As a Dutch citizen with Javanese (Indonesian) roots, visiting Java has been one of the highlights of my life. To get to know distant relatives, see the way they make a living and what brings them joy on a daily basis meant the world to me. It taught me eventually that you don’t need much to be happy. All you need is the right environment and the respect and love of the people that surround you.
I found that place in Bromo. My uncle in Yogyakarta pointed out I should visit the Bromo volcanoes in eastern Java. He told me it is another world. I did some research on the computer and after seeing the first two pictures I vowed that a visit to Bromo would be top priority. I asked my uncle what I should see and where I should go and all he said was “wherever everyone turns right, you turn left. Just walk the path until it stops, take a deep breath and turn around.”
He sent a driver with me, a man who was a delight to travel with and whom a met again out of the blue years later at the Borobudur temples. It is always beautiful how well people in Asia remember your face and your name, while you have no clue where you met them before. Or maybe that is just typically me…
Agus, the name of my driver, brought me to Bromo and I shared a cabin with him. Agus made a lot of noise while asleep, to say the least. At least he woke me up before the sun came through, and before the alarm went off. I left him asleep and started hiking. At the start of the trail there was a T section. I looked right, I remembered the words of my uncle, and I turned left.
I followed a narrow trail that bended itself over the rim of the volcano. The trail was only used by local farmers. The grass was high, the view was stunning. It’s hard to describe but thank God for camera’s. Along the way I met one older lady. She was carrying a large bamboo back on her back with grass in it. She smiled at me and asked me if I was lost. I told her “No, my uncle sent me here. He said it was beautiful.” She smiled again and added “Selamat dating di tanah airku”, which translates to: welcome to my homeland.
When I undertook this trip, it was June 2003. I was in my very early stages of exploring the world and had no idea what was ahead of me. But that lady, her smile, and her words made sure I was going to stay on that path. A path that would lead to many beautiful places, and away from the crowds.
For the full gallery, have a look at the Rejuvenating Java page