today to modern-day tourism.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bledug Kuwu

Bledug Kuwu is one of tourist attractions in Wirosari area in Grobogan Region, Purwodadi, Central Java. Bledug Kuwu is a local name for something that burst in pool. This is rather strange pool that far from volcano. The vapor burst came from carbon dioxide release. The temperature is mild. Visitors might experience a stunning natural occurrence of small, frequent bursts from mud crate with a sound resembling a mount eruption. This natural phenomenon is resulted from geothermal motion inside the earth bed. Witness said that a big burst could even create small quakes that quiver the area.

Bledug Kuwu looks like just another muddy pond. But every one or two minutes, the placid water erupts in an explosion of mud, followed by a plume of white steam. The pond is located just off the alternative road connecting Purwodadi and Cepu in Central Java, on a site measuring some 4.5 hectares. Bledug Kuwu has become a tourist attraction in the area. The visitors can watch the geyser from a distance of between 10 meters and 20 meters. The eruptions of water and mud shift positions from time to time. But there are two spots where the geyser regularly erupts. The locals call the one in the east Mbah (Grandpa) Jokotua and the one in the west Mbah (Grandma) Rorodenok. They have given the spots where the geyser erupts names, as they believe that the place is sacred.


Tawangmangu is located 40 km east of Solo, this recreational resort offers fresh weather; scenic views, swimming pools, bungalow style hotels and restaurants. Tawangmangu, a mountain resorts at an elevation of almost 1 km above sea level, which promises a cool escape from the city's heat. It lies on the slopes of Mt., Lawu, at an elevation of 1300 m above sea level. A cool splendid hill resort also on the slope of mount Lawu, at about 1400 M height above sea level. The road from Solo via Karangpandan is a fine trip thru magnificent green terraced hills. Tawangmangu has all kind of facilities, hotel, camping ground, forest tourism, etc. The climate is fresh and one can enjoy the beautiful scenery. Other features include nearby temples, a national park and 40m in high waterfall of Grojogan Sewu.

It is a 100 M high waterfall; the pool at the bottom has very chilly water. In front of the gate to Grojogan Sewu, horses for rent are available to ride around Tawangmangu.


Since February 17, 1745, Susuhunan Pakubuwono II and his family had occupied the new palace or karaton located along the banks of Solo River, the longest river in Java. The former karaton in Kartosuro (10 km west of Solo) had been abandoned due to severe damages. It was not a proper karaton for the Susuhunan (king) anymore, after being ransacked on 1742 by the invaders. Pakubuwono II with all his family and subordinates made a day long royal procession from Kartosuro to Surakarta. The city of Surakarta could easily connected to east Java main coastal centers such as Gresik, Tuban via Bengawan (river) Solo. This 'river connection' was one the reasons to move the palace to Solo. Pakubuwono means 'center of the world' (paku : nail, buwono : the world).

The king sat on his royal wagon, Kyai Garudo escorted by high ranking officials, troops, regalia carriers, bringing the pusakas (heirlooms) and other important things to be used in his new palace. The convoy includes also the sacred gamelan, waringin (Banyan) trees, horses, elephants and a special chamber Bangsal Pengrawit. Upon arrival at the new karaton, he announced that starting from today the capital city of the kingdom was Surokarto Hadiningrat (suro : brave, valiant - karto : prosperous - Hadi : great, precious - rat : state).

Coming from the north side of Jalan Slamet Riyadi through a thoroughfare (gladak), a visitor arrives in the North Square (alun-alun Lor). In the center of Alun-alun, there are two waringins (Banyan) trees symbolizing protection and justice.

The throne hall Sasono Semowo or Pagelaran faces the square. In the old days, it was from this hall, the Susuhunan or king delivered his massage and received report from his government read by his Patih (chief minister). Further south, several steps up, there is the Siti Hinggil (high ground) where the GAREBEG ceremonies started (in separate article: garabeg in Solo and Jogya).

Passing through the main gate or kori of Brajanala (braja: ray - Nala: feeling) one enters the fort Baluwerti on Kemandungan square. Enter to Sri Manganti, where one has to wait for audience with the king. And there is the main location called KADATON. In the center is the main throne hall Sasono Sewoko, where the king received obedience from his court family and subordinates. It is also a place he practiced meditation (samadi). There is a small Pendopo (hall) called Pringgitan, where leather puppet (wayang kulit) performs from time to time. Next to Sasono Sewoko is Sasono Handorowino where royal banquets are given.

Leaving Kadaton to south, there is the Magangan court, where the court dignitaries entered the sanctum along this route. There is a pavilion of meditation for princes. There is a sacred meteorite on the rear bank of the pool. From here southward, passing the gate or kori of South Brojonolo, then Sitinggil Kidul, one arrives in the South Square (Alun-Alun Kidul) The Palace's elephants and buffaloes grazed here in the old days. Due to the existence of the elephants with its ivory trunks, this place is popularly known as GADING (Ivory).

Taking lessons from Kartosuro Palace, which were easy to be attacked by enemies, the new Surakarta Palace fortified itself. So, the Alun-Alun was also meant to be a battleground to resist any attack. Several batteries of soldiers were installed in Pagelaran and in front of it (GELAR= formation of troops; Pagelaran = a place where battle tactics are decided). The routes encircling the Alun-Alun are called Supit Urang (Supit-pincers; Urang = crab), symbolizing a tactic to defeat the intruders.The reserves (of soldiers) were held in the square of Kamandungan, Sri Manganti was a rest place.

In Baluarti, there were rice - barns, arsenal and ammunition depot, and stables for horses of the cavalry and the special garrison of the king's guard (Tamtomo). The palace is also a place of high spiritual meaning of old Javanese faith. As there are seven stairs and seven gates at Candi Borobudur, there are also seven squares at Solo Palace :

1. Pamuraan Njawi
2. Pamuraan Nglebet
3. Alun-Alun Lor
4. Sitinggil
5. Kamandungan
6. Sri Manganti
7. Plataran

And Seven Gates (Gapuros) :

1. Gladag
2. Gapuro Pamuraan
3. Kori Wijil
4. Kori Brojonolo
5. Kori Kamandungaan
6. Kori Mangun
7. Kori Manganti

There is Panggung Songgobuwono (panggung-tower ; songgo-to support ; Buwono the world) in Baluarti, a tower with octagonal form. Some believe that it is a place where Sri Sunan (a popular name for the king) continued the tradition of his ancestors to meet with the Goddess of South Seas (Kanjeng Ratu Kidul) at least at the anniversary of his coronation.

West of Kedaton, there is a place called Mantenan, where there was bandengan, a fishpond with gurameh fishes and turtles (symbols of long age of life). In the old days, Sri Sunan delivered the teaching of life philosophy and cleaned his heirlooms. In the high ground he did meditations and there is a mosque - Pudyosono (a place to worship).Karaton Surakarta as one of the stronghold of Javanese culture is opened daily to be adored by visitors. It has a museum and art galery where some pr ecious collections are exhibited, such as keris (daggers), masks, leather puppets, etc.

Media KARATON SURAKARTA (MEKAS), a monthly 'newsletter' published by Yayasan Pawiyatan Kabudayaan Karaton Surakarta

Mt. Merapi (2968 m)

This fire mountain remains one of the most active and dangerous volcano in the world. It can be seen from its name – Merapi from Javanese world Meru means mountain and Api means fire. The latest eruption. In the early morning of Saturday, July 11, 1998, at 4.59 a.m, the volcano erupted again after days of ominous rumblings and minor tremors. At once, following the explosion, a black smoke rose up to more than 3000 m above its peak, spewing heat clouds and volcanic ash and debris several kilometers away. The ash hit the area as far as 60 Km away on the West of the mountain. Many surrounding towns were blanketed with white ash. The most dangerous killers are the heat clouds. This 3000 0 Celsius heat substance should melt and burnt easily anything found on its way. "Luckily, this cloud blew to an uninhabited area west of the mountain. In 1994 sudden eruption, 66 people of the South-West slope have been killed by this heat cloud.

The local people call this heat cloud in Javanese Wedus Gembel– a sheep; gembel – thick curly hair), as it looked like. Usually the local inhabitants should flee from their villages only after seeing the emergence of the "curly sheep", as considered the real menace of the "Merapi Rulers". In 1997, thousand of Merapi villagers have been evacuated when it began spewing ash and lava.

The worst eruption was in 1930 which killed about 1300 people. People did not know exactly how many thousand or even million times, Merapi has been erupted since its birth. In the 10th century, its ashes had buried totally a temple 15 km southward. Probably its unbearable activity had pushed eastward the Hindu Mataram kingdom from Prambanan, central Java to East Java in the 10th century.

But Merapi does not act always as "a bad guy", most of the time "it is a good guy", handsomely gives tremendous fertility to the land, stands strongly guarding the nature

Mountaineering Routes
There are 2 routes lead to Mt. Merapi. The first is true Yogyakarta from the South, the second is thru the village of Selo, Boyolali from the north.

From Yogyakarta
From the city of Yogya, a climber shall travel to Kaliurang – a small nice 1300 m high mountain resort, 27 Km north of Yogya and then continue to Kinahrejo village, the last village to the top. A guide, sufficient supply (water etc), any information are available here. Normally, it shall take 6 hours of climbing to the peak.

The path should lead to the border of last vegetation, the timberline, Kendit. Going to the peak, walk true labile and stony paths, the journey is strenuous. On the peak, one can see the sulphur crater and heavenly panoramic views. It is strongly advised to all mountaineers to prepare themselves adequately, before any climbing. Be careful of accident which could happened due to stone sliding or falling down.

Unfortunately this path is closed since November 1994 due to dangerous activities of the mountain, until further notice. If a climber insists, he could climb only until Miji Hill, from where he can enjoy the beautiful nature. A special permit is needed to enter the Miji hill, which is considered as a dangerous area.

Ritual Ceremony

Every year the Karaton – Palace of Yogyakarta gives regular offering in Ngestiaji, north of Kimahrejo village. The ritual starts from the house of mbah (Grand-father) Marijan, a native of the village, assigned by Karaton of Yogya as the gate keeper (Juru Kunci) of Merapi. The offering are meant for the welfare of the Sultan and the people of Yogyakarta and prosperity of the country, to commemorate the coronation of the Sultan. This year is due on November 20 and 21, 1998.

From Selo Village, Boyolali

The other route is thru Selo village, from the north of Merapi. This cool hilly village (1500 M high) located on the slopes of Mt. Merapi, in the south and Mt. Merbabu in the north. It’s about 40 Km, north-west of Solo city.

The climbers could prepare supplies in this village, there are some nice accommodations here. Tour guide is also available, by contacting Pak Warsito of Lencoh village, Selo. Normally, the climbing to the peak should take 6 hours. The way back to Selo, is approximately 4 hours.

Most climbers prefer to start early hours at 2.00 or 3.00 a.m from Selo base camp, catching the sunrise from the peak and avoiding thick fog which usually appears mid-day.

The climbing

  1. First from the village base camp, the climbers shall walk 1 km upward to a small Joglo house.
  2. Then take a small path thru tobacco and vegetable gardens, pass a pine wood until "Pole 1".
  3. From Pole 1 to Pole 2, walk thru open hill with strong wind.
  4. From Pole 2 until a place locally known as Pasar Bubrah (Ruined Market), the vegetation are rare, the wind blows very strongly.
It has to be noted that Selo trekking is very steep from the start, a climber should walk carefully thru a small sandy and stony path with deep ravine on the right or left side. Pasar Bubrah, is a stone plain right under the peak. It shall take another hour to climb to top of Mt. Merapi. One has to climb adroitly, passing thru the labil sharp stones and windy road.

The Garuda Peak

Reaching the peak, a stony plain with gigantic active crater, with strong smell of sulphur vapor. The most top peak is a huge stone in the form of Garuda Bird (Indonesia mythological bird) looks like a flying Eagle. A climber should be very proud and happy to be here.

Look at the beautiful panoramic view around, enjoy the crystal clear sunrise, see the other peaks of mountains as Mt. Sindoro, Mt. Sumbing, Mt. Lawu, located hundred km away and the blue South Sea, southward of Yogyakarta and might be a bit worried to watch very closely the active crater with real hot lava inside.

The Ritual Ceremony
Every year in the Javanese New Year, 1st of Suro, the Selo villages make traditional offering to Mt. Merapi, called "Sedekah Gunung" (Mountain offering). They hope to live in safety and good welfare with enough crops from their land. The process of offering starts at the village house and then the burial of a Buffalo head shall take place on the peak of Mt. Merapi, or if the condition is dangerous then it shall be buried in Pasar Bubrah.

More about Merapi’s eruption

  1. When Merapi erupted in the morning July 11, 1998, about 3 million cubic meters of volcanic ash and toxic debris have been spewed from the crater.
  2. After eruption, it "coughs" many times, the noise is like flying supersonic jet. It indicates the boiling magma under the earth is pushing upstairs, it’s blazing.
  3. The blazing process "followed by the emergence of dangerous hot clouds.
    The height of hot cloud is about 4 M, and could flow as far as 3 to 4 Km away.
  4. Sometimes it is repeatedly "booming" with horrible sound from inside the crater.
  5. Hot clouds also follow volcanic lava flows.
  6. At present, about 4 million cubic meters of lava are in the mouth of the crater. Its flow must be anticipated soon. Some "lava canals" have been built around the slope to channel its flow.
  7. And then, the time comes when Merapi is again at peace. High, green, beautiful. That’s nature.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mount Bromo

The white smoking crater of Mount Bromo (left) and dormant cone of Mount Betok in Tengger Caldera while Mount Semeru puffs in the background.
In a country full of natural beauty, one of the most spectacular sights is Tengger Caldera. The collapsed remnants of an ancient volcano forms a steeply walled crater nearly 10 kilometers (six miles) in diameter. Rising from the nearly flat volcanic sand floor of the caldera is the dormant cone of Mount Betok and the active volcano of Mount Bromo. Just south of the caldera walls is Mount Semeru, Java's highest mountain and most active volcano. All of this has been incorporated as the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.

The mountain complex is about 120 kilometers (80 miles) south of Surabaya and can be visited as a day trip, sort of. As with many such sights, "the thing" to do is see the sunrise over the caldera. This means getting to the lookout point on Mount Penankajan, the highest point on the north rim of the caldera, by about 4:30 in the morning. If you decide take this route, keep in mind that it can be quite cold in the pre-dawn mountains. On my visit, the air temperature was probably not more than 5°C and there was a high wind making it feel well below zero. There are many people on the approach to the lookout willing to rent you parkas if you don't want to haul your ski jacket around tropical Indonesia.

As you're waiting for the sun to make an appearance, don't forget to look up. High up on a mountain and far away from the lights of any big city, you'll see a sky filled with stars, that sadly few people get to see these days. As the eastern horizon begins to redden, you'll be able to make out the shapes in the caldera below you. Bring a camera tripod if you want to get good photos in the still-dim light. Once the sun actually appears over the horizon, to be greeted by yells from the assembled crowd, it's then time to make your way to the crater floor.

The steep road down to the floor of the caldera comes out opposite to Mount Betok, with Mount Bromo behind. The floor of the caldera is find volcanic sand, which is often called the Sand Sea or Lautan Pasir. Crossing the Sand Sea is usually done by jeep. On rounding the base of Mount Betok, you're greeted by two rather incongruous sights. One is a Hindu Temple, and the other is cowboys. The temple is a reminder that some of the Hindu Tengger people stayed behind when the Majapahit empire fell and many others fled to Bali. The cowboys are there to sell you their services, or rather, the services of their horses.

Just beyond the Hindu temple are the lower slopes of Mount Bromo. The jeeps only go as far as this, and the choice is to either walk across the slick volcanic sands to the base of Bromo's cone, or ride one of the horses on offer. Most people goes on the ponies, probably because it's included in the price of the tour. The horses will take you only to the base of the steep sides of the cone. From there you have to climb a rather steep stairway.

The stairs end at the rim of the crater, from where you can look down into the volcanic vent at the bottom. The vent is not much more than a big crack in the ground spewing steam. You can see bright yellow deposits of sulphur on the walls of the vent. Of course, you also have a view back across the Sand Sea to the lookout on Mount Penanjakan where you watched the sun rise.

When timing any activities in the area, bear in mind that sunset is soon after 5 PM and sunrise is correspondingly early at around 5:30 AM. This means you'll usually need to get up by 3:30 AM or so to get there in time for dawn.

  • Mount Batok (2440m) is a brown volcanic cone at the north center of the caldera. Unlike the other nearby peaks it is no longer active and actually has some vegetation growing on it, mostly the local cemara tree that somehow manages to survive even on volcanic ash.
  • Mount Bromo, edges tinged with white sulphur and always bubbling, is the main sight. To reach it on foot, pick the left fork at Cemoro Lawang's solitary crossing, then head down the ramp into the caldera and then across the caldera to the Hindu temple at the foot of the mountain. From the temple a steep path of 250 steps leads to the edge of the crater and a precarious meter-wide ledge from where to gaze into the volcano. Beware of local jeep-hirers, who often try to persuade tourists the journey to the mountain is not walking distance (in order to hire them jeeps, or horses). The walk from the tourist centre to the top of the mountain should take no longer than 1.5 hours by foot, and is about 3km.
  • Mount Penanjakan (2770m), located just north of the caldera, is a mountaintop viewpoint accessible by paved road from Tosari and hence popular with jeeps and even tour buses. Most of the crowd comes to see the dawn at 5 AM, and you'll likely have the large concrete observation post to yourself if you arrive later in the day.

Mt. Batok and the Sand Sea in the Tengger Caldera